I have been a long time Apple fan. I don’t think of myself as a Fan Boy, but a fan. My first Mac was a Performa 6200. I have been anxiously awaiting the refresh of the MacBook pro. I am using a 15” Macbook pro from 2008. It has been upgraded with an SSD and more ram, but is starting to see some age.
From a stockholder perspective, I see several fails from Apple. The first, and most egregious of these is the removal of the 3.5mm jack from the iPhone. Two years ago Apple bought Beats by Dre for 3 Billion dollars. Guess What? Most of the product line uses 3.5mm plugs. Apple just killed a huge upsell to their user base by killing the 3.5mm plug. Sure, you can get wireless Beats, but those are very high end and not everyone wants wireless. So why did Apple spend 3 billion dollars on a highly popular brand, which now does not work with their product line? It’s a major let down of shareholders because it is more missed opportunities.
Now, let’s move on to what started this rant. The new Macbook pros. My current setup is my previously mentioned 2008 model. It has dual monitors, 2 usb hubs, and a hardwired Ethernet connection routinely plugged in. At the very least I need dongles. The new USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pro models means I can no longer plug my iPhone directly into my laptop for charging or syncing. Syncing is no big deal as wifi syncing is kind of working. I am not a big cloud user so I have definite benefits to a cable sync. However, the charging aspect of it is very handy. I spend a fair amount of time in the field. I routinely visit data centers, remote network locations, and backrooms where network equipment is shoe-horned into. Most of the time power outlets are few and far in-between. I am lucky to have a power outlet to keep my MacBook going. This means I tend to plug my phone into the laptop to charge. I can no longer do this. #fail
Another major issue is the removal of the escape key. This is more symbolic of how Apple has abandoned the power user than function. Anyone who has worked in Linux probably uses the VI text editor. Using the escape key is an essential key to this software. I also routinely log-in to network routers. One of the first things you are presented with many of them is “press escape to get started”. I am already having to use an old terminal program and a USB to serial adaptor in most cases. I worry about how adding and escape key to the touch bar is going to work on an older setup like this.
At this point in my thinking process I have decided I needed to plan out what all I need to make a new MacBook Pro work with my current setup. I figure I need to come up with several dongles. I need one for each of my external monitors, one for Ethernet, and something to replace the connections to my 2 8 port USB hubs. These hubs have hard drives, a usb headset, usb mic, accept flash drives, and a card reader. I am fully expecting I need a home dock and some dongles to take on the road with me. I routinely use Ethernet in my day to day job activities. So off to the Apple store I go. This is where I run into the next fail. I pick out the MacBook I wish to purchase and there are no “Suggested accessories” like with previous models. You used to be able to add on dongles and such right from the same screen. You can no longer do this. Again, this is a major fail on the part of upselling the customer. Here I am, wanting to purchase additional dongles and I have to go hunting for them. After many frustrating minutes of digging I found a SB-C to VGA adaptor, but not a DVI adaptor. The whole experience was frustrating. Now, I have to treck into a dreaded Apple store and hope one of the folks in there understand what I am talking about. This is the second stockholder fail I see. Lost revenue from a lack of upselling options.
I realize the trend tends to be leaning toward mobile and phone. There is still a huge segment of the business population which gets work done on desktop and laptops. Abandoning them is a sure fire way to drive away further sales. If the I.T. decision makers at companies are not using your product, that loses direct revenue. This reaches much further, though. More and more folks are looking for integrated solutions. If they see work is buying a certain brand of computers, you tend to buy that brand. Then you tend to buy that brand for your children and integrate it into your homes. Brand awareness plays into this as well. Beats are a popular brand and if they have to have dongles to work it creates a shoddy looking product. Why buy a dongle when I can plug it directly into my new google phone? Why would work buy products they have to stock an Apple version of and an everyone else version.
Not only has Apple abandoned the power user, but they are failing the shareholders as well. Their job is to maximize the value of the company for us shareholders. Apple needs to innovate, but taking stuff away is not the way to do it. I remember the days when you had to have a special “Apple microphone” to plug into a mac. The plug was slightly longer. This caused issues and much confusion. I know people who did not buy mac products because of this attitude. It wasn’t about the microphone. It was the fact everything was proprietary. Apple is an innovator, but forcing people into their way of thinking can backfire. I can pay off big on the flip side. In this case I think this will be the day the Macbook died. Unless Apple changes things the Macbook will have a place in education, like they always have. Once folks get out into the business world, the value of a portless, escape-key-less laptop will hamper them. I hope I am wrong.