When PRO no longer means PRO - The Apple MacBook Not Really Pro Debacle

The 2016 MacBook Not Really Pro, but really expensive laptop

The 2016 MacBook Not Really Pro, but really expensive laptop

I have been a Macintosh owner and user since 1984.  I like, with varying levels of enthusiasm, Macintosh OS in its various denominations.  I like the former simplicity and effectiveness of the Macintosh platform.  I am an Apple customer on iOS as well.  While I have disagreed with Apple decisions in the past, I am particularly disturbed by Apple's recent attempt to call at best prosumer products, professional products and by their continued abandonment of the professional creatives marketplace.  

Yes, I could run Windows 10.  It's certainly the best Windows since Windows 7 but it just doesn't work as well for me as Macintosh OS.  I can get most of my critical apps on Windows 10, other than Final Cut Pro X, and I could move if I had to.  I hope that I don't have to, but I'm girding myself for the possibility.

The recently announced so-called MacBook Pro is not.  It's not Pro.  Pros have a significant investment in external connectivity.  The new device eschews this for USB-C and a stack of extra cost and cluttering dongles.  Apple put us through this when everything went Thunderbolt.  Oops, sorry, changed our mind again, buy again.  A proper MacBook Pro should have Ethernet as well as Wireless, USB-C, USB3-A, Thunderbolt, HDMI and in a perfect world still have a local FireWire port because there is still a lot of FireWire gear in studios and editing suites.

Pros are demanding in terms of application performance and application performance is not addressed solely through processors.  Available system memory is as, if not more important.  My five year old MacBook Pro maxes out at 16GB.  The brand new machine maxes out at 16GB.  Considering Apple manages to stuff 128GB of storage into an iPhone, I find the excuses proselytized by VP Marketing Mr. Schiller to be a complete load of poop.  Yes, I understand that Intel's current crop of mobile CPUs do not support low voltage DDR4 RAM.  That's not my fault, it's a bad design that Apple would not bother with if they actually cared about Pros.  16GB of RAM is not sufficient to the Pro market in 2016.  It wasn't actually sufficient in 2013.  Pros do more than surf the web and post pictures of their lunch to Instagram or Facebook.

Instead Apple focuses on lighter (by mere small count of ounces) and increased thinness (such as 2mm).  The art school people have taken over and 1984 has come true, although not the way Apple initially suggested, Apple is the Big Brother telling you what to do, what to like and that anything else is a sin.  Like many others, I no longer watch Apple "events" because they are increasingly non-events and the sound of Mr. Schiller shilling at full military power makes me want to throw up.  For me, Mr. Schiller has earned the BS Master medal, and has also earned the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds for his commitment to full on pant-loading.  If that reference means nothing to you, look it up.

The much touted Touch Bar has no value to me, or to any of my peers that I have surveyed.   The positioning of the bar requires hand levitation, the brightness takes focus away from the display and the icons are so small, that the more complex they become, the more they resemble a blob of goo.  In my world, the Touch Bar is not an asset, it is a liability.  Some may love it, having a Facebook button will certainly take the strain off of Google which spends an inordinate amount of time sending people to Facebook, given that they are too stupid to learn the Facebook url.

In the edit suite and the studio I use third party displays as well as an old Apple Cinema Display.  Why?  Because they have matte finish screens.  High gloss screens are highly reflective, and seeing myself in the screen whilst trying to complete client work is not a benefit.  I vaguely recall Mr. Schiller's spin on this decision, only because he was blowing so much air I caught a cold.  Apple is hugely successful.  A matte option would not be impossible.  In fact they offered the option prior to putting a bullet in the head of the excellent and long missed MacBook Pro 17".   

Yes the 17" was not the big seller, but it was the favourite of Pros because of the increased screen real estate, the higher number of ports and the ability to make the device extensible.  Pros need something more than a browser and Facebook.  We need real displays of good size as well as capacity.  It's not like Apple is going out of business so cutting offerings is not a real world requirement.

 I see that Apple has dropped the Thunderbolt display and is proposing third party displays.  This is a good decision.  The Thunderbolt display got old very quickly, and Apple is not a display company.  Better to partner with a company that has a credible display business.  Time will tell if LG can actually do a high-res display with 99% Adobe RGB.  They haven't yet.

As a professional and as an educator in fine art printing, the first thing that we discover when prints don't look right is that the screens are already way too bright.  We do not need displays that sear our retinas, we need displays that are colour and brightness accurate.  Certainly if customers wish to burn out their eye sockets we should let them, but being able to do so, is not a feature or a benefit, it is mcmarketing bull droppings.

Pros need a decent keyboard that can be worked on directly without the requirement for an external keyboard that cannot be connected directly at this point because none of the existing units have a USB-C receiver.  The new keyboard, in order to accommodate the newer thinner case feels worse, if that is possible, than the chiclet keyboard on the deservedly maligned PC Junior, which until now had the dubious distinction of worst keyboard ever.  In what may be a news flash to Apple, there are actually users out here who need a useful built in keyboard because we do more than type search words into Google or YouTube.

Apple is not limited to the MacBook Pro.  The "new" Mac Pro, released with fanfare about connectivity and expandability has had absolutely nothing done since release.  The Apple web site still plays the dated and no longer technologically current video.  I own one, bought to replace an aging chess grater Mac Pro.  This top of the line Mac cannot keep up with 4K footage out of a Sony a7R II.  Apple has again, abandoned the Pro market.

We use Mac Minis in the studio and in a family store.  No updates in forever.  Most of our Minis still work great but are so old, that Apple will not even support running their latest OS on them.  The machines work fine every single day, and since there is nothing in Sierra that matters to me one iota, I probably should not care, but it's another indicator of Apple's lack of commitment.  You may reasonably ask what Pro would want a Mac Mini in the first place.  I know of many video houses that have created racking systems for Mac Minis and gang them up for processing tasks and storage management.

No company can please all its customers all the time.  This announcement has the most significant amount of backlash I have ever seen.  No commitment to the Pro market, no innovation, flashing lights with a price increase smells like a cash grab.  I have watched the fake MacBook Pro ad that goes into detail on all the things missing or removed from the new release.  It's brilliantly done, and I feel for the product team members who are sadly (and privately) nodding in agreement because there are no gains only losses.  As for those in the executive ranks who believe that this announcement is customer beneficial, I am sorry to say that I find that such folks have such a serious case of craniotomy-rectal inversion that they will need to open their mouths to be able to see what's in front of them.

I am known for telling the story of the farmer who calmly tolerates the conscious failings of his mule, advising the mule on each failure "that's 1 and that's 2" and on the third failing, calmly shoots the mule because it has established its path with no apparent intent to correct its ways.

That's two, Apple.