MacBook and why the most mundane of updates still matter

There's not really much to say about the new MacBook that my colleague, Rene, hasn't said already. In a fairly unusual move for me, I didn't even ask for a review unit from Apple. After all, for the most part, there are only three improvements.

We have a little better battery life, a slightly faster processor, and it comes in pink er, Rose Gold. Nice little tweaks for for the most part. Nice, but not earth shaking either. Three features. None of them are a reason to buy a new computer. In fact, if Apple hadn't added any of them, I suspect they'd have not sold one less MacBook. I also doubt they'll sell any more either.

It's been called one of the most boring product introductions ever.

Which gets me to my point. They bother with them? Why tell the world about such minor improvements? I thought about it for a bit, then it hit me. Details matter. At Apple details matter a lot. (Anecdote: on my first day at Apple I sent an email to a colleague. At the end of her response she highlighted and corrected an error, and then added, "spelling counts here". The error was the word "the" which I had typed "hte")

We see vendors copy Apple's form factors and designs down to the cases, keyboards, features and other design elements. We often hear of the "Apple tax" users pay for the Apple logo, perhaps akin to the thousands of dollars camera enthusiasts pay for a certain red dot.

There's a lot more behind the philosophy of today's Apple logo. What other vendors often miss is the attention to the small details that by themselves don't matter all that much but add both value and delight as the user discover them. Are these small improvements? Sure, but they add things that make the MacBook that much more appealing. A rose gold choice may not in an old itself drive a new sale but it sure might bring an extra smile to the face of a new buyer.

When Apple focuses not only on the big picture, but also on the small details, they differentiate themselves from the market. By worrying about things no one else is worried about, Apple finds new ways to delight, surprise, and add value for their customers.

Along the way, Apple changes users from customers to fans. Apple generates trust, and loyalty. Those are things that create mindshare, and mindshare is ultimately what drives market share.

So no review from me. Not even a "hands on" or even a tweet. Just an important takeaway from what appears to be a just a minor product refresh but perhaps is something more.

Michael Gartenberg

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.