Forget what side of politics you play on. I am tossing my views aside for this article, just laying out the “logic” cards. Apple is supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign, and even more so Tim Cook. If you thought Apple’s best interests would be to support Trump, who talks about fighting tough on trade imbalance, or better tax rates, there is a lot more to it than that.
First and perhaps foremost is viewing how Cook separates Apple’s needs and wants with his own personal politics. Cook is involved in LGBT politics, and Apple is squarely in support of many LGBT ideals. But many shareholders wonder what this has to do with company profits? And which Presidential candidate should Apple support for maximum financial gains? But maybe Cook and many others on Apple’s board think beyond financial goals with their politics, but there are a few items we can clearly understand (well, as best we can in this crazy Presidential race).
If you walk into any Apple Store looking to buy a Mac, it is like stepping back in time two years — and those two years are not just regular years, they are technology years. In comparison to regular calendar years, technology years have like a 10:1 ratio. For example, this would like be walking into your local car dealership and the most current model they were selling was from 1996!
In the wake of Apple’s WWDC keynote event this past Monday, it appears we are in for a storm of hardware releases coming this fall. A Tsunami of products are now overdue, but launching so many highly needed updates together brings tremendous risk.
No big game changers have come about with Apple’s updates over the past few years. Apple TV’s big moment was Apps, yet it does not support 4K nor does Apple have it's own streaming package. This Fall, Apple Watch will be 18 months old. iMac’s are becoming ancient, and the current MacBook Air was just entered into the Smithsonian. Walking into an Apple store today feels like being time-warped back to 2014. The only thing you may notice is a slimmer MacBook in three different colors and a larger iPad. Modern hardware updates have been sloth slow.
Given Apple’s overall history, the company has methodically moved from aggressive innovator under Steve Jobs, to caretaker under Tim Cook.
Apple’s Mac lineup is stale, and that is putting it mildly. The Mac Pro is now a staggering 2 1/2 years into its lifecycle without a single upgrade. The MacBook Air has seen almost no changes, save for incremental processor updates since 2010. The iMac form factor has not changed since the fall of 2012. The newly minted MacBook and MacBook Pro's have seen only slight incremental upgrades this past year, and the Mac mini is a mere afterthought. What's going on?
The only significant new release to Apple’s Mac lineup has been the MacBook (of which I use and love), in April of 2015. It recently received a slight Intel processor update. Wow... In fact, all Apple has been keen to do the past few years is release Intel processor updates to products, with the MacBook Air still living in an ancient design, with what can now only be described as a horribly low-resolution display. Apple’s Mac lineup has become a cash cow with little invention, but that may be about to change.
Call it a sophisticated workstation, call it a silent powerhouse or video editing marvel, but now-a-days, do not call it relevant. Apple has again let its cutting edge flagship Mac Pro tower languish into obscurity due to a lax approach to updating, reminiscent of predecessors. How relatively lax you may ask? Since its release on December 13, 2013, the Mac Pro has had not three, not two, not one, but zero updates — as in none.
The good news, according to financial site The Motley Fool, is that the long overdue refresh may be arriving soon. Today is supposedly the day Intel will release its 14nm "Broadwell EP" lineup. As workstation class chips go, the Broadwell-E looks to be impressive as ever, sporting up to 10 cores per processor, with an overall 18% raw speed increase. But Intel has seen delays with this processor refresh, and as of yet there has been no press release for the processor. Will Intel suffer upon us yet another delay, thus delaying the Mac Pro update?
Sometimes you can learn just as much about a company by what is not said as opposed to what is said. Case in point is Tim Cook & Co.’s most recent special event held this past week. At the special event we were dazzled by an updated iPhone line and a new iPad Pro size. Like a magician, Apple said, “Look over here!” However, what one product line — product category — did Apple not talk about at all, as if it didn’t even exist. Macs.
Every model in the Mac product category is now over a year old — even their newest items. Some Macs, like the Mac Pro are now over two years old. It seems like the Mac line-up has been relegated to cash-cow status and therefore Apple is putting as little effort (aka little money) into Macs as possible and reaping as much margin and cash as possible. Or is something else afoot?
If you are in the market for a new Mac, now is probably the worst time in recent history to purchase one. Following Apple for over two decades now, it is clear that the culture of our favorite fruit company allows it to only really focus on one major project at a time. While the iPhone is on an annual update schedule, Macs updates have fallen by the wayside like the ugly step sister from the fairytale Cinderella.
I know, I know,... the turkeys have not yet entered the ovens, and I am talking about Christmas. Shame on me. But as we finish off the month of November and move quickly into the gift-giving (er, getting) season, my mind wanders to what could be and what should be in the Apple server space.
Until 2011 Apple made a very sturdy, ultra-dependable server solution: XServe. It did all the things a good server would do: RAID, redundant power supplies, 1U enclosure and all around robust hardware (fans, circuits, etc). The problem was Apple was not selling many and was about to make a major push to delivering consumer-based cloud services with iCloud. Inside the hallowed halls at Apple the decision was made to build Apple’s cloud on UNIX rather than OS X. While understandable that sealed the fate of the XServe.
Apple’s all-new iPad Pro has been breaking some land-speed records. Testing has revealed the iPad Pro’s processor runs laps around Intel’s Core-M chipset (found within Apple’s MacBook), while coming perilously close to Intel’s flagship Core-i5 series of chips.
The simplified history is Apple’s ARM-based designs have been moving north faster than Intel can move south into the mobile space. The question one must ask is, how long will it be until Apple equips their Mac notebooks with their own A-series processors? There are a number of factors that go into such a massive foundational decision, but the positives — assuming the A–series chips continue their northerly trajectory — should quickly outweigh the negatives.