Apple’s desktop Macs: A showcase of old, aged tech

“There are lots of things that Apple needs to fix, but one of the most glaring right now is the product line,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Macworld. “Sure, we’re on the usual annual cycle of iPhone upgrades. We’ve seen new iPads in recent memory. But what about the Mac? The venerable computer that used to be Apple’s core product is now just an afterthought.”

“Where are new Macs? The iMac hasn’t been refreshed in 521 days. The Mac mini hasn’t seen any changes in 883 days,” McElhearn writes. “And the Mac Pro? Apple should be embarrassed selling a computer that hasn’t been changed in 1,184 days at the same price as when it was launched. That top-of-the-line Mac features three-year old technology at three-year old prices.”

“This is the most prestigious computer company in the world, and their top-of-the-line computer is more than three years old,” McElhearn writes. “How can the top management at Apple think this is normal?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, we, along with many others, have been harping on this issue for some time now.

It’s been an eternity in tech time — 3 years, 2 months, and 11 days to be precise — since the Mac Pro was last updated (also, conveniently, its launch date) and, for that, there really is no legitimate excuse. It’s just plain mismanagement.

We don’t care if you’re selling two units per week. Upgrade it at least annually for the sake of perception and customer retention, at the very least. That’s just Business 101. — MacDailyNews, March 1, 2017

Cook et al. should take note: On your present course, there will rather quickly come a day when such users will choose another company’s wares. — MacDailyNews, January 4, 2017

They’ve chopped off the edges of the bell curve — and big chunks of their key users with them. — Chuq Von Rospach, January 1, 2017

As we wrote last December:

Currently, when it comes to the Macintosh (and Apple TV, among other products and services), Apple under CEO Tim Cook is struggling.

“It’s not about charisma and personality, it’s about results and products.” — Steve Jobs

Cook, who never remotely threatened to offer either of the former attributes, is now obviously having difficulty delivering the latter.

The question is how far up the food chain does this mismanagement problem go? Is this fish rotting from the head down? Or is there a layer of incompetent upper management or an integral structural problem coming to light as Apple grows like a weed with post-Steve employees that’s gumming up the works?

Under Tim Cook, Apple has endured:

• John Browett
• Apple Maps launch debacle (tarring Maps with a bad rep to this day)
• No iMacs for Christmas 2012
• Massive undersupply of Apple Watch at launch, basically killing all momentum
• Massive undersupply of Apple Pencils and Smart Keyboards on hand for the iPad Pro launch
• No updated Mac Pro for three years
• No updated Apple TV for Christmas 2016 (A 4K-capable Apple TV would have been so easy, it’s inexplicable and unforgivable not to have this on the market right now)
• No Apple skinny bundle(s) for Apple TV while other companies ink deals and announce launches – these customers will be tough for Apple to get back once lost, if they ever get the deals signed. (Perhaps, Tim, you need to hire better negotiator(s) who can get the ink? Or make an acquisition that reshapes the industry, causing them to line up to work with you?)
• No compatible Remote app for Apple TV at launch
• No Apple Music capability in Siri on Apple TV at launch
• Apple TV remote looks to have been “designed” by Steve Ballmer himself (If Steve wasn’t already dead, the Apple TV Remote would have killed him; he would’ve had an aneurysm the second the mockup was handed to him)*
• Flagship iPhone launches without its flagship feature (Portrait mode) and is currently still only in “beta” (seriously?)
• No new iPads for Christmas 2016 (Even simply “refreshed” with current A-series processors would have created significantly more sales)
• No updated iMacs for Christmas 2016
• No updated Mac mini for 2+ years
• No AirPods in any meaningful supply for Christmas 2016

Unfortunately, that’s just a partial list of painfully obvious mistakes.

When you’re walking the halls, Tim, look at the walls once in a while. Hopefully, you’ll see these:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have… It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” — Steve Jobs

“Real artists ship.” — Steve Jobs

In closing:

This is absolutely shameful for a company claiming to be a leader in technology.

Exactly how rich and big does Apple have to be before the company runs like it has more than five guys working 18-hour days trying to do everything? The world’s most valuable company is incapable of updating the Mac Pro for two and a half fscking years? Seriously? “Mismanagement” is not too strong a word to apply to the ongoing Mac Pro fiasco.

Just like every other human, there are things Tim Cook does very well and there are other things about which he seems painfully inept.

Hint: Make new Macs and update them with regularity while advertising them strongly. Obviously, as you might have noted by perusing iPad unit sales reports, not everyone has fallen for your “iPad is the next PC” meme, yet, Tim.

We only say that as those who were already Mac users for over 13 years at the point Cook was still over at Compaq trying to get his Windows PC to work.MacDailyNews, July 12, 2016

*With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth. Only the Siri button attempts to be different, but the slightness of its concavity is too subtle to matter; a raised dot on the button would have been much easier for users to feel. The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A remote with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.

SEE ALSO:
Dare we hold out hope for the Mac Pro? – March 1, 2017
Apple CEO Cook pledges support to pro users, says ‘we don’t like politics’ at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting – February 28, 2017
Yes, I just bought a ‘new’ Mac Pro (released on December 19, 2013 and never updated) – January 4, 2017
Attention, Tim Cook! Apple isn’t firing on all cylinders and you need to fix it – January 4, 2017
No, Apple, do not simplify, get better – December 23, 2016
Rare video shows Steve Jobs warning Apple to focus less on profits and more on great products – December 23, 2016
Marco Arment: Apple’s Mac Pro is ‘very likely dead’ – December 20, 2016
How Tim Cook’s Apple alienated Mac loyalists – December 20, 2016
Apple’s not very good, really quite poor 2016 – December 19, 2016
Apple’s software has been anything but ‘magical’ lately – December 19, 2016
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016
Rush Limbaugh: Is Apple losing their edge? – December 9, 2016
AirPods: MIA for the holidays; delayed product damages Apple’s credibility, stokes customer frustration – December 9, 2016
Apple may have finally gotten too big for its unusual corporate structure – November 28, 2016
Apple has no idea what they’re doing in the TV space, and it’s embarrassing – November 3, 2016
Apple’s disgracefully outdated, utterly mismanaged Mac lineup is killing sales – October 13, 2016
Apple takes its eye off the ball: Why users are complaining about Apple’s software – February 9, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015

36 Comments

  1. It’s simple. Cook doesn’t give a shit about anything except the phone.

    Everything else can die, and he would like that actually. It’s what he’s hoping for judging by his action.

      1. I am making do with the latest MacBook Pro 15 maxed out with a BizonBox 3 with TitanX. I use it to run a 98″ 4K screen with wireless keyboard and track pad.

        This would be a dream desktop / wall computer, except for the RAM limits, the older GPU (nVidia’s latest ones have no Mac compatible drivers), etc.

        The Windows PC I could use to drive my wall screen would leave the MacBook Pro in the dust.

        Mac OS or high performance hardware? You only get to choose one. Sucks for those of us who want both.

  2. The insane thing is that consumers aside they should be updating these products purely to keep developers and content providers using their platform AND creating stuff for iOS devices.

  3. I bet the main reason that desktop Macs are not refreshed often is that they do not pull in a large percentage of the revenue.
    $22B annually is the revenue for all Macs, desktops and laptops. 10 years ago, laptops overtook desktops in unit sales. Assume that now 70% of Macs sold are laptops, then around $7B or less comes from desktops. Mac Pros probably account for $0.5B. Mini and iMacs would make up the remainder with iMacs taking a large majority.
    So as a business, it makes sense to focus on your larger earners and that means spending more R&D and refreshing those products more frequently.
    I understand that logic but the extremes that this has taken is too far. Apple need to grow the Mac business and the whole portfolio must be reasonably new in order to have that happen. I personally have delayed 2-3 purchases (1 permanently) over that last 3 years. If enough people do the same the business cannot grow.
    I hoping that the new Apple headquarters will allow Apple to expend their Mac development groups and start releasing new models at a faster rate. I also hope that Intel will get their act together and bring out chipsets with the features Apple needs.

    1. “$22B annually is the revenue for all Macs, desktops and laptops. 10 years ago, laptops overtook desktops in unit sales. Assume that now 70% of Macs sold are laptops, then around $7B or less comes from desktops. Mac Pros probably account for $0.5B. Mini and iMacs would make up the remainder with iMacs taking a large majority.
      So as a business, it makes sense to focus on your larger earners and that means spending more R&D and refreshing those products more frequently.”

      Just what the bean counters would say. The bottom line this fiscal quarter (and maybe, just maybe, the next fiscal quarter) is the ONLY thing that matters. Great products don’t matter. The entire ecosystem does not matter. Keeping the installed base does not matter.

      ALL that matters is what pre tax profit you can crank out this quarter (and maybe next) and minimizing those taxes. Everything else is totally irrelevant.

      That is where Tim’s Apple is headed. My gut reaction is he’s over 75% there already.

    2. Explain why you think causation of Mac sales decline isn’t primarily due to Apple’s dramatic lack of Mac development and promotion in the Cook era.

      Under Cook, new Mac releases have been underwhelming overpriced stripped designs that put fashion over function. It’s an embarrassment.

  4. Is there place to send email to Cook that he might actually see to collectively express that he needs to get off his butt and update the Mac. FaceBook is running iPad ads that follow the silly meme that its a computer replacement. which its not and never will be.

    1. Yeah, me too. I am waiting until WWDC 2017 for an announcement of a new Mac Pro in the form I want (not just the current one updated) and if not I’ll find my new “Mac Pro” in a PC Workstation tower configuration I can work with. Give us what we want Apple. Pros are not the regular consumers you seem to think they are. We can handle non-idiotproofed boxes. So stop trying to protect us and thereby deny us easy upgrading.

  5. I’ll be probably shoot.

    But hey! Is there something really outbreaking, totally new or different beside incremental stuff in the Pc area that mac don’t do? Have you guys lost contract because of your old Mac Pro rig? Is there something now that PC does better than Mac in production? Beside swapping drives and memory and fans upgrades?

    We’re a small media-production studio on Mac and beside VR and AR, which we don’t do, we are happy with our Mac Pro line up. We sure would appreciate speed bump but as far as I am concern, I wouldn’t settle for a PC solution yet. The downtime is serious when PC machines aren’t performing or gliching, you definitly need to know your PC’s world’s history in order to perform when bugs happen.

    Here we ain’t no PC programmers and PC bug/driver hunter.
    We don’t want to get into the PC jungle, we like creative productivity.

    We had a combination of Mac and PC before and we decide to ditch those time and money consuming PC for other Mac Pro. Our move proved us right. Stability is the main issue for us.

    Meanwhile we work and wait to see what’s next.

    1. You hit it right on the head. I have been patiently waiting for a new iMac, but there is no Windows PC period that I would consider an option. Hate on Them- only the masochistic would embrace that platform. Been there, done that- Tech Support Pro since the 90’s, even last year’s (or decade’s) Macs are preferable.

      1. I knew I wasn’t alone. The real life mac workers is in the knowing.

        Last year we’ve played the game and seen a couple of PC alternative. None of them worked flawlessly while video editing and after effect(ing!). The guys told us, don’t worry it only needs a couple of tweaks. I know, we’re only a tweak away with PC. We’re always a tweak away… I respect these other guys who get excited when opening up a PC, we don’t. We couldn’t care less. Our job is to overwhelm our client with our work. Not opening a PC to fix and feel proud about it at the end of the day.

    2. Friends, Nvidia is the leading graphic card company today and it is not a official part of Macs. Could you still do something wonderful with a Mac? Absolutely. The question should be why the leader in professional graphic computing is not a part of Macs/Apple and why top desktop Macs are less powerful than PCs?

      Try to iterate on a Mac doing a top rendering and having to depend on a hardware that is 1/3 of what a PC does. It is real!!! I am not joking. I have both machines on my desk.

      For high end 3D design, trying to design a top game level or a very complex 3D scene a Mac wont do it. There are artists using past Mac Pros from before 2012 on top 3D design but this is not so desirable today as the remaining productive life of those machines may not justify spending your money. However go to Macsales.com or any other reseller and you will find the truth. Top Mac users are going back to 2012 Mac Pros and no many want to spend on 2013 MP.

      I wont argue in favor of Windows to depend on everything, but if you use a Windows machine to work on specific applications you will have options and capabilities you don’t have with a Mac. So I opted to have both a Mac and a PC. But the PC is used only for work on specific applications.

  6. Cluster super computer. Nano blades containing ARM chips. Same look as but only one third the size of the cheese grater Mac Pro. Body made of poured metal. Assembled in the USA. Cheap to make. Low price, high profit. Turns into new profit center as users go crazy buying new shit to slide into all the nano slots ready for all the new cards ….

      1. Rather than the traditional 1U server blade think of replacing it with the same thing except the blade would be the size of an iPhone or smaller.

        And instead of an Intel chips, the blade would be housing a set of ARM chips, like Apple’s new A12 chip.

        There have been stories in just the past few weeks of server farms planning on moving away from expensive, power consuming Intel chips to ARM chips for use in their servers. Apparently Amazon and Google are exploring this move for their server farms. If they can do it then Apple can certainly do it given their advantage designing the A series chip.

        Low power. Runs cooler. Costs less. Higher profits.

  7. While replacing Intel with ARM chips in the Mac Pro was only a dream and wish of mine a year or so ago, I now suspect it could be more important reasons behind Apple holding up the release of the Mac Pro.

    But it is only wild speculation. No facts or info behind it.

  8. I think a big part of the problem is that Apple has just gotten too big, like the federal government. If Cook wanted to unilaterally make a change he’d probably get overriden by corporate rules, shareholders, internal beancounters, bureacratic ennui and interdeparmental friction and competition. He’s probably too busy with iPhone-realated things to give it much thought. I wouldn’t be surprised if they axe the Mac Pro, perhaps replacing it with a Pro option on the new iMac.

    1. Yes Apple is clearly bigger and more bloated than ever.

      Believe it or not, the federal government is not.

      According the the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government employment has been in decline since Clinton (yes, Clinton!) began streamlining the federal payroll in the mid-1990’s. Federal employment as a percentage of overall population hasn’t been lower since before WW2.

      If you want to see massive ballooning bureaucracy, you need to look at the size of your local governments and your friendly unelected corporate officces.

      1. Sounds like your Obamacare plan came with a vat of Kool-Aid. $3.8 trillion in 2016 with about $20 trillion in debt, small potatoes. With any luck the NPR and NEH budgets will be cut first.

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