Why Apple waited so long to release new MacBook Pros

“Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro refresh principally consisted of bringing slightly faster processors, modestly larger batteries, and Force Touch track pads to the prior-generation models,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “Late last month, Apple released new MacBook Pro models that represented much larger leaps forward than [did] last year’s models.”

“The investment community might be wondering why it took Apple so long to get these redesigned MacBook Pro systems out,” Eassa writes. “Per a new report from DigiTimes, we now have the answer.”

“DigiTimes, citing ‘sources from the upstream supply chain,’ says that Apple is ‘said to have delayed the product’s shipment schedule by a quarter due to low yield rates for some components,'” Eassa writes. “The components facing these yield challenges, the report says, included batteries, keyboards, and hinges.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You really can’t ship until the yields are at least somewhat acceptable.

14 Comments

  1. @MDN: “You really can’t ship until the yields are at least somewhat acceptable”

    While that’s true, it ignores a more important factor, which is that it is foolish to change designs without having a good reason.

    Case in point:

    The prior MBP design had a mature, high quality keyboard that was in production – – so just what was “wrong” with it that required it to be changed?

    If you can’t articulate a specific & objective answer, then the process problem isn’t in manufacturing, but with whoever signed off on a change order (& spent money) which failed to have adequate justification.

    1. Well, hh, that is an old concept – don’t change something if it isn’t broken. But I contend that things can be improved even if they are currently considered to be “good enough.” Apple is not afraid to change things, and that is why they have succeeded – rather spectacularly on multiple occasions – when other companies have faded and failed.

      Have you tried the new MBP keyboard? If not, then I contend that you are indulging in vacuous griping. In addition, what the heck do you know about Apple’s process for defining, evaluating, and approving design changes? What is *your* justification for contending that Apple has insufficient justification?

      1. Sorry, but I’m talking in broad product design & production principles, which is very basic (Undergraduate Economics 101) stuff, with Fixed & Variable costs that any competent technologist already is familiar with.

        Similarly, insofar as your “But have you tried it?” defense attempt, it simply isn’t germane, as you’ve failed to articulate any meaningful product difference that could justify the change.

        For example, you avoided suggesting that it has better tactile feel…or even that it costs Apple less to produce.

        Which means that we’re still waiting to hear any rational justification for change. Merely YA lame fanboy defense on a vague “progress!” mantra, where you’ve fallen short of articulating just what progress, if any, has actually been made.

        1. Oh, and one other thing:

          I don’t know, nor do I need to know what Apple’s specific practices are. All I’m doing is using the perspective of decades of my own professional experience in design & manufacturing and stating the obvious.

          1. Personally, I think the keyboard on my 2003 17″ MBP was the epitome of design and function. No Apple keyboard since then has been as good. But I got over that when I finally sold it for parts years ago. (The chip was getting very slow!) I figure the keyboard was too expensive to make. Besides, who buys a computer …for the keyboard? The main ingredient is the chip. I still dream of that keyboard, but I am over it. It was not my choice. I still buy Apple products. And I still own Apple shares.

            Are u the same hh who has been posting for years? You sound different…

            1. @Tom … sure, things and times change and we do have to resist the temptation for being nostalgic. However, the key design principle is still that the object is to make the product better.

              (with caveats on how “better” can mean different things to different stakeholders … the classical example being quality versus cost).

              “Besides, who buys a computer …for the keyboard?”

              Invariably, we’re always buying a system, so it always has been about more than just the CPU (or whatever). This should be particularly obvious to Mac customers, since from a hardware standpoint, Macs have been overwhelmingly “PCs” inside (eg, Intel, etc), where the primary differentiator has been OS X.

              —–

              “Are u the same hh who has been posting for years? You sound different…”

              Yes, I’ve always used the (with a hypen) “-hh” .SIG handle on MDN, although I don’t know if I’m the only one (or if there’s a hyphen-free ‘hh’).

              If I’m sounding different of late, that’s probably because I’m getting increasingly fed up with more and more “Form-BEFORE-Function” design aesthetic decisions from Johnny Ive. Sure, I like nice looking stuff, but I dislike the compromises that have been foisted on us because Ive thinks that stuff needs to be 0.1mm thinner, and in doing so have F*cked over the thermal design envelope, made maintenance more expensive, etc, etc.

              Case in point: I’ve looked at the “Trash Can” as a candidate replacement for our Mac Pros and found that instead of costing us roughly $5500 each to replace (how much was historically paid), it jumps up to $7500 just to tread water. To switch to Windows with an HP tower would still cost today ~$5500, which means that the “Apple Tax” on this class of desktop is $2000 per bloody machine. OS X is nice, but it isn’t +$2K/node nice.
              (thanks for letting me vent).

            2. Yes, form over function bothers me as well. The trash can is an interesting design. It’s actually a pretty cool design. However, it doesn’t address what pros want in that type of machine. Pros want to swap out the graphics cards, possibly even CPU, memory, etc. as needed. More importantly, they want a machine that gets updated.

              Anyway, with regard to the laptop design…. it’s easy to pick apart each generation and ask why Apple did this or that. Yet, when we look at current machines and compare them to machines from years back, those older machines seem clunky and archaic. It’s very easy to see how the machines have indeed evolved over the years to be much better… even if we lost some of the things we liked along the way.
              The Macbook is the industry standard by which all others are compared. Apple has to take chances and made bold moves in order to remain relevant in design. We criticize Apple for doing things we don’t like, yet, simply following others would be a far worse crime in my opinion. Having said that… I just put my money where my mouth is and ordered one last night. Should get it by 12/22.

  2. Apple could have updated the MBP five months ago and left the shell (including hinge), battery and keyboard the same as the 2015 model.

    Then in February/March 2017 Apple could do a new build with new shell (including hinge), new battery, and new keyboard.

    This is just an excuse. It is not a reason to ship many months old technology and soon be behind the technology curve again!

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