Before I begin, let me give you some back ground info about my relationship with Apple:
Among Mac users I would categorize myself as a power user and creative (knowing and utilizing the ins and outs of macOS). I purchased my first laptop, a Windows XP Toshiba Satellite in the third grade, built a “gaming” PC in 2010, and completely switched over to Apple’s ecosystem when I purchased a used 13” MacBook Pro in 2011. Since then I have had in my possession at one time or another a device from each of apple’s mobile and desktop lineups. I am well versed in everything Mac (both hardware and software) and have worked on machines from the original 1984 Macintosh line to the current 2018 models.
Over the years Apple has done many great things to “revolutionize” the world of personal computers. To name a few: they separated the keyboard from the desktop with the first Mac, removed the now obsolete floppy drive with the first iMac and made their laptops thinner and thinner setting the industry standard for a “thin” laptop by getting rid of the optical drive.
When Steve Jobs returned to apple in 1997 he planned to have a line of products for the consumer market and one for the professional market. This is where we get names such as Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. This strategy worked out good for many years as Apple had four big mac products: MacBook (the plastic white one) and iMac for the consumer, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro for the professional. Since 2010 however, the lines have began to blur as the consumer and professional macs become less segregated. The consumer now tends to buy the “pro” laptop which leads Apple to design a common computer they believe will satisfy both markets. And this brings us to the current MacBook and MacBook Pro, the layman’s machine.
The current MacBook line up is a flaw in and of itself. The new laptop simply does not fit into Apple’s “ecosystem” at this time. Maybe in the future, when the market is ready for a mostly wireless system, but not now. By making a thinner product and removing USB ports, Apple claims to revolutionize a product (as they did with the iPhone 7’s removal of the headphone jack) but this is not a good strategy. As longtime mac developer Jeff Johnson puts it, “Apple was famous for their ecosystem integration. But now out of the box you can’t plug a new iPhone into a new MacBook Pro. Absurd.” Why need a dongle to use a previously usable accessory (ie. standard USB, SD card reader, HDMI, etc.)?
By removing the ports and marketing a dongle separately, Apple is putting the buyer in a predicament:
- buy the new laptop and drop $50-$100 on the necessary dongles to use my screen, printer, etc., or,
- keep my older machine, which supports the accessories out of the box?
Apple will claim that they see the future as wireless, and simplicity through all accessories using a standard cable, but they said that with Thunderbolt 1, 2 and now 3. The only thunderbolt devices I own with my 2014 MacBook Pro are dongles to support other connections such as HDMI, a display port, firewire, ethernet, etc. Third parties have released Thunderbolt 1 and 2 compatible devices to go along with the previous generation of Macs, but now if you want to use said accessories with the 2016 MacBook Pro, that’ll be $49 per dongle… per accessory… cha-ching, cha-ching, $$$. Just as the market has adapted to the relatively new thunderbolt ports, Apple forces a new port on the market by making it the only port available on their flagship machine.
Ruffin Bailey, a blogger poses his argument for Apple in the question: “Did Apple build a truck?” Going back to Steve Jobs’ plans for consumer and professional lines, Bailey argues that real “pro” users do not care about size and weight. One would much rather have a new MacBook maintaining the same size and weight of the previous generation, but with heavily upgraded internals (processors, graphics, etc.). Some people do not want the thinnest/lightest machine, they want more performance, which, in many cases requires a more hefty frame.
My recommendation to Apple would be to keep the consumer and professional product lines separate. Give the customers what they ask for, and don’t take away what they already find useful.