Apple is on a roll. The entire personal computer industry is in upheaval but Apple continues to sell the Mac– about 80-percent of all Macs sold are notebooks– at record levels; up again in 2017 even while traditional PC sales struggle. Why should Apple worry about Macs that obviously are walking dead?
A casual look at the Mac line tells me a number of models are ready to be discontinued and Apple probably would like to stop making them but customers keep buying them. The Macs that sell the most are notebooks, specifically the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The rest of the company’s Mac sales are made up of iMac and iMac Pro– except for three Macs that need to die.
First, the MacBook Air. Apple’s initial entry into thinner, lighter, faster clamshell designs is 10 years old. Most notebooks on the PC side of the world look like the MacBook– except they usually are far less expensive, and often more capable. The MacBook Air did not come with a SuperDrive and had only one USB port.
Not bad for $1,799, huh? Today’s MacBook Air is Apple’s entry-level notebook, priced at $999 and with better everything– screen, storage, upgradeability, battery life etc. The MacBook Air is the epitome of iterative innovation. Disruptive innovation in the beginning, but iterative since, and now long in the tooth.
Second, the Mac mini. These little Macs do not have a keyboard, mouse, or display, and their PC counterparts are less expensive and more powerful, and the mini does not sell in appreciable numbers, but $499 makes it a less-than-competitive device that could use a meaningful upgrade.
That Apple does not care about the Mac mini is evident when looking at the specifications. 8th generation Intel Inside CPUs grace new machines, but not the Mac, and not the Mac mini. Apple touts the fact that it has a 4th generation CPU inside. Mac360 ran on a Mac mini back in the day. That same machine has been running for three hours a day, every day, for 10 years.
Isn’t it time for a new Mac mini? One with Thunderbolt and USB-C, HDMI is nice, but upgraded chipsets would be good; how about an Apple-designed ARM-based A-Series CPU inside?
Finally, the Mac Pro is ready for the annals of Apple history as the second most beautiful Mac failure (Steve Jobs’ iconic Mac Cube is first). How do we know? First, it does not sell in great numbers. Second, the iMac Pro is more powerful for less money. Third, it’s end-of-life already as Apple has announced a new modular Mac Pro will replace it (Apple just hasn’t announced which year).
Those who own a Mac Pro usually love it, but that’s the case for nearly any Mac model– except the hot selling MacBook and MacBook Pro with their anemic keyboard design. That model sells the most. Go figure.
Instead of killing off the MacBook Air, Mac mini, and Mac Pro, how about if Apple simply redesigns each to make them more relevant to the 21st century. A MacBook Air and Mac mini with an Apple-designed chip inside– and a lower entry-level price tag– would make Mac customers very happy. And, of course, Apple is about to replace the Mac Pro with a better Mac Pro using a modular design.
The death of three ancient and ill-advised machines could make for a new Mac revolution.