Tim Cook reaf­firms com­mit­ment to the Mac…

But no ma­jor up­grades planned for 2017, writes Caitlin McGarry

Macworld - - Contents -

The Mac Pro and Mac mini have lan­guished for years. The iMac faces in­creased com­pe­ti­tion from ri­vals like Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Stu­dio. The MacBook is thin­ner and lighter than ever, but not more pow­er­ful. Crit­ics say it’s clear that Ap­ple has put the Mac on the

back burner. In a memo to em­ploy­ees, CEO Tim Cook said noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth: “We have great desk­tops in our roadmap,” he wrote, ac­cord­ing to TechCrunch. “No­body should worry about that.”

But it’s not that sim­ple. A re­cent re­port from Bloomberg out­lined the in­ter­nal troubles fac­ing the Mac team at Ap­ple and spilled the up­dates com­ing this year. Spoiler alert: They’re mi­nor. The iMac is get­ting a new AMD graph­ics pro­ces­sor and USB-C ports, while the MacBook and MacBook Pro will see slight pro­ces­sor up­grades.

So what’s go­ing on at Ap­ple? There seem to be a few prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

There’s just one soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing team work­ing on both ma­cOS and iOS, and most of those en­gi­neers pri­ori­tise iOS, which means the iPhone and iPad have out­sized in­flu­ence. This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing – those two prod­uct lines ac­count for 75 per­cent of Ap­ple’s world­wide rev­enue. But the lack of fo­cus on the Mac has led to the de­par­ture of many Mac hard­ware de­sign­ers, who no­ticed that de­sign chief Jony Ive and his team were no longer in­ter­ested in weekly check ins to re­view Mac con­cepts or check out pro­to­types.

Be­fore the iPhone and iPad be­came Ap­ple’s top pri­or­ity, there was a sin­gu­lar vi­sion for the Mac. Now, the team works on mul­ti­ple pro­to­types with dif­fer­ent fea­tures si­mul­ta­ne­ously, which means no one con­cept has the full at­ten­tion of any­one.

The com­puter is po­lit­i­cal

The Mac is also caught in the cross­winds of po­lit­i­cal change. Don­ald Trump has promised to

bring man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs back to the United States and has crit­i­cized Ap­ple for mak­ing its de­vices in China. Ap­ple did pro­duce the Mac Pro in the US, but had to make its own assem­bly tools and train pro­duc­tion staff on how to make the com­put­ers, which slowed down the man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Cook may be hop­ing to stave off fu­ture crit­i­cism from Trump by meet­ing with him. He was part of the group of tech lead­ers who sat down with Trump in De­cem­ber. In his memo to em­ploy­ees, Cook ex­plained that job cre­ation, tax re­form, re­new­able en­ergy, and hu­man rights are a few of the is­sues that will be af­fected by the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, and that it’s im­por­tant for Ap­ple to be at the ta­ble when con­ver­sa­tions about those is­sues take place.

“Per­son­ally, I’ve never found be­ing on the side­line a suc­cess­ful place to be,” the CEO wrote. “The way that you in­flu­ence th­ese is­sues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this coun­try, or the Euro­pean Union, or in China or South Amer­ica, we en­gage. And we en­gage when we agree and we en­gage when we dis­agree. I think it’s very im­por­tant to do that be­cause you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by show­ing ev­ery­one why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a de­bate of ideas.”

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