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A Catskill Eagle

Space Gray MacBook Pro
Space Gray MacBook Pro (Image credit: iMore)

"...and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again, and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar." - Herman Melville

I've recently been told I'm being overly negative about Apple. And you know what? I am. I mean, seriously, a 16gb limit on MacBooks Pro? No USB, SD or HDMI ports? Only skylake processors? And where are the escape keys?

Yeah. If you listened or read some of the things I've said or written post my time as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple, I do sound somewhat negative. But let me explain.

There's a story of a grandmother who walked along the beach with her grandson when the child was swept out to sea. The grandmother immediately fell to her knees and pleaded to God to save her grandson's life. Suddenly, a giant wave washed the boy back to shore. The grandmother looked to the heavens, and said, "he had a hat"

That''s me.

I want my hat.

To be clear Apple is the leader in every aspect of mobile computing. Phones, tablets, laptops. That's why I hold Apple to a higher standard. I expect more. I want more than Touch Bar, I want more than USB C everywhere, I want more than better. I expect it. I demand it.

I hold Apple to a standard higher than any other vendor. If a Windows laptop maker creates a trackpad that almost works as well as Apple's, I give them credit equal to Apple's amazing new Trackpad with force touch.

Apple's trackpads still blow away those of any other vendor, as does Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7, the display on the Retina 5K iMac, and the upcoming AirPods. I simply want more.

Even if Apple's most mediocre product sits head and shoulders above everyone else's best efforts, I want more.

Grading on a steeper curve

If you think I'm being overly negative about the latest iPhone or iPad or MacBook Pro, understand that I still recommend those products. I just grade Apple on a steeper curve.

I'll take everything they can give me, but dammit—

I want my hat!!!

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.

22 Comments
  • You're NOT asking for the hat - you are asking for common sense, something Apple is seriously in need of these days.. A "Pro" device without ANY standard video output; a Pro device that can't natively read a thumb drive; a Pro device that cannot natively read a SD card (the standard for all professional cameras); a Pro device that cannot maximize ram to 32gb; a pro device, with a dearth of ports, that has no native dock...and the strikes(outs) go on. They are no longer the leader of the pack.
  • Have fun using a touchscreen with programs where not all of them support a touchscreen interface, a guy on here even said he had one and used the touchscreen 20% of the time. Also those "regular" ports are legacy ports. Why would you not want USB-C? Do you want to stay in the past? But I agree the price of the new Macs are ridiculous
  • You can get laptops for under $1K that have those ports and USB C. Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • But still, why? Sure you need adapters if you only have USB-C, but soon there will be more and more USB-C peripherals and accessories, so you won't need adapters anymore. Yet if you have legacy ports on your new laptop, they're there forever. The main reason that Apple has only put USB-C ports on their new MacBook is to push manufacturers to produce USB-C accessories, Apple has used this technique in the past multiple times and it's always worked, so I welcome only putting USB-C on the new MacBook Pro
  • There are no programs that don't respond to selecting links/targets, pinch to zoom, or scrolling - all of which are great reasons for using a touch based device.
  • But the fact of the matter is, using a non-touch optimized application with a touchscreen is painful, you'll find yourself just resorting to the trackpad/mouse instead. Apple, Google and Microsoft have guidelines of how UI should work in touchscreen applications, e.g. requiring buttons to be of a certain size, for example
  • I know people keep asking for a 'pro' device but I just think of it as more choices, or keeping products up to date even. I remember the previous tower Mac Pro just kind of sat there without being updated and then the new one was even worse since it never got updated. Yet still sells for the high original price. Other products are being dropped or phased out and being a Apple customer we already have a limited selection of products to choose from. Its not like in the PC world where if one laptop removes all the ports for 1, or changes the keyboard we love, I can just pick another one. I really have to live with the choices Apple makes. I recently bought a 13" MacBook Air since I really didn't know where Apple was going. They hinted it seems that the Air's will not be around much longer. I'm not a fan of the new Mac's which have come out in the past year or so. Mainly the MacBook and new MacBook Pros. It comes down to price and usability for me. Prices seem quite out of balance with the product and I know this happens with Apple from time to time. Usually it goes down as next releases of models come out but I see that happening less and less lately. I feel for the pros and I do hope Apple will communicate more with them. Give them some hope and products so they can create and make Apple proud. Right now it feels like the relationship there is quite broken.
  • You are asking for common sense. But without apple "having the courage" (take it with a grain of salt because I don't believe its courage). USBC adapters wouldn't be rolling out as fast as they are. I do think it would have been better to keep atlast one legacy port but dongle life looks to be where we're going eventually. I am also very confused on why so many are attached to 32gb on the Pro. That would have caused a huge delay of production until 2018 for the Kaby lake processors that support it. 32gb would have been lovely, but also another year of waiting? I could not. My brand new pro 15 late 16' hasn't gotten to the 10 hour advertised battery life once. I hardly get 6. Even if I'm just using it lightly. With 32gb we'd possibly have significantly less battery life.
  • Dell and HP have supported 32gb on SkyLake (particularly the Dell XPS 15), so I don't buy that Apple excuse. Likewise, if it is a battery life issue, LET THE CUSTOMER DECIDE, do not decide it for them. If you need 32gb (I don't but apparently photo editors can use all they can get) then you decide whether you want shorter battery life or not.
  • Apple won't release a laptop that doesn't meet their requirements of a laptop. A laptop, for them, has to have a certain level of battery life, which I agree with. Why would you want a portable computer that's hardly portable because the battery life is so short?
  • I know most people disagree with what Apple did with the new MacBook Pro, but I think they did the right thing for the Mac in the long run. Apple designs their product with the future in mind, hoping that in doing so they will make it come faster. This time, Apple knew that making the MacBook Pro faster and with better specs was not enough. Post-PC devices started to beat the PC several years ago and this market is currently at 2007-2008 levels. The Mac has been quite resilient to the iPhone, iPad and Android tidal wave, but recently it started to show signs of being affected too. That is why Apple had three options:
    1. Do the easy thing and update the MacBook Pro with better specs.
    2. Do the wrong thing and add touch to the Mac, something Apple has been vehemently against.
    3. Do the right thing, creating new ways to appeal to more people. The Touch Bar is a way to surface advanced options to people that are not as familiar with macOS as pro users are. By making a more appealing product to a wider audience, Apple is ensuring it can withstand the disruption coming from other devices, i.e. the iPhone. It doesn't mean it won't hurt some users, but Apple is not in the business of making friends. Apple has to make sure the Mac will still have a business 5-10-15 years from now.
    <<self-promotion link removed by moderator>> Cheers!
  • "2. Do the wrong thing and add touch to the Mac, something Apple has been vehemently against." Why - because it cuts into their future of iPad's only for the majority of users, NOT because it is wrong to add touch. How many users today "reach" for their screens for touch targets, scrolling, sizing, until they realize their precious MacBook doesn't include touch? It is purely a business profit motive, and has NOTHING to do with the usability of a touch laptop.
  • Microsoft added touch to Windows because they don't have a mobile ecosystem. OTOH, Apple has a rich and deep ecosystem with iOS, which is why they keep both apart. I disagree that this is a business profit move. Apple has specialised devices for both inputs and there is no need now for a user to own all of Apple's devices in order to get the "Apple experience". The Mac and iPad Pro are starting to become perfect substitutes for most people. Apple pits their devices against each other in order to keep them competitive. I believe this benefits the user in the end.
  • Call me odd, but I think you've just admitted that you're grossly unfair when it comes to Apple. Forgive me, but that's not a feature I look for in a journalist. A.
  • I don't have any explanation for the ports, other than they have a vision for external everything..which in a pro world actually makes some sense. As to the ram issue, that is an Intel Mobile processor issue. They only way to get to a 32gb number would be to step back to a dual core chip....or to stuff a desktop processor into the system. Neither of these options make too much sense. In the end, hold off buying these things as you will see a major architecture change soon.
  • "To be clear Apple is the leader in every aspect of mobile computing. " "I'll take everything they can give me..." You're right. How can everybody confuse you for anything else other than an Apple fanboy is beyond me...
  • ...and it was a really dumb article to boot.
  • Many people agree with you. Simple as that. And if you were criticizing them, you would be accused of being a fanboy. Ironically, they just axed the automation and router departments. Apple deserves a lot of criticism. They have stopped making computers that I can recommend to my mother or friends, aside from the MacBook Air and maybe the Mac Mini (for now).
  • I feel like the ocean returned the hat, and even though it is a pretty amazing hat, it's not at all what people were asking for. Anyways, it's a great time to jump ship. The Surface Book costs the same, and brings SO MUCH more that unless you are tied in macOS environment, it doesn't make sense to not get it instead. - MacBook performance? The SB matches it in CPU, and destroys it in GPU.
    - Great calibrated display? Yup, higher resolution and (game changing) 3:2 ratio with calibrated sRGB coverage are amazing.
    - Battery life? The SB can last 8-10h of actual work, 15h of light work on the "standard" model. Even more on the performance base models. It's better than MacBook's 6-7h that people are getting.
    - Nice selection of ports? SB has them, Macbook doesn't. Oh and before you say that you want one port for monitor and USB and power and all that, SB has just that. It has a dock that delivers it all. It's proprietary to the Surface line, but then so is lightning to iPhone and nobody complains there... (I'm not saying the SB shouldn't have USB C, just that it actually isn't a problem not having it)
    - Touchbar? Please, the SB has a freakin' removable screen that becomes a tablet with full support for pen input as well as multi-touch. It's like if iPad Pro and Macbook were a single device.
    - Great trackpad? Well, the MacBook has force touch, I'll give them that. But the SB trackpad is as good if not better in terms of gestures and responsiveness (Yes, I am serious, it really is that good!) Plus no problems with palm rejection.
    - Keyboard is better on the SB, unless you specifically want clicky-but-no-travel keyboard.
    - Magnetic power connector? Yup, present on SB. Used to be on Macbook too...
    - Both are quiet on startup, so that is a draw.
  • All the new stuff USB-C/ reversible cables, its all a convince it's all... Now u have USB-C, u no longer need to worry about orientation... a good thing,, but u still need to look down to know where the port is... If u' gonna do that, u may as well be looking at the right way to plug it in as well.. It only take a few seconds to flip a cable over over... Besides, if u buy genuine cables u can tell he orientation by the usb logo on the cable.. I've never bought anything BUT genuine cables, so i guess there are some cheap ones where the logo is missing/faded
    etc... Everything is a convenience.. so i'm not sure if deserves this much praise..... maybe it does.. i dunno. Based on user.
  • You don't need to look down to know where the port is if you're constantly plugging things in and out of it, so having it be able to plug in any way around helps a lot. Of course, that's not really the main benefit of USB-C, but it is one of them. USB-C is capable of handling what once required many different types of ports. So USB-C can do charging, audio/video transfer, file transfer etc. It also does file transfer much faster, it definitely deserves praise
  • Very good parable, I'm going to steal it if I ever get nit picky with my team mates.