MacBook Pro gets up­grade, raised prices

‘Im­por­tant in­cre­men­tal changes’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­O­RAH M TODD

CU­PER­TINO, Cal­i­for­nia: Ap­ple un­veiled a re­vamped MacBook Pro, adding a fin­ger­print reader, re­plac­ing func­tion keys with a small touch­screen and rais­ing prices by sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars.

The first re­design in sev­eral years is a sign Ap­ple still sees a role for the prod­uct that launched the com­pany, even though its iPhone has be­come the flag­ship prod­uct.

Ben Ba­jarin, an an­a­lyst at Cre­ative Strate­gies, de­scribed the changes as “im­por­tant in­cre­men­tal up­grades” which would con­vince peo­ple with old Macs to trade up to the smaller, faster model. But he noted that Mi­crosoft’s com­pet­ing Sur­face note­book al­lowed touch on its main screen.

“A lot of peo­ple spend a lot of time on these ma­chines. The key for them is in­cre­men­tal in­no­va­tions that make their job eas­ier,” said Ba­jarin. “That’s value.”

The new pric­ing is roughly in line with ex­pec­ta­tions, Ba­jarin said, but it sur­prised some. On Twit­ter, many po­ten­tial buy­ers were un­der­whelmed by the new fea­tures and posted pic­tures of peo­ple cry­ing about the new prices. Oth­ers tweeted that they hoped for more prod­ucts. Ap­ple shares fell 1.2 per­cent.

Cus­tomers will be able to ac­cess the new ma­chines with Touch ID, the fin­ger­print reader also used on iPhones, and use the touch­screen bar of keys, called the Touch Bar, to

Many po­ten­tial fea­tures

con­trol pro­grams on the main screen. The but­tons, which change de­pend­ing on what pro­grams the user is run­ning, ef­fec­tively act as a sec­ond screen, show­ing older ver­sions of a pic­ture be­ing edited, for ex­am­ple. Other com­puter mak­ers have cho­sen to use touch­screens for the main dis­play screen, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft’s first desk­top and a re­vamped Sur­face Book lap­top, launched on Wed­nes­day.

The MacBook Pro with Touch ID, Touch Bar and a 13- inch screen will start at $1 799 (R25 052), com­pared with $1 299 for the pre­vi­ous 13-inch prod­uct. Ap­ple also will of­fer a 13-inch MacBook Pro with­out the Touch ID and Touch Bar for $1 499. The 15-inch note­book will start at $2 399, com­pared with $1 999 for the pre­vi­ous ver­sion. The Mac line ac­counted for about 11 per­cent of Ap­ple sales in the just-fin­ished fis­cal year, with the num­ber of ma­chines sold down by 10 per­cent to 18.5 mil­lion.

Ap­ple has steadily up­graded com­po­nents to the MacBook Pro, but the over­all form has changed lit­tle and PC Week de­scribed the unit be­ing re­placed as a “fos­sil” which had not had a ma­jor de­sign change since 2013. Ap­ple also an­nounced a new TV App that would work on Ap­ple TV, iPhone and iPad prod­ucts in an ef­fort to make it eas­ier to tune into pro­grammes across de­vices. The com­pany also said that it would in­te­grate Twit­ter feeds into live sports games on Ap­ple TV, adding a so­cial el­e­ment to the prod­uct. – Reuters

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