Apple places a big bet with the new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro

“The new MacBook Pro tells us a lot about Apple’s plan for the Mac in today’s mobile world, and it doesn’t revolve around saving the PC,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “All of Apple’s major product categories are interrelated. The goal or job for each is to gain enough capability to reduce the importance of the next most powerful product. For example, the goal of the iPad is to handle so many tasks that we no longer need a Mac.”

“In this theory, the Mac’s role is to serve as the product that pushes the rest of Apple’s product line forward,” Cybart writes. “As [Apple SVP Phil] Schiller put it, the Mac desktop’s role is to ‘challenge what we think a computer can do and do things that no computer has ever done before.'”

“The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar demonstrates how Apple is placing a very different bet than Microsoft. The sheer amount of criticism pointed at the new MacBook Pro from a small but vocal segment of the Mac user base demonstrates how much risk is found with Apple’s bet… As Phil Schiller explained to The Independent earlier this week, Apple was expecting pushback from some of its Mac users. This is a sign that Apple was aware that it was placing a big bet with lots of risk,” Cybart writes. “Apple’s bet with the new MacBook Pro is that the Touch Bar will position the Mac as a tool that is able to push mobile devices forward.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote earlier today: “You can see immediately how useful and valuable the Touch Bar will be. It’s groundbreaking and it will change the way you use your Mac.”

SEE ALSO:
How Apple’s stock apps will use the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro – November 4, 2016

18 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine why would any mac user would find fault with the touch bar. I think it is awesome. But 16MB memory, ports, processors, and my main beef … price. Now, that’s another story. Yes, I know, I am a cheapskate.

    1. IMO, the touchbar is there to enable Apple Pay for online commerce, which it will do by reducing customer “friction” because credit card payments will be done with a thumbprint instead of a reach for the card in one’s wall to type in its numbers.

      But that doesn’t mean that the Touchbar is a panacea for other OS-driven User Interface functions to enhance productivity.

      In this regards, unless you can clearly articulate how the change is *compelling*, it is just window dressing.

      Case in point, one of the ‘features’ is that it can be used in Photos to scrub through one’s image library. Okay, but how was this done before?

      Is it really more effective than for the UI to have a user drag a finger or hit a button (that they don’t have to be looking at) while their eyes are watching BIGGER thumbnails of the same go past on their primary display? Sorry, that’s not a _compelling_ “enhancement”: its a step backwards.

      Similarly, you’ve made the user lift their hand *off* of their primary UI interface (e.g., trackpad, keyboard, mouse) to go use this other input device – – that’s disruptive, ungainly and effectively just a slightly improved (but still bad) gorilla hand by design. Sorry, that’s not a _compelling_ enhancement, but another step backwards.

      And finally, just how thoroughly has it _really_ been thought out for how well these showcased UI’s have been thought through … and tested? Do you really think that all that we’ve seen so far was tested with a user who has 5,000+ images? Historically, this was an issue way back at iPhotos version 5 … and that was a decade ago: today’s prosumer image libraries are 10x larger.

      1. Just the having the brush palette for Photoshop makes me want the Touch Bar. I think once these machines are in the hands of many users the “gimmick” characterization is going to change. Your “lifting the hand” argument is nonsensical. If one considers the keyboard as the primary input interface of a laptop (typically requiring two hands) then the trackpad or a mouse similarly require moving a hand off the primary input. How is moving up to use the Touch Bar any worse than moving down to use the trackpad? How effective Touch Bar will be in any given application remains to be seen, but I really think you are working hard to see the glass half empty.

        1. Most photographers (or anyone who does a lot of image manipulation) interact with their pictures via the mouse, rather than the keyboard. The Touch Bar adds nothing to that process.

          In attempting to transition to Photos, I’ve struggled with the loss of the scroll buttons at the top and bottom of the window, when the library is large (88,000 images and counting). The Touch Bar isn’t going to make that any easier.

          When the palmrests and/or trackpad are displays that allow touch manipulation, which is the logical progression of this technology, it may change usage. But come back after a month or two of using the Touch Bar and let us know how that worked out for you. I’m genuinely looking forward to hearing the hands-on reviews.

  2. The “big bet” wasn’t that ApplePay was added via a touchbar (more on this in a moment).

    The risk that Apple took was to fail to move the ball forward on the technology front, particularly given how much they let their current product(s) go stale, and then not only de-contented the product (though its hardware ports) but also raised its price, despite how Moore’s Law generalized means that treading water results in price cuts.

    Getting back to the touchbar, this is a case study on a convergence point of new tech and costs. Clearly, since one can buy an entire iPad for $500, adding a 1/10th “sliver-of-an-iPad” that is the touchbar onto a Mac simply can’t cost … or be worth … anywhere near as much.

    Similarly, while I’ve not dug into the specifics as to just how the touchbar (reportedly, an OLED) is fabricated, but because it is smaller than an iPad, whatever fab process it uses (when it is of equal MRL) will result in equal/better yield rates to baselines … let’s use the iPad as a case study example: a complete iPad costs Apple around $275, including lots of stuff that’s not just the screen, so 1/10th of that (normalizing by display area) would mean that a good starting point guess for the touchbar is well under $27/unit. Furthermore, because it is smaller, if it uses a fab process like a Silicone wafer, the mask set can sprinkle these around larger components (e.g., iPad screens if applicable) to fill up otherwise unusable space, which further lowers its cost. Really hard to see how anyone can claim with a straight face that this new part’s addition costs anything close to the markup that it is getting.

  3. I would not bet on that Apple given what I am reading online regarding the new MacBook Pros and the Touch Bar. I predict that Apple is either going to do one of two things:

    1. Eventually drop the pro Mac market entirely.
    2. Allow other manufacturers to create macOS clones.

    1. doubt it. I think Apple made a huge mistake with the Mac Pro. And I am hoping that they are rethinking its design. I also think that they’ve put too much product update importance on the processor availability from Intel, thus falling behind on other important system improvements. But I predict new hardware on the desktop Macs to announced in early Spring.

      1. Given what is happening on the consumer end with Apple I doubt it very much. Timmy doesn’t care about Macs, period. That’s quite evident to me. :/

    1. Microsoft had a touchbar prototype in 2009.. and they dumped it because its garbage… lenovo has had one since 2014 (its only 1 colour and no oled, but same concept)…

      apple… no longer leads.
      only follows, with more flair.

      1. There were MP3 players before the iPod, they failed because they sucked. There were touchscreen devices before the iPhone, they all died because they sucked. There were tablets before the iPad, they were bricks.

      2. You know its weird. Lots of movies have shown us things that somehow people couldn’t just build right away. Similarly, lots of companies have released products that somehow didn’t work very well.

        There is a world of difference between an idea, a clunky product, and a product that actually reaches the potential that everyone can see it should have but takes a lot of problem solving to achieve.

  4. The iPhone 7 is on top of its game, but no Mac is not. Treat the Mac as you tread the iPhone or the iPad.

    The iPhone 7 has more memory, better graphics and a faster processor than the last model and is the leader in the market. So why the top MBP cannot have top key components like RAM or GPU?

    The iPad Pro is even better on performance than the iPhone its faster and more robust than the iPhone. It is the best of its class.

    Apple is hiding their unbalanced design with bold statements.

    What 16 GB of RAM has to do with a vision, the future or a design gold on their top performance MBP?

    There are too many contradicting signs in the Mac line in recent years so it is not only reflected in the new MBP. 2016 wasn’t the year. So I only hope 2017 will be it.

    1. The iMac line certainly has its problems but a chief driver of most of them is Intel. The legacy x86 architecture and Intel’s inability to keep up with Moore’s law are a noose around Apple’s iMac ambitions.

      Apple could go A series on the iMac, which would allow them to evolve the platform more rapidly than has been possible in recent years. But pros and those who need x86 compatibility would be enraged. Embedding an A series and an x86 series together in a box would be the worst of both worlds, with god awful battery life and spaghetti software.

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