Thursday I took a long lunch to watch Apple’s new product presentation. As much as I have a longing for a long overdue replacement to my MacBook Pro, CEO Tim Cook’s presentation made me feel as if I was watching an indoor political event.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows but politics in 2016 is about the strangest ever. Half the country seems to hate Republican candidate Donald Trump while the other half, give or take a few million potential voters, seems to hate Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Who is more trustworthy in 2016? Trump, Clinton, or Apple? The answer should be a no brainer but after watching Apple’s somewhat listless show ‘n tell while munching on a sandwich during my lunch break I’m no longer certain that anyone can be trusted. We voters seem to expect politicians to lie and cover up whatever skeletons are lurking in nearby closets, but I fully expected Apple to address the Mac line head on with an array of new products for a line that has grown old and stale.
Well, here we are with the new and much expected, highly anticipated thinner, lighter, faster MacBook Pro models that arrive with an interesting gimmick to take your attention off the lack of a touchscreen, but absolutely nothing else of substance for the vast majority of Mac users; the great unwashed masses of those who don’t fall into the Pro group.
Apple killed the 11-inch MacBook Air, didn’t bother to mention or upgrade the Mac mini, the iMac line, or the Mac Pro, and devoted more visual display time to a couple of LG Retina 5k displays for the high end of the MacBook Pro customer segment. With apologies to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, it’s as if Apple is telling every other Mac user on planet earth, “No new Mac for you!”
To be fair about Apple’s show ‘n tell, there were plenty of women presenters, some from Apple, some from elsewhere, and the new magical Touch Bar on the two high end MacBook Pro models looks interesting so I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually have a new MBP in hand, but it seems more like Apple is doubling down on the high end of mobile devices while ignoring the rest of the Mac line.
First it was the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, then the 9.7-inch iPad Pro; the most expensive iPads ever produced, obviously aimed at the professional user, though mere riffraff from Apple’s customer base are welcome to spend the money to play at that level. With the new MacBook Pro line– thinner, lighter, faster, as expected– we see more features aimed at professionals rather than the masses. Gone is the ancient row of function keys which date back to the 20th century, replaced instead by a Touch Bar which is definitely touchscreen-like and extends the width of the keyboard but is only half a row of keys high.
Yes, it’s cool that Touch Bar’s keys and buttons and sliders and other visual gimmicks change to match the application you’re using at the time but I got the feeling the whole time while watching it being used that it was just that. A gimmick. A gimmick to help compete against Microsoft’s Surface commercials which show a Windows PC crushing a Mac without a touchscreen.
Apple doubled down on unique, yet, but Touch Bar is a high end MacBook Pro feature, and definitely not a market game changer the way a Retina display or SSD or all day battery life was back in the day.
It’s 2016 and the only new Mac in sight is an overly expensive Pro notebook with a visual gimmick as its main feature. Add Apple to the list with Trump and Clinton among those who are less trustworthy today than yesterday.