Apple’s laptops have hit rock bottom

“The results aren’t pretty. After falling from first place to fifth place in Laptop Mag’s Best and Worst Laptop Brands survey last year, the company has dropped even further, to 7th place out of 10 brands in this year’s report,” Mark Spoonauer writes for Tom’s Guide. “Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, Asus and Microsoft all finished ahead of Apple.”

“Yup, the MacBook line is in serious need of a reboot,” Spoonauer writes. “Why did Apple score so poorly? The brand simply hasn’t innovated enough, using the past year to trot out minor spec bumps to existing designs. And these designs continue to be polarizing, with the dearth of ports on the MacBook and MacBook Pro forcing owners to schlep around dongles if they want to plug in peripherals. In addition, the flat butterfly keyboards on these systems offer less travel and comfort than the Windows competition.”

“There’s a reason Apple has been keeping its classic 3-year-old 15-inch MacBook Pro around. That $1,999 machine has a cushy keyboard, plenty of full-size USB ports and an SD Card slot, as well as the clever MagSafe power adapter the company has since abandoned,” Spoonauer writes. “There could be hope on the immediate horizon, as Apple is rumored to be launching a 13-inch MacBook with a Retina display at around the same price as the Air this June. But will it be more of the same or a true leap forward?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Apple CEO Tim Cook using his iPad on Monday, March 14, 2016 in his office at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA. (Photo: Michele Asselin for TIME)
Apple CEO Tim Cook using his iPad on Monday, March 14, 2016 in his office at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA. (Photo: Michele Asselin for TIME)

57 Comments

    1. This has been Apple’s declining M.O. in regards to the Mac for years now, going off in misguided, market misread, design nuttiness and incorrect directions. Losing pro customers in droves over the Mac Pro to PC’s and now this executive incompetence is effecting the whole line of Macs.

      The only reason they’re not selling 2-4X more Macs right now with machines people really want to buy is a man in the head office with the initials TC.

      I would love to know if prior Mac stalwarts like Schiller, etc. ever do battle (and lose) with TC over the Mac’s direction or are they simply yes men and partners in crime? Do they even know there’s a full scale revolt going on to their detriment now and continuing into the future if they don’t change course and make changes fast?

      1. So my 2013 MacBook Pro top of line 1tb 16 gb ram battery died,
        Keyboard keys literally had holes worn in a few, and then the display died.

        I do Pro work, so I needed a new work horse immediately. I go to the Apple store only to find they don’t inventory any top of the line models. Not one. Order only. So the emergency impulse was squashed. I’d have bought a 2017 TOTL right then. But ALAS no. So that gave me time to study the crappy keyboard and lack of needed ports in current models to the point I’d NEVER buy a current MBP. I couldn’t. They just don’t do what I need

        So I have Apple fix the 2013 which to my amazement they did all the work for no charge, free. So that cost them and I won’t need a mbp for years. Great right? Well not if your highly invested in AAPL as I am.

        Apple made no sale. I was ready to buy.
        They killed the impulse. How did that pay the 34 geniuses on the sales floor ? Apple brass seem like they don’t actually USE macs in real world situations.

        So Apple can’t make a state of the art MBP
        with an sd card reader and USB port w MagSafe and keep ONE top of the line unit in stock for the pro who spills coffee on his laptop while working on a huge project?

        I think it’s a bit too cushy at the new Apple ufo offices. Get rid of twinkle toes Tim.

        1. Back when I bought my 2013 MBP in 2014 they did have the top of the line models in stock because I bought one at the princely sun of $3200. It’s still working like gangbusters but never got the daily workout yours probably got since I split work over several Macs (well until I get my PC Workstation in a couple months).

          Apple has been known to fix machines even never covered by Apple Care or beyond it. For me it was just having a great relationship with the store, being a video & VFX professional with great immediate need.

          I had a 2005 Mac Pro G5 that went through a couple logic boards and Apple finally fixed it once and for all – some $2400 worth of repairs – for free. They even offered me the 2006 Mac Pro Intel model for free but I couldn’t because of some PCI cards. THAT’S the Apple I knew and loved.

          I do think Tim, having never been part of the whole Mac thing from the beginning, fails to understand just what made the Mac special and listened instead to people he shouldn’t have. He’s never been truly vested using Macs and his need is covered by mostly office related tasks, not the real graphics, video, VFX intensive stuff. I hope he learned the lesson to listen to and talk to pros before just turning over the whole thing and giving his tacit approval to other people at Apple (who should know WAY better). The Mac buck stops in TC’s office. He needs to get educated fast. The market will no longer tolerate this “learn as he goes at pro expense” mindset resulting in misfires and years long product delays.

  1. Without Steve Jobs, Apple has lost its compass and Captain Cook is clueless where to sail next.

    Since Cook views Apple as a phone company only for all its profits, other products are not important to him.

  2. I use my 15-inch MacBook Pro as my main work machine. VMware is running Windows 7 to let me run some legacy apps, and it is speedy and reliable.

    BTW, Windows 7 runs MUCH more reliable on my 15-inch MacBook Pro than it did on the HP it used to run on before I virtualised it.

    I love this MacBook and use all of the ports. I’m not sure how I could do everything that I do is I switched to a newer model without these ports.

    1. Just purchased a 2016 15″ MacBook Touch Bar.
      Not having the various ports is an absolute PITA.
      Apple should have kept at least one regular USB 3 port, and the SD slot.
      Apple should ALSO have produced a cheap Thunderbolt 3 to Firewire adapter! Right now, you must combine two overpriced dongles to get this option. (Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2, and Thunderbolt 2 to FW) It is absolutely ridiculous since so many Professionals based their Macintosh workflows on Firewire for literally almost two decades.

  3. The old school Retina Macbook Pro with mag safe, Apple back light logo is the best. They should offer it for £1999 with 1TB fash storage instead of the 256GB storage. I will happily replace my current 13 inch non retina macbook with the 15 inch. I however have to put up with new OS which i dont like. On mavericks now, miss my Mountain Lion so much

  4. What”!?
    What happened, although predicted?
    What a pity!!
    But this is Tim Cook (i.e., no technical flair and no clue, obsessed with a short term money-making). He has long been advocating a strange theme of the iOS and Mac convergence, as if he knew everything, and flip-flopped only recently. Decline of Mac line is a natural consequence. This is the CEO, as late as early this year, telling everybody that the sale of the X has been “through the roof”, then cancelled X altogether (rumour?). He has no consistent conviction himself, busy continuing his former job, the managing of supply chains for the iPhone.
    I never trusted him, but always worried that he will ultimately bring Apple down to the ground, as he does not seem to be prepared for the general downturn of the phone biz.

  5. I so badly want to get a new MacBook or MacBook Pro!! But it’s the terrible keyboard in most of the current offerings that holds me back. And the MacBook Air has too many other shortcomings (display, older internal design).

    Come on, Apple! Improve your offerings.

    1. MacBook Air – best MacBook now.

      To me it’s not the display nor the internals (except for SSD). Its the ports and the keyboard and the size AND THE MAGSAFE!!!. My Air runs as fast as it did when I bought it, always will. No reason the MacBook Air can’t be configured by Apple for more SSD (ie 1T).

      I wont buy another new Mac (except MacBook Air 13/500) until Apple designs them right.

  6. with each passing month the Mac lineup is looking more and more dire. Apple needs to get to a firm 1 year overhaul /model update schedule with a speed/spec bump and/or price adjustment every six months for ALL Mac models, desktop and laptop. Intel isn’t the problem.

    The situation is so bad now that not only does Apple have to do the above but they need to ANNOUNCE they are doing the above and RELIGIOUSLY stick to the above for MORE THAN FIVE YEARS. This is COMPLETELY independent of other companies actions including Intel, AMD, Nvidia, TMSC, Foxconn, Dell, HP, Acer or ASUS to name a few.

    At this point, anything less than the above means that Apple isn’t serious about the Mac being the best computer in the world for the long haul.

    Delighting Customers? How about doing your job so we don’t get (really) pissed off at you……

    I am SO upset about this that I’m about ready to write Tim Cook a letter about this and have it hand delivered to the Apple HQ.

    1. I don’t recall a time when this much vitriol from the Apple faithful has been directed at the company and it’s leadership. That’s just how bad TC and Apple management has let things slide.

      1. Am I correct in guessing that you weren’t around during the Apple II to Mac transition? Or the transition from MacOS 9 to OSX? Or the transition from PowerPC to Intel? Even if you weren’t, Google IS a thing most people have access to. 🙂

        What I see different about the current situation is the ability for the small number (percentage wise) of disappointed macOS users to come together in like-minded echo chambers that makes it SEEM like… well, EVERYONE has to be just as disappointed as THEY are!!

        The largest segment of the macOS using public (the ones driving the high customer satisfaction rate) are just out there enjoying life with their computers and may not even be aware of Laptop Mag’s “list o’ cool”. I mean, really, if you’re looking for a macOS laptop, it’s not like the first 6 laptops on the list are even an option! LOL! All Apple laptops could come in 72nd place or lower and they’d still be the best macOS laptops money can buy. 🙂

        1. I didn’t officially become an Apple user via the Mac until the early 90’s but was very familiar with Apple from the beginning and know it’s history. You’re right in that social media makes it easier to see the outrage and in that current arena of outrage is what I was referring to.

          From my vantage point as a Mac power user the disappointment factor would be higher because of higher expectations, usability, upgrades, etc.. I’m sure many people’s simpler needs are happily satisfied.

          The thing is Apple shouldn’t want the Mac to be become hardware-lite as compared to what one can buy on the PC side. Their offerings need to cover all needs and markets as much as possible. And really LISTEN. Since we are talking about people who don’t have Steve Job’s inherent ability to see ahead in effect they need to give us what we want in faster horses instead of a car, if you will. Their idea of seeing ahead is to misguidedly diminish the usefulness of their Macs and not really replace it with something better.

    2. “looking more and more dire”
      It’s not “looking” dire, it IS dire, and is the main reason why I’ve helped many folks migrate to other platforms. It wasn’t something they were pleased with at the time, but, years on, they’re ALL so much happier that they don’t have to wait for “whatever Apple does” anymore. If someone wanted a new computer today that would work well with their iOS devices AND they fall into the 80-90% of people that would never touch the insides of their computers ever, then I’d suggest a macOS device. It’s great for those folks and will last them a long time. Other than that, if what you need to do can be done outside the macOS environment (Photoshop, Premiere, Avid, Ableton), now (actually a few years ago) is the time to be thinking about taking steps to put the choice of what hardware you run on firmly in your own hands.

      “Apple isn’t serious about the Mac being the best computer in the world for the long haul”
      This is it, 100%. I can’t understand how anyone can think otherwise.

  7. Tim Cook simply does not care about the Mac. If he did, then Apple engineers would be working on making it better each year. They know how to do this, it’s just that they are not given this as an objective. Apple has not forgotten how to make good Macs. Apple Leadership simply does not care about the Mac.

    1. Apple needs to restore the base on which the iPhone rose from, the Mac!
      They need to restore the diversity in their product base.

      Mac laptops, iMacs, minis, “Pros” and monitors.
      I still have an Apple monitor, that I could still use, if there was a mini, midi or pro to go with it.

  8. The problem with Apple’s MBPs are that built too well and last forever. The original retina MBP (2012) is still an impressive beast. Even after 4 years it was still working well. I had to replace the battery and Apple replaced the screen for free for a lamination issue and now is a good as new. That machine is in use as my media server and still kicks ass.
    The new MBPs with TB are even better. They are lighter, smaller for the same screen size and very fast.
    I doubt that any windows PC is a well built as either of these MBP and will not last as long.

      1. The lack of 32GB of RAM in Apple laptops was explained. In order to have this option the battery would end up being larger than the insane limit placed on “allowable battery size in portable devices on airplanes” so it’s not an Apple problem, it’s an FAA problem.

  9. Regardless of what Tim Cook recently said about him caring for the Mac his ACTIONS speak louder.

    It’s taken longer to upgrade the Mac Pro than build the Campus from ground breaking to move in.
    They are selling a 2013 ‘flagship’ desktop in 2018 on the website !
    there is no product pride or embarrassment at all….
    (would you buy or sell a 2013 Toyota as new today ? )
    They care more about the FRUIT TREES and the ‘milled from special Maple’ furniture at the campus than MPs.

    And if Mac Pros are ‘niche’ what about the MBP ? There is still no 32 GB power GPU MBP .

    The Mini? formerly a best seller in Amazon, neutered (had the quad core option taken out), RAM sealed , now left to languish.
    Why does a DESKTOP need to lose so much flexibility to be an inch or so THINNER?

    MB Air.. not updated so long that the Air which is supposed to be the LIGHTEST Mac has MORE PORTS than the Macbook (which actually might be a good thing… ).

    and barely any Mac Advertising.

    they spend more effort trying to sell WATCH BANDS than Macs.

    (Please remember Macs are the second largest hardware money maker at Apple after iPhone, larger than iPad. Larger than all the other stuff like AirPods, TV , Beats, Watch COMBINED. Note also that the stock is falling due to over reliance on iPhone… )

    ——-
    Tim cook says he cares about Mac…
    He’s like a guy who borrowed $100 from you and promises to repay THIS week for the last 6 years and nothing. It’s got to point when you say, stop yapping and SHOW ME the MONEY.

    1. Yes, no embarrassment. I trace the decline of vision in favor of supply chain excellence to the death of Jobs, of course, but then a subsequent key signifier of the same was when a few years ago Cook introduced all of those products at the same time as if to prove his macho supply chain bona fides, and then also to when he fired the fire brand, Scott Forstall who, I think, had any remaining combination of vision for art and technology.

      So that’s why I think that knowing Tim as “Pipeline” is entirely appropriate. I wonder what the Board is thinking; It must be agitated if it has a collective concern if in fact Apple has a real problem because, really, the apparent Apple problem could very well be all my perception.

    2. “And if Mac Pros are ‘niche’ what about the MBP?”
      For consumers and pro’s alike, the most purchased computers are MacBooks and MacBook Pro’s. Then comes iMac, then a few iMac Pro’s, then the Mac Pro. Compared to the MBP, the Mac Pro is a niche… of a niche… of a niche.

      1. what I’m getting at is that if the excuse that they ignore the MP because they’re Niche then why ALSO ignore the rest like the best selling MacBooks, are they Niche too ? So you are supporting my point.

        Like I’ve argued before many companies keep up low selling but top machines as it reinforces the line like car companies sell high end models and enter car races. They are only going to sell a handful of souped up cars but it helps market the rest. A really kick ass Mac Pro would get publicity and sell a boat load of MacBooks and iPads etc.

        If Mac Pros weren’t important WHY DID JOBS INSIST on the MOST POWERFUL ONES ? he used to have photoshop etc shootouts vs PCs. Mac Pros were niche then as well BUT JOBS took care of them as they HAD THE APPLE NAME — ALL Apple products should be BEST IN CLASS (from entry level on) , that’s what I call product pride.

        Please note at one point several Macs had Editor’s Choice in PC magazine etc and were the fastest PCs running Windows….

        1. Yes, a best-in-class products gives the merchant bragging rights and this farners free publicity. It can also be a flagship product, like a US Navy landing ship surrounded by more agile war ships comprising a show-of-force armada. I can liken jets raking off from the landing ship to good will and good PR emenating from a truly speck’d-up MacPro.

        2. Ignoring the best selling MacBooks? The ones that have both been upgraded within the last year? I think I understand the point you’d LIKE to make, but the data doesn’t support it.

          If Apple wanted to be in the macOS business for the long haul, they might do something like that. It’s painfully obvious that they see their future as being iOS BUT, they’re gonna milk macOS for all it’s worth. And really, if there are people willing to buy, even though Apple’s not even advertising them, why not give them something to throw their money at?

          As an aside, the Apple products that ARE fastest, best in class now are the ones they appear to be pinning their future on. Think about the Apple II, while Apple was moving the Mac further and further forward, they didn’t come to a COMPLETE stop on the Apple II machines for awhile… because people still wanted to buy them and why not milk them for all their worth. macOS is the new Apple II.

          1. about the “Ignoring the best selling MacBooks? ” aren’t the Macbook AIR and MBP MacBooks? The air had been ignored and the MBP is still missing the 32 GB power GPU available to PCs for years (look at my post that’s what I was writing about, you’ve just being persnickety as you’re running out of argument)

            ” It’s painfully obvious that they see their future as being iOS ”
            you keep saying that in dozens of posts but quarter after quarter the MAC MAKES MORE THAN IPAD. The iOS iPad today is about HALF it’s peak sales in 2014 (get that? iPad sales have dropped to about HALF ) while Mac gains share practically every quarter, in spite of slow Mac updates and practically zero advertising.

            (actually people had the SAME argument you had with the iPOD vs Mac .. Many people said as iPod made so much more they should dump the Mac. Thank god Jobs after saying PC wars were over did a 180 and went gang busters on Mac making dozens of models. )

            so you will argue you meant the iPhone?
            if that’s the case why NOT ignore Watch, TV, Beats etc as they all earn less than iPhone AND less than Mac. Mac makes more than all of them COMBINED as I keep saying.

            Also if your argument that should concentrate only on iPhone ‘the future’ due to Money I’ll like point out Earnings (money) is only relevant to STOCKHOLDERS — consumers don’t really care which product makes the most for Apple — then is ‘just’ concentrating on iPhone good for the stock?

            Go look at the last few days about iPhone worries knocking the stock down, and even before that in general aapl P.E is so low like half Alphabet, Microsoft, fraction Amazon etc, because many big investors say it’s a dangerous one trick pony iPhone stock. Diversifying is the key. If Cook had kept up with Mac properly and there was a 5-10% extra sales a year compounded over years it would be significant portion of Apple sales today.

            And even with Cook neglect Mac is hardly a DYING business (as you keep implying , as if REPEATING a fantasy makes it true) IN actuality as I’ve said over and over it’s the SECOND LARGEST hardware money maker of Apple. Like 5 BILLION bucks a quarter, by itself the Mac is near a fortune 100 business (i.e it’s larger than almost all other USA businesses except for 100+ ! ),

            Analysts and big investors keep saying Apple should BUY other companies to boost the stock but you want to throw a fortune 100 Mac business away? Note Tim Cook seems to be TRYING SO HARD to BOOST the STOCK by spending around 100 billion in buybacks.

            and if your argument is that should focus on iPhone is due to LACK of RESOURCES to DO BOTH iOS and Mac I point out they have $200 b in the bank and (as I’ve also mentioned over and over) have plenty of time to make coffee table books with special ‘Apple Paper with silver edges’ , one and half years on campus door handles, specially milled tables etc. SO WHY DID MANAGEMENT ALLOW THAT since they they SO URGENTLY NEEDED TO PUT RESOURCES ON IOS like you’re implying … ??? huh?

            see you are running out of argument.

            1. The Air was updated last year, so was the MBP. And both are, on average updated MORE often than the Mac Pro.
              https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac
              And that’s not too much emphasis on minor details, it’s actually the main detail of “how important is the device in question to Apple?” If it’s important, they change it fairly regularly, even if only to speed bump the processor. If it’s not important, they don’t. This year, we’ll see another set of MacBook updates. We WON’T see a Mac Pro update.

              “Jobs, after saying PC wars were over did a 180 and went gang busters on Mac”
              So he could milk it for all it’s worth while getting on with the next thing. iOS was not going to happen overnight and they needed to build the stores, the services, and the technology it would need to thrive.

              “consumers don’t really care which product makes the most for Apple”
              Consumers care about the things they buy. By a very large margin, consumers care about iOS.

              There are a lot of people in your position. You have your view of the world based on REALLY wanting macOS to continue. I’d like it to continue as well, but you can’t reasonably look at the current state and think that all is well in the macOS world. You make a good point that

              “they have $200 b in the bank and (as I’ve also mentioned over and over)”.

              Wouldn’t a company with THAT wealth of resources and a STRONG desire to see macOS continue into the far future, be doing FAR more than they’re doing right now? I’m not saying that it’s RIGHT that they’re downplaying macOS. I’m saying it’s plain to see that they ARE downplaying macOS, and I can think of VERY few reasons why this would be the case.

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