Apple’s Mac stagnation

“Most of Apple’s product lines are severely overdue for a refresh,” Joel Hruska writes for ExtremeTech. “Apart from the recently refreshed MacBook, many of the company’s Mac products are well over a year old. The Mac Mini is nearly two, the high-end workstation Mac Pro is almost three, and the sole remaining non-Retina MacBook Pro is now more than four years old.”

“Apple’s relatively lax refresh cycle is mostly driven by the low rate of improvements in PC hardware these days,” Hruska writes. “Apple is just more honest about it… Apple has held off on making fundamental platform changes precisely because it’s been waiting for the underlying technology to advance enough to make the changes worthwhile.”

Hruska writes, “I’m not an Apple apologist.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, you are an Apple apologist.

There is no reason for a company with $200+ billion dollars on hand to sit around with their thumbs up their asses regarding any aspect of their business, much less one that sold 4.252 million units for revenue of $5.239 billion in the last 91-day period.

SEE ALSO:
Here’s why Apple doesn’t care about updating Macs or something – August 5, 2016
Apple should stop peddling four-year-old Macs – August 4, 2016
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

82 Comments

  1. I actually agree with his point, it’s one I’ve made several times. The last couple of generations of processors haven’t provided the massive boost in compute performance that the early core2 and i series did. Our 15″ 2012 MacBook Pro’s computationally are not much slower than the 2015 variant, in fact only a couple of seconds in large encodes, and since they’re in raid 0 have ssd transfer rates around 1GB/s. The only real difference is the pcie storage and the graphics horsepower of some of the newer chips, however the 650m does do pretty well still. And if you look at the Xeons since 2013, the newest ones aren’t much faster than the E-5’s in the trash can Pro’s.

    I know I’ll get a bunch of shit for this, but when you look at the generational difference between haswell-broad well-sky lake , there isn’t a massive performance gap especially in mobile CPUs. The only real difference with the broad well-E and skylake desktop chips is the addition of more cores tot he high end unlock able chips. Now on the graphics front? Yes, that should be updated. Gpus have had big gains in the last two years, so they need a bump.

    However, these new Kaby lake processors are probably the generational leap they’ve been waiting for. And also thunderbolt 3 boards, etc.. I still maintain that there will be a complete refresh of the entire line up this fall from top to bottom. If there isn’t then I think they need to get some serious shit, but let’s just wait and see.

    1. There is no reason why we shouldn’t see Mac refreshes every 6 months. New GPUs alone are reason enough to refresh especially since you can’t replace them on your own. The whole Mac product line is a said state right now aside from the new Macbook. Hackintosh here I come.

      1. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t see Mac refreshes every 6 months”

        The average update cycle for Apple products (especially Macs) has NEVER been 6 months!

        Not only is that much too frequent to be financially feasible, but also people would complain if they bought an expensive Mac that they thought was “new” only to have it be made “old” a few months later.

        1. So it isn’t financially feasible to drop in the latest GPU every 6 months? How do you figure? People on the PC side of things can switch stuff out on the fly whenever they want to. We’re stuck with mobile graphics cards in desktop computers.

          Technology advances. That’s the way the world works. Do people in the auto industry complain because a new car comes out every year? I’d rather have the latest tech available for when I have the money to spend, then to have a a 4 year old computer that costs the same that it did 4 years ago and is still THE SAME price!!! Apple needs to wake the hell up already.

            1. botty, you are still a deluded nutcase. Fortunately, you are not quite as vocal on this forum as you were in the past. Sometimes one has to appreciate the small improvements…

          1. Apple solders the CPU and GPU to the motherboard in the MacBooks, so you would need to take the MacBook apart and do your own soldering (which is not advisable). And it would invalidate your warranty.

            But if you MUST have the latest CPU and GPU as soon as they come out, you will need to get a Windows PC laptop that doesn’t have them soldered to the motherboard.

            But besides spending lots of money every few months on the latest and greatest CPU and GPU, you will need to also find the drivers for them, and then test them with your Windows laptop to make sure that everything runs properly (no crashing).

    2. I see that, but my son who is going to college for engineering wants all the latest and greatest. But I wondered if he is even my biological son when he opted for a Surface Book. Apparently he wants to game at the dorm.

    3. You are wrong.
      The newest Xeons feature AVX-512 instructions which process 512 bits at at time versus a maximum of 256 bits for its predecessors. The Xeons in the Mac Pro are so old, they don’t even have AVX-2 (256-bit) instructions; they only have AVX (128-bit).
      The new Xeons support DDR4; Apple’s Mac Pro Xeon: only DDR3.

      There is a lot more going on in these processors besides clock speeds. Intel has been advancing. Tim Cook and Apple stand still.

      1. Again, I just don’t get why within 6 months of a new processor coming out why a new processor cannot go in. It’s a pretty basic process for boosting sales. We don’t need radically new form factors, just stay up-to-date on a reasonable schedule. It doesn’t even need to be a refresh, just offer the latest processor as an upgrade.

        With the old cheese grater Mac Pros all Apple needed to do was solder a Thunderbolt connector to the motherboard. Basic stuff that would have had the pro-market driving Thunderbolt adoption. Then they create the trash can Mac Pros and immediately kill them by letting the processors get out of date.

        Unbelievable.

    4. Depending on what you’re doing there *is* a huge difference in the processing power between Haswell and Skylake. Yes, for some things it’s less than 10%, but for some other things it’s as much as 50% to 75% improvement. Include other upgrades such as faster RAM, faster and wider PCIe based SSDs, faster GPUs, and the rest and the overall difference between the 2013 Mac Pro and what is possible now can be well over 100% increase in throughput for some users — and at least 25% to 30% for most users. Hell, for those of us that can use it, a P100 based graphics system can be as much as a four fold improvement since that GPU has a 64 bit implementation that is drastically better than any of the previous chips from either AMD or Nvidia.

      There is a LOT more to system performance than the just the CPU. There have been increases in capability in almost every aspect of computers in the past three plus years since the Mac Pro was announced at WWDC in the summer of 2013.

      As most of the readers on this site know, I’ve been a Mac users and corporate buyer for multiple decades (once negotiated a deal to do a single buy of several thousand Macs for a large computing system), but the current dearth of updates from Apple for its professional systems has been beyond frustrating.

      1. “but the current dearth of updates from Apple for its professional systems has been beyond frustrating.”

        Apple has 2 Pro models for its Mac line. The Mac Pro (desktop) and the MacBook Pro (laptop).

        The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated since it went on sale in December 2013, and the reason why is very clear. I hasn’t been a big seller for Apple. It’s a beautifully designed product, but it’s priced out of the range of most people (even professionals).

        It is very likely that the MacPro will be EOL’d soon.

        On the other hand, Apple’s other Pro model, the MacBook Pro, was last updated just over a year ago.

        Also, it has been rumoured that an entirely newly designed MacBook Pro (not just an update) will be released shortly. So this pro model has been well looked after by Apple (and not neglected AT ALL).

        1. Halo products such as the Mac Pro are particularly telling as for what Apple’s priorities … aren’t.

          And what is particularly telling there is that it may very well be a “beautifully designed” product, but particularly for Pro’s, FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION and in this regards, it has been a big stinking failure because of all of the use cases that it is markedly inferior to its predecessor.

          As such, one is obligated to ask: is the product not selling well because the customer has gone away … or because the product doesn’t serve the customer’s objective needs?

  2. We are at a point where CPU isn’t as important..so yes..not jumping on a minor update to a cpu from intel…understandable. However..Since GPUs are key to driving lots of pixels..and provide more processing anyway…Apple has had plenty of opportunities to update their computers…ESPECIALLY the Pro..ESPECIALLY…when they decide to make the GPU non upgradable…and apparently can’t decide between ATI or NVIDIA boards.

      1. Just remember, Bo, “like-minded” is *not* equivalent to “right-minded.” Your belief in something does not make it true…this is not the Wizard of Oz and you are not the Amazing Kreskin.

  3. OK the premise of this story is that Intel have not done much to improve the chipsets over the last few years.
    Very true but it has now gone too long for updates.
    So either Apple:
    1. Try and force Intel to update the chipsets for their own needs.
    2. Accept that the chipsets are not ideal but update the models to help drive Mac sales.

    It is great to come up with fantastic new designs but when the new components are not ready then do incremental updates.

    In the last 2 years I have wanted to get a new mini and rMBP. I passed on a new mini and added in a SSD to the 2009 mini unit. My first gen rMBP is still fantastic and is not slowing down at all.

    Part of the problem is that the older macs are still going strong. But Apple need to give reasons for users to upgrade and updating the chipsets will be one way to encourage more sales.

  4. Some people seem to not understand that Apple does what any smartly run business does. It puts lots of effort and resources into products that are successful and profitable, and less effort and resources into products that are less successful or are going to be EOL’d.

    This is the current state of Apple’s Mac products:

    – MacBook (a successful product) was updated less than 4 months ago

    – MacBook Air, last updated March 2015, will be EOL’d soon (replaced by a larger model based on the 12″ MacBook) so it doesn’t make sense for Apple to spend a lot of time and money updating them again

    – MacBook Pro, last updated May 2015 (not that long ago). There have been rumours that a totally redesigned MacBook Pro will be introduced in the next month or so.

    – iMac was updated only 10 months ago (October 2015). It is a very successful product, and Apple updates it regularly.

    – Mac mini hasn’t been updated since October 2014. This hasn’t been a big seller, and will probably be phased out by Apple.

    – Mac Pro hasn’t been updated since it went on sale in December 2013. This product also has not been a big seller, and it is doubtful that Apple will continue this model much longer.

    So there you have it. Apple currently has 3 successful Mac models which it has been updating very regularly. Then, there are 3 Mac models that will likely be phased out soon.

    The people who are complaining seem to be focused on the 3 models that are being phased out, and don’t understand that Apple isn’t spending more money to update products that will soon be EOL’d.

    Those same people seem to be forgetting that Apple has been regularly updating the current 3 successful Mac products.

    In other words, the world isn’t coming to an end. Apple knows what it is doing, even if we don’t. ;-))

    1. The entire Mac lineup is a mess and sadly lags behind the PC counter parts. The sad truth when you start soldering things on a board and where changes require a line retooling.

      The other products in the Mac line are not as successful because they lag behind their PC counter parts. They are actually downgrading these products.

      I have many PC friends who would love a mac to go along with the iPhones, but then they see the expensive prices for old specs. Who wants that?

      You can’t justify a premium price because some idiot thinks a thinner desktop computer is something someone wants.

      Not everyone wants to pay a super premium on a simple memory upgrade.

      When Steve was running the company you paid a premium because he put out quality products and quality software.

      Time puts out, outdated spec’d machines with buggy software and expects people to pay a premium because they made it thinner.

      People have had enough of the “thinner” garbage. Apple lagged behind the bigger screen phones because they felt we didn’t need it. Even though people kept saying they wanted a bigger screen. Apple caved and ended up with the biggest selling iPhone of all time.

      Apple needs someone who is connected with the needs of the people, stop with the obsession with “thinner” Aka breaks/bends more easily and at least keep pace with PC on the spec level.

      Only low end PC’s are selling now with 8 gigs of memory at nearly half the price of an iMac. But at least the PCs have an upgrade path for memory and hard drive.

      I’ll keep hanging onto my 2009 iMac until I build a Hackintosh or Apple comes to it’s senses.

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

      “Apple isn’t spending more money to update products that will soon be EOL’d.”

      if the don’t update the Mac Pro etc it will be a disaster for some users.

      without the Pro there is nothing that will drive two or more large monitors successfully (I have a 27 inch cintiq and another large monitor connected to an upgraded Mac Pro).

      look at GPU stats (which I’ve printed before):
      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.

      ——-
      the top iMac maxes out with a 4 GB GPU and that will cost you a lot of money. If I connect a 27 inch Cintiq to it , it doesn’t have enough horsepower (two big monitors with 2 GB each won’t be able to rotate a high polygon model etc well with other files and programs open) , dwarfed by current PC cards.

      —–
      You said that the Mini and Pro doesn’t sell well , but perhaps they the reason is that they SCREWED UP the DESIGNS ? they neutered the Mini and created a PRO Mac where you can’t change the GPU (not only are newer GPUs much faster, GPUs are ALSO DIFFERENT for different uses,

      NOTE the Mini was a the bestselling Mac desktop in some areas when it was new , even IN 2015 IN AMAZON’s LISTING OF BESTSELLING COMPUTERS THERE WERE TWO MAC MINIS ON IT.

      (I can’t give the link as sometimes MDN deletes posts with links as Spam . but just google : top 10 best selling Desktop computers June 2015)

      that in spite of bad design choices, and practically NO MAC ADVERTISING, not even cheap web ads.
      ———-

      ALSO
      Tim Cook and Apple Management seems very concerned about MINORITIES and OPPRESSED GROUPS:

      MAYBE IF HIGH END MAC PRO USERS REGISTER THEMSELVES AS AN OPPRESSED MINORITY HE WILL PAY ATTENTION?

      1. the other thing about the DEFENDERS of apple’s current mac policy saying the Macs are fine, so what is
        YOUR EXPLANATION OF CURRENT FALL IN MAC SALES?

        (sales were beating PC averages for a long time until recently coinciding with numerous complaints from Mac users. are the two UNRELATED ?)

    3. Here’s a metric for you to try to rationalize (thanks, Reddit):

      4 years ago, Apple launched the mid-2012 MacBook Pro for AUD $1349.

      Today, it sells the same laptop for AUD $1699.

  5. I’m very frustrated by the lack of a 17″ laptop. I’m still using the refurbished 2011 17″ that I bought 2 years ago and now just had to have its motherboard replaced due to its video going bad. I love this laptop. It has a matte screen and lots of ports. Probably going to put a SSD hard drive in it soon now that the prices of 1tb drives are coming way down.

    I put a Bluetooth dongle on it and the handoff hack, but would much prefer a newer model that didn’t require hacks.

    If Apple is going to be the only place you can buy a laptop that runs Mac OS then they need to give its users more choices. Same with their headless Macs.

  6. “We desperately need someone to tell us why Tim Cook is not a lazy, incompetent, fuck-up, and that there is a rational explanation”

    I have provided the explanation on the current state of Apple’s Mac products below.

    As far as your insipid and disrespectful comments, like “Tim Cook is not a lazy, incompetent, fuck-up” and “More time spent on gay parades than new product updates”, it really reflects poorly on your character… NOT on Tim Cook’s.

            1. huh. A bit before the Internet, my father was in Mensa, but he quit, complaining to me that all they cared about was getting the highest score in games and other forms of silly one-upmanship. I asked him if there were any women in the organisation and he said no — but, a year previously, when he had tried competitive Scrabble the hatchet-faced women cleaned his clock, cackling as they did so. He hadn’t much of an appetite for IQ puzzles after that. Pride is so easily wounded, and so slow to recover.

      1. “And who would you replace him with? Scott Forstall?”

        botvinnik is a Trump supporter, so it would probably be Donny Trump that he would like to run Apple (as well as the USA).

        Hey, if Trump can build a 2,000 mile long, 100 foot high wall to keep Americans out of Mexico, he should have no problem running Apple Inc. (into the ground). 😉

  7. Ignoring the ignorant (and worse) comments here…

    Apple is TWO generations BEHIND implementing Intel i7 CPUs. WTF is that about?

    And the Mac ‘Pro’. OMFG, with cobwebs blowing out the top of the cooling tower.

    September had better deluge us with new and better Macs or there shall be protestation beyond even this page! 😡😡😡

    1. If there isn’t a new real Pro Mac I am going to be very disappointed. Apple used to care about productivity including high productivity of its most creative and demanding customers including scientists and engineers.

      Don’t abandon us Apple! (Or more accurately, stop abandoning us!)

      1. Apple still sells both professional digital video and audio applications. As the masters of integrating hardware with software, why would they hobble their own software with out dated hardware? This has become one of those situations where I wish they’d give me a call and ask me over to Apple to kick some lazy ass and get the company back on track. (Only sort of kidding). 😉

        Something is distracting Apple from keeping the Mac up-to-date. Again my mind wanders to Mothership move planning as a possible source of distraction and lost focus.

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