Apple could hardly have been more dismissive of its Macintosh community of developers and media/design professionals with the latest MacBook Pro products. A queue of critics formed to murmur their anxieties at the price, lack of support for large memory configurations, the absence of a way to plug in an iPhone simply, the yanking of peripheral interface support, the cost of component upgrades, the keyboard’s short key travel, the screen, the perhaps underpowered silicon, the silence on the future of the desktop Mac…
The charge sheet against Cupertino’s finest is long. Apple stands accused of ignoring its most loyal set of supporters: the “makers” that stayed with it even when Steve Jobs was no longer on the scene. Now, the Steve is long gone in quite another way and the natives are restless.
But, for context, the MacBook brouhaha should be seen as part of a long history of Apple telling users what they should be thinking. As Jobs’ hero once sang: “Your debutante just knows what you need but I know what you want.” Or to change musical genre you might say that Apple is the Mother Gothel of technology and takes a “mother knows best” attitude even as it extracts the very features that its users have depended upon, and it neglects to provide what the obeisant crowd has politely requested.
Often, this history of wilfulness on the part of Apple’s designers has reflected a focus on look and feel over features and functions and a cavalier disregard for “legacy” – and in Apple’s terms legacy means the stuff you’re using right now and only bought recently. How thin and light does Apple want its products to become? Invisible from certain angles? Sharp as a blade of Toledo steel? Lighter than a feather, a mote of dust or an atom? And just what have wires done to make Apple’s designers so angry?
There are mutterings online concerning the weakness of the MacBook Pro versus Dell, Lenovo and other products aimed at a professional/developer audience, but the truth is that most Mac owners will stay inside their gilded prisons, just as they did in the dark years of interregnum without Jobs. They have made their beds and they will lie in them… at least until Apple tells them it has redesigned their sleeping arrangements.
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