I have been thinking a lot over the last week about Apple’s ‘Hello Again’ event, the announcements they made and the subsequent outpouring of anger towards them. I don’t agree with most of the points that are being brought up as part of that uproar but there are a few things I think Apple could have done better. In addition to Apple not having announced anything about updating their desktop Macs, the other thing where I feel they could have done better is about naming these MacBook Pros.
One of the biggest bones of contention that I’ve been seeing out there over the past week has been around people feeling that Apple has stopped caring about the ‘pros’ who stuck with Apple through thick and thin and made Apple the brand it is today. While I think that that statement might be a bit unfair (the MacBook Pros with the Touch Bar are very high-powered and smoke every other wannabe pro laptop out there), the naming convention that Apple has followed doesn’t help the cause. Apple announced three MacBook Pro models last week, 13-inch and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar to take over from the MacBook Pros of yore and another 13-inch model without the Touch Bar to replace the MacBook Air. It would have been so much easier if they had just called this third model a 13-inch MacBook. That would’ve created a very clear distinction between portable ‘MacBooks’ and high-powered ‘MacBook Pros’ (something that Apple has been wanting to do as part of simplifying its notebook line and retiring the MacBook Air). The 13-inch MacBook pro with the Touch Bar not only doesn’t have the Touch Bar, but also has only two USB-C ports (something that brings it even closer to the 1 USB-C port toting MacBook) and runs on slower internals. Right now, if someone who isn’t very well versed with technology goes to an Apple Store, they’ll encounter quite a bit of confusion. There is the MacBook which is very clear about what it wants to be, a very compact ultraportable notebook. Then we have the MacBook Pros with the Touch Bar which are high-powered workhorse notebooks. And then there is this confused middle child, who bears striking resemblance to the MacBook in terms of its power and usability but insists that it is a sibling of the MacBook Pros. I think that naming this non-Touch Bar notebook MacBook would have created a very nice and symmetric ‘two-options for your specific needs’ lineup. The 12-inch and 13-inch MacBooks would be targeted towards people who don’t push their laptops too hard and would prefer portability over power (at a lower cost, of course) and the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros would’ve been gunning towards satisfying the needs of those ‘pros’ that swear by Apple.
Right now though, this lineup, in addition to raising the cost of entering the macOS ecosystem (if we don’t count the old 13-inch MacBook Air which is still on sale), also creates an awkward middle child in the form of the MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar who doesn’t know his purpose in life and instead of embracing what he is good at, it trying to be too much for his own good.
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