MacBook Pro Changes Affect Every User, Not Just Developers


Intersting the way the narrative around the MacBook Pro updates has changed in the last couple of days. The cohort of 'Apple can do no wrong' writers have moved from rejecting any of the changes Apple made being in any way negative to suggesting that these changes only affect creatives and developers.

That's nonsense and in more than one way too.

It isn't just those 'professional' users who will find the switch to all USB-C ports to be clumsy. Of the people I know who use laptops, and especially those MacBook Pro users I meet, two things stand out: the great number who use USB dongles to power an external mouse and the regular use of USB flash drives to transfer large files. Now a dongle or a Bluetooth mouse will fix the former, and Type C USB flash drives are available but it's a clumsy solution.

For iPhone 7 users those won't be the only changes they need to make, the Lightning Earpods won't work with the new MBP, so it's either carry two sets of headphones or one set of regular headphones and the Lightning dongle. Wireless will only be a route for those who don't value true audio quality.

The loss of the MagSafe charger connection is such a retrograde step it's stunning. This was a truly brilliant innovation on Apple's part and it has saved me a smashed MacBook on more than one occasion. I'm sure anybody with young children or pets will tell you the same thing. Even something as simple as providing a USB-C charging cable with a magnetic break a few inches from one end would have been a fix for this.

Every potential MBP buyer will need to take these things into consideration.

For professional users I'd wager these compromises, together with the wildly unhelpful Touch Bar, lack of SD card slot and uncompetitive pricing are going to make that decision even more challenging.

And for those excusing these changes on the basis that professional users are a shrinking minority of Mac users there's a reality check too. 

Based on  Adobe Creative Cloud and registered Apple Developers the number of professional users is being pegged at between 10m and 25m individuals. 

Now of the 16-18m Macs Apple is likely to sell this year how many do you think will be sold to professionals? Given a generous five-year lifecycle that's between 2m and 5m professionals upgrading Macs every year. Or between 11% and 30% of all Mac sales.

Or to put it another way, a really dangerous percentage of your customers to sideline and ignore.

Mac sales are down. In recent quarters they've been shrinking faster than the general PC market. Which suggests to me that firstly, the MBP is the wrong machine at the wrong time and, secondly bringing the weight of the Apple chorus to belittle legitimate concerns from these users demonstrates a disconnect between the Ivory Towers in Cupertino and the rest of the Mac-using world.

The most sensible commentary I've seen on the whole MVP issue has come from C|Net. In the article 'How Apple Blew The MacBook Name Game' Sean Holister shows how the MBP would have had a rather more positive reception as a replacement for the MacBook Air. To be truly accurate the pricing would have to be changed, but in other respects there are some pretty good points.


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