Opinion: Apple Hasn’t Lost Its Way, But It Has Changed Its Direction
I’m seeing a lot of the usual “doom and gloom” articles that follow an Apple product release. We saw it after the original Apple Watch announcement. We saw it after the recent iPhone 7/7 Plus announcement(s). And now, maybe more than ever, we’re seeing it after the latest MacBook Pro announcement. What people don’t seem to realize is that Apple isn’t unaware of what’s going on. I’d argue that they’re paying more attention than ever. It just so happens that the people who are so passionate about Apple and its products, are the ones Apple is consciously leaving behind.
Apple Doesn’t Get Pros Anymore
This is the biggest argument that most creative professionals seem to lead off with. However, Apple understands creative professionals quite well, I think. That’s obvious from their previous pedigree. However, in today’s day and age, pros don’t make Apple any money. Period. We’re a small group of users that have big wish lists, and Apple simply doesn’t have the resources to cater to us anymore. It’s not that they don’t get us, or that they don’t care. Apple just has a fundamentally different stance on what the pro means, and what the future of computing looks like. Whether or not we are a part of that future will ultimately be up to us, and how well we can adapt to these changes if we see fit to do so.
This is the New Apple
The tech world was forever changed when Steve Jobs passed away in 2011. Jobs was an innovator. He was a man that could see the future and was passionate about creating devices that people would want/love to use, regardless of their personal aptitude for technology. He had an eye for design, a keen sense for what would sell and what wouldn’t, but above all he cared about details and making sure every aspect of the product was perfect before the first box was shipped.
The new Apple is a very different place. Tim Cook is not a product visionary. He’s not a designer. And he’s evidently not a guy who pays attention to “both sides of the fence” when it comes to customer experience. Tim is an operations guy. He cares about keeping Apple’s stockholders happy and driving growth in key areas, which is becoming increasingly difficult with the mobile market (apparently) reaching saturation.
Jony Ive is still at Apple, however, so many are left wondering how the “father of modern industrial design” could seemingly be struggling to wow us like he has in years past. The answer to that is/was Steve Jobs. Every great artist needs a great editor, I think. Ive is a brilliant designer, but as is evident by his latest work, he needs somebody within the organization to pull the reigns a bit and slow him down. He needs someone to say no, and it doesn’t appear that he has that in the current incarnation of the Apple product team.
The Future for Pro Apple Users
As the title of this article states, Apple hasn’t lost its way. Apple has simply changed its focus and core audience. We, as professional users, aren’t in that circle anymore. Apple has drawn a line in the sand with their latest product releases and is proving once and for all that they’re a consumer electronics company that cares more about revenue than wow factor. What does that mean to us pro users? Well, we have only two choices really. Option #1 is to roll with the punches, adapt our workflow, and hope Apple comes around to seeing things our way again. Option #2 is a little more complicated. This option forces us to make a decision as to whether or not the Mac, and Apple, are best for our long-term interests as creatives.
Personally, I’m still sitting on the fence, but I’m laying the groundwork for a transition when/if it should become necessary. I recently pre-ordered the Microsoft Surface Studio, and also a Surface Book laptop. Why? Mostly because I want to see what all the fuss is about, but also because these machines were built with “professionals in mind” according to Microsoft. I think it’ll be refreshing to see what someone else’s perspective is when it comes to what I need/want as a pro computer user. The jury is still out on these devices, and Apple’s for that matter, so I’m just trying to stay as informed as possible for the future. You should do the same.
In conclusion, I think we should all take a step back, breathe deep, and not get too worked up over what’s going on in Cupertino. Yeah, the new MacBook Pros are a bummer. Sure, the Apple Watch is still a little gimmicky. And, yeah, the Mac Pro is probably an extinct product line. But the future for devices like the iPad Pro can/might be bright depending on what they do with iOS. Again, for now, there’s absolutely no reason to panic.