It is interesting and valuable to look at new products released by companies that are on top. They can be leading indicators of stagnation and decline, or point to continued innovation. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 disaster, of course, wasn’t obvious until the devices started catching fire – which is one way to catch people’s attention. More subtle hints can be found in new devices by those who look carefully.
Apple last week released the latest iteration of the MacBook Pro. The reviews are not very encouraging to the folks in Cupertino. At CNET, Sean Hollister wrote commentary peppered with Tweets on the new device. The themes are that Apple has stopped innovating and listening to its customers and an old rival is pushing it in this product segment:
Now, Microsoft and its army of partners (Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and more) will be all too happy to claim the audience Apple has spurned. It's quite the role reversal for the rival companies.
The reaction is not much kinder elsewhere. The first sentence of Yoni Heisler’s piece at BGR gets right to the point:
It’s been a few days since Apple unveiled its revamped MacBook Pro and the frustration surrounding Apple’s alleged disregard for its core users is still palpable.
The rest of the piece is more balanced and does point out that the latest MacBook Pro is thinner, lighter, has improved display, somewhat enhanced internal elements and the Touch Bar, which is the highest profile new feature.
The bottom line, though, is that Heisler’s piece paints a picture of a company that has lost touch with its customers, at least for this line of products. The suggestion is that Apple no longer knows what to do with the MacBook Pro.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that Apple products are difficult to deal with. Ars Technica posted a story on iFixit’s teardown of the device. Essentially, it is not easy to work on and there are few things that the owner can do on his or her own. For instance, the battery is glued in and the single element that can be removed – the solid state drive – is proprietary.
The iFixit analysis is 20 steps long. The authors gave it four negatives and one positive and a score of two (out of 10) on its “repairability” scale.
It is fair to point out that the device doesn’t lack for speed. Lucas Mearian wrote last week that the 2015 version of the laptop was fast, but that “the new MacBook Pro's specs smoke its predecessor.”
Speed is not the only issue, however. Apple made its reputation as the company with the intuitive sense of what its customers want – or soon would want. This is most evident in the worlds of the iPad and iPhone. It still may have the knack in those areas. But, apparently, it is no longer so sure footed in the laptop sector.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.