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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wither Apple

WIkipedia's "MacBook Pro" entry is out of date...  :-(
After nearly a decade the eponymous Mac aluminum laptop with a 17" display is gone from the Apple store.

According to various sources the reasons include the 15" is less bulky, the new 15" Retina display is plenty dense, and so on and so forth.

I have used the 17" laptop for nearly its entire life and I am saddened by this turn of events.

The 15" is simply too small for real work, real demos, and so forth.  While its nice to have a lot of pixels there's really no point in having them for lots of things - like programming, demos, and web surfing.

Currently I use two in my office - one with Lion, one with Snow Leopard.  This is because the newest XCodes's don't work reliably for maintaining an existing customer base.

You see Apple is very busy advancing the leading edge forward.  So busy, in fact, that those who rely on their technology for an installed based have problems.  Problems because corporate inertia means that in-the-field life cycles are longer than Apple's life cycles.  So just as a release is deploying in the "corporate field" Apple is releasing the next, somewhat incompatible version of  OS X or iOS.

(The "desktop" Apple boxes are facing a somewhat similar fate as well - lack of updates - paltry updates...)

I have noticed this as part of the Cook regeme.

I think that Steve Jobs understood that the supply lines leading up to the leading edge needed to be maintained because without them the leading edge would wither and die.

Recently my son was telling me about his experience at a big .NET developer show.  All the Microsoft presenters were running Mac laptops.

These 17" laptops are probably the best computers I have ever used.  Relatively fast and reliable.  No, they are not the lightest thing around, but then again I can run my business from one.  I can see everything I need to see: I usually have at least two dozen apps running at the same time.

While pixel density is nice its not helpful if it makes everything smaller and each new laptop version with a higher density display shrinks more of the OS output down.

To me it seems like Apple is grasping at straws to squeeze every last drop of revenue from their iOS products and in the process cutting off the supply lines behind.

Hey Apple, how about something new instead?

iOS and iPhones and iPads are great...  but they are old news at this point.

You can keep adding gimmicks like Siri to them but so what.

The Android phone market is now larger.  Sure its not as beautiful or elegant but you know what, people are buying them.

I recently bought a 17" Dell laptop for around $1,500.00 USD - probably about 60% the price of a MacBook Pro.  I spend the extra money for the MacBook because its easier to use, it works well with Time Machine, and so on.  There is enough value there to justify the purchase due to the time I save.

(My standard thought is add up all the time on Windows you spend watching the hourglass cursor spin.  I'll wager you waste two man weeks of time with Windows each year - more than enough at even $750.00 USD a week in time to justify the extra cost.)

But with Lion this is changing - I now spend more time watching the "beach ball" spin than ever.

It will probably get worse with the next release.

With its recent peak in stock price I think Apple has reached the apogee of its existence.  Jobs is gone and Cook is too focused on the bleeding edge and not enough on the supply lines.

Cook is far too worried about the stock price and not worried enough about the future and technical innovation.  iTV or whatever its called today is a bust.  There are only smart phones now, no more iPods.  Which leaves Apple with really only one main product: phones.  iPad's to me are basically phones that you can watch a movie on but can't use to make a call - which is kind of how Apple treats them.

I'd like to see a 17" iPadish laptop - something that would work standalone as an iPad or as a display for a detachable keyboard.  iPads such for reading technical things - the display is too small to get a large diagram open and visible (and no, it does not good to see it in teeny tiny type).  No doubt the market is "too small" for this sort of thing - hence no "innovation."

The only real thing holding me back from jumping ship to Android is my distaste for Java.

Soon the only Apple products available will be phones with 4" 50 megapixel displays - no more computers, no more laptops - all useless because no one can see all the pixels in a 4" megapixel display.

Some claim there will be a new 17" laptop along in a few months when the "retina" display for that format is cheap enough...  great. 

What do I do in the mean time if I need a new machine?

Thanks Apple.

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