Apple should stop peddling four-year-old Macs

“One thousand, five hundred and fourteen days. Or: four years, one month, and twenty-four days,” Sam Byford writes for The Verge. “That’s how long it’s been since Apple released the last MacBook Pro to come without a Retina display… The $1,199 13-inch model was powered by a 2.5GHz Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, a solid option for a midrange laptop in June 2012. I got one that month and am actually typing this column on it right now… Nothing unusual about that, of course — technology moves on. Except it’s now August 2016, and Apple is inexplicably still selling the exact same laptop.”

“For longtime Mac users, MacRumors’ Buyer’s Guide is an online institution. The publication catalogs the release dates of each major Apple product line and contrasts them against the company’s usually predictable timeframe for updates, ultimately delivering a verdict on whether it’s better to buy now or wait,” Byford writes. “Apart from the 12-inch MacBook, which was refreshed in April, every single Mac line from the mini to the Pro is designated as ‘Don’t Buy’ because of how long it’s been since Apple updated them.”

“The Retina MacBook Pro is 442 days into its current cycle, despite refreshes coming every 268 days on average in the past. The Mac mini has gone 657 days since its last update, which was controversial in itself since Apple removed quad-core options and made the product harder to upgrade after purchase,” Byford writes. “And the Mac Pro, released in December 2013 following much ‘Can’t innovate any more, my ass’ – fueled fanfare? It hasn’t received a single update since then. ‘This is without a doubt the future of the pro desktop,’ Phil Schiller said when announcing the Mac Pro on stage that year. Did he mean that this was the precise model Apple expects professional users to use literally forever?”

“There’s a certain point at which it just starts to look like absentmindedness, and many Mac computers are well past that point now,” Byford writes. “If Apple doesn’t want to keep its products reasonably current, that’s its prerogative. But if that truly is the case, maybe it shouldn’t sell them at all.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sad, but true. Outside of the 12-inch MacBook (and that’s only for real road-warriors doing certain kinds of work), we wouldn’t recommend buying any Mac today. When people ask us, and they do quite frequently, our advice is the same: “Don’t buy now. Wait for new Macs.”

How many hundreds of billions of dollars more does Apple management need at their disposal in order to do their jobs properly? Any other reasonably competent company a quarter the size of Apple, generating a quarter the amount of income as Apple, should be able to unveil a new iPhone every year while still keeping their Mac lines at least reasonably up-to-date. Apple can’t seem to manage the former or the latter.

What’s the problem? Too big, too fast? Moving into the spaceship? Getting fat and lazy on easy recurring revenue? Too much old blood and not nearly enough new in Apple’s upper management ranks and on Apple’s Board of Directors? Jony’s painfully obvious disinterest or outright absence (see the ugly iPhone Smart Battery Case and the awfully-designed Apple TV Siri Remote, for two recent examples)? No Steve around to really motivate the troops? Founder’s quotes on the wall no longer cutting it already?

Seemingly confused, distracted, and lazy management is a painful thing to witness.

“Oh, but Apple is doing great!” you say? Sure, but you could make the case that they could be doing even better, perhaps much better. Perhaps even to the point of having Macs available that MacRumors and MacDailyNews and anybody else with a pulse could recommend buying today.

As we wrote back in April:

When you’ve sold yourself on the idea that the iPad is the future of personal computing by swallowing your own marketing hook, line, and sinker, and then fail to deliver on that promise for too long (skimping on RAM, offering underpowered multitasking, etc. – now, finally, largely corrected with iPad Pro), you neglect the horse that brung ya (Macintosh is his name) and shoot yourself in the foot (Q216 results, Mac sales unable to make up for the continued iPad sales decline, and Mac’s streak of outgrowing the PC market shattered).

Mirror, Tim Cook. Tim Cook, mirror.

A big picture revision and course correction would be well advised. Perhaps some new blood — not stuffed quite so complacently with RSUs, perhaps? — high up on the food chain, as well?

SEE ALSO:
Is Apple phasing out the pro-level Mac? – August 2, 2016
Apple confirms Mac market share loss – July 29, 2016
Apple prepping new MacBook Air with USB-C, reports claim – July 27, 2016
What’s happening with Apple’s Macintosh? – July 14, 2016
Sales suffer as Apple neglects the Mac – July 12, 2016
Apple’s Mac sales fall, economies shudder – July 12, 2016
IDC, Gartner: Apple’s Mac no longer bucking PC industry’s sales slide – July 12, 2016
Here’s the problem: Apple is ignoring the Mac – April 28, 2016
Apple’s Mac sales tumble 12% in second-biggest downturn since ’07 – April 27, 2016
Apple reports earnings miss in Q216 – April 26, 2016
Apple’s languishing Macintosh: Is a massive re-invention near? – April 25, 2016
Hey Apple, how about shipping a new computer sometime? – April 15, 2016
Apple’s aging Mac Pro is falling way behind Windows rivals – April 12, 2016

74 Comments

    1. Tim Cook is not a man of the risky future, he is man of safe today.

      Tim Cook is not taking risks and staying in his comfort zone. His mission is to drive company to safe waters and stay there as long as possible. No risk, no innovation, yearly unnecesary pseudo-updates of macOS, iOS and iPhone, (who needs that?) neglecting Mac users and professional software clients.

      Two years ago it looked for me like very safe and intelligent strategy. But it’s not. It’s just a simple human fear of close-minded HP guy who is in charge of Apple. He knows he is just a future blind guy seeing no visions and having no superpowers.

      Apple needs a visionary, crazy and restless mind having constant creative itch to create something new and something different.

      Captain Cook its time to go. Apple is not a warm seas cruiser its a battle ship.

  1. Has technology changed at all that much? I had a PC i built in 2009 and was an Intel i7 920 quad core at 2.66Ghz overclocked to 3.2Ghz. I now have an Intel i7 4790k quad at 4Ghz and really don’t see that much of a difference. Same for the video card. I had two Nvidia 285’s and upgraded to a single 970 with about the same performance. So video was a little better and the processor was a little better, but nothing breath taking. For the prices though, I think Apple should be gunning with the latest technology every 6 months or at least once a a year. And making things even cheaper and still selling at the same price I think is not right as well. They dropped the CD drive and using integrated video saving money, but no cut in prices! Apple needs to go back to running quality processors of high end i5, i7 and Xeon and no more integrated graphics junk and be using the latest and greatest and best nvidia cards. They keep trying to push iPads over the computer and sorry, they just don’t cut it!

    1. The tech market has traditionally responded with price cuts.

      Case in point: a 2TB SSD retails today for as much as Apple wants for a 1TB _upgrade_ in an iMac.

      But does Apple? nope. And sure, this is a reasonable business plan when the old models were being replaced regularly … but “regularly” doesn’t mean that a half {bleeping!} decade passes between hardware modernizations.

    2. Yes it has.

      Don’t look at just CPU clock speeds and numbers of cores. There’s a lot more to overall performance capabilities than just those things. Performance is a complex combination of everything from the storage bus speed (no one wanting high performance should be using anything but 8x PCIe 3.1, or if you want to be on the bleeding edge, PCIe 4.0), RAM speed and max RAM (override the macOS normal paging scheme and load 100% of the app and data into RAM and watch things fly), number of PCIe lanes (in both the CPU and the bridge chip, with two or more GTX 1080 cards), etc., etc. (I’m way too lazy to keep going.)

      1. Agreed. And it goes much beyond that. The newer Intel processors are packed with support for new instructions for processing larger data sets. The Skylake Xeons can process arrays of 512 bits (e.g. 32 16-bit words or 16 32-bit words) in a single cycle.
        Like your 64-bit processor? How about a 512-bit processor?

    1. We’ve heard that cliche time and again and frankly it just isn’t true, just hateful anti-TC spew. Tim Cook is not spending all his CEO time on social or political agendas. Where’s your proof? In fact I bet no more than .02%, and most of that in personal off-the-clock time.

  2. I bought one of those for my wife last summer. It’s the only one with an internal optical drive, which she still finds useful. Would it have been better with a retina display or more modern processors? You bet.

    I’m thinking of buying another one today. Why? Because the computer I’m using right now is the June 2009 version of the same computer and it wont be supported with under macOS Sierra and what ever comes next will probably not be a flexible, with a range of ports and no need for a bunch of dongles that only come from Apple,

    The mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13 is a bargain and a real workhorse. Plus you can upgrade your own RAM, upgrade your own hard drive or convert to SSD and replace the battery with just a tri-lobe and phillips screwdriver. That’s a damned good computer, in my book.

    Alas, it doesn’t come in Rose Gold, or anything other than Aluminum. Looks like a computer of all things.

    1. Did the same thing for my son headed off too college. Maxed out the CPU with Apple, but then will max out the 16 GB RAM and buy a 1TB SSD for $300 TOTAL. Apple only offers a 500GB SSD for $500 and they only offer an 8GB RAM upgrade.

      And we don’t have to buy an external optical drive. In my admittedly limited experience, even the OEM Apple external DVD drive is very, very flaky.

      If Apple can’t price the SSDs any lower, they should offer conventional HD options. Sometimes you need space on the main computer HD and not on an external drive.

      1. Good recommendation …

        … and in looking at your post-buy shopping list (RAM + SSD), I do have to start to wonder:

        Is Apple really so naive/stupid?

        Case in point: they obviously have the sales data which indicates that many (most?) of their customers don’t buy RAM or SSDs – – but they also have OS X system configuration reporting data which says that these systems now have lots more RAM & Storage.

        So … do these two Apple organizations talk to each other, to put 1 + 1 together on just how many customers are NOT buying the Apple OEM upgrades because they’re too damn expensive?

        Similarly, the latter group can also inform the new product development group that relying on only the sales data provides a misleading perception of what their customer’s “hardware geek” profile is.

        And so on.

        Point being that we know that Mac’s are favored by the more educated (& presumably smarter) customer demographic, which would also mean that the customer base has figured out to optimize value from Apple … but has Apple figured this out yet for themselves?

        Well, that is … other than saying “FU!” by locking down their hardware to deny DIY upgrades. The reality is that if these bumps were priced commensurate with the Market, most of these intelligent people would give Apple this part of their existing business, rather than take it elsewhere.

    2. And Apple’s whole idea that a desktop PC needs to be as thin and light and small as possible is completely misplaced. If I’m talking about a desktop computer, then I want the options of swapping out HDs, RAM and video cards over a 1 inch smaller footprint.
      This is why I never understood why they used 2.5″ HDs in the MacMini. They should have used the cheaper/more bang for the buck, 3.5″ drives for what should have been the cheapest Mac on the market. There was ZERO technological or even aesthetic reason to use an enclosure that small for a desktop machine.
      At least give us one reasonably priced desktop machine where these options are available.

  3. Too bad you still need a Mac when the iPad goes into recovery mode. Only two ways to fix an iPad in recovery mode, plug it into a Mac or wipe it through “Find my Mac”. I guess iOS still needs some work to live without a Mac.

  4. (I have two upgraded Mac Pros, a 12.9 iPad Pro, a Macbook Pro etc)

    but like I said before:

    —-
    for certain uses Macs today are falling behind.

    Look at GPU speeds.
    Barefeats.com shows a 6 year old Mac Pro with slower subsystem and processors but with Upgraded Video card running a GPU intensive game Diablo 3 beating current macs by a wide margin .

    2010 Mac Pro with Upgraded Card : 181 fps
    iMac 5k : 75 fps

    current cylinder Mac Pro D700 : 73 fps
    (lowest price with d700 is over $4500 !)

    Macbook Pro retina : 27 fps

    A hackintosh (with faster subsystem than that 6 year old MP) or high end windows machine will have even bigger differences than the above.

    People have argued that fps is not important as games have a limit for fps playability but that’s not the point, the test shows GPU power. Besides games GPU power is needed for CERTAIN tasks like running multiple high res monitors or doing certain types of 3D etc. I have a 27 Cintiq pen monitor and another big monitor for example and would like to open several high end programs and lots of files at the same time.

    The is not a single Mac today that you can upgrade the GPU. Since that Barefeats tests I believe there are even faster video cards.

    Lots of mac uses today don’t realize that their photoshop brushes at large setting are going slow or games stuttering due to lack of GPU power (go look at the test results again. A Macbook PRO — I have one — is like 7 times slower than a upgraded 6 year old mac in GPU performance ! )

    GPU performance is just one issue. RAM (PCs can go up to 512 GB), faster subsystems etc are others of concern.

    (Remember the time when Jobs would put Macs side by side with PCs for shootouts running Photoshop etc and blow their socks off… ?)

    I love the Mac and the MacOS but there’s something wrong with Apple’s behaviour towards certain types of PRO users. (I emphasize CERTAIN as lots of people are happy with their current macs)

    also where the Mac marketing?
    no serious Mac advertising since Mac PC guy (one new ad a month for 4 years) ages ago
    (note Macs near match iPad revenues, beat iPad in the April quarter. Imagine if they actually marketed them… ).

    not upgrading their macs regularly, a misfit of a Mac Pro (non upgradable GPUs etc), no mid tower between the mini and the Pro which many users have been clamouring for and no marketing (practically none to cash in on the Win 8 fiasco years which is bizarre) makes dropping Mac sales a self inflicted prophecy

    ——

  5. So incredibly well put. I run a “high end” lab at Palomar College in San Diego and I’ve had to delay replenishing all 34 machines in my lab waiting for a revision to the Mac Pro (we replaced about another 60 last month in lower-end labs, but those “new” Mac Pros are already 3 years old when just installed). Our plans are to move ahead with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and other advancements. But I remain awaiting Apple and their management to catch up. Ugh.

    1. And your reason for not using Ubuntu, Slackware or Scientific Linux in a “high end lab” is what exactly? A consumer oriented OS has no business in a high performance computing environment

      1. I beg to differ.

        Use macOS as a UNIX OS and you can do some very interesting things with it — as much as you can with those you mention. Plus, you get a good interface built in.

        I’ve done rather high end scientific work since the 512 k Mac days. For the really big stuff I’d use absoft’s FORTRAN to write and debug the code then port it over to they big machines of the day as I had access to Cybers and Crays. But, writing and testing the code on the Mac was 100 times faster than trying to do it on those idiot savant machines.

        The problem is, as the vast majority of people on this site have said, Apple’s hardware is woefully behind — to the point of being truly asinine. I haven’t bought a Mac Pro in almost four years and I used to buy several a year. Unless Apple comes out with a Mac Pro that is really designed for professionals (NOT designed for aesthetics but for real work) I won’t be buying any for the foreseeable future either.

        And, there are many articles out there about how to take one of those 2012 Mac Pros and upgrade them for processors, GPUs, RAM speed, add cards for SUB 3.1, etc., etc. and end up with a Mac Pro that completely trounces even the very top of the line, maxed out, current Mac Pro.

        And then on top of it there is always the Hacintosh route. For those that want to run multiple OSes and have the most recent hardware using an Apple Mac is not the best option given today’s Mac lineup. At the top of the line in hardware, it would not surprise me at all if Apple is losing as much as 25% of its sales due to Hacintoshes.

        1. Yeah I hear you. My 2007 Mac Pro is begging to be replaced even though still working fine. (Just lost a 2006 iMac and my old G5 Mac Pro who gave up the ghost at last.) I will not be buying another Mac Pro (Im waiting Apple!!) unless it conforms to professional standards of upgradeability and versatility. As you perfectly said “NOT designed for aesthetics but for real work.” Amen to that!

          I hope Schiller is having a dire thriller haunting moment over his “Can’t innovate my ass” moment of his. The problem with some types of innovation (like miniaturization & design for design’s sake) is that they are misguided and unnecessary. Completely not designed correctly for the market they are intended. Let’s hope there is a major correction upside to this VERY soon. Otherwise next stop – a Hackintosh or PC Workstation.

      2. It’s the high end multimedia where we teach such things as Multi-Cam video editing with UHD/4k media, green screen compositing and VFX, 3D printing and product design, aerial mapping and numerous other subjects. I set it up with RAID servers for each row of 4 or 5 students that are Thunderbolt networked together to allow the media to be stored on the RAIDs. Students connect at between ~400 to 1200 MB/s and the multicam project alone requires at least 250 MB/s sustained per each student. That is only possible with the MacPro and its 6 Thunderbolt ports. Maybe that doesn’t fit your definition of “high end”.

  6. Sadly, I must agree. As I have stated several times over the past few months, I simply could not justify a new iMac to replace my aging 5 year old iMac. For the price, the newer iMacs are just not worth it. So, I added a fast external SSD drive for booting up and running the the real workhorse software and did it all for less than 10% of the price of a new iMac.

    I also replaced my even older 2008 Macbook with a 2015 version last year. A new Macbook Air. But, if I had to do it today, I would have replaced the HD with an SSD like I did in the iMac.

    Apple needs to give us a road map for updates to the Macs that includes approximate arrival times.

    1. I am almost in exactly the same boat Josh. Have a 2010 iMac special order that I’ve upgraded to 16 Gig of Ram and put a new SSD inside. Slow IO is killing me as FW800 is the best I have but when I compare my machine to a 2015 5k iMac not worth the 3k it would cost to replace it not with Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB 3.1, Displayport 1.4 all rolling out now. Come on  release the tech!

      1. I have the 2010 iMac 27″ as well and I upgraded the internal drive to 3TB and I then used the extra connector on the MB to run an external IDE to connect Hi Speed external Drives works great. I do need a new system but I’ll wait just a bit longer to get an iMac with Thunderbolt 3.

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