Is Apple in a MacBook Hardware Predicament?

Before the start of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, there was expectations that we were going to see a lot of new hardware.

There was a lot of focus, to start, on a brand new iPad Pro lineup, which would incorporate minimal bezels like the iPhone X, as well as a lack of a physical home button and Face ID support. And then, eventually, there were rumors that Apple was also going to announce brand new MacBook and MacBook Pro models, with a new MacBook Air getting some attention, too.

Basically, that this year’s keynote was going to be chalk full of new devices people could buy this year.

Here we are more than a week after that WWDC keynote has ended and, as you already know, there isn’t any new hardware to buy. No new MacBook Pro units with fixed keyboards. No new iPads with brand new features. It was a primarily software-focused event, which isn’t a bad thing — unless you believe that Apple is currently in the middle of a “situation” when it comes to hardware.

Right now, the majority of Apple’s Mac hardware hasn’t been updated in quite some time. The most recent update was the iMac Pro at just over 180 days. The others? All over a year. You can see the refresh dates over at the MacRumors Buyers Guide if you’re curious to see for yourself.

I bring all of this up because Quentin Carnicelli wrote up a piece on Rogue Amoeba’s blog today entitled “On The Sad State of Macintosh Hardware“. It isn’t a long piece and you should absolutely go read it, because Rogue Amoeba has been a Mac developer for several years now (releasing apps like Fission, Airfoil, and many others) and this feels like a heartfelt declaration that things need to get better.

This part really stood out to me:

“Apple needs to publicly show their commitment to the full Macintosh hardware line, and they need to do it now. As a long (long) time Mac OS developer, one hesitates to bite the hand that feeds. At a certain point, however, it seems there won’t even be anything left worth biting.”

Carnicelli points out (accurately, I might add) that the Mac hardware lineup is in a sad state, and it’s disappointing that Apple didn’t announce anything at WWDC. And there isn’t even a mention of the butterfly keyboard here, with Carnicelli opting to just focus on the fact that Apple hasn’t upgraded the lineup in general, rather than fixing one particular issue.

And then there’s this:

“Rather than attempting to wow the world with “innovative” new designs like the failed Mac Pro, Apple could and should simply provide updates and speed bumps to the entire lineup on a much more frequent basis. The much smaller Apple of the mid-2000s managed this with ease. Their current failure to keep the Mac lineup fresh, even as they approach a trillion dollar market cap, is both baffling and frightening to anyone who depends on the platform for their livelihood.”

That really hits the nail on the head for me. We’ve reached a point where Apple is huge, one of the biggest companies in the world, and they struggle to handle even updating their laptops on a routine basis. Apple has the resources to make sure that the Mac lineup is kept up-to-date with current internals and specs, and then, when it’s absolutely ready, refresh the lineup with major hardware changes.

Apple needs to refresh the Mac lineup, this is true. Are things dire for the company? I doubt it. But I think it might take a shift later this year if, in September, when we do finally see new MacBooks and MacBook Pros and Apple doesn’t fix the keyboard? Well, things might get interesting.

What do you think?