There's been a bit of a hoopla over the past few days about Macs, and why Apple is slow to update Macs. The hysteria has grown to a point where some are starting to wonder whether Apple cares about the Mac at all (cue the sad trombone sound).
A quick peek over at the Mac buyer's guide on Macrumors does suggest that Apple is slow at updating Mac hardware. Other than the MacBook -- which, at the time of writing was updated 108 days ago -- every Mac feels older than dirt, and has a "don't buy" rating. Apple's top-end, aimed-at-the-pros Mac Pro is nearing 1,000 days since an upgrade, and it's been over 650 days since the Mac Mini saw an upgrade.
OK, so what's going on here?
First off, we need to get one thing straight. Apple doesn't work for tech pundits or bloggers who draw up buyer's guides, or geeks who care about hardware specs (and I count myself as one of those). Apple works for Apple, and I've often said that if the pundits and bloggers were put in charge of Apple, the company would be in a coffin in five years. Frankly, it amazes me that so many people who proclaim to be "Apple experts" seem clueless about how the company works.
Apple works for Apple. Everything the company does has its roots in either saving money or bringing more money in.
It would be trivial for Apple to update its Macs, especially if we're just focusing on say the CPU, GPU, and RAM.
Intel has made it simple for OEMs to fit updated CPUs into the chassis of older systems, and chances are the only thing Apple would need to do after fitting a CPU in an older Mac is change the hardware specs on the box. Thermally everything should be the same, and chances are good that battery life would also be unaffected.
Changing things like the shell is a different matter, and involves more engineering and testing, but for a company with the resources that Apple has, even this isn't a huge deal.
Apple also keeps tight controls over its inventory, so sliding an updated Mac into stores wouldn't be all that tricky either.
The only reason Apple is slow to update Macs is because it chooses to be slow to update them.
So why would that be?
Well, first off, if you smooth out the peaks and troughs, Mac sales aren't doing too badly, especially when you take into account the fact how badly the bottom has fallen out of the PC market. Mac sales have been hovering around the four to six million mark for the past 12 quarters. Apple is clearly happy with sales being at this level, and clearly believes that constantly tinkering with the Mac lineup wouldn't move the needle significantly.
Another factor to bear in mind is that the longer Apple can go between upgrades, the more profits it makes on a Mac thanks to ever-decreasing component prices. A processor first sold a year ago is going to be significantly cheaper today, and that means more profits for Apple per Mac sold.
And that's true of most components, and even if it's just a few cents here and there. When you're dealing with millions of sales per quarter, it all adds up.
Some have wondered why Apple didn't update the Mac lineup ahead of the next two quarters -- which encompass the "back to school" and holiday periods -- because this would invigorate sales. My response to this is "why bother?" especially given that traditionally this is the time of strongest Mac sales.
This is the period when Macs sell themselves. And since a lot of people who buy Macs couldn't care less about gigahertz and gigabytes and RAM and CPU, it doesn't matter that the hardware is a few years old.
As an added bonus, old Macs hold their value incredibly well.
I get it that if you're someone who likes to buy new hardware every year or so that this lack of new Macs is frustrating, but this doesn't seem to be how Apple operates any more. If you don't like this, then maybe you'd be better switching to the Windows ecosystem, where OEMs release new hardware on a regular basis.
Remember, Apple doesn't work for you. Apple works for Apple.
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