“The Mac is dying.” We’ve heard that phrase many times in the past 25 years, even when the Mac was breaking sales records. Dying? How is that even possible? Well, the world has moved rapidly into mobile, handheld devices that have taken over many of the jobs once assigned to our desktop PCs and notebooks.
Fading away? Or, changing? Let’s go with what’s behind door #3, Monte. Apple’s executives and engineers know the technology landscape and know the value of the Mac to Apple and over 100-million Mac customers.
What’s going on?
Change. The Mac started life in early 1984. I bought a Mac– with MacWrite and MacPaint and little else– an external disk drive, and an ImageWriter in May 1984, just months after it was released. That Mac didn’t do diddly squat for about a year until MacDraw came along, and then PageMaker not long after that.
Otherwise, all the early Mac did was tell us that the future of personal computers would be point and click. Microsoft didn’t bring point and click to the PC masses until Windows 95, about a decade later.
So, what’s going on with the future of the Mac?
What we see is a convergence of power and capability; the handheld iPad– which sells more than the Mac and has a much larger installed customer base– and the keyboard-bound Mac in all its flavors; notebook and desktop.
An iPad will never be able to do what a Mac Pro can do, or what a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac can do, and pales in capability to a well equipped Mac notebook. Yet, today’s new iPad models are more powerful than about 90-percent of all Windows PC notebooks on the market, so that should be our first clue to the future of the Mac.
For Apple to keep the Mac relevant to the mobile device storm that has engulfed the world, it needs to change.
Differentiation is a key to product marketing. Apple differentiates iPhone by storage, CPU, display, and model years. iPads are differentiated by display, CPU, and storage. How can future Mac notebooks remain differentiated from powerful iPads?
After all, Apple has created a method which allows iPad app developers to port their wares to macOS with ease; that means the Mac will get many tens of thousands of new apps in the next few years.
Choice is good.
Here’s what I think Apple will do. At some point in the next year or three, Apple will launch and iPad Pro with a clamshell keyboard design– detachable keyboard, of course. And, Apple will launch an Apple-designed ARM-based CPU Mac notebook priced to help the company grow the Mac’s customer base without cannibalizing the more powerful Mac notebook or desktop line.
This change will take a few years to accomplish but we see it already. iPadOS gets a few dozen keyboard shortcuts and mouse support. Mac-like, no? iPad apps on the Mac? The transition has already begun.