Who The Hell Is Apple Trying To Sell The MacBook Pro To?

Image: Apple

Last week, Apple launched the next generation of MacBook Pro laptops; the first update in over four years. Many fans who had been eagerly anticipating the new range were left bitterly disappointed. It seems Apple forgot what the "Pro" in the product name stands for. A lot of the hardware 'improvements' have drawn criticism from the professional crowd; from programmers and developers to designers and photographers. Which leaves us all wondering, who is Apple trying to sell the MacBook Pro to?

So, why all the hate for the new MacBook Pro? For one, MacBook Pro loyalists have been waiting for an upgrade to their aging devices for a very long time. While the four-year wait has generated some pent up demand, it also made the disappointment all the more poignant.

The MacBook Pro is Apple's premium laptop line and there was a lot of reasons why it became popular with the professional crowd. The guts of the laptop were exceptionally powerful and user-customisable to some extent. Creative professionals could get a lot of their compute intensive tasks, such as rendering and video editing, done. Programmers and developers also liked the UNIX-like graphical user-interface. All of this was packaged up in a beautifully designed product, something Apple was famous for.

The MacBook Pro 2016 is prettier and thinner than its predecessors. But appearance isn't everything and no matter how you look at it, this new release isn't really a MacBook Pro; its more like a 'MacBook Deluxe'. It also bears a premium price tag with the 15-inch version starting at $3599. If you max out all the specs, that price goes up to $6649.

The function keys and Esc button have been replaced by a Touch Bar that changes dynamically depending on what programs you're running. I'll admit, the Touch Bar does look kind of cool and I can see a lot of uses for it. But for developers and programmers, the function and Esc keys are critical. They are often used hundreds of times per day and provides time saving shortcuts for developers to do their jobs.

In integrated development environments (IDEs) like Visual Studio, function keys are used for actions including debug, build and pause. Yes, you can re-map those keys, but it's a hassle and it will take time for people to get used to new key locations.

Then there's the RAM, which is capped at 16GB. That's the same RAM cap as the older MacBook Pro series. Maybe you were thinking about upgrading the RAM yourself. Provided that the chipset supports it, you might be able to give it a boost… if you're a master at desoldering. Apple has soldered the RAM on. Good luck trying to get that out. That's not the only customisation limitation in the new MacBook Pro, which we already discussed in a previous article.

Alexey Semeney said it best on the DevTeamSpace blog:

"These days it's easy to find a Windows or Linux machine comparable to the MacBook Pro for US$1000 to US$1500. You don’t need to go far to find them, notable brands like Lenovo, HP, Asus, Samsung, and Dell all offer them. And for those who aren’t fans of Windows, Linux is always an option.   "With more resources poured into Microsoft developers ecosystem and Linux distributions, developers may soon have a wide range of great operating systems that can run on pretty cheap laptops."

The RAM cap is also a problem for creative professionals. Their compute intensive tasks demand more and more memory. Apple may have made the decision to cap the RAM in order to make the laptops thinner, but 16GB just doesn't cut it these days.

For Photographers, the Touch Bar could be useful for quick access to image editing tools. Apple demonstrated this in one of its marketing videos and it does seem impressive. But the problem for photographers is that Apple has removed the SD card slot, which means they can't easily transfer the digital photos they have taken onto the laptop. In fact, Apple has removed all the input ports and replaced them with four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Want to plug an SD card in? Get an adaptor. Want to plug anything in? Get a dongle. This tweet summed it up nicely:

At least Apple haskept the 3.5mm headphone jack.

With so much criticism aimed at the 2016 MacBook Pro series, is there really an audience for the new notebooks? Apparently so.

According to Apple executive Phil Schiller, the Apple online store "has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before". It does have an improved Retina display and a larger trackpad that gives you a bigger working surface. It's not a bad laptop -- far from it. But is it really a MacBook Pro? We'd be inclined to say 'no'.

The Apple MacBook Pro may have found a new audience, but it may have done so at the expense of its older fan base.

We'll leave you with this parody video for the Apple MacBook Pro 2016:


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Comments

    Who The Hell Is Apple Trying To Sell The MacBook Pro To?

    Their existing users most likely. My guess is they forgot even the hardest of Apple diehards do have a brain and don't take kindly to a new laptop where one has to spend almost as much again on adapters to make said laptop almost as functional as the prior model.

      You need $2500 worth of adapters? Really?

    If you buy a brand new "courageous" iPhone 7, and a brand new Mac Book "Pro" and get home you can't plug in your iPhone to charge and sync (without buying an adapter), you can't use your new "courageous" lighting headphones with your MBP. If you buy a USB-C - lightning cable you can't use that new cable with the iPhone 7 wall charger...(or any car charger etc).
    Basically Apple can't even stay consistent with pushing new standards (which are anything but standard). At the very very least they should have "courageously" ditched lightning all together, committed to USB-C and made that the single port on the iPhone and the new headphones and the charger etc should all be USB-C (what the heck is the point of lightning?). Currently this is a nonsensical mess.
    Maybe they make more money from selling adapters. No wonder their shares fell...tail wagging the dog.

    designer of 20+ years here; & longtime mac user. Will I be buying one of these new macbooks? nope. here's why.

    - lack of SD card reader
    - no magsafe adaptor
    - lack of USB port

    Apple used to mac great hardware for creatives, not any more.. I think they are more interested in doing business with Naccisists; who don't mind carrying a bag full of dongles.

    I think Apple is pretty much waiting. They have the iPad, iPad Pro, iPad air, mini etc and I think they are trying to push them out and get more using these into more hands instead of Macs. I think the new Macs proves this otherwise they would have released them with amazing new specs or features. You have to admit that they have been pushing hard the i devices and focusing more of these. Four years is a long time to wait for something that has already been done by HP, Microsoft, Dell and other Laptop makers.

    adapters are fine, but apple is missing some useful adapters is the problem.

    it is be nice if it comes with a USB C to A with charging support adapter.

    The "Pro" lost all meaning with Apple a long time ago. Final Cut "Pro", Logic "Pro", all stopped being "pro" items and were aimed solely for the consumer.

    The Macbook "Pro" just continues that.

    Seems like Apple has mistakenly released the new Macbook Pro as it lacks all those advanced features people would like to have in their new Apple product. You even need an adapter to connect your iPhone with your Macbook, that's too creepy huh!

    But for developers and programmers, the function and Esc keys are critical
    And they are still there when using development software, or any software if you wish. The bar is a normal row of function keys, or whatever you want it to be. For developers the bar is extremely useful, to have stuff that doesn't hotkey available to you.
    You don't have to 'remap' the keys, they are there by default.

    The adapters is hardly an issue either, you can get a single adapter that has USB2 as well as SD card slot and ethernet, and they aren't expensive. Having 4 ports that can be reconfigured as anything from Thunderbolt3, Thunderbolt2, to a charging port, to firewire, display port, VGA, USB3/2/C, etc. is actually extremely versatile, and honestly a non-issue for pro users.

    The 16GB is a limitation for some, but very few, even on 4K Davinci resolve I don't hit the limit on 16GB, but it is annoying that a 32GB option isn't there. It will be early next year when Kaby Lake is properly available.

    The new screens are a huge improvement, with full P3 colour space and way brighter and more colour accurate than just about anything out there, they are fast and can drive multiple 5K monitors with ease. The new Final Cut Pro running on them is incredibly fast and the best NLE out there for serious work.

    The only real problem with the new MBP is the price hike, and there not being an 'entry level' machine anymore for students, families etc. and the lack of a 32GB model for the few that need it. It will likely come early next year, but for now, for professionals, the only real sticking point is that, and the high prices. Microsoft's machines seem to be at the same pricing levels.

    The statement that you can get an equivalent machine for $1000 though is seriously a big stretch, but yeah, if the MBPs were $500 cheaper, and a 32GB model announced as coming next year, I don't think they would have had the backlash they did.

    cynical me says that the SD card slot vanished because the "flush fit MicroSD adapter" is becoming more and more well known, and that was eating into sales of the larger hard drives. (I don't know if it as everywhere else, but they used to sell those adapters in the store, not anymore)

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