Apple hasn't really had an overarching Mac message for a while. Not a public one anyway. They've had products, sure. But, a few MacBook Pro ads aside, those products have largely been left to speak for themselves.
Today, Apple is debuting a new campaign called "Behind the Mac". It highlights 12 consumers, creatives, and professionals who are using the Mac to make their mark on the world. They range from entrepreneurs to musicians, photographers to accessibility advocates.
The goal is to both tell the modern story of the Mac through its current users and to show how that story remains firmly grounded in Apple's original desire to democratize computing, empower individuals, and expand the potential of creativity and productivity for everyone.
Will it resonate? That's tough to predict.
Right now the popular narrative is that, in face of the overwhelming success of iPhone and iPad, Apple has left the Mac to stagnate.
It's tough to argue that when it comes to the Mac mini, which hasn't seen an update, never mind a significant update, going on half a decade.
Other Macs, though, not so much.
In 2015, we got DCI-P3 iMacs — the first Macs with wide-color gamut. (Apple shipped the 5K iMac and its custom TCON the year before.) Also, the new MacBook, which was almost iPad-like in its portability… and single port-ed-ness, and which introduced the butterfly and dome-switch keyboard.
In 2016, we got the new MacBook Pro, with a T1 chip to enable Touch ID and Apple Pay, a Touch Bar to surface oft-forgotten shortcuts, custom storage controllers, and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Also, Skylake MacBooks and 27-inch iMac.
In 2017, we got the new iMac Pro, with workstation-class internals crammed into its classic chassis, and a T2 chip to centralize controllers and enable secure boot. That's along with Kaby Lake versions of the regular iMac, as well as MacBook Pro and MacBook.
(Even if you don't personally like any of those innovations or think they were completely wrong-headed, they remain innovations none-the-less.)
We're only halfway through 2018, but I expect we'll get this year's Mac updates soon enough.
For 2019, Apple has already, uncharacteristically tipped its Mac hat — a new Mac Pro with Pro Display developed, in part, with its new Pro Workflow team.
Apple is sometimes dinged for not consulting with outside experts. Which is often true, with one huge caveat: Apple prefers to hire those experts and make them internal. That way, Apple has access to them all the time, there are no issues with disclosure, and the experts have skin in the game: It's easy to give advice if you don't have to see it through. It's another thing when you're part of making sure that product hits the market and hard.
The Pro Workflow team has experts from the fields of 3D animation, visual effects, video editing, audio engineering, and more. They're there to hit the products Apple's making, to identify bottlenecks in hardware and software, and to make sure it's all addressed before any new product ships.
It's something Apple needs to do, especially for creative pros who've felt like Apple's mainstream success has come at the cost of its commitment to power users. And while the pro market and its needs are broader and more diverse than ever, that feeling does seem to be one Apple is taking to heart.
The 2013 Mac Pro was a dead end, not what Apple expected. Then 12-inch MacBook never came down to sub $1000, MacBook Air pricing like many consumers expected. The TouchBar and butterfly keyboards proved highly divisive, which is unusual for features in Apple's MacBook lineup.
And there's a lot still to work on, including getting that new Mac Pro out, salvaging the Mac mini from the deep, shipping the Coffee Lake updates to the iMac and MacBooks (even if Intel has hit a brick wall with its 10 nanometer process…) and addressing creative pros that now have interesting hardware from Microsoft targeted specifically at that market.
But it feels like we've turned a corner.
Both Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X have been getting significant and frequent updates. macOS Mojave, which will ship this fall, has features inspired by creative pros — even if Apple is trying to make them useful for everyone.
The new iMac Pro has proven to be a beast, especially with the eGPU support added to macOS. And then there's that upcoming Mac Pro and Pro Display.
Now, "Behind the Mac".
As someone who deeply loves and is invested in the Mac, this hits all my optimism buttons. Because I think it shows just how much Apple deeply loves and is invested in the Mac.
Let's be candid: Apple has iPhone and iPad money. It could ditch it's legacy computer line, add Xcode and the Pro Apps to iOS, and ride the cash cow into the sunset. It's been advised to do that. Many other companies would do that.
But Apple's not doing anything of the sort. It's admitting some wrong turns and working to right them, and it's continuing to do things in the personal computer space that only Apple can do, including using its industry-leading silicon team to make the Mac faster, more convenient, and more secure.
And that only happens when the company, like the campaign, are "behind the Mac".
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.