#Apple’s embarrassingly poor technology

Published in Apple

Mac Mini How many days since release

Before I start, let me say, I have been called an Apple Fanboy many times in the past. The phrase "you should work for Apple" has been uttered too often to count. I’ve even written that Apple to Apples (ahem), Apple computers are better than Windows PC’s. And I once pointed out that thanks to Microsoft adopting a look-alike font to Apple’s corporate font as their own corporate font, years later Microsoft’s new logo looked like it was written in Apples corporate font.

So,yea. I’m an Apple fan.

Except somewhere between writing those blog posts and now, Apple’s computers became downright embarrassing.

 

And no, this is not meant to be a rant about my opinion on Apple hardware (although I’m sure it will descend into one), I still love macOS and believe Apple has the right (as does any other commercial entity) to charge what it wants for whatever product it chooses to sell, because, at the end of the day, the market will decide if Apple computers sell or not. Instead, this post is intended to recant two specific situations when I was actually embarrassed to purchase Apple computers. The worst part is not that it happened, nor that it happened twice with the same generation of computer, but the fact that those two times - happened over a year and a half apart.

How I was embarrassed by Apple Hardware - Twice:

Embarrassed buying Apple computers in October 2014

In October 2014, I worked as the Marketing Director for a group of coffee companies and I had been instrumental in slowly replacing PC’s in the administration department. I was eagerly acting a Mac mini refresh because we desperately needed three new computers and finally, (after no being updated for a staggering 723 day) the Mac mini received an update. Except although it was an update, it wasn’t an improvement. Normally Mac mini’s would be updated and available at the same price as every other Mac mini before it. The mac mini was never an extreme powerhouse, but it is a great machine, however when the updated model came out with soldered RAM (I never bought a full compliment of RAM at time of purchase because Apple exorbitant RAM prices made that prohibitive) and the fact that the new model went up by a staggering US$100 forced it into the territory of "overpriced". Apple did bring out some cheaper models but with embarrassingly low specs. So I quickly purchase three 2012 models at a discount from Apple and upgraded their RAM myself. It was embarrassing to have to explain that the latest from Apple was not what I wanted. Bear in mind I had to fight for the budget to convert PC seats to Mac (from people who didn’t see the value), so $100USD made a big difference and really I didn’t see any justification for it being more expensive.

Embarrassed buying Apple computers in June 2016

In 2016 I had reason to be embarrassed by the expensive outdated hardware of the Mac mini once again. This time I was working at a new job and enjoying showing people how I was highly productive thanks to things like Mission Control and cover flow on the Mac. I was borrowing my wife’s 2009 Mac mini and showing up the new PCs by getting a heck of a lot of work done. So much so, that they decided to buy me a shiny new Mac (well the truth is I had to return the one I was using to my wife). I was given a budget of about €1400 (most people were working on €300 PC’s so it was kind of a big deal). €1400 wasn’t enough to buy a powerful iMac, but I was able to comfortably afford a High-end Dell 2k monitor and a Mac mini. Perfect! Except… not perfect. I needed it quickly as the Mac mini I was borrowing needed to be returned immediately. I wanted to buy the 16gb model but guess what? I called the local Apple store and found out that because of the soldered RAM, 16gb was a made-to-order Mac and they didn’t have stock (WTF?!!!!) so I would have to wait. I forget how long for, because it wasn’t an option. In the end, I was forced to purchase a Mac mini with 8gb of RAM. Honestly, all the PC users were laughing, it WAS really embarrassing. Here I was extolling the virtues of macOS to people with no experience of it and yet I couldn’t get a computer with 16gb of RAM just because I needed it next-day. Any PC can be purchased off the shelf and then upgraded in the event one with the right amount of RAM wasn’t available.

This embarrassment was exasperated by the fact that two new staff had started who were both mac users and we needed minis for them as well. Same day. So, we ended up buying 3 mac mini's with 8gb or RAM instead of 16.

Oh, and the kicker… the computers we bought were the same ones released in 2014, almost two years earlier. When the PC department looked at the specs they rolled on the floor laughing.

The insane (that’s the only way I can describe it) thing is, 934 days after its release, this model is still the one Apple sells today! (at time of writing). I’m sure many people interested in buying iMacs (hasn’t been updated in 572 days) and Mac pros (only recently received token updates) are only going to be equally embarrassed or hold some kind of buyers’ remorse for being forced to buy such old technology if they absolutely need macOS.

 

Mac Mini How many days since release
Mac Mini How many days since release from Mac Rumour's "When to buy a Mac" page.

 

How did this happen, Apple? really, HOW?

I don't think there is anybody who could consider themselves a technology lover and not look at Apple’s current computer hardware lineup without face-palming at the lack of updates.

What I really don’t understand, is Apple’s apparent lack of charitability.

The biggest WFT for me is that for a company who knows (and has been advertising it for years) that their OS represents a significant jump in user experience and even quality of life, this seems very uncharitable.

I will be the first to say that a company which is profitable should not be compelled to be charitable. You only need to look at Blackberry (RIM) and Kodak to see that just because you are a huge (and hugely profitable) company does not mean you should be obliged to give anything away. A company has to consider its future and ensure it will continue to thrive. From what I’ve seen, it was one of the things the late Steve Jobs was concerned about; that Apple would endure. Here come the "But"...  But, there really is an argument for encouraging people to stay with macOS (yes, I do know people considering moving to Windows which isn’t as much of a diabolical nightmare it used to be) and encouraging new users. Also, as Android gets better and Android phones get better, it couldn’t hurt Apple to lock people in everywhere they can. They have already lost my cloud usage to Google apps, so I am seriously thinking that my next phone (when I upgrade my iPhone 5s) will be an Android phone. The biggest deal breaker, which will probably keep me with iPhone: Syncing between macOS and iOS. I do believe that Apple could consider that having more macOS users would benefit the stickiness of their (admittedly already quite sticky) iPhone business.

But, ya know, that’s their business. Just consider this. Apple is one of the front runners in corporate consciousness working hard to be environmentally neutral and comprised of a socially diverse range of employees. Kudos to them for that. But, I’ve always thought helping humanity might also be a good thing, so, wouldn't that support the call for a more compelling reason for people to move to a better operating system (and have fewer headaches and a better experience). The problem is that pricey outdated embarrassing hardware isn’t doing anyone any favours.

Like many macOS users I think that because of (by comparison) the unnecessary complexity, confusing interfaces and poor security of other operating systems, access to macOS should almost be a goddam human right. Apparently, improving the value proposition, slimming margins to lock more people into the Apple ecosystems and perhaps helping people to have a better life, isn’t the kind of charitable that Apple does. Strange.

It wasn't always like this.

I remember when Apple’s partnership with Motorola and IBM resulted in incredibly fast (for the time) R.I.S.C. computers which blew the PC equivalent’s out of the water. More recently, I’ve seen videos showing the latest iPhone still beating the pants off the competition including Samsungs latest phone released months after the iPhone 7. However I’m extremely disappointed in what has happened to the computer side of a company which used to be called "Apple Computer". I’m not alone, many of my professional friends still love macOS, but are using old hardware not necessarily because it’s too expensive to update, but because "update" is a bit of a punch in the face if you’re buying an Apple Computer today. The hardware inside most Apple computers is really outdated.

Now, I don’t live under a rock, so I have heard that Apple is planning to update all their product lines (no firm indication of exactly when). Apple is planning to make a new Pro machine with a modular system (that we assume is upgradable). It’s got a lot of us salivating at the thought. But, here’s the thing. I could start now and design and build such a beast before Apple is even planning to bring this to Market. Heck, I get the feeling they announced this on the same day they thought of it and hadn’t even started the project. Either that or they have grown incredibly inefficient.

If I had the funds, I’d love to take the challenge. But because I can’t afford to I’ll challenge anyone reading this to have a go at out-Apple-ing Apple. Can you build a truly cool looking pro mac, using PC parts before Apple brings out the Mac pro? Before you rush out to build a Hackintosh in a cool PC case, here is the REAL challenge, you have to make it look better than the yet-to-be-seen new Mac Pro. The point of this challenge? Apple with its incredible resources, should not be in danger of coming up short next to just a few Hackintosh builders, right?

Let’s see how the future unfolds. I just hope it’s a future with less Apple embarrassment for people like me.