Initial media reaction to Apple’s event was positive, and most journalists in attendance were impressed after their limited hands-on time with the new machines. “There’s all kinds of love for the new MacBook Pro,” reported The Loop the following morning, in a post citing quotes from several leading tech sites.
Over the weekend, however, evidence mounted of a backlash within sections of the online Mac community in response to Apple’s latest announcements. In a blog post on his site titled “New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac“, developer Michael Tsai collated and linked to the most commonly aired grievances. The post has since become a common point of reference in the blogosphere for negative sentiment toward Apple following last week’s event.
In his original post, Tsai said he was “disappointed” with Apple’s announcements for the Mac, which made him feel as if Cupertino had either “lost touch” with what developers and creative professionals want, or Apple “simply doesn’t care about those customers”.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with what Apple announced. I like Thunderbolt 3. The display looks good. I’m not crazy about Touch Bar, but it does seem potentially useful. The problem is that the MacBook Pro is not a true Pro notebook.
My Retina MacBook Pro is almost 4.5 years old. I’ve been wanting to upgrade it for a while and was planning to do so today. After seeing what was announced, I’m no longer sure that I want a MacBook Pro as my main computer.
The subsequent catalog of grievances largely mirror Tsai’s own complaints, which include the “premium price” of a “Pro” MacBook limited to 16GB RAM, the prioritization of “thinness and lightness” over CPU and graphics performance, and Apple’s “neglect” of other sections of its Mac product line. Tsai concludes: “It has seemed clear for a while that the CEO doesn’t really understand the Mac, or simply doesn’t like it that much, and that’s a problem for those of us who do.”
On Monday, both The Loop and Daring Fireball highlighted Tsai’s post, noting its growing inventory of criticisms. The Loop said the list contained “a lot of fair complaints” that are “insights… worth paying attention to”. Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber called the extent of the backlash “astounding” and described Tsai’s collection of quotes as “must-read stuff”.
In another widely shared article titled “How Apple could have avoided much of the controversy“, developer Chuq Von Rospach wrote that while much of the criticism ignores “a lot of the positives” in Apple’s latest announcements, the company should have at least mentioned upcoming updates to the rest of its product line, which would “have muted a lot of the anger”.
Von Rospach goes on to speculate about what those updates might be, broaches some of the issues regarding Apple’s new notebooks (the 16GB RAM ceiling, an increase in dongles) and concludes by suggesting that creative professionals need to realize the Mac line has become a “niche product” in a world driven by market forces where Apple technology has gone mainstream. The full article can be read here.
The impassioned online debate comes at an important time for Apple, which hopes to boost interest in a lukewarm computer market this holiday season, following the company’s first reported full-year revenue decline since 2001. Its Touch Bar enabled 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks are expected to ship in late November. Meanwhile, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar is already shipping to customers and more comprehensive reviews of Apple’s lower-spec notebook are expected this week.