Apple's Phil Schiller on why they deleted the SD card slot on the new MacBook Pro 2016.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, talking to The Independent:
The new Pros have no SD card slot for a camera memory card. Why not?
Because of a couple of things. One, it's a bit of a cumbersome slot. You've got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That's proving very useful. So we think there's a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer.
Schiller is a huge camera enthusiast, particularly for Leica, so he's well-versed in the limitations and pains involved in image and video transfer. That said, I think the frustration isn't so much that Apple removed the SD card slot — or any of the old ports — but when they chose to remove it.
Nobody thinks we'll be using SDHC or USB-A in a decade, but between now and then there'll be a lot of turbulence and anyone not on the bleeding edge of it will get battered around a fair bit before it passes.
I've been using the non-Touch Bar version of the MacBook Pro 2016 for almost a week. My DSLR uses SDHC cards and, on my last MacBook Pro, I could just pull the card from the camera, plug it into the Mac, and grab my photos or videos. On this one, I'd need an adapter. But here's the thing: I haven't shot with that camera since I got my iPhone 7 Plus. With that, I just shoot and AirDrop. My use case isn't everybody's, of course, but is it an increasing number of people's?
We've been through these transitions before, with FireWire, MagSafe 1, DVI, VGA, and more. I've bought and used dongles every time. No dongle I've ever used proved necessary beyond about a year, though, even when the MacBook lasted me three or four.
How would you describe the response to the new MacBook Pro?
There has certainly been a lot of passionate dialogue and debate about the new MacBook Pro! Many things have impressed people about it, and some have caused some controversy. I hope everyone gets a chance to try it for themselves and see how great the MacBook Pro is. It is a really big step forward and an example of how much we continue to invest in the Mac. We love the Mac and are as committed to it, in both desktops and notebooks, as we ever have been.
And we are proud to tell you that so far, our online store has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before. So there certainly are a lot of people as excited as we are about it.
That last part is illuminating.
Sure, there are technological constraints around what Apple could and couldn't do with these chipsets, but there's also a broader marketing question.
Traditional pros were the tip of an iceberg and now that iceberg has largely surfaced, thanks in no small part to computers being made more accessible and approachable than ever, and to technology becoming more mobile.
The kind of people who self-identify as "pro" is broader and more diverse than it was in generations past. Just like making apps went mainstream with iOS, so has photography and videography with cameras like iPhone and services like YouTube. What are the needs of modern pros and how are they balanced against the traditional pro segment that really does want or need a supercomputer in their backpack?
If these really turn out to be record-breaking MacBooks Pros, we'll have our answer.
There are also some fascinating replies to keeping the 3.5mm headphone jack, to the requirements for "Hey, Siri!" on the Mac, and more, so give it a read and let me know what you think!