Apple has Become Complacent

Cupertino refuses to challenge the status quo

Personal computers are of ever-dwindling importance. This truism is strongly linked to the advent of mobile computing kicked off by the release of the iPhone and brought to the masses by way of Android handsets. But there is one segment of the PC market that defies this cliché, ironically one whose marketing claims the product is something other than a PC.

Macs are bucking this trend and their sales have been growing quarter over quarter despite the computing market shrinking as a whole. They are touted as quick, virus-resistant and, above all else, trendy. Think of your local cafĂ©. It’s filled with twenty-somethings typing away on MacBook Airs.

This mere thought will rustle the jimmies of any PC enthusiast. And rightfully so, “Don’t they know that i5 is clocked at 1.4 Ghz?” “Who’s really satisfied with a TN panel in 2016?” “Good luck upgrading that $1000 paperweight, chump.” There is certainly an Apple tax associated with buying Cupertino hardware and what was once a world of difference in ease of use between Windows and Mac is a thing of the past. 

When the MacBook Air was perfected in 2010 (the 2008 MBA was classic “first-gen Apple” with its hard disk drive and outrageous price tag) it set the laptop market ablaze and Windows OEMs responded with Intel’s Ultrabook initiate. A lot has changed in six years and both the Air and its older brother the MacBook Pro haven’t been updated since 2015. 

Eliciting a “don’t buy” warning from MacRumors, every Macintosh save the 12-inch Retina model (which your correspondent briefly owned and found too cramped and underpowered) is a ticking time bomb in that you are likely to be buying an obsolete product; the web has been inundated with rumors regarding a MacBook refresh. 

"None of these theories explain why the MacBook Air lacks a IPS display and why they still sell a four-year-old variant of the MacBook Pro."

Among this sea of speculation is the argument that Apple is waiting for the seventh generation of Intel processors, codenamed “Kaby Lake” before updating its line of notebooks. Another possibility is that Apple is putting the finishing touches on an OLED touchscreen function panel to replace the tradition row of F-keys on the MacBook Pro. Neither of these theories explain why the MacBook Air lacks a IPS display and why they still sell a four-year-old variant of the MacBook Pro with a third generation processor.

The only explanations that make sense, sadly, are the most cynical. Apple and their authorized sellers have a bunch of old MacBooks left and they don’t want to lose out on sales. Most people aren’t tech savvy enough to realize how poor of a decision buying the entry level MBP truly is. Apple’s brand recognition is so absolute and its products are so lusted after that many people are unfazed by the facts, by what the Windows faithful might call the “dirty secret” of the Macintosh line. 

The fact of the matter is that since the 2013 Mac refresh which incorporated the energy efficient Intel Haswell architecture, Apple computers have been sufficient for a full day of web browsing and productivity. Apple has become complacent since becoming the market leader in personal computing. And so long as consumers remain content with “good enough,” Apple will have no motivation to veer from the status quo.