Baldur Bjarnason: ‘The Downside of Believing in Apple’

Baldur Bjarnason:

I suspect many of those annoyed about the event are in my position: the fact that the Touch Bar is interesting just makes it more annoying that Apple just announced a line of computers that I can’t really use.

For a developer work machine, 16 GB is the uncomfortable minimum requirement. It does not cover the needs of a developer’s average workday without us making some compromises in our workflow and productivity.

Most of us, if given the choice between making compromises to our productivity and compromises to the battery life of the machines we buy, would choose a shorter battery life every time.

This is the nut of the argument against the new MacBook Pros. If the 16 GB RAM limit in the previous MacBook Pros was a limiting factor for your productivity, the new ones are no help at all. And I’m sure Bjarnason is correct that those people would gladly trade battery life for the ability to install 32 GB of RAM.

But that’s not most MacBook Pro users. Most MacBook Pro users will do just fine with 16 GB of RAM (in fact, most will do just fine with the 13-inch models’ default configuration of 8 GB). For most MacBook Pro users, Apple is right to prioritize battery life over the maximum RAM configuration. That is, if they’re only going to offer one lineup of “pro” notebooks — which is how they’ve done it for at least 15 years.

But they can’t make a portable Mac with 32GB of RAM.

And, if you’re an illustrator or animator like my sister, they can’t make a good Mac for drawing (like Microsoft’s Surface line, for example).

Neither of those are can’ts. They’re both won’ts. This might make people who want such things even angrier (than if they were technical limitations), but they’re both deliberate design choices.

Because we’ve bought into Apple’s design myth, we are forced to come to one and only one conclusion:

Apple really, really doesn’t care about its professional Mac users.

I disagree with that conclusion. If your priority is the display, the new displays are brighter (500 nits) and offer wide color gamut. The new MacBook Pro SSDs offer industry-leading read and write performance, years ahead of the competition. The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a quad-core i7 with speeds up to 3.8 GHz. For many demanding use cases, these are professional machines. Just not all professions.

A less punchy, but more accurate title for Bjarnason’s piece would be “The Downsides of Depending Upon a Company With a Relatively Sparse Product Lineup When Your Personal Needs Are Outside the Mainstream”.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016