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Commentary: Apple Should Renew Focus on Mac Users, Pros

iMac_vs_MacPro[Update: Apple Updates Mac Pro, Confirms New ‘Modular’ Model In the Works]

In late April, Apple reported the company’s first negative-growth quarter since 2003. Declining iPhone and iPad sales were no doubt the major factor in this rare occurrence, but it was not just Apple’s mobile devices that saw a decline in sales. Apple laptop sales also took a tumble, dropping its market share to 7.1%, which places it sixth in the pecking order. Lenovo leads with a 22.2% market share.

Sure, larger economic factors may have contributed. There hasn’t been a major Mac hardware update in a bit, and anticipation of Thunderbolt 3 is a cluster upon itself; but is there a larger trend at play here?

Planned Obsolescence
As a company, Apple has long been ignoring its Pro users and disappointing a lot of more traditional users with closed systems, planned obsolescence, and just a general lack of true value over time. I say over time as they still sell a non-Retina MacBook Pro 13” that hasn’t seen an update in four years. Nor is it going to be updated because they have really only kept it around because people still are buying it. The 4-year-old MBP is the best a user can get if they need more than 1TB of internal capacity while on the road and/or – need that “old fashioned” optical drive at convenience.

Sure, the Retina MacBook Pros are nice, but neither the memory nor the SSD are intended to be upgradeable. Yes, OWC covers the SSD, but that’s still not what Apple advertises. They tell you that if you need more storage, you gotta buy a new one – just like with your iPhone. Didn’t get that 16GB of memory when you bought it? Well, you’re totally out of luck there – it’s soldered in. It’s the same story with the MacBook Air. And the MacBook 12” is nice, but with the flash storage soldered in, there’s no chance for a storage upgrade. It’s planned obsolescence.

MacPro6_1_200_MYOWCThe Mac… Pro?
The Mac Pro is now three years without an update, and all most users wanted from the last update was a Silver Tower with Thunderbolt connectivity. The Mac Pro 2013 refresh doesn’t seem to be at all what the majority wanted, and for many it offers less real world capability versus the 2009 to 2012 Mac Pro tower models it replaced. If nothing else, it has available external bandwidth via thunderbolt ports that are about 5/8ths that of a single PCIe slot in the Silver tower, which has three such slots available (with its fourth utilized by default for a GPU/Video Card).

The 2013 Mac Pro was first nicknamed “trashcan” because of the similarity it had to a New York subway receptacle… And that nickname stuck mostly because it was grudgingly that a lot of pro users were “forced” to migrate to it. And while it does do some great stuff, and its memory and SSD can be upgraded through OWC, it’s far more limited than it needed to be having zero available high-bandwidth PCIe slots.

The Pro Marketplace
And staying on the topic of the Pros… Apple has been so consumer focused over the past five years – from Final Cut Pro X to killing Aperture, ignoring Logic and ignoring higher end users’ desire for systems that have upgradability and slots that allow future relevance to be maintained.

It’s funny that other companies such as HP are directly going after Apple’s Pro audience. Apple has them beat on great form/cosmetics, but not on the guts and real, functional capability. If PCs could run Mac OS X, well… Apple could sell a boatload of OS X open licenses for $299 maybe even $499 and leave the pro hardware to the companies that care.

Is the Shine Off of Apple?
Apple still is incredibly good throughout. I’d not say the shine is necessarily off. I love Apple and have been dedicated to the company for over 30 years now. That being said, it’s not all roses.

A bigger issue with all this is the Pros have been some of Apple’s most important Mac evangelists and brand champions. We heard from neglected Pro users a bit last year at NAB/Supermeet, and we heard it much louder and clearer this year at the same events. They may not account for a large percentage of Apple’s new system sales, which is self-fulfilling in my opinion, but they historically have been a huge force of Apple evangelism and provided free marketing. I believe Apple is losing that intangible benefit that the sales numbers don’t account for.

At the same time you just can’t dismiss that self-fulfilling aspect of taking the true Pro out of the Pro hardware and software and not expect to see a decline. I am not sure if Apple is happy or not with the sales rate of the 2013 Mac Pro model that is the current revision, I’d suspect the latter and it’s their doing for not delivering what we heard every Pro calling for. It’s simple really – give the customer what the customer wants.

As for the Mac mini – 2012 Mac minis, for their easy (relative to the 2014 replacement) upgradeability and dual drive support remain in very high demand today. Our selection of Mac minis is very popular and whenever Apple has a few on the their clearance pages, they go in a blink. Another example of the new system missing something that a customer segment really appreciated that model for.

osXRefining OS X
Hopefully, they’ll not have a new Mac OS this year that reinvents various wheels again (in terms of high level interface as well as low level fundamental code structure changes). New OS versions every year can be an annoying hassle that can result in a lot of time, expense, and frustration for professional users that often have to buy new versions of software that they depend on that have to be updated for the changes Apple has made between OS versions. It would be good to see the current OS and hardware made bug free with a renewed focus on perfection this year – not a new OS that promises great new changes and is “the new best new thing.”

All the while, Windows has come a long way forward and is far more stable in terms of versioning but Apple still has a leg up on OS overall I believe.

UPDATE: Apple has indeed announced a new macOS for release in the fall

Tim Cook’s Apple
I hope that Tim Cook gets this ship righted. Macs are a small part of the puzzle these days with iOS devices and the Apple Watch event getting a lot of front and center, but they’re far from insignificant and Macs lead to the sales of all those other wonderful devices. Mac users/owners are very loyal and likely buy Apple’s mobile devices at a much higher percentage than PC users. Macs historically have lasted a lot longer and made for a huge base of Mac owners out there that continually boost mobile device sales.

These same Mac owners no question upgrade to new iPhones far more often than they replace their Macs – less need to do so and honestly the hardware is less compelling with respect to why you’d want a new Mac if the one you have is good. There are some gems – the iMac 5K for sure.

But, what happens if Apple is selling fewer computers? What happens with more Macs that can’t be upgraded and reach earlier ends? It’s going to mean less “captive” growth to the rest of the ecosystem, in my opinion. Certainly that has to be contrary to the direction Apple hopes to go.

Related: Mac Battle – Workstation Shootout Pits iMac 5K vs. Mac Pro

OWC Larry
the authorOWC Larry
OWC Founder & CEO
Larry O'Connor is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Illinois-based Other World Computing (OWC®). Starting as a one-man business in 1988, O'Connor has provided the leadership and vision to establish OWC as the leading provider of technology products and services today.
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  • I agree with the author of this article. I am a professional musician and also photographer who has used apple products for nearly thirty years. I need to update my studio but continue using a older stable system that get the job done but has limitations. I need better but have too much invested in my current third party plug in and Virtual Instruments to change.
    I have had many discussions with lay people that love by their consumer products and actually feel strongly that Apple is the holy Grail. They don’t need what we pros need. We have been left behind for Profits!!!

  • Apple is a bunch of people who have “lost it!” They hdon’t know their history. They don’t know what got them where they are now, and they might not even know what Steve Jobs did for Apple. Before Apple, there was Apple Computer, and both Apple and Apple Computer was built on the Macintosh computer. The people leading Apple have lost their way and will soon lose the company. Innovation and creativity is no longer a part of Apple’s DNA.

    Remember Apple’s first Super Bowl ad? All of Apple leadership should watch that ad, because now they are the lemmings walking off the cliff.

  • Just found your article after having Apple immediately pull my following comments from their user blog because they feel my comments are ranting and non-productive:

    Why did Apple stop selling and supporting a great image management program (Aperture) that I had been using without any problems until they decided to toss it and introduce a new “dumbed down” program targeted at “phone photographers”?   After processing thousands of digital photo files since purchasing my iMac and a higher-end digital SLR in 2007, I purchased a newer camera in 2015, and discovered that Aperture wouldn’t recognize the raw image files it produced.  My Aperture program is now as functionally useless as a roll of Kodachrome, and I am forced to go to Adobe for a new program.  That *****! …I mean, really *****!
    Adding insult to injury:   I am one of those people who doesn’t feel a need to buy the latest and greatest hardware if what I have does the job adequately.  (I didn’t retire my 1960’s Leica film cameras and my 1970’s Nikons until Nikon made a reasonably-priced digital SLR that would give high resolution and accept my old high-quality Nikkor lenses.)  My 2007 iMac has served me well, and has performed flawlessly since I bought it to replace my very expensive 2000 G3 “Pismo” that was quickly rendered “obsolete” by Apple.  Whenever I ran into problems with my “aging” iMac’s inability to support my needs, I upgraded the OS…only after waiting to confirm that the newer OS was relatively problem-free.  Last year, I started planning to upgrade from my current “Snow Leopard” to “Mavericks” to have better browser security and handle my new (non-Apple) image-processing software.  In preparation, I verified that my current system met all of Apple’s requirements for the upgrade, purchased two additional external hard drives, backed up all critical files, then cloned my entire HD as a fail-safe.  A few days ago, I went to the App Store to download Mavericks…………..Surprise! ……. No more Mavericks! 
    Apple has the best products for my needs….But I absolutely HATE the company!

    • Ken, check the Nik Collection for photography work. It’s free, but owned by Google. I use it in conjunction with Macphun’s Luminar.

    • Ken,

      Your Mid 2007 iMac supports El Capitan (10.11.6) as the latest version. You should be able to purchase that by contacting Apple for a coupon to redeem in the App Store. I suppose you have your reasons for wanting Mavericks, but it is no longer supported.

      • Thanks…Will check it out.
        My iMac only has 2GB RAM.
        Really not wanting to buy memory just to get to the next OS level, knowing that Apple will most certainly force me to retire it soon.

        • Apple can’t force you to retire the box. You’re welcome to use it for as long as it remains useful to you. El Capitan is still supported and will be until at least one more MacOS release. Your Mid 2007 iMac supports 6 GB RAM (2 – 200-pin PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2 SO-DIMM). Upgrading RAM and putting in an SSD will give the box so much additional performance, you will wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.

          I just retired my Early 2008 MacBook (6GB RAM + 960 GB SSD) due to a failed screen. I replaced it with a used Mid 2010 MacBook Pro with the same SSD and upgraded memory to 16 GB.

    • Snow Leopard is the last best Apple system. I have one laptop on it so I can use the software I need. Sadly Aperture is not as useful since it was discontinued. I am just now deciding to transfer all my photographs to Lightroom. A massive project.

      • I went through the same process of leaving Aperture. I am using Lightroom, but I found Luminar 2018 much, much better and easier to use. BTW, the Luminar was developed for the Mac first and then for Windows.

  • Took me too long to discover this article. It expresses EVERY POINT of my current frustration with Apple.

    I have bought hundreds of Macs for our (media/entertainment) company, and now it is painful to justify any Mac purchase when the current state is so far behind and the future is so uncertain.

    I agree that the iMac (5k) is the most viable Mac left in the product line.

    Thunderbolt 2 is useful for local client storage, but there seems to be a 1350MB/s limit that cripples it for high performance file service. I want PCIe 3.0!

    The professional mac is in the coffin, and the iPhone is hammering in the nails. The irony of this situation is really sad.

  • Sadly, I feel that this will be my last upgrade to Mac products. I will be buying a new 13″MacBook Pro, but after the way Microsoft just blasted Apple in the desk top arena, (the Surface studio pro) I feel that it is time to get familiar with windows products. My wife is a graphic artist and her employer just laid out a ton of cash for the Mac Pro towers and Thunderbolt Display for their graphics department. Now I can see them going to the Surface proStudio in a heartbeat, the power and integration of work flow, especially for creative groups in cube land as well as the individual is second to none hands down. Apple got beat and badly with practical innovation and substance. What we got as apple users, both commercial and as consumers is an insult.

  • Also as a working pro, mainly audio but some video as well, I completely agree with this article. I know a lot of pros now abandoning macs because hardware has advanced a lot, and isn’t showing on the new macs. Not being able to upgrade the machines is a real problem, and the new OS every year is just a nuisance.

  • I’m a pro audio professional using Avid and Pro Tools who previously upgraded every three years… until 2013. I opted for a 2012 silver tower due to my need for PCIe slots for propriety cards from Avid. There are thousands of people in my field who depend upon an expandable, reliable platform and unfortunately this article rings with a dissonant truth: I prefer Mac OS in so many ways over any other OS environment, but the nature of the hardware and OS releases don’t bode well for anyone using third party software. And no, Logic and FCPx are not serious alternatives.

  • Imaging professionals have been feeling neglected by Apple for some time with issues like Color Management being neglected. The desktop icons also look quite garish now with very little user control possible. Also, every time there is a major OS upgrade, many applications get left behind. We love our MacPro towers and wish there were more ways to keep them going with hardware upgrades. It was Graphics, Video, and Audio professionals that were of such great help in giving Mac such a good reputation. Apple needs to remember this and keep the loyalty of those professionals. It has a synergistic effect. Expensive professional computers need to have a 10-15 year lifetime. We have 6 Macs in our company.

  • I am a professional who is forced to use Windows due to corporate selection of enterprise applications that are Windows-centric. So, I agree with your position on the lack of upgrade paths for newer Macs, silly design of the current Mac Pro (I have a 2009 Pro with a lot of aftermarket upgrades, including a 6-core CPU). But more than the *strong* agreement with your position on flexible and upgradable hardware, I also advocate a much more aggressive approach to enterprise computing and compatibility.

  • I am not a professional but I am fast getting fed up with Apple’s insistence on eliminating a buyers ability to upgrade. Everything soldered, even apple’s apps like chess endgame center are effectively soldered in and cannot be removed. My three macs are all over three years old and will not be replaced until Apple changes these asinine policies and stops playing Big Brother. It is truly sad that the company responsible for so much tech advancement has become a would-be king of the fashion world dedicated to production of fancier toys.

  • Apple is run by adults chasing children, and the children don’t care. I was “informed” just yesterday in a video group on FB that cell phones can do most of what you need to do, so forget computers. When the market wants to chase imaginary creatures with a portable communicator-camera, a desktop or even a laptop is not an option. Workstation? Who wants to think about work? Apple Computer was a company dedicated to entrepreneurs and creative people (not just creatives) who wanted to get marvelous work done. When that love of creativity carried over to the home, it was great that technology was able to follow and in high fashion. But today Apple, Inc. is a company for people who want to play all the time. Most of this market doesn’t care about interface elegance, they are price and brand driven. They want the brand that carries the most social mojo, at a price they can suffer through. Apple’s desktop offerings are primarily the base station to portable fashion satellites: phone, watch, television. Each product exists as a means of driving sales from content stores. Apple’s platform is a means to SELL creative content more than it is to create it. I still have my old Mac Plus sitting on a shelf, and I still do work daily on a cylinder Mac Pro (with my 2008 MacPro sitting quietly by in case of failure). I really like using FCP X instead of Premiere, but because of Adobe’s cloud subscription, it’s sitting here installed because I use Ps, Ai, Mu, and Id. I have Windows XP installed on Parallels for compatibility, but that’s the last version I’ve tried. I don’t want to build a box again, but have to keep wondering how much I’m missing with PCs having access to Thunderbolt and M.2 storage, and CUDA-based rendering for video. I gave up on recommending Macs to people, but worry about when I’m going to give up on even liking them.

  • I hope you are not correct, but I suspect you are. As an avid 20 year + Pro user I would be terribly upset and feel abandoned. I need real improvements and not the continual OS upgrades.

  • Amen! Have just moved my Adobe CS over to a flying PC desktop that cost about 30% the price of a Pro “Trash Can”. And Microsoft finally got Windows right with the introduction of Windows 10 last year. Apple going the way of the BetaMax I’m afraid. Once superior technology doomed by lack of adaptability. Apple might as well drop the Pro line since they support so little of it anymore. GF

    • Apple is not going the way of BetaMax. They are consciously choosing this path of pursuing profits, profits, profits. They could dominate the professional creative space again if they wished to. They just don’t wish to. There isn’t enough money there. They could even support it just to prove that they care. They have BILLIONS in cash reserves. They could run the Pro division at a loss, but they won’t. Apple cares more about it’s stock value than anything else these days.

      I don’t mean to be a cynic, but there is no other reasonable conclusion to be drawn here.

  • This is so true! I still get questions from our Apple reps, “Are you ready for a new Mac Pro?” And as a small business user with a dozen Mac Pro towers in use, the value equation for the new Mac Pro is just not there. Our towers have easily used internal capacity for 4 3.5″ drives; & we have the choice of running the system boot drive on a PCI / solid-state storage array that’s fast, & frees up all 4 drive bays for local data. Time Machine can live on an internal drive & still leave 3 bays open for data. And it’s easy to choose among different classes & types of data drives, based on how we purpose & use each bay. To have the same flexibility & capacity on the current Mac Pro, we have to buy a Thunderbolt array of 4 drive bays, & that array will be tethered to the Mac for life. Cost-wise, the current model Mac Pro, fully-equipped for production is substantially more costly to buy. Then, over the service life of the rig, we have at least two expensive hardware devices, from different vendors to support. Apple’s (and other vendors, too) persistent habit of pushing cloud services & storage is another expensive way to buy & use storage. For many pros, it’s mandatory to have it for current projects; but also very slow & expensive to continually sync any large media library. It’s far more practical to use a cloud-based backup service, & ditch large synchronized cloud libraries.

    • Actually, I consider network Time Machine backups to be the best solution, both from cost and performance. Cloud is fine for sharing stuff with select clients and for that I use DropBox. Long, long ago, I lost a HDD on my MacBook and restored my full user account from Mozy online. It was painfully slow and took me offline for much, much longer than a local backup solution.

      As media professionals will be working with terabytes of data, cloud backups are simply unworkable.

  • Totally agree! I was fortunate enough to buy a Mac mini in 2011 and it still rocks with its easy upgrades. My Mac Pro 3.1 is still upgradable and still running my studio. Getting Pro Tools and the right OS X to fit is a real hassle, expensive and unecessary.

  • I totally agree with this article. I publish directories with hundreds of advertisements involving thousands of fonts and images. Everything worked fine in the Leopard OS, went bad with Lion, and now everything is obsolete, problematic, or costly. I’m seriously considering HP and Windows as more stable alternatives.

  • I have an iPhone 6 and a macbook 7,1. The laptop can’t update to the latest version of iTunes. That means I can’t back up or sync my phone. I know this post is about PRO users but there are gaps in the general experience too.

      • El Capitan won’t run stand alone Adobe CS software. Probably other things I don’t know. Thankfully I didn’t upgrade before I found this out. There might be other problems.

  • The demise of support for pro-oriented users has been of concern for me. The shift from computers to appliances, likewise. I’ve always purchased or built systems that were subsequently upgraded/repaired over the years. This comment is being typed on an Early 2008 MacBook4,1 with 6GB RAM and a 960GB SSD with a new keyboard from a Chinese manufacturer sourced on Ebay and a replacement SuperDrive.

    While this stone-age MacBook still manages to get the job done, it’s not ideal. Lion no longer sees updates. Safari 6.1.6 was so riddled with vulnerabilities such as Logjam and FREAK that I finally gave up and moved to Firefox. Meanwhile, I keep looking at the product line and wondering what comes next.

    1TB of internal storage just isn’t enough. That means that my current laptop option from Apple is only a 2012 model. While that model with 16GB RAM and a 2TB SSD would be a nice upgrade from where I am now, it’s disappointing that model hasn’t kept pace with the times.

    FWIW, that 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro is the only system in the lineup with a slot for a Kensington lock, which I use. Even if we ignore yearly OS updates (ugh) and the prosumerization of Apple’s software offerings, it’s clear that they care little about serving business users and are focused entirely on the appliance user.

    I’m still a fan. I love UNIX. I made the move from Linux to Mac in 2007 and have not felt inclined to go back. That said, fixed RAM and storage sizes on notebooks have me very concerned about the future.

    • I also have an early 2008 macbook pro updated to 6g ram and 500mb 7200 HD. I have a camera card reader in the pci slot. To upgrade that I got a 2011 MBP and upgraded it to 16 ram and a TB SSD. I don’t like the glossy screens. They give me migraines. I’m on Yosemite on the 2011 and won’t be upgrading since that would mean I couldn’t run my Adobe standalone software. The 2008 is being restored to snow leopard so I can continue to run my peripherials to record and to run older video as well as to access the older version of Aperture which has better functionality. I am so frustrated that I have to spend so much of my creative time figuring all this out.

      • On my MacBook4,1, I upgraded to Lion. It’s okay for the most part. As much as I preferred Snow Leopard, it has vulnerabilities left unresolved compared to Lion. Here’s hoping that ClamXav, the firewall and updated mail and browser clients keep me safe and sound.

  • I’m a Pro user, early 2009 model. Music and editing is what I do for a living. To see this fall off of their pro desktop models is disturbing. I do hope the word gets out to Apple to reconsider helping their professional users again

  • Add me to the list of very long (38 years of Apple, 30 years of Mac, several years of iOS) term Pro users who is absolutely disappointed and disgruntled. I am HEAVILY invested in Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5. I’ve spent 4 times the combined cost of those two titles on training. There are a few other Mac specific applications that I use, but my other applications could easily be replaced on the Windows or Linux platform, although it would be costly, both in terms of licensing AND more importantly time. In recent years I have watched Apple decimate the platform. Please tell me WHY and HOW I’m supposed to believe that stripping core functionality from the platform is a necessary part of your “progress”. I preached Apple to creative professionals for decades, but no more.

  • I genuinely wish I had time to read all of the comments on this article (I read about 7000 words worth, but had to throw in the towel with the day job calling…), but I’m sure I’d agree with most of them. Larry’s too.

    I’m one of those faithful who is slowly losing their religion too.

    I’ve been a Mac professional for the past 25 years and was one of the faithful in the mid/late 90’s with Guy Kawasaki, trying to keep hope alive. I was genuinely depressed considering a world without the Mac OS. The Second Coming of Steve the Christ changed all of that.

    But this is not your father’s Apple Computer. In fact, it’s Apple Inc. They even removed the word “computer” from their name. They must have seen the iPhone writing on the wallpaper. Now that it is to blame for about 70% of Apple’s profit, it’s clear to see where resources, love and fascination have shifted.

    The Mac has become the ugly step-sister to iOS.

    So it’s more than just, “Has Apple abandoned the professional/creative community?” The answer to that question is already here in the tens of thousands or words written by dozens of us who have been affected enough to wax poetic here.

    Yes. Apple doesn’t really care much about the professional consumer anymore. Look at what they’ve done to all of their software and hardware designed to support it, and you have your answer.

    It’s just not that profitable to care and professionals are so demanding, after all. Unlike the starry-eyed, Kool-Aid drinking, reality distortion loving end users, professionals notice stuff. Filmmakers, Musicians, 3D modelers, Photographers and more are also just not a significant part of the global piece of the money pie Apple Inc. is hungry for. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

    When someone doesn’t communicate in words what their intentions are, we look at their actions, right? Apple’s actions are pretty clear. They’re dumbing down software, letting hardware gather dust bunnies, hiding all the switches and interface tweaks, using glue and solder where magnets, screws and removable parts used to exist.

    What does that tell you?

    Well, the obvious answer is that Apple has seen revenue from the iPhone and the 2-3 year product replacement cycle make it the most profitable publicly traded multinational in the world. You can’t ignore the power of money.

    No matter how lovely we believe those people at Apple are, what a cool guy Timo may be, at the end of the day, they are driven by the almighty dollar and its share price. Like never before. I’ll let others dig up all of the juicy financial details, but they all point to Apple’s gluttonous success here.

    Apple won the game. Hands down, they won.

    Now what?

    Well, for starters, Apple’s corporate culture is dealing with some profound bipolar issues. Everything I’ve said (and obviously I’m not the only one saying it as this thread indicates) is true, but it’s deeply unsettling for those in the family. Apple’s corporate identity is based on being the underdog, the junkyard dog of computing, the survivor, the innovator, the creative space that all artists and geniuses want to hang out in. What happens when that fiercely held identity piece collides with the march for greater profits and marketshare — a vindication of Apple’s Technically Correct movement?

    Well, that’s exactly what you’re seeing. An identity crisis.

    Is Apple that cool hippy, rainbow company started in Stevo’s garage that we mythologize, or are they becoming more like Sony, or Microsoft or even IBM?…

    Profits dictate that you keep following profits. Innovation for the sake of innovation doesn’t happen unless it benefits the bottom line in a profitable way. Apple is part of the Dow/S&P Index now! The freedom to create a Newton, or an iPod, or even an iPhone is not quite the same as it used to be. Especially without it’s revered, (loved and loathed) founder gone.

    Apple doesn’t want to see itself as this giant, corporate behemoth that no longer has the time or freedom to innovate, but that’s what they’re clearly in danger of becoming. The lack of interest in Macs for professional artists is (sadly) another sign of Apple pinching off the parts of the company that don’t boost the bottom line. The pre-trash can MacPro was a brilliant design that Apple dumped just to show that it could still redesign. Sadly, no one was there with the veto at the gate for this truly ugly, black trashcan that easily doubled the cost of professional ownership.

    So I agree with Larry and most of what I had time to read here and I don’t expect things to change. I have faith that the Mac and the MacOS will not disappear into iOS, but it’s not looking good for the future where Apple produces computers that need to be replaced every 3-4 years just to keep their profits rolling in.

    I hope we’re not witnessing Apple Peak here, but one really has to ignore the tea leaves to keep the faith these days.

    • Mick,

      Your words “The Mac has become the ugly step-sister to iOS.” are spot on, sadly.

      • Thanks, I think, Andrew. I wish I were wrong.

        In fact, I’d _love_ for someone in the upper, inner circle of Apple to write something to disprove our assertions here, but they’ve got legal to think about. There were those who said that iOS would merge and swallow the MacOS a few years back, so there’s some hope that hasn’t happened, YET. But, I just can’t stand it. Okay, that’s an overstatement of sorts, but it’s anything but old school, Apple intuitive. I get that you can’t have the full access you need in such a small device, but I hope that Apple doesn’t decide to put it on computers. It’s total inability to multi-task the way a computer can should completely disqualify it, but I worry what Apple’s long term vision is.

        To merge, or not to merge? That is the question.

  • As the previous owner of an Apple dealership selling supporting Apple when it was not cool ( Mid 90’s ) I feel there has been a strong decline in Apple’s direction, more so after Steve’s death. In light of Microsofts new OS X errr Windows X which I find to be worthy I caught myself stating to a customer that “Microsoft is becoming more like Apple and Apple is becoming more like Microsoft of old”. This concerns me. I have worked on Apple computers since the IIE.

    What saddens me further is that they just do not seem to be in touch with their users of their computers. While business decisions may warrant not making 17 inch Macbook Pros a lot of my customers complain to me about this. They also complain about the price of the newer Mac Pro computers… sadly I agree with them. I have seen the newer Mac Pro’s in action and have called them the ” Mac No’s ” I can almost get 90% of the performance of a new Mac Pro with OWC’s Accelsior product and a ram upgrade from OWC for 1/5 the cost and still have the expansion capabilities of the old school Mac Pro. Sadly, no Thunderbolt.

    I appreciate the performance, old school geeks and high end professionals are a more minute voice with the ” fog of war ” iPhone users gobbling data through the Apple castle. What I do not understand is why the performance crowd is not being listened to? This crowd influences Apple and non Apple users alike due to their passion for the product. Has Apple lost their passion? Are they in it for the money ? If they have had passion in the last few years I cannot tell what product exemplifies it.

    Surely a worthy new product is better than dumping millions into a Chinese ride sharing service? Maybe it is my Pennsyltucky attitude not knowing about business abroad in other developing countries and how that is done but I am still scratching my head there.

    NO VIRTUAL REALITY ??? Are you freaking kidding me Apple? You control the hardware, the operating system, the online store and currently your phones do not support any Virtual Reality device? You had Quicktime VR for crying out loud… What the heck is wrong with you. This market is gonna be big and you have Facebook and Samsung ahead of you, way ahead of you. Sad.

    Apple, if you need someone to stir the passion pot please give me a call.

    Apple needs to lift their heads from the Numbers spreadsheets and start paying attention to the users.

    I am a proud OWC reseller in Camp Hill, PA. I sell support their products because they have passion. I am self employed and enjoy guiding people to maximizing their previous Apple purchase with OWC products. NO, I am not paid to say this, I believe it.

    If in the area and want to chat about this subject I welcome a visit at my shop called Macs N PCs. Macs come first, for now.

  • I have become very disappointed with Apple’s current offerings, with the machines glued together and essentially non-expandable and unrepairable by their users. None of these new machines are likely to have long lives. So I’ll keep my four primary machines as long as possible (iMac 12,1 / Mac Pro 4,1 / Mac Mini 6,1 and MBA 13″) as long as possible. All but the Air have received every update that can be had from OWC, and their performance leaves nothing to be desired. I find it preposterous that my Mac Pro will not run Sierra, but that’s really not that big a loss since I’m also not a fan of the latest versions of OS X. I’ll stick to Yosemite and El Capitan.

    A few years ago I began collecting vintage Macs and I now have fifteen or so of them. I have been impressed by their design, upgradeability, repairability, and general build quality. With the exception of the G4 iMac they are all easy to work on, and even that one is not impossible. The late Power PC machines are still usable if you are determined to do so, but the early Intel machines are also cheap and there is no reason to settle for a PPC machine unless you need to run old code.

    So the current machines Apple offers are useless to me, but if they came out with a proper replacement for the Cheesegrater I would want one.

  • Bang on. Apple seems to have lost it’s way on the Pro end of things. I dont think that they realize the importance of having an “evangelical” (albeit small) group of professionals who pull along the brand into the “credibility zone”. I dont pretend to be one of the high end users, but they certainly influenced me when I decided to move our company into the Mac world. Our next high-end machines won’t be one of the trashcans … that’s a bad investment for a small company like ours.

  • The writing on the wall is perfectly clear: professionals are no longer a priority for Apple.

    Overpriced, underperforming hardware. Compatiblity totally snafu’d by annual OS X updates.

    How long will familiarity be their saving grace?

    • If you Google it, you’ll be taken to the right place.
      It’s – moderately – easy to get a ‘basic’ rig going with carefully selected hardware.
      If you want to delve deeper and get some more ‘finesse’ – then be prepared to read, cross reference, take notes, look up meanings of acronyms you’ve never heard before, then re-read and iterate many time.
      It took me 4 months of approx 3, 4 hours a day before I felt confidant that I had a handle on the terms, and I’ve been in IT for over 20 years.
      The nice thing is that we now have YT, you’ll find tons of ‘tutorials’ that will clue you up on the PC self building enthusiast mindset.
      Happy modding.

  • I have been a loyal Mac user since 2008 when I got my first Mac Pro. But now it’s obsolete because it can’t be upgraded to OS X 10. All of the companies engage in planned obsolescence so it doesn’t surprise me that Apple is doing this. Yes, it makes life difficult for the end user. For instance, the latest release of Pages, 5.6.2, doesn’t support the equation editor. Furthermore, if I open a pages file with equations, then I can no longer edit the equations and I have to rely on backup to restore the original file. It must be that I am the only pages user that also uses equations and math. This is what happens when capitalists get ahold of technology. How easy it would be for Apple to write a good interface to Latex/Tex, buy a commercial license from them, and give the user the awesome functionality of creating documents in Tex/Latex. But no. They have to make their inferior software proprietary so they can charge monopoly rates for it. Same goes for Windows and PCs except that MSFT is such an egregious monopolist that it’s a shame. Let’s go open source and dump these vampires!

  • Some very good points made OWC Larry on Apple’s current Mac Pro lineup.
    I have no idea what Apple’s plan is, from the business planning perspective.

    As a business owner/partner you know, especailly for an OS release, there are sales numbers to hit each quarter, testing and support costs.
    Just becasue on the surface a given CPU seems to meet basic requirements, does not mean it will work or is economically reasonable to support. As a business owner you know that even minor variations in a given chip can mean a feature cannot be implelemented without major work and expense. Remember, when AirDrop had issues becasue of some WiFi chips, which then brought us a new DNS model?

    I am sure the costs to Apple. So while we might believe a 7 year old machine Mac Pro is better and works fine, it may not and Apple has decided, based upon their user data, to drop it.

    Apple does many hours of marketing research and business analysis.
    I do know it is no where as easy and cut and dry, as you have made it seem on the Mac Pro business decisions.

    • My Mac Pro is a mid 2010, and I’ve beefed it up. It’s doubtful I’ll switch to anything newer; I’m just not wild about the MacPro Silo, and for my purposes, I like being able to slide out the drawer and expand the memory or improve the CPU. That’s it!

      • Ron, you stated exactly how I feel. I have an “original” Mac Pro 2008 and a Mac Pro 2009, both real beefed up. The 2008 is only used as a server, but the 2009 works great. Now the 2009 will become obsolete soon. Like you, I just want to be able to expand the internals of my computer. That is why I have not purchased the can.

      • Its great that OWC offers a way to upgrade the CPU, but my concern is the life pf the motherboard. Any one have thoughts on this? Would be awesome of we could replace this as well, then I would feel great about staying with my 2010, although having thunderbolt capability would be the icing on the cake!

  • I’m buying a Power Mac G5 Tower with the original Apple monitor included. It was a very tempting offer and the Tower was running smooth as a well oiled machine. I was impressed with the convenient price so I made a Lay Away. But I’m still investigating about all the possibilities of expansion and upgrading that has this machine. I’m quite sure that there is a lot to expand and upgrade but a question still hunts my thoughts. Is it possible for a Dual G5 Power Mac to upgrade its CPU’s to the latest versions of that model series.For example, the Intel i 7 with more cores and the ones they call Nehalem. Please guys, let me know to make an informed decision. I need to buy an extra SSD’s and upgrading tools for my actual MacBook Pro and by the way I could check out what I need for my next acquisition. Thanks for your interest…

    • I’m not so sure you can do that with PowerPC Macs. If it’s made before 2006 or so…you might be better off with a used or refurbished Intel.

    • The G5 is not intel. It is limited to power pc software. I am not sure if it can. be retooled. But some people have them to use their ppc software that has no upgrade

    • I would caution anyone against investing in a seven year old computer, let alone a platform that’s fourteen years old. A PowerMac G5 is more a furnace than a computer at this point.

    • I would also think twice about that decision…
      just using the internet on a PPC will be a challenge!
      All of the typical web browsers are no longer supported and while there are a few out there just for the PPC G5 like TenFourFox and OmniWeb and a plug in for Safari that I can’t remember the name of right now…they all seem to have their limits.
      On eBay there are dozens of PPC G-5’s for sale for around $50-100 dollars.

  • Apple should bring standards to all devices, including Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-C (reversible) generation 2 and SDXC with extra pins supporting maximum speed (300 MB/s).

  • Agree. I’ve been buying Apple since the first Mac in 1984. Now I’m trying to hold onto the Leopard OS in my MacBook Pro because Lion has been a pain in my desktop units, and the reports have not been good on any of the subsequent releases.

    Further, every new OS disables access to vital archives created with software that is not compatible with the changes. Right now, I’m being forced to buy new computers for the new operating systems while retaining my older computers for the older files.

  • Yes. Mac user since 1990. Graphics and video editing. I am sorely disappointed in the decisions made by apple for their pro users. Aperture discontinued. why? Final Cut gutted. Hardware dumbed down. Itunes a bloated mess. And it seems there is a concerted effort to frustrate and stymie any upgrading or customizing. I tried to change my iphone to android but I am so locked into the apple world that I would lose too much. How can we get Apple to listen to us?

  • Spot on analysis of Apple. They abandoned the very customer base that made them what they are today. I belonged to the church of Steve, and poured thousands into Mac hardware and software, only to be screwed over.

    In 2008 I purchased a Mac Pro, it was a terrific value at the time. The dual processors alone on the open market cost about what I paid for the thing. It was expensive for sure, but it also was incredibly powerful. I felt good about the purchase.

    Today, no value, no excitment, no joy. I still have old ironsides, in juiced up fashion, but thats the point. It’s running a GTX-970, lots of SSD’s, one on the PCI slot for 550 MB/s transfer rates. It’s still very usable!

    Take note Apple; your pro customer base is probably smarter than you are. Don’t try to con or buffalo them. They see right through the crap.

    I still love OSX, but when a hackintosh can smoke anything Apple is putting out, that is just embarrassing…for Apple.

  • Echoes my sentiments also. Been an Apple fan since working on a Lisa, for those that remember the Lisa. I don’t want to be a Luddite, but now I hesitate to upgrade OS X releases until months later when the bugs are out, not to mention my annoyance for Apple’s canning perfectly good software for dumbed down new releases, and the constant $$$ needed to upgrade other software/equipment. It seems just when you get everything stable on a network and with users for a while, out comes more upgrades that upset the apple cart. I don’t blame developers for leaving the App Store when upgrades and trials are not allowed, not to mention how sandboxing rules are too onerous for some apps. The convergence of Macs, iPhones, iCloud, syncing is causing more complexity to troubleshooting. I realize you can’t please everyone, and I am glad for Apple’s success after so many lean years, but Apple needs to get back more to its roots, in spite of being a giant multinational. Anyway, thank you, OWC, for adding longevity by overcoming hurdles with our Apple products.

  • Just bought a Supermicro. Feels like a weight has been lifted after all the disappointment in the last few years. My 2 trashcans are now there to render QuickTime files and little else. It will be interesting to see how pro software develops over the next few years considering the inability of the trashcan to cope and the amount of work it must take to keep up with constant OS changes. My guess is it won’t be just the end user abondoning the Mac Pro.

  • I will not buy another Mac. They drop support for perfectly good computers way to early. I have a Mac Pro which works great that they say is obsolete. Well for me Mac is obsolete.

    • I know someone still happily using their 2007 iMac. Just because Apple calls something obsolete, and won’t release their newest OS for it, doesn’t mean it has no value left. Apple’s new OS offerings aren’t good anymore, anyways.

  • All spot on. However if you deign to utter such comments in the public forums on most Mac-centric sites you get shouted down and brow beaten. How DARE anyone question Apple!?
    While Macs are a small part of Apple revenue, and Mac Pros an even smaller part. They certainly have a halo effect when Apple can say that XYZ top 40 album, or award winning feature film were made on a Mac. It inspires the young artists, musicians and filmakers. They can reach for the same tools that pros use. Maybe with a little less punch due to wallet constraints.
    Apple needs to have a solid ‘Pro’ Mac Pro that just grinds all day long. Especially with 4k being a huge thing now, more than ever we need gear that is more powerful than an iMac, and yes more powerful than the Trashcan.
    I own a Trashcan. Maxed out ram, Thunderbay etc. And it is not the giant slayer it should be.
    I really blame Apple for not being proactive about getting Adobe in line on this. As well as many other software vendors.

    • Yeah, we’re a little underwhelmed with our nMP too.
      Apple could have met us half way with build to order option of, say, the shrunken down – desktop, not “m” – gtx 980 as well as the AMD ‘FirePro’s’ (which are basically HD 7970’s anyway).
      There’s too much of a code base invested in CUDA for the apps we need.

  • One need only look at the latest change to the look and lack of feel of the Apple communities as the true direction Apple is going. They want to be a consumable “toy” marketer and a forced obsolescence product creator looking only for the youth that are “wowed” by looks and don’t care how much debt they run up obtaining the latest and greatest.

    I am a Mac user since the MacPlus and have been getting more and more disillusioned by the latest
    moves. As a matter of fact even considered a Windows phone before getting my 6S, but Microsoft has no clue what it wants to do in terms of phones and I refuse to go Android (big brother Google). And also looking at the possibility of a roll your own PC as I don’t like the thought of the “what you buy now you will have to live with it for ever or trash it in a couple year” latest Mac models.

  • AMEN! As the IT guy for an all Mac Office going back to the IIci, Apple is losing us. I say Apple Hardware peaked in 2012. Nothing they offer inspires us to upgrade from our 6 2011 MBP 17″ (with dual HDs installed) or our 8 MacPro’s (2008-2012). Sure, I have made upgrades where I can to get the most out of them. But they get the job done!. And anything new would be a step backwards in usability.

    I just sold off my 2012 MacMini Quad Core Server in favor of keeping a 2009 Quad-Core MacPro. yes, the mini was faster and had Thunderbolt and USB3, but the MacPro has room inside for 5 drives. Boot..Scratch,,Storage and two TimeMachine drives. And I can drive several displays with it. Now I read a 2009 MacPro will not meet the standard for Sierra (but a 2009 MacBook will!!!). Good thing I am so happy with Yosemite.

    Yup, Yosemite. No El Capitan in our office. Why? Because although the OS was free, we had no interest in spending money to upgrade all the other software we use on a rare basis but still need.

    Without some serious LEAP in hardware tech, I will keep chugging along with my iPad3, iPhone 5s, MacPro 4,1 and MacBook Air 5,1 (upgraded with 1TB).

    One great thing about Macs, they make AWESOME PCs. All of our MacPro 2,1 machines are now Windows7 machines. Old MacBooks our kids used on college, Windows 7 32bit machines (or ChomeBooks) since Apple decided to abandon them at 10.7.5

    The used and refurb market is booming! That should be the wake up call for Apple.

  • Great article!
    I have been thinking the same thing for years.
    I am a prepress manager and by extension a heavy Mac Pro user. We have several 2008-2012 Mac Pro’s here in our dept. and they are all rock solid and perform great. I have updated them all with SSD’s from OWC and see absolutely no reason to update to the “trash can”. Mac users, graphic designers, prepress operators etc. where once Apple’s foundation those users were probably the first ones to go out and buy iPhones! I love Apple products but the yearly OSX update kills us!! It effects so many things in our business environment that we keep some of our MacPro’s on 10.6.8 and the latest OS we have running is 10.9.5. Maybe the new
    macOS will bring a change in how and when updates come out.

  • Right on Larry! I keeping hoping that Apple comes to realize that there are a hard core group of us that wants something more like the tower than the trashcan. I have been using the tower since it first came out (and have 4 of them currently) and would immediately buy a couple of them were they to be reintroduced!

  • As a photographer, I deeply resent Apple’s trashing of Aperture. With thousands of images, and not wanting to switch to Lightroom, I am just keeping my present OS 10.10.5 which works with Aperture, knowing there’s a sword above my head. In fact, many of the reasons that I switched from Windows to Mac have evaporated because of Apple’s 99% consumer focus. I did get a Mac Pro because I wanted matching monitors. They could easily connect to a PC. Changing the OS version every year is quite irritating and for my needs unnecessary. Thanks for writing this.

  • I think this article hits right on the money. I just purchased a Mac Pro 5.1 from OWC because my 4.1 won’t support Sierra but I just can’t bring myself to buy a trashcan. I want to be able to add on to my computer as I need. For example, I do a lot of work with Cisco devices and need a serial port. USB adapters are just too flaky for a network engineer to fuss with.
    I believe Apple could vastly accelerate Mac Pro sales simply by bringing the silver tower back. I would love to see Mac sales exceed the garbage Lenovo is foisting off on the consumer as high end equipment.
    I am a PC convert and a loyal Mac user. Apple, please concentrate on a bug-free OS and equipment your high-end users need and want.

    • Just so you know, the 4,1 can be flashed to 5,1 status, gain HDMI audio from the GPU, and full support in Sierra. Also, even the 3,1 works with a simple plist edit.

      The lockout factor for the MP1,1/2,1 though is real: Those CPUs lack SSE4, which launchd now uses and the OS can’t even boot on them, modified or not.

      So if you still have your 4,1, you can flash it and have two 5,1 machines and use one for work, one for games. You’ll have the best of both worlds, at least as good as it gets under OS X anyway. :)

      • Thank you for the information about flashing to 5,1. I can get more life from my extremely good running Mac Pro 2009.
        Trying to imagine the silver back with today’s technical improvements!

  • Another example: The elimination of the scroll arrows after OS 10.6, supposedly to make the Mac OS interface look more like the iPhone. As a user who does mostly high-end graphics editing, I cannot do without the single-step scroll control of those arrows, so I’m locked tight into an older OS.Egregious!

    From a functional viewpoint, a trashcan is good for — trash!

  • Great article ! Excellent points ! I’ve been a big fan of both Apple and OWC, and I won’t give up my MacPro 5,1 for love or money.

  • My last experience with upgrading left a lot to be desired. Since I had a 2012 MacBook Pro (I’m not a professional BTW) I wanted to upgrade to a retina display for Photoshop. When I found out that memory wasn’t upgradeable I was happy to learn that I could still buy the same model and put my SSD in. There was no way I could afford a blown out new model with retina display with no memory upgrade path.
    As for sales going down, it’s easy to gauge. Go to any Starbucks and see how many people are still using Macs compared to a few years ago. I see the very low end (still pricey) 10″ ones being used but they seem to be only used for internet and email. I hope they add the retina display to the 13″ MBP and improve the rest but keep the upgradeability. I won’t buy another MBP until they do.

  • Hi Larry, this is exactly the same sentiment that I’ve been feeling for the last five years if not more. This is a great article and I hope Mr. Cook and other senior management at Apple read this and take it to heart.

    Many Pro users of Apple hardware and software are big influencers upon other users…dumping the Pro users actually undermines Apple’s own competitive advantages in the long run.

    Shout outs to Mike at xlr8yourmac for linking this article and BDAqua, two gents that I haven’t chatted with since the xlr8yourmac forums. :D

    Like BD, I also chose a 2010 model 2 years ago and upgraded it significantly rather than choose the cylindrical Mac Pro. Too limited in expansion and very limited upgradability. 3 years into the new model and still no updates, does Apple even *have* a Pro strategy?

  • Releasing the – brilliantly engineered, but ultimately pointless – closed box, non cuda 2013 MP left many “cut me and I bleed in six colours” users out in the cold.

    There are countless ‘influencers’ on YT bemoaning the fact they have been forced to jump ship – a lot are never coming back.
    Timing couldn’t have been worse as the Intel “HEDT” 6, 8 (and now 10) core OVERCLOCKABLE chips were gathering momentum. Killer blow is with Windows 10 filling every gap that the pro market needs. (Or the other ‘exotic’ method mentioned many times in comments below).
    Apple NEEDS to open source their OS at, say, $300, and only on ‘selected’ motherboards. (Think Asus WS, ROG etc, as an example). And drop their Desktop hardware prices a fair bit too. (exception, portables).
    While that would have been suicide pre iPhone, doing so now (open source – for a fee – to enthusiasts/builders) would only add to the number of customers on Apple’s Cloud offerings, subscription content.

    Say Open Source added 10 to 20 times the current user base, it would be fair to say 20% of that expended market would pay for iCloud/Photos/Handoff etc, thus mitigating the lost profit on hardware with substantial recurring revenue.
    And, there will still be die-hard users who will pay the premium for 100% Apple too.

  • Glad I bought a maxed out & upgraded Mid 2010 Mac Pro from OWC, costs as much as decent trash can, but far better.

  • No love for pro users. I have been using macs for about the same time as you, 30 years… After the last Pro update, I went Hackintosh. Im a web designer, and now I can easily dual boot and game on the PC end with dual SLI 970 Nvidia cards. You could never do that on a mac. I still love the OS and my iPhone and work on an iMac at work, but the support hasn’t been with pros for a while now. Sad. Really a Hackintosh is the best way to go for power users.

    • Can you tell me more about your experience with a Hackintosh? How did you set it up? I have heard Clover is good. Also, are there any issues you have? Can you upgrade the OS easily? Will it work just like my OS on my old MAcPro tower 5,1? I have had it with waiting for Apple to provide a new MAcPro. So am seriously considering a Hackintosh.

  • Hit the nail on the head… My next Mac will probably be a 27″ iMac since the performance of the MacPro can basically be equaled by it for less money. If I have to go to more power it will be the HP. Especially since they are interested enough to show up at the SuperMeet while Apple has been MIA.

  • It is an unfortunate reality that Apple’s yearly abandonment of its OS and lack of adequate (and I’m using a very low bar for “adequate”) hardware power has forced many of us into the…”custom” route.

    Want high speed NVMe drives with better capacity and choice than Apple’s scant offerings that cost as much as the moon owned by Quark’s cousin Gala? You need to build a custom rig with a Skylake (Z170) board and outfit it with any of the available drives.

    Want sick PCIe speed for your gaming rig? Still have to go the “custom” route because no Mac out there at all that was made after the 2010/2012 cMPs have PCIe slots, and even Thunderbolt 3 is exceedingly limited in comparison (it has only 40 Gbit/sec throughput, or 5 GB/sec before overhead, and after overhead has about 4 GB/sec, or the equivalant of an x4 PCIe 3.0 slot). If you had a choice of paying through the nose for a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure + PCIe card + extra space taken on your desk or a fast internal PCIe SSD that obstensibly costs less than any TB solution, which would you choose?

    I’m eyeing a GTX 1080 for my current rig which uses a GTX 780. Funny thing is, my 780 blows the crap out of any of Apple’s GPU offerings except in the more tiny niche of circumstances. And the 1080? You’d need roughly 8 to 10 of Apple’s M395X GPUs to have that kind of power.

    OWC has done a lot to try to help users get more out of their Macs over the last few years by making solutions available that would otherwise never exist, but they can’t keep it up forever if Apple continues down the closed off hardware route. More and more of Apple’s offerings are soldered onto the motherboard and non-upgradeable, offering unbelievably horrible value over time.

    My “custom” rig from 2013 made from well chosen, high quality, and very powerful parts still outclasses even the best iMac 5k made three years later. Why? Because I got to choose desktop parts, not get stuck with a laptop inside of a desktop display.

    Apple keeps shipping Macs with higher and higher resolution displays, but with hardware that can’t realistically handle those displays’ native resolution. Why else do you think the iMac 5k’s default resolution is 1440p upscaled? If a GTX 1080 can’t provide 4k60 gaming experience (sustained framerate), what chance does a pitiful M395X *mobile* GPU have of doing high framerates at *5k* resolution?

    OWC has it right in this blog – Apple has been all about form, and not even a bit concerned with the hardware to back up their shiny displays. So what if the machine constantly overheats or is thermally throttled. Apple hasn’t cared about that for years (the 2013 trashcan pro thermally throttles well before it hits max load and the iMac 5k lets its components bake thoroughly by not ramping up the fans until the machine hits 100C).

    We need better. We need what we’ve *wanted* for years: A computer that can be upgraded to the hilt, be it for gaming or for production use. I know OWC would love that as well, since that would open up more opportunities for them to create solutions we want to use.

    And let’s not forget Apple’s refusal to keep OpenGL up to date either and instead shove Metal (an iOS-centric API) down our throats. No Overwatch from Blizzard because of that, and with the details being gleaned from MacOS 10.12, the potential for many companies to consider dropping OS X support entirely should the Apple File System ship with the requirements it uses (especially the case sensitive portion of the FS, which most companies do not support installations on).

    OWC can work wonders on many Macs, but even they need breathing room to do better. We all do.

    • the 5K iMac is running at lower resolution – so people can actually see what is on the display. Apple is fairly brilliant here and the software is fairly smart.

      Where Apple falls down – probably a result of the iPad’s initial success – is that they want to build more of an appliance – that is never upgraded. Many people don’t like this option and Apple needs to realize that we may want to use our computers/systems for years – 5 years, 10 years, etc… with some upgrade a quality computer can be useful for a long time.

  • Apple needs to consider: If one’s current computer is fine except it needs more RAM or storage space, but because those can’t upgraded on his Mac and so he has to buy a completely new computer, is the customer going to consider whether he wants to be so trapped again with a Mac–or switch to an upgradable PC?

  • I often said that, regarding the “open license”. I don’t expect Apple to sell the right to HP/Dell, etc. to sell computers with OS X, but simply allow third party motherboard manufactures to supply native drivers for OS X compatibility.

    I guarantee you in about five seconds flat companies like Gigabyte, Asus, etc. would have OS X drivers right beside their Windows and Linux drivers because it would be super-easy to do and worth it if only a handful of people bought them in order to build licensed Hackintoshes, etc.

    I’ll freely admit, I keep an Apple laptop (a 2009 13″ Macbook…which with an OWC SSD feels as good as the day I opened it :D ) but use my own…how shall I say, “custom” designed Mac as my work system.

    Indeed I had to jump through more than a few hoops, but once I did the ability to have **MY** hardware built as **I** saw fit more than made up for the labor, and I have no intention of switching to Windows or Linux…unless, quite frankly, Apple leaves me no choice.

    I’m not greedy. I’m not looking to robb Apple of anything, but if they somehow make “custom” Macs unworkable and I happen to be using software that requires OS X, I’ll be buying the cheapest Mac Mini I can find until I can afford to buy Windows versions of whatever software I’m using.

    I don’t **want** to do that, and as this article points out I’d be more than happy to pay the $499 that I would have to spend on the cheapest Mini for just a license to OS X and assume all the risk of compatibility myself (no grudges, no hard feelings if something doesn’t work right, etc.)

    But I won’t be goaded into purchasing overpriced, out of date hardware (-cought- Mac Pro 2013 -cough-) just because that’s the fastest Apple chooses to bother producing (regardless if it’s anywhere near the fastest tech available.)

    We’ve been an “Apple Shop” for over two decades…and I hope to be one two decades from now…but it’s really up to Apple if we, literally, can afford that option.

  • It’s actually unbelievable, almost everyone invest in in renewable energy, low impact for the earth.
    Till 2012 you could buy a mac that could last for 4-8 years.
    Now you should be happy if you can do 2-4 years.
    After that you can throw your mac / investment away.

    The future must be in easy replaceable and some upgradable parts for the model you make.
    So this should be an advantage for our world and the economy what’s behind.

    That said, i see also other opportunities for the global green economy goes away because there is economical profit for them.
    They ship to everywhere, instead of choosing some logic, strategic and ecologic partners.
    They ship even some small stuff to small resellers or customers if they have economic profit instead of pointing those customers / small resellers to the distributors who have them already in stock.
    So shipping from the USA to France, for some small thing, if they have a distributor in Germany who has it in stock, that product already made the flight over / pollution from the USA to the EU.
    If you should count that ecologic pollution, you should be surprised.

    So the start is from your own actions.

    Very interesting article.

  • The roots of Apple’s misguided policies reach as far back into the mid-1990s, when Windows owned the business market and Apple’s marketshare was in the low single digits. Rather than compete in the beige-box market, Apple create pretty toys like that gum-drop iMac. Versatility, upgradability, and repairablity—important in the business and professional market— were given a back seat, since it looked like Windows was going to own those markets.

    Matters have only gotten worse since then. Now, Apple makes nothing worthwhile for the school market. Schools must have laptops they can repair and upgrade. Apple doesn’t make that.

    Desktops are no better. I’ve got one of the 2012 Mac minis you mention and it looks like I’ll be using it for a long time. Nothing since fits my needs as a design professional. The current Mac mini is a media server. The Mac Pro is too dated and too expensive.

    My laptop is a white, 2007 MacBook upgraded with an SSD. Every time I consider an upgrade, I can’t find anything I like other than a Retina screen.

    The only good news is that most of my design work is done with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. If I give up on Apple because they have no hardware worth buying, I could move to Windows in about four hours at no cost. All my documents would move over without a hitch.

    Thanks for your efforts on our behalf. OWC and iFixIt are the two bright spots for pros sho need solid hardware as tools rather than toys or jewelry.

  • This is a great article and reflects my own sentiments and experience, as well. What I value most in my Macs besides unparalleled reliability and industrial design is the ability to extend their performance, capacity and usability through affordable internal upgrades. Sadly, such capability is largely absent in the current Mac line. Fortunately, companies like OWC still have our backs. Thanks for all you do to help us extend “ROI” in so many older generation Macs!