What comes after the Mac?

“When I said Apple should kill off the Mac (“Why Apple Should Kill Off the Mac,” June 14, 2015), I specifically said the Mac ‘brand,'” Christopher Mims writes for The Wall Street Journal. “I definitely didn’t mean that Apple should stop giving people the ability to have a desktop-like or notebook-like experience, since these are valuable form factors. The question is whether Apple needs more than a mobile platform to power them.”

“I think that as Apple becomes ever more a maker of consumer gadgets rather than computers, Apple should stop making ‘trucks’ designed for heavy computational lifting, just as it exited the server market in 2010,” Mims writes. “If Apple phased out the Mac, how would those who use it to get work done carry on? …The first answer is to the question of how professionals who do heavy lifting with the Mac will live in a Mac-less world. This isn’t Apple’s problem.”

Apple Macintosh
Apple Macintosh
“The second answer, which goes for what I believe is the overwhelming majority of the people currently using Apple’s notebooks, is that Apple already has you covered–or will soon,” Mims writes. “The (rumored) forthcoming iPad Pro has a screen with approximately the same dimensions and pixel density of the screen on a MacBook or MacBook Pro. And the operating system that will run on it, iOS 9, will for the first time have full support for keyboards and a trackpad-like function… If the iPad Pro isn’t a reasonable laptop replacement, suitable for the needs of 90% of the notebook-buying public, I’ll eat my hat.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously. Eventually. Someday. It’s all just branding anyway.

What comes after the Mac is a Mac by another name – whether it be “iPad” or something else entirely or, perhaps, if iOS becomes so powerful as to negate the need for a Mac, what’s to stop Apple from not ditching a brand name they built with over three decades by simply creating an iOS-powered “Mac” (think “MacPad” or to be a bit cheeky, the “iMacBook” (the “i” denotes an iOS-powered device). (Yes, “iMac” would be problematic. We’ll leave it for Apple to sort out.)

Regardless of the actual names, the visionary Steve Jobs often clearly laid out the plan, as he did in these two quotes, fourteen years apart:

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. — Steve Jobs, February, 1996

And so, he did just that with iPad:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people. I think that we’re embarked on that. Is [the next step] the iPad? Who knows? Will it happen next year or five years from now or seven years from now? Who knows? But I think we’re headed in that direction… [With iPad] you have a much more direct and intimate relationship with the Internet and media, your apps, your content. It’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away… I think we’re just scratching the surface on the kind of apps we can build for it. I think one can create a lot of content on the tablet… Your vision would have to be fairly short to say that these things can’t over time grow into tools that can do many things. — Steve Jobs, June, 2010

The power of the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch, isn’t in their names, the power is Apple software’s ease-of-use coupled with masterfully designed hardware, inside and out. Apple’s best products elicit a certain feeling – users notice a touch here, “ooh, look at that”, another touch there, “wow, that’s nice” – a coherent aura throughout that says, “This product is thoughtfully designed and carefully considered inside and out with you, the user, always foremost in mind.”

A Mac by any other name would smell as sweet.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

60 Comments

      1. I should have stopped reading at “Apple should…”

        Here is the thing I don’t get: Mac sales are at an all-time high. Literally. So, it follows that more people than ever find the Mac to be the most useful platform for their computing needs. They may also own an iPhone and an iPad, but they perceive that they need a computer with a screen and a keyboard and an input device and a capable processor to do stuff in their lives.

        It doesn’t make much sense to kill off such a product. The Mac is widely used and loved. It supports a number of industry-standard and professional applications. It makes money for Apple – 16% of net revenues is not easily replaced. It is part of an eco-system that supports products that make even more money for Apple, including serving as the development platform for the entire iOS universe.

        My take: Christopher Mims is a moron.

    1. Being “productive” is a personal matter. Some people don’t even need a computer to be productive in their occupation. But “productivity” can be measured.

      The POTENTIAL for productivity is greater on a Mac compare to an iPad. This is “by design,” and Apple knows it. In typical use, an iPad is held with one hand, while the other hand is used for interaction with the screen. That means one hand is not used for interaction. In typical use, a Mac (whether laptop or desktop) is stationary. Both hands are used for interaction; there is greater potential for productivity with a Mac.

      You may say that using some type of stand with a iPad can free both hands, but that just defeats the purpose of using a tablet instead of a “PC.” If you’re going to make the iPad a stationary computer, just use the computing device that is refined (after 30+ years) and optimized for that use, a Mac. iPad is ideal where the screen is easily mobile while IN USE. A MacBook is certainly mobile, but when you use it, it is stationary. An iPad is the better tool for many situation. You can’t easily walk around a factory or warehouse while concurrently accessing and entering data with a MacBook. THAT is the key distinction between Mac and iPad. Apple is NOT Microsoft. Apple will NOT force users to choose one over the other, or create a kludge that is a compromised tablet trying to be a compromised laptop

      The iPad’s advantages also limit its potential for productivity. The iPad’s screen cannot become so heavy and large that the device is no longer comfortable to hold with one hand while interacting with the other hand. The screen size limit is probably about 12 to 13 inches, with weight not exceeding the original 2010 iPad’s heft. In addition to weight, a larger screen becomes less optimal for a touch interface, because your hand blocks a larger portion of the screen (from your line of sight) while interacting. On an iPhone, the screen is small and it is easy to move fingertips out of the way after interacting. On current iPads, it is still manageable. But if it gets too much bigger, the effort to constantly move your hand onto the screen and then out of the way becomes a significant hinderance to productivity.

      For maximizing the potential for productivity, the Mac being stationary is its advantage. Two free hands, in a comfortable supported position below the screen, never blocking line of sight to the screen. An “iPad Pro” with iOS 9 will enhance productivity (and iPads are better computing tools in many situations), but its potential for productivity will not surpass a Mac’s. This is BY DESIGN.

  1. One of the biggest problems with this iPad replacing mac crap is that iOS is not open to some things a user might want. Take emulators for consoles for example. We have OpenEmu for mac. Its a well made compilation for systems that can run well, so that now, even though I don’t have a SNES, I can play MORTAL KOMBAT 2 or Killer Instinct. Yes, I bough those games and played them on my own SNES when I was younger. Yes that is legal. There is no problem in that. But can you find any emulators on the App store? Nope. Not at all. Sure they’ve been made, and sure with Xcode 7 will allow you to run compiled apps on your own device but my gosh, the mac is still neccisary. Fist of all, what app maker will make keyboard commands for their app? Nope. Not for the iThings. What developer will make keyboard commands for the mac? Some, and if no command exists, you can make one. Come on y’all its not all about touch this and pinch that and poke that thing over there and punch this and fist that. No! Sure its more direct but its not all there is to a system.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. The thing of it is Apple DOESN’T HAVE to get out of making powerful Macs for Pro’s in order to do other things.

    It irritates me no end those who directly or indirectly say “screw the professionals out there” – say wha’ ? Especially since it ain’t necessary.

    Of course even now if Apple doesn’t do more timely regular Mac Pro upgrades they might as well cede a lot of the pro market to more open and versatile PC workstations. It’s really a nod to the old expression “either s**t or get off the pot.” I hope they do the former.

    1. Agreed. And who the hell thinks they can advise Apple on what is best for them?

      No matter how Apple calls it, I think the root of Apple is in computing; that the Mac by any other name is fine with me so long as it runs OS X and offers both consumer and professional options.

    2. If Apple is unwilling to provide capable machines (quad core i7 Mac mini) or seriously expandable machines (previous generation Mac Pro), then it should seriously consider licensing OS X to companies that are willing to so.

      It’s not like the Mac is Apple’s major source of income like it was the last time licensing was tried.

      1. HP would be a great fit as a partner in catering to the high end Mac market. As it is they already go out their way to entice high end Mac users comparing their workstations to the current Mac Pro. But it doesn’t seem to be the way Apple would swing having gone a similar disastrous route before, before Jobs nipped it in the bud on his return. But it would certainly gain Apple cred in the Enterprise and Pro markets. HP or whoever (not Dell!!!) would just have to be given a very narrow range of market niche to be in.

        1. Jobs killed it because at the time the Mac was Apple’s only source of income. Now Apple’s main source of income are the iDevices and the Mac line is in serious need of some love. There is the barely expandable Mac Pro, Mac Minis limited to dual core processors, the iMac, a desktop computer with all the disadvantages of a laptop, and a confused line of laptops. (Dual core laptops being called “Pro”?)

          Where’s the mini tower that people have been begging for for years? Why is my top-of-the-line MacBook Pro limited to 16 gb when the CPU can handle 32? Why is replacing a hard drive in an iMac major surgery?

          Apple has been ignoring Macs for too long, maybe HP or some other companies can fill the gaps in the Mac lineup.

          1. I kind of agree that design for design’s sake that limits options is not such a hot destination to shoot for. Especially with the Mac Pro. I am not planning to wait much longer for a new Mac Pro before switching to something that better matches my expectations and pro requirements even it it means switching platforms, and believe me that something I thought I would NEVER say.

            1. I’m feeling the same way. I’ve been an Apple guy since the //c and didn’t upgrade to a Mac until my 8 year old IIgs started acting up AND it lasted that long because of it’s serious expandability. I’ve been a Mac affivinado and evangelist for more than twenty years and I find myself really shocked to be really looking forward to seeing the final release version of Win 10. 🙁

              And if this doesn’t get me down voted into oblivion I’ll be amazed.

            2. Yep I own two Mac Pro’s and frankly I like the form this way and not a black minimalist trash can design. I think you can be tower Mac Pro sexy and expandable all at the same time. Windows 10, here we come?? Yech! 🙂

            3. I have to admit that the previous version of the Mac Pro was, without a doubt and by far, the most beautiful and elegant tower computer ever built. A true work of functional art.

              Every time I walked into an Apple Store I was hit with a serious case of Hasselblad hornies* when I saw one.

              *Hasselblad hornies, a term coined by a photographer friend to indicate extreme equipment lust.

            4. Hasselblads were indeed lust-inducing in ye olden film days. The medium format quality was amazing in camera product and image output. Yeah I dig and prefer the old Mac Pro design better too, however much that’s heresy.

  3. What crap. The Author defends his statement rather poorly.
    Macbook, iMac, Mac Pro, etc. He now wishes to clarify he only sought of killing the brand not the device.

    First off, iMac is Apples’ consumer level Desktop, a brilliant machine built on laptop components mainly. A wonderful sector of business for Apple. As Steve Jobs said about trucks , he never mentioned the truck needed to be killed off. Call it what you may. iMac may not be as huge of a business sector as iOS has become yet without it Apple has no roots.

    Perhaps if needed, Apple would kill of the Pro level Desktops. I for one will love to remain a truck (iMac) driver. IN my opinion, iMac is the Apple Television. It is more than a simple computer. It is my entertainment system. Movies, Tv shows, internet gaming, gaming console, desktop computer, and work station. Take this away Apple and you shall lose a customer forever.

    1. Yes, he’s completely ridiculous, especially when you look at the Mac’s sales numbers and continuous increase in market share quarter after quarter while the rest of the PC industry keeps shrinking. Apple makes a lot of money selling Macs, and while iOS and OS X continue to receive similar features and have cross-platform apps, that doesn’t mean there needs to be no heavy-lifting Macs.

      And Apple is NOT moving to be a consumer device company. Apple instead created the first truly portable computer with the iPhone, a miniaturization feat that no one else even came close to achieving. That said, there are things which are still and always will be better and easier to do on a computer than on a mobile device. And that’s why we have and should continue to have Macs.

  4. I don’t want a Windows truck. I want a Mac truck with a 27″ screen, using the most powerful chips, with the classic OS X interface, and able to run any high power software I throw at it.

    1. Yeah… fffing exactly – perfectly said.

      I love iMac. Yet if Apple had to do something, I would hope they never lose sight of at least two sort of truck offerings :

      Truck 1) a box like Mac mini yet far more customizable
      Truck 2) a box like Mac pro agin far more customizable

  5. the mac hat. it’s a virtual reality visual environment but the cranium cover stimulates the brain into specific activities it couldn’t accomplish on its own. great for education, entertainment, sex hookups and matchmaking, ambiguous human evolutionary pathways, etc. after a bit of the wild west, people had to be real careful cuz a few of the unrestrained went nuts but then, if i remember, the left stepped in and went into hyper-regulation mode cuz you know, the left knows best how to control people from themselves. i mean protect. did i say control ..oops

    1. I suppose time travelers have strict disclosure rules, but at least give us a hopeful hint about the future—will we ever get 3rd or 4th political parties? This left vs. right stuff is getting really old.

  6. Unless an iOS device can be as functional and powerful as my 27″ iMac with triple monitor support, i don’t see it. I still love to drive BIG trucks. Sure, I’ll get the newest iOS toy, but I am not ever getting away from my fine screen real estate. No way José.

    1. I guess, Christopher Mims is suggesting Apple to reinvent the name, Mac to be “Truck”. Yet, surveys say, many young boys and girls can not pronounce the “TR” sound well.

      So this Christmas don’t be shocked, thanks to Chris, to hear several kids saying the want, the all new shiny RED FRIRE FRUCK from Apple.

    2. NO KIDDING! I’d view my business needs as moderate. No 4K video editing. No massive CAD program. But there is no way I could function, day to day, on a iPad, no matter how pro it gets… not in any near or foreseeable future, anyway.

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