Apple discontinues Thunderbolt Display

“Apple today announced that it is discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display, the large external display many use to connect to MacBooks or other Macs for extra screen real estate,” Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “This is very likely to fuel speculation (which has been ongoing) that Apple will soon launch a 4K or 5K version of the display.”

Panzarino reports, “‘We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users,’ said an Apple spokesperson in a statement given to TechCrunch.”

“Why Apple would make an explicit announcement about this is anyone’s guess — though the most obvious is big corporate orders and education,” Panzarino reports. “We’re getting into buying season for the new year and they want people to be drafting orders with this in mind.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Is it finally about to happen? Is Apple finally ready to debut a new Retina Thunderbolt Display? Or is that it for Apple-branded displays?

SEE ALSO:
How would Apple drive a 5K Thunderbolt display? – June 1, 2016
Whither Apple’s 27-inch Retina 5K Thunderbolt Display? – December 8, 2014
AnandTech reviews Apple Thunderbolt Display: A must-have for MacBook Air owners – September 23, 2011

32 Comments

  1. The end of an era. I’d like to think otherwise, but it’s pretty clear Apple is exiting the display business. If they had another one in the pipeline, there’s no way they’d suggest “a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

    I wonder if this means they’ll exit the pro market of desktops, as well. Maybe even kill the mini. I’d love to be wrong, but the winds are blowing in the wrong direction, and have been since the latest Mac Pro was introduced (and saw limited acceptance). It’s a fatal flaw when a corporation gets so large that they misinterpret poor sales response as a lack of market, rather than a failure to provide the right product.

    Been an Apple user since the 70’s. Still will be, all the way to the end, but I miss the excitement of the old days.

      1. I think recent events actually show that Apple chooses its own politics, rather than play the game (regardless of the effect on stock price). And they can afford to.

        And besides, they aren’t exactly advertising the Mac Pro as being “made in the USA”. They don’t advertise it at all, actually. And for their smallest and most-neglected product, I’d expect that it will be next on the chopping block – hoping for an update, but expecting the worst. Apple can safely exit the pro market and still hope to stay the wealthiest company on the planet – which is why they’ve ignored it for the last 3 years and seem intent on letting it go completely. After all, at WWDC this year, there was NO mention of pro uses at all, even from a software perspective.

    1. Well my primate friend you’ve hit the head of the matter correctly and pose some daunting questions and potential realizations.

      As far as the pro market I just want Apple to sh*t or get off the pot so I clearly know which direction my pro needs need to go. I’ll always buy iMac’s and MBP’s though, I think…

    2. This also feels like an effort to drive sales of the iMac – many of us old desktop holdouts (Mac Pro from 2010, in my case) have resisted upgrading because we have perfectly good displays. Now, when our old machines finally give out, we’ll have no choice but to get an iMac, because the Pro is too expensive, and won’t even perform as well as the upcoming iMacs.

      1. Actually, there is an alternative, namely to leave Apple and go to Windows.

        Considering how Apple has evicerated their Pro-centric ecosystem & workflows, they’re really giving some of us no choice but to leave.

        -hh

        1. That has always been an option, and I greatly regret that Apple is alienating some of its pro users. I had great hopes for the new Mac Pro when it was released, but it quickly became apparent that it was not what pro users were looking for or what they needed.

          Apple would have been better off revamping its old pro chassis (which is an incredibly effective design in almost all respects), creating a stackable Pro design based on a version of the Mac mini, or creating a new blade design (which Apple should have done years ago instead of, or in addition to the Xserve).

        2. I’m all too aware of that option -hh. But it’ll be a sad day when forced to go that direction. Bothersome because of all the dough Apple makes satisfying the pro market would be SO easy for them, and a minor expense to R&D maintain.

          No one asked for that misguided Ives over-adrenalized & minimalist black donut, similar to the Steve Jobs Cube folly (especially once people sat back, really thought about and then went “What the hay??”). There must be a name for changing the form for something that goes counter to the market’s needs and requirements, and charging a higher than usual premium for it. “Cubenized?” 🙂

          More updated traditional MP towers in big and small forms would’ve been just fine. The 2013 Mac Pro is an example of misguidedly “over-innovating” yourself right out of an intended market.

          1. @peterblood71:

            “There must be a name for changing the form for something that goes counter to the market’s needs and requirements, and charging a higher than usual premium for it. “Cubenized?”…”

            Probably depends on one’s age (FUBAR, FAIL, etc), but I think that the one that’s probably the most appropriate is the 1958 Ford Edsel … as in:

            “Ive is the new Edsel”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edsel#Edsel_and_its_failures

      2. Possibly, Grrilla, although I am reluctant to believe that Apple management would rationalize along those lines. For now, I am content to wait and see what happens with the Mac Pro and mini and iMac and other Apple product lines. I am hoping to see improvement in the coordination and cohesion of the Apple product lineup.

  2. My guess is that Apple is (once again) getting out of the Apple-branded display business. Why try to compete in that low-margin, commodity market? I suspect that Apple sold relatively few Thunderbolt Displays because of the cost disparity.

    My rationale for this speculation is that Apple has failed to update their Thunderbolt display lineup in quite a while. If Apple were serious about it, they would have released a 5K display (already available on the iMac) a couple of years ago. But they did not. In addition, Apple’s typical approach for a product refresh cycle is silence – ship times suddenly increase for a product or it becomes unavailable shortly before the new version is released. I do not recall Apple issuing a notice that it was “discontinuing” a product prior to releasing an update version. It may have happened, but I do not recall such a case.

    There is one more thing to consider. The Apple Displays, while quite attractive and with a nice sharp, bright image, had issues. The Display Ethernet passthrough was not always reliable, so I ended up connecting the Ethernet line directly to my laptop each time, thus obviating one of the benefits of the display (cable minimization). And the connection to the keyboard has always been hit and miss. The mouse always works, but the keyboard sometimes connects and sometimes does not, or connects after a significant lag. Occasionally, after restarting and demating/remating USB plugs, I would resort to routing my keyboard cable over to my MacBook Pro USB port (once again obviating the intent of the display design).

    The Apple design aesthetics for the display are great, the functionality (Thunderbolt to Ethernet and USB) is somewhat spotty, and the port locations on the back are inconvenient given the functionality issues (otherwise I would not care too much because I would seldom have a need to access the ports). In addition, the Apple TB Display is increasingly expensive compared to its competitors.

    This may be a case of Apple simplifying its product lineup and culling an offering with low unit sales and low profit.

    1. They won’t release a 5K display as long as they have to use 2xTB cables to drive it. Doesn’t fit in with their lineup.

      And I don’t think they’ll replace it, since they pretty much ALWAYS announce a product’s replacement at the same time they discontinue it.

      1. You think Apple is hung up on the number of cords that attach to the back of the display????

        That’s the least of Apple’s bureaucracy problems — one they solved many times in the past. Apple Legacy Apple displays included umbilical cords that contained separate wires & connectors (DisplayPort + USB + Magsafe power in the Cinema displays, for example) That worked just fine, except the cords were about a metre too short. There is nothing stopping Apple from offering a dual-cable ThunderBolt display except Tim Cook’s Apple is dragging its feet.

        Meanwhile, every other tech company seems to be able to keep moving ahead. Dell offers many excellent displays, including an ultra high resolution display that does not require dual ThunderBolt:
        http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=eep&cs=6099&sku=210-ADJR

        Perhaps this display is for high resolution of static images and would not be ideal for fast response video. Still, it’s miles ahead of anything Apple has ever offered. Dell also allows its displays to be height-adjustable without the user having to procure books or 3rd party mounts. Nice touch, Dell.

        Why can’t Apple compete anymore?

  3. One more thought…if Apple wanted to maintain a stand-alone Apple display offering, why not simply use the iMac display?

    Apple could modify the iMac to create a stand-alone display by eliminating most of the guts of the iMac, keeping the power supply and substituting a PCB with the necessary display drivers and the interface electronics for the various ports. The chassis and stand would be the same, thus taking advantage of a strong economy of scale in that area. And they could easily be manufactured on the same line.

    1. Agreed. And the fact that that hasn’t happened and doesn’t seem to be happening seems to imply that it won’t happen. I haven’t heard that Apple’s suppliers are increasing display production, so all the productivity seems to be geared toward iMac production. If the suppliers can’t churn out enough units and Apple doesn’t want to add suppliers, the first thing to go would be the standalone displays.

  4. We will start reading the “Apple has abandoned its pro user” again. Thunderbolt is a Intel technology. Yes, Apple originally created it and has been its biggest champion; however Intel controls TB. Apple is tied to Intel’s TB timetable. The new TB3 with USB-C connector can be a game changer for the struggling tech. I do believe Apple will come out with a better display, along with update MacPro and MacBook Pros (and hopefully MacMini) with the new TB3. My argument against the abandoned pro user crowd is; pros are not gamers. Professional, especially small shops, want all the customization gamers want. We want something easy to expand and little down time. The complaints against the MacPro are laughable. All the wires on the back; get some Velcro ties and a little organization. Yes the updates are slow, because of Intel. How can a system that you can easily get to every part of the inside be harder to work on than one that has just one side to open. The CPU, GPUs, RAM and SSDs are upgradable. You don’t have to add a fan to anything to make it work better. OK this was about displays.

    1. I don’t suppose you’ve noticed that Apple has also neglected the high-end gamer market, also considering it too niche. Blizzard (Mac’s oldest and most-loyal gaming supporter) is not producing a Mac version of it’s latest because Mac’s don’t have (and apparently aren’t soon expected to have) the hardware capability to run it.

    2. Uhhh, well no, the 2013 Mac Pro has some serious pro issues, so the complaints are hardly laughable except to someone who fails to notice and understand the problem. No PCIe3 16X slots for one. Thunderbolt 2 is not fast enough. PCIe3 buses are faster or on par with Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 has barely arrived (with PCIe4 on it’s way). You can not add additional GPU’s in the same chassis and you have to replace the one it comes with (not having the BTO option) with the more popular Nvidia type if using Adobe software options. God only knows why Apple chose AMD for it’s GPU supplier and lack of CUDA support.

      Mac Pro’s are expensive and having to swap out cards for one’s you want instead of the one supplied is ridiculous and yet another expense on top of a mighty big one. An updated 4 year old 2012 Mac Pro is a better option & buy than the current Mac Pro.

      For the record my needs are for 4K video, 3D CGI and compositing. Frankly I need options and an easily upgradeable machine. Pro minds are not the average consumer ones. I am not looking for svelte styling, quiet operation is nice, and a big MP box with loads of options would make me (and many) salivate with glee.

    3. True, everything does (eventually) advance & progress…

      …but since TB3 in the form of the USB-C connector has been out for over a year now – – via all of those MacBook customers, who still don’t have a complete set of adaptor cables – – the poor execution of the TB2–>TB3 transition is another black mark and unforced error by Apple.

  5. Likely just another example Apple is a lost company. More concerned with pretty watch bands for the less than great AW. Company got to big and foolish. I would’ve thought Apple would’ve fared much better being a big corporation as they have so few products, I guess that’s not the case.

    1. Nah, this doesn’t make Apple lost but redirected and re-prioritized elsewhere where they make huge profits. And we don’t know for certain they don’t have a few more 5K monitor and MP tricks up their sleeve.

      1. Apple has absolutely no resource constraints stopping it from updating its Mac product line. What is happening is the Cook is interested only in mobile and thin client computing, and is giving the middle finger to personal computer users. The tables have turned in the 1984 Mac ad.

        And still the Cook apologists seem to think that Apple cares about the Mac user, despite all evidence to the contrary.

        1. Not likely Tim Cook wants the Mac to languish on his watch, no pun intended. I’m more worried about an Ivory Tower disconnect. I’m not convinced it’s a resource attention allocation issue. I have no doubt there are plenty of meetings, planning and resources committed to the Mac, but are they really paying attention to their customers?

          Apple has traditionally under Jobs resisted listening to it’s users under the old Henry Ford non-quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses’ instead of a car which they had no idea about. But no one said they wanted faster horses, they just wanted less horseshit.

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple gets out of the desktop business altogether. Basically, they have become a consumer oriented business that is more focused on tweens, mobile, apps, and laptops. No love for pro users, other than laptops. Enterprise user support has been dead for a long time, I don’t see that coming back ever. I also wouldn’t be surprised if eventually they kill off laptops.

    1. I am starting to feel like I did years ago when I was using Windoze. The manufacturer has abandoned me and doesn’t care about my needs.

      I just added a new SSD to my aging iMac rather than pay what I consider very high prices for uninspiring current Macs. Among my problems with current Macs are lack of sufficient affordable SSD drives, high memory prices and difficulty upgrading (who wants to open and iMac?).

      I don’t expect Apple to make $300 laptops and $500 desk computers combined with l lousy customer service, but I do expect some innovation in the Mac products.

    2. Considering the Mac is the cornerstone of the Apple universe it would surprise the hell out of me if they were to abandon it. Not going to happen. One look at how they’re ecosystem works together and this conjecture is spurious and specious. Where do you get your information that Enterprise user support is dead with BYOD especially and the growing adoption of Macs in the Enterprise?

      http://www.computerworld.com/article/3083396/apple-mac/wwdc-2016-apple-s-8-key-enterprise-stories.html

  7. The entire Apple lineup is in a very sad state. Literally everything except the 12″ MacBook are at least outdated, and many are even well overdue for an update (or even overdue for multiple updates). This is one way to force people into wanting to move off the platform, if the entire thing feels given up on. I NEED a new machine. RELEASE SOMETHING! They’re starting to get not only ridiculous, but disrespectful to loyal Apple customers.

    1. Which year? Clueless Cook has had the better part of a decade to offer a cohesive family of Retina desktop displays, and he just couldn’t come up with the cash.

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