Apple’s Phil Schiller on why the new MacBook only has one port

“When Apple launched its new, super-thin MacBook laptop in April, much of the initial criticism focused on its having only one port, a new type of USB called USB-C,” Dan Frommer reports for Quartz.

“In a rare live interview, long-time Apple executive Phil Schiller — who heads product marketing and is one of the few executives who appears in the company’s product keynote presentations — explained the thinking behind the new MacBook,” Frommer reports. “Schiller spoke to Daring Fireball author John Gruber at a taping of Gruber’s podcast, ‘The Talk Show,’ following Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote last week in San Francisco.”

Phil Schiller: This is all the same mentality as—I remember when we took out the floppy. I’m sure many of you all do, too. It’s the exact same thinking! I sat in the room with friends of mine who worked at other companies in Texas and other places, and they literally said, “Oh my god I’m so jealous! We can’t do that! We can’t take the risk. Because if the world is going to be risk-averse and doesn’t want us to take away anything — you know, if Dell doesn’t have a floppy but Toshiba does, they’ll just buy the Toshiba. They’re all the same except if you’re missing one thing, no one will buy your stuff.”

They said, “You’re so lucky, you make something where your customers give you the opportunity to try something in a completely different way. And they listen to you and they try it. And if you have to adjust and make an external drive for a couple years, great, you’ll do it. But you get to make that change and move on.”

That’s the embodiment of this new MacBook, which is: Take a bold risk. Maybe some people will think it’s not perfect for them yet. But for a surprising number of people, it’s already their future laptop.

Much more, including the video, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s already ours, too – unless the “iPad Pro” appears in time to displace it as our next on-the-go Apple computing device.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s new MacBook actually has two physical ports: USB-C and the Headphone port (which also supports Apple’s iPhone headset with remote and microphone).

67 Comments

  1. I still miss the MagSafe charging port. The have already caught the power cord on my new MacBook and it almost feel to the ground. If they could have the USB-C and a separate MagSafe one it would be perfect

      1. Wireless charging isn’t the panacea you think it is.

        It’s wireless only in the sense the thing being charged isn’t physically plugged to a power source. The thing being charged must be right on top of the charging pad, which still needs to be physically connected to the outlet.

        1. … indicates it is possible to recharge a device from existing broadcast emissions. The signals that reach your cell phone can keep it charged. Or extend its battery life.
          Is it ready to go now? Likely not. But it’s getting there.

    1. I totally agree, had it almost pulled of the table top at Starbucks-Twice! I also almost had it yanked of the table from the power cord getting stuck in the treads of my Lugz. Missing the MagSafe. Everything else-spot on.

        1. Nah, just the ones you need.

          When I bought my MBA I knew I would like to occasionally connect to an ethernet network so I bought the adapter. I rarely use it but it’s there when I need it. I also bought the Super Drive which stays plugged into my display but is rarely used and can connect to any computer that needs it.

          If you need to constantly connect some legacy device you probably need a different MacBook or an all-in-one dock.

          Or if you don’t want to replace all of your existing USB adapters then the single USB-A adapter should be all you need.

        1. Agreed about reliability. That is why I have an ethernet adapter for when that situation arises. If a wired connection is critical to you getting your work done then it’s great to have so many models to choose from.

    1. I have a MacBook at home, mostly used by the wife, all she ever hooks up to it is a power plug, everything else, including printing, is all wireless. Why does she need all those ports? She is a user.

      I bet a lot of people are like this, everything has gone wireless. If you “Need” or “Want” to hook up external devices, USB drive, NIC, ext. display, etc. you can, but how often do you actually “Need” or even “Want” to?

        1. Depending on your scanning needs, my wireless scanner is my iPhone with Scanner Pro. I’m an old school flatbed scanner guy so it took me a bit to come around and it works very well for basic paperless-office document scanning.

        2. Try Doxie Go. Small form factor. Some models connect to Macs via Wi-Fi….has a durable enough built in battery that I scan anywhere I run into paper without having to plug into wall or Mac. Only disadvantage, you have to feed it one page at a time.

    2. Of-course you do! There there now. In times like this always think how you needed a Floppy drive and a CD/DVD, and a printer port, and an ethernet port and a Firewire port and a …..

      You still have them. Just that most are wireless now. Try some Airdrop, Airplay and iCloud. Soon there will be AirCharge. Now count to 10 and everything will be right as rain.

    3. What do you plug into these ports? I have an older MBP and rarely use the ports. The laptop has internal storage. It has Wi-Fi. My iPhone can be a hotspot if Wi-Fi is unavailable. The only use I have is importing photos from my iPhone, and I know methods exist for doing this over Wi-Fi.

    4. SOME users need ports, others, such as those moving from a smartphone to their first computer, do not. These people are used to everything being accomplished wirelessly.

      If you listen to the entire interview, Phil states that the entire point of this computer for people who live in a wireless world, ergo no extra ports are necessary.

      If it’s something you do not understand, perhaps it is something not meant to be understood by YOU.

      1. Well, I commented that I don’t need ports, but I certainly am not moving to my “first computer”. I was around when the first Apple II came out, and I wanted one, but it was outside my affordability at the time: I wasn’t in California, so I had no exposure to the Apple I.

        Perhaps, I am different in that I will change with the times rather than getting mired in the past. I don’t need USB connectivity because a NAS hangs off my home router. I have several cloud services (free space) to transfer data around if I need it. The world is leaving these rinky-dink storage devices behind; time to embrace change.

        Having said all that, do I want a new MacBook? Nope, too slow for my tastes, but the version coming out in two years should be souped up enough. The ports, however, are the absolute least of my concerns.

        1. Like you, I am also not new to computers (Commodore PET) however, I am on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to ports – I absolutely need them. Most importantly, my Ethernet connection to my home router for a much faster and stable connection (iMac acts as a media server to various Apple TVs and Airplay speakers) and my FireWire 800 connection to my RAID backup drive.

          I don’t walk through life with blinders on and tend to keep an open mind about things (this explains my affinity for Apple products), so my need for ports on my computer doesn’t blind me to the fact that others may not need them.

          Phil was absolutely correct in comparing the reaction to the new MacBook with the floppy-less iMac. (Not often mentioned, but the iMac also dropped support for Apple’s ADB port. That was another uproar from the usual suspects.)

  2. Yes, I agree that the MacBook should have fewer ports (and stuff) as the MacBook Pro, but this went too far. There should have been one USB 3 port on the other side. And no MDN, the headphone port doesn’t count.

  3. What self-serving BS. Sorry Phil, when you pulled the floppy it was replaced by something better with higher capacity. This USB-C port is just penny-pinching mixed with Jony’s OCD.

    1. “it was replaced by something better with higher capacity”

      No it wasn’t. And I hope you’re not talking about the CD-ROM drive? Because the issue of not having a floppy had more to with being able to share files.

      At that time Apple’s “Internet” computer was meant to be connected and share files over the network. However, everyone complained because they were all used to doing that via floppy disks and most people’s computers weren’t connected in such a manner (remember this was 1998).

      Sorry, but this is EXACTLY what’s happening today with the MacBook… People are used to connecting peripherals directly to their computers, and Apple released a computer that’s designed mainly for wireless connectivity.

  4. I have a MBP 15″, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPhone 6, iMac, and Mac mini. This MacBook is absolutely NOT for me. I agree: it should have had at least one more USB 3 port.

    I suspect they didn’t make it with MagSafe because the USB 3 is an industry standard and they would have had to relinquish their MagSafe patent (let others use it at the very least) and they didn’t want to do that. But I would not buy a laptop without MagSafe (if I can avoid it).

  5. God help you if you own one and run into the never-ending Bluetooth problems like I have with my rMBP. I often cannot even use a bluetooth keyboard or mouse. If that (wireless) was my only option (other than daisy chaining adapters), I’d go crazy. Thank goodness for my wired mouse–it keeps me sane.

    1. I’m with you Unimpressed. Just retired my Apple wireless keyboard yesterday in favor of a new full sized USB version. Absolutely could not get the bugs out…just Google ‘Apple wireless backspace key not working’ there are many posts but none of the solutions worked for me..

      Gave up on wireless mice a few years ago as well. I will not permit any Apple wireless device through the front door except our phones.

  6. Why does the media put “live” in front of “interview.” If you use portions of a interview you find online the interview was given to someone live. It’s hard to give a dead interview. Why not just; In a rare interview, long-time Apple executive Phil Schiller….

    1. A live interview is broadcast as it happens-live. Todays journalists are too stupid understand basic concepts, hence the stupid content that now passes for news.

  7. Shades of the original MacBook Air – 1 USB port. But is that bad?

    YES/NO. As an owner of an original Air, the single USB port was irritating and I became a MUCH happier camper when 2 USB ports were introduce. Mind you, most of the time I do not use the USB port(s), but when I do, two ports are commonly required. I personally don’t want to have to carry extra dongles traveling. With the new MacBook, I would need a USB adapter and video adapter minimally as well as the power brick based on my needs.

    So while the new MacBook is obviously not for me (I have both a 13″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro), it IS highly suitable for, and targeted to, many others Apple users. Last I heard, Apple does let the buyer choose the model they wish to purchase.

  8. And I can point to hundreds of unique inventions or ideas that we have driven. We had the first color notebook that was powered by batteries. We had the first 486 machine to ship. We had the first system to ship with the EISA [Extended Industry-Standard Architecture] bus. Right now our notebook team is continuing to drive very, very hard on size, weight, wireless integration—we were the first to integrate wireless into notebooks, with integrated antennas.

    1. I like this dock but the one deal breaker is a lack of Thunderbolt port for my existing display. There is another dock on Kickstarter that has this but so far seems a little sketch. I could get the extra adapter for the display for the dock but that’s an extra step I’d like to avoid with a single true “dock.” Maybe a future display will have the answer.

  9. We allowed apple to push us to change…but we aren’t saying “we listened and we like it.” We bought a macbook and we DON’T like it and we are selling it on eBay and buying a mac book air just like the one the mac book replaced. The single socket plugin power idea is idiotic…so is the keyboard…both are intolerable.

  10. Well, I’ll bet they add a second port on the next version… As I type this on my MBPr, I’m plugged into MagSafe while my iPhone is charging plugged into a USB port.

    On the plus side, One cool feature is that, since this USB-C is NOT proprietary, there will be 3rd party external batteries. That is sorta possible on old MagSafe MBP’s but very clumsy since Apple wouldn’t license the MagSafe to the battery manufacturers.

    1. I do the same MagSafe + iPhone charging setup each day, but only because I can and it’s convenient. But I’m looking forward to the day when I am forced to use fewer cables because battery, charging, and wireless tech has made it possible. I think we are very close.

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