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Jony Ive is leaving Apple!


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Jony Ive is leaving Apple!
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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2019-07-12, 17:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
… the “thinnest & lightest” people tend to ask the “thicker & more ports” people for advice on which hardware to get…
From my experience, the "thicker & more ports" people tend to give the "thinnest and lightest" people very bad advice, because those people do not need the feature set of thicker laptops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
…Or license macOS…
We all know this is not going to happen, nor do we want it to. That strategy nearly destroyed Apple in the '90's.

Who let the creeper in?
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chucker
 
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2019-07-12, 18:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
From my experience, the "thicker & more ports" people tend to give the "thinnest and lightest" people very bad advice, because those people do not need the feature set of thicker laptops.
Yeah, I'm inclined to agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
We all know this is not going to happen, nor do we want it to. That strategy nearly destroyed Apple in the '90's.
It was another nail in the coffin, buuuut there was certainly so much else broken at the time.

Like… toying around with technology for the sake of technology, e.g. with OpenDoc. Like Microsoft's WinFS a decade later, it was technologically interesting, but hard to explain, hard to conceptualize, and hard to ultimately find use cases for.

And I'm not sure it's that binary.

Clones as executed in the 90s? A dumb idea. So you have one company that does all the work of developing an operating system, and sells hardware. And then you have other companies who just sell hardware and only need to license the operating system. Short of making the operating system so expensive to license that they'll just consider going with licensing Windows instead, how is that supposed to work?

But, that's for hardware in categories you produce yourself. There's a few Apple isn't currently making. A 2-in-1 convertible laptop/tablet. A mid-range tower. A gaming desktop (or heck, laptop). A rackmount server. Or, as discussed here, a thicker & more ports computer. If you make the distinction hard enough that nobody would be tempted to buy from that third party over Apple, that could work. (But, for example, if Apple lets Razor do macOS gaming computers, but then people just buy those as a substitute for a cheaper Mac Pro, that screws Apple.)
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PB PM
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2019-07-12, 19:48

What, you haven’t spent a fortune on thunderbolt docks to fix the limited number of ports yet, shame on you!

More ports is better. It blew my mind when the 2018 Mac Mini had 6 USB. I was thinking maybe Apple was off its rocker. When I built my last PC, I picked a motherboard with 8, yes 8 USB 3.1 ports (mix gen 1&2 and type C), with an addition 4 USB2.0 ports. Do I use them all, all of the time no, but I do have a minimum of 7 in use at all times, mice, keyboard, external RAID array, card reader, external backup drives, a 900w UPS. You get the idea.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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2019-07-12, 23:13

There is a place for a more-ports-thicker-battery laptop, and there is a place for a $2000 headless Mac.

I don't think the place is the issue. I think the actual customer segment is too low. A titanic majority of people who say "I need more ports" are just looking for USB. Just USB! We carry a USB-C 3-port hub with power pass-through for $40. One thing to plug in. People bitch until they use them. Then, they don't bitch any more. It's just one thing to unplug and they're on their way.

I'm not saying there aren't any people out there who travel and work from their computers and have every stupid thing to plug in you can imagine, but oddly enough those folks represent a significant portion of the "It's too heavy" crowd. They want thin and light, and they want all the ports, and they want a built-in CD, and they want 4TB of storage, and they don't want to carry a power adapter, and they want a 17" screen, and they want RAM sockets, and they want a mouse, and they want …

And then all they do is Word and Powerpoint.

What they actually use is not what they actually need.

Personally, I would love to see Apple make the two computers in question. The $2000 headless Mac would sell well (but Apple would need to also offer a very good 4k display for $750). Not so sure about the laptop. I have one client that would buy an average of 10 per year (very few of their employees take them home, so they should be buying desktops ) , but 99% of consumers wouldn't even look. The Air represents about 75% of our laptop sales, and the 21" iMac about 75% of desktop sales. 15" MacBook Pro's are probably 15%, and 13" Pro's 10%. 27" iMacs then bring in about 20% of desktops, and the Mac Mini about 5%. Mac Pro sales, at about 1 every 2 years, represent a number close enough to 0% that we'll go ahead and call it that (It's probably about .1%). When 17" MacBook Pro's were a thing, about 90% sold to rich people using Word, and the remaining 10% to actual, you know, pros! (I once sold a $9000 Mac Pro to a day-trader ).

The problem for Apple is profitability. Can they build these things and have them be profitable (yes, I know Apple would be profitable, but would the segment?). I don't think they would be, which is why Apple does not make them. Demand is there, just not enough to drive segment-profitable sales.

And, yes, Apple could make cheap beige boxes, but we all know that is not what they do, nor do they want their name stamped on cheap beige boxes, which is why they are highly unlikely to ever license Mac OS again.

Who let the creeper in?
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PB PM
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2019-07-12, 23:32

Hubs are fine, unless of course your USB device is saturating the BUS. I’ve also never found a hub that doesn’t crap out after a year or so, other than the ancient USB1.0 hub we got for our G3 Power Mac in 1998 that is still in use today. Why? No idea, but it works, so why not since it’s fast enough for any keyboard and mouse.

For things like USB thumb drives, mice and keyboards hubs are great, not so much for data hungry connections. Less of an issue with thunderbolt, but let’s be honest, most people using USB hubs aren’t using thunderbolt and are limited to USB3.1 gen 1 or 2 speeds.

As for the computer, we know Apple will never make the DYI Mac some of us dream of. I make do with a hybrid Windows/Mac world. The OS is no longer the driving force of my purchase choice, as long as the computer does what I need it to do it’s fine.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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2019-07-16, 10:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Hubs are fine, unless of course your USB device is saturating the BUS. I’ve also never found a hub that doesn’t crap out after a year or so, other than the ancient USB1.0 hub we got for our G3 Power Mac in 1998 that is still in use today. Why? No idea, but it works, so why not since it’s fast enough for any keyboard and mouse.

For things like USB thumb drives, mice and keyboards hubs are great, not so much for data hungry connections. Less of an issue with thunderbolt, but let’s be honest, most people using USB hubs aren’t using thunderbolt and are limited to USB3.1 gen 1 or 2 speeds.
1) Data speeds can be a concern for some, but not for most. In those situations, a single, direct connection is preferable. Better yet would be a daisy-chainable TB3 drive so the port is not lost entirely.

2) The little hub I linked to has proven to be very reliable. I think we have replace2 2 failed units of the ~500 we have sold since 2017 when we first started carrying them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
… as long as the computer does what I need it to do it’s fine.
For techie types, this will always be the case. For everyone else, however, the maintenance requirements for an OS like Windows or Linux are beyond the desirable scope for a large number of people. The single remaining issue here is price. I would venture to guess that 90% of Windows users would switch to Mac were the price of an iMac around $500. But that is not the computer Apple wants to make. With Apple's margins consistently around 40%, a low end iMac costs at least $600 to build. And that's for the bare-bones clunker that is the base iMac. Considering Apple sells very few of those, I'm guessing the margins are much lower—probably around 20%, which means it actually costs Apple $800 or so to build the $1100 entry level iMac, which is the worst seller (at least in our shop) and not by some small margin. I think their quality/design choices automatically alienate most Windows users, and it isn't because of greed. They simply are not willing to build cheap crap.

Who let the creeper in?
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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2019-08-17, 02:23

That Ive had one foot out the door for years was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. It's not a coincidence that that Designed by Apple in California came out when it did. Remember that?

Not to toot my own horn (okay yes I am), but I wrote something in that thread that I thought was pretty relevant in retrospect:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
There's another argument, not that Apple shouldn't be selling their superior design monograph but that they shouldn't have even bothered to produce one in the first place, that even an hour of Jony Ive's time spent thinking about this book is too much when he should be glue-gunning Xeons into Mac Pros or whatever. But I think that argument is also weak, and the reason why is that Apple is a company made up of people. This means that, yes, those people have egos and care about things like their "legacy." But much more importantly, it means that those people also leave and retire and die, and new people have to learn Apple's way of doing things. This is of extreme importance to Apple, because Apple's way of doing things has been enormously successful.

Imagine that Jony Ive had decided that he wanted to pass on what he has learned in his career so far, and wrote a treatise enumerating his principles of design. Such a book would have huge educational value, would it not? Not just within Apple, but to the design world at large. It would cause an immediate sensation among the people that care about chamfers and fonts. Jony Ive and his team have shaped some of the most popular products in history and defined and redefined what the very idea of "high technology" looks and feels like. Who wouldn't want to study their guiding principles? Could Apple afford not to document them?

I would posit that this is that book.

[snip]

Jony Ive leads the most renowned industrial design studio in the world. If he led an independent Ive & Co., a monograph like this wouldn't just be expected at this point in his career, it would be anticipated. Of course, Jony Ive's studio is owned by Apple, which is its only "client." But that doesn't mean that the people that work there care any less about putting "their book on the shelf," so to speak, and if anything it makes it extra important for that "client" to preserve their values.
It's tempting to draw a line between Ive leaving and recent events, like he stormed out in a huff because Tim told him to make the laptop keyboards 1 mm thicker, or because they wouldn't let him make the Apple Car interior as luxe as the one in his Bentley Continental. But I think this has been in the works for far longer than the recent keyboard kerfuffle, and I'm not sure he was even that involved in the design of the recent MacBooks anyway.

I'm not going to say that Ive leaving is a good thing or a bad thing, because honestly I think it's not going to lead to huge changes. I think Ive's values have become Apple's values, in almost the same way Steve's values have. Or perhaps Ive's values always were the same as Steve's values, which is why he stayed at Apple as long as he did.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
  quote
Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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2019-08-17, 02:28

The discussion of port-free MacBooks in the, um, iPhone thread made me think of this one.

That Ive had one foot out the door for years was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. It's not a coincidence that that Designed by Apple in California came out when it did. Remember that?

Not to toot my own horn (okay yes I am), but I wrote something in that thread that I thought was pretty relevant in retrospect:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
There's another argument, not that Apple shouldn't be selling their superior design monograph but that they shouldn't have even bothered to produce one in the first place, that even an hour of Jony Ive's time spent thinking about this book is too much when he should be glue-gunning Xeons into Mac Pros or whatever. But I think that argument is also weak, and the reason why is that Apple is a company made up of people. This means that, yes, those people have egos and care about things like their "legacy." But much more importantly, it means that those people also leave and retire and die, and new people have to learn Apple's way of doing things. This is of extreme importance to Apple, because Apple's way of doing things has been enormously successful.

Imagine that Jony Ive had decided that he wanted to pass on what he has learned in his career so far, and wrote a treatise enumerating his principles of design. Such a book would have huge educational value, would it not? Not just within Apple, but to the design world at large. It would cause an immediate sensation among the people that care about chamfers and fonts. Jony Ive and his team have shaped some of the most popular products in history and defined and redefined what the very idea of "high technology" looks and feels like. Who wouldn't want to study their guiding principles? Could Apple afford not to document them?

I would posit that this is that book.

[snip]

Jony Ive leads the most renowned industrial design studio in the world. If he led an independent Ive & Co., a monograph like this wouldn't just be expected at this point in his career, it would be anticipated. Of course, Jony Ive's studio is owned by Apple, which is its only "client." But that doesn't mean that the people that work there care any less about putting "their book on the shelf," so to speak, and if anything it makes it extra important for that "client" to preserve their values.
It's tempting to draw a line between Ive leaving and recent events, like he stormed out in a huff because Tim told him to make the laptop keyboards 1 mm thinner, or because they wouldn't let him make the Apple Car interior as luxe as the one in his Bentley Continental. But honestly I think this has been in the works for far longer than the recent keyboard kerfuffle, and I'm not sure he was even that involved in the design of the recent MacBooks anyway.

I'm not going to say that Ive leaving is a good thing or a bad thing, because honestly I think it's not going to lead to huge changes. I think Ive's values have become Apple's values, in almost the same way Steve's values have. Or perhaps Ive's values always were the same as Steve's values, which is why he stayed at Apple as long as he did.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
  quote
kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2019-08-17, 10:37

Double post? Let me know and I'll chop one out of there. Or, you can until you can't.



Jony leaving Apple is a bit like Joe Montana leaving the 49er's. The Niners went on to win another Super Bowl without him, and he went on to … the Chiefs? Montana's legacy was left in San Francisco and he never did another thing in his career worth talking about. Same with Brett Favre. Yeah, I know that sports and industrial design are world's apart—on the corporate side—but, within the human spirit, they are absolutely identical. Certain people have a wired-in drive to be the best at whatever it is they do, whereby best I mean "the most successful, richest, no one can compete with them, BEST!"

Jony Ive is like Joe Montana: [Arguably] the greatest quarterback that ever played the game (although pipsqueak boy "I don't need to cheat but I do anyway" Tom Brady, or the likes of Terry Bradshaw or Troy Aikman also come to mind). Jony is a stud designer.

BUT!

Without Apple, Jony would be nowhere near where he is today. It took Steve Jobs noticing him, and it took an entire legion of faithful, obedient teammates to make it all work. Just as in football, the "quarterback" gets all the glory, yet the quarterback would spend the day flat on his ass were it not for the offensive lineman who protect him, the running backs who block for him, and the receivers who get open so he has someone to throw the ball to. We humans tend to focus on the quarterback, and forget all about the other players (and yet there is a reason why a really good offensive lineman will have a contract approaching quarterback figures).

Basically, Apple is the design firm, and Jony is the manager. Keep this in mind, though: Just before Steve Jobs died, Apple was fast becoming the most successful technology company ever. After he died, his replacement made Apple the most successful company ever!

Everyone is replaceable.

I had this to say a few years ago when there were rumors of Ive leaving:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
None of us really knows what goes on behind the closed doors that shield Apple from the world, but here is my thought on the matter:

Apple is not a two-man team. They are a multi-talented "platform" that has very deep coffers and talent pools to draw from. Jonathan Ivs is not the Apple design department, he is the design department manager. He is the guy who takes credit for all the good ideas that come out of that department. Is he a good designer as well? You bet. But he is a better focuser. His job is to cull the best designs and focus them into successful products. That's why he is the manager.

Management 101 advise:

1) When things go wrong, stand up and take responsibility. You can knock heads later.
2) When things go right, stand up and take responsibility…while simultaneously spreading praise across your entire team.

Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive are media personalities who get the credit for Apple's success. But if you listen to them—really listen—you will hear them constantly praising their teams. Interpretation: "Our guys did a great job of designing and building and thinking and such, and we are here to accept your praises on their behalf."

To say that Ive and Jobs are irreplaceable is a stretch. To say that we don't know who to replace them with is very accurate. But they know! You bet your bottom they know. If Apple's management team has half a clue how to manage, then they already know who is going to replace these guys. They just aren't telling us. However, whether or not that person can execute, over the long hall, is a mystery that cannot be answered until they try. But it would be unfair to say that they cannot do it.

After all, who can honestly say that Steve Jobs could save Apple…until he was given the opportunity to try?
That bit near the end, there, where I mention that we don't know who will replace Ive? Well, that question has now been answered. And I'd be willing to be that that guy is behind the vast majority of design work and has proven himself worthy. Do we like eveything we have seen from him? Obviously not. But neither do we like everything we've seen from Cook. And I, for one, never liked everything I saw from Steve Jobs. But, as a whole, I like what I see, even if I have complaints here and there.

One way or the other, Ive is moving on, and I will bet my bottom dollar that his "contract work" with Apple will be very few and very far in between. Apple likes to keep this stuff in house, and I'm guessing that this is only a parting gift to one of the most storied personalities in tech history. It's kind of like Joe Montana having his jersey retired and hung from the rafters for fanatics to worship for years to come. But, once he was gone, you never saw the 49er's calling on Joe Montana for any ideas, did you?

In other words, when Jony Ive walks out the door for the last time, Cook will still be his friend, but he is done at Apple.

As for design direction? Well, we're going to see Ive's influence for the next five years, because the product road map is at least that long. It takes 2+ years to bring a major tech product to market, so the work being done right now will not make it into our hands until 2021 at the earliest, and Ive will be long gone by then. In 2022, we will start seeing the work done by the new guy. But—and unfortunate for him—we will see something else in between now and then: The very second after Ive leaves Apple, any mistakes (or perceived mistakes) will be firmly planted on the shoulders of the new guy. It's a fact of human nature, it's a fact of the modern tech media, and it is hopelessly unfair.

I hope he's ready!

Who let the creeper in?
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Robo
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2019-08-17, 15:01

I think we’ve already been seeing work done by “the new guy.”

My gut says that the last new Apple product Ive was deeply involved in was Apple Watch. After that, I think he was on Apple Park and Apple Car, all the time. And the car project stalled, and Apple Park is complete, so here we are.

He obviously had a supervisory role as VP of Design, but I don’t think his full attention was on any recently shipped Apple product. I think he was more or less done with iterating and was focusing his talent solely on shaping new, big projects.

People get bored. I don’t think there was anything about, say, the retina MacBook Air that interested him.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
  quote
drewprops
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2019-08-18, 01:06

For better or worse I'm ready for new design territory, even if it means a cheesegrater MacBook Pro (I think I'm secretly hoping for that).

Bring on the some new looks!


...

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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chucker
 
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2019-08-18, 06:47

I just want a $3k laptop that doesn’t make me a laughingstock for having overspent on a machine that doesn’t even have a reliable keyboard.

Then as a second step it can have a design that doesn’t look like the natural evolution of the 2001 TiBook.
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Robo
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2019-08-18, 14:55

I think you'll get one of the two.

But I'm not sure how Apple would avoid making their new laptop look like an evolution of the TiBook, because that's what it is. Like, it'll still be a silver rectangle, unless you get the space gray one. But I don't think that's a problem? A modern MacBook really doesn't look that much like a TiBook, besides being a silver rectangle, because everything else has changed. The hinge is different, the latch is different, the taper of the sides is different, the all-metal construction is different...and besides, I think people who buy a MacBook Pro want something that looks like a MacBook Pro.

I think a lot of people would be upset if the new MacBook Pro was, say, wedge-shaped. A lot of people would yell that it was just a big MacBook Air for twice the price, based solely on the shape, because people are weird like that.

There might be a case to be made that the MacBook Pro hasn't evolved enough (or improved enough) since the introduction of the unibody in 2008. That was sort of the watershed moment where the MacBook Pro started looking like today's MacBook Pro — those machines still look modern, in a way the TiBook and AlBook and 2006 MacBook Pro don't. And the things Apple has done with the MBP since then — making it thinner by removing optical drives and going all-SSD, and then making it thinner again by taking the depth out of the keyboard — haven't been all positive.

I'd consider it a win if the new MacBook Pro was, when closed, visually indistinguishable from the current model — but, when open, it has a larger screen and a keyboard with more depth. Because improving the keyboard will mean less room for everything else in the bottom half of the case. I don't think this new MacBook Pro is going to be a form change — it's going to be a do-over. What a pro notebook in the current MBP's form should be.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 02:27

The iPhone launched in 2007. Its design only lasted until 2009; the 2010 iPhone 4 was very different. That design (which I think was superior to what we have now) lasted until 2013; 2014 brought the 6, whose design lasted until 2016. Then, the X.

With the exception of the first, all of those design changes happened after the Unibody MacBook Pro. Making it thinner and thinner again in 2012 and 2016 is nowhere near the same thing.

Now, maybe laptops have matured more, sure. Or maybe Apple under Ive has been a bit complacent about evolving the Mac.
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Robo
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2019-08-19, 03:36

I agree that the MacBook Pro has shared essentially the same design language since the unibody models were introduced. Which is a long time.

But, I mean, the 2009 13" MacBook Pro was 4.5 pounds, and the 2016 13" MacBook Pro is 3 pounds. That's not nothing. They essentially engineered out a third of the computer while also making it faster and giving it a retina display. That to me is more significant than changing the design language just because, idunno, it's been the same for too long?

After the wave of wacky translucent products Apple made a choice to abandon ornamentation and turn their products into minimalist platonic solids. I think when you make that choice, you sort of have to accept that your changes from that point on are going to be more subtle. I think Apple's okay with that. I don't think they set out to dazzle people, with the 2012 or 2016 MacBook Pros, and I think that's fine.

To be clear, I think they did take their eye off the ball for a bit, as far as the Mac is concerned. They were definitely swinging, though — they just missed. Or, to change to a different sports analogy, they skated to where the puck didn't go. I think the 12" MacBook was an especially bitter disappointment for them, and it's pretty clear that the Touch Bar hasn't set the world on fire, at least not yet. They weren't standing still, but they didn't make the Macs they really should have, either.

But I also think some of their other innovations, particularly the T-series "Security Chips," have been a little under-appreciated. I mean, adding that in is pretty much the biggest architectural shift for the Mac in forever, right? They're being a little stealthy about it, but they've given the T-chip more and more to do, and I think they're going to continue to do so with each revision. In a very real sense, I think the ARM Macs are already here.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 05:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
After the wave of wacky translucent products Apple made a choice to abandon ornamentation and turn their products into minimalist platonic solids.
Yes, and I think they went too far with the minimalism, making their products needlessly impractical (cf. keyboard, lack of ports) and also boring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
But I also think some of their other innovations, particularly the T-series "Security Chips," have been a little under-appreciated. I mean, adding that in is pretty much the biggest architectural shift for the Mac in forever, right?
It's an interesting approach (that lets them take advantage of some of their ARM prowess without having to move most software to a different architecture), sure. I don't quite know what you mean by "biggest in forever"; it's clearly a smaller shift than, say, 68k to PowerPC or PowerPC to Intel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
They're being a little stealthy about it, but they've given the T-chip more and more to do, and I think they're going to continue to do so with each revision. In a very real sense, I think the ARM Macs are already here.
In a way, yup.
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Robo
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2019-08-19, 09:18

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Yes, and I think they went too far with the minimalism, making their products needlessly impractical (cf. keyboard, lack of ports) and also boring.
How would you make the next MacBook Pro unboring?
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kscherer
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2019-08-19, 10:08

Make it round, and pink.
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 10:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
How would you make the next MacBook Pro unboring?
I’m not a designer. I can only say there was a lot more change between 1995 and 2005 than between 2005 and 2019, and I don’t think that’s entirely on maturity.

It’s not my job to fix that (assuming they even consider it a problem).
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Robo
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2019-08-19, 10:54

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
I’m not a designer. I can only say there was a lot more change between 1995 and 2005 than between 2005 and 2019, and I don’t think that’s entirely on maturity.

It’s not my job to fix that (assuming they even consider it a problem).
I know it's not. I'm asking what you would do.

Or, to put it another way, what would you like the next MacBook Pro to be like? Besides having a better keyboard.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
  quote
kscherer
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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2019-08-19, 11:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
It’s not my job to fix that (assuming they even consider it a problem).
There's an old saying that says if you have a complaint, offer a solution. It doesn't have to be the right solution, just a demonstration that you are thinking the problem through.



There is only one place left on laptops where there is room for true innovation, and that is the keyboard space. I mean, really, what else can you do? Battery tech could use a lot of improvement, but that has always been the case and that technology will be driven by some other purpose first (like cars or what not). Ax processors won't be "innovation" so much as technology independence. Screens? Not much to do there other than adopt new tech (like OLED or micro LED or something). Ports? They'll get spiffier or go away. There is room in wireless, but I think innovation in that space is software driven. The Tx chips are clearly giving Apple a competitive advantage and there is plenty of room for growth in that space.

As far as the design of the computer, however, the only space left is that keyboard. I know a lot of you roll your eyes when I say this because you want your Apple Tactile Pro keyboard to magically pop up out of the computer when you open the lid, but you are not the future. The kids of today who are growing up with little more than short-throw clicker keyboards or—more likely—virtual keyboards are much more open to innovation in this space. That butterfly keyboard is going away, just not in the direction you want it to go. The Touchbar is just the beginning. That whole space is going virtual, and it won't be Apple that is first, although they are well positioned. I truly believe it is working in the labs—with Force Touch and everything—and will be present on the next major industrial overhaul of the systems. It will start at the high-end and work downward over the course of 3 or 4 years. It will virtually eliminate one of the most vulnerable places on a laptop while simultaneously bringing new UI possibilities to the forefront of portable technology. It will eliminate the need for multiple keyboards for different regions (pick your language and the keyboard automatically adapts); it will replace a multitude of external devices (audio controllers, etc.); it will enable advanced drawing techniques, signatures, Apple Pencil support, and the virtualization of whatever fancy new editing interfaces developers can come up with.

And people will piss and moan (understandably in some cases) because the haptic feedback of mechanical laptop keyboards will be gone.

And there will be no desktop equivalent, because that is a hurdle that seems insurmountable at this point.

There is just no other space for innovation that I can see. What else to do? Put a second screen on the back of the display? Make the logo glow in the dark? Rounded corners? More color options? Perhaps, but any innovation outside of the control surface of the laptop is likely to either be hare-brained, impractical, or just plain stupid. We already have very unsuccessful laptops with flip-around screens or flip-backward screens and no one seems to care. There are touch-screen laptops that are pretty much useless to the average person. There are laptops with no ports, laptops with all the ports, and laptops with ports no one has used in 15 years.

Apple has innovated internally in ways that greatly improve performance and reliability, while simultaneously infuriating those who would like to change out their storage and/or RAM. They have brought battery tech a very long ways and added their own coprocessors to get over the hurdles left by Intel's lack of progress. They have made super-high resolution screens an expectation rather than a check-box feature. They have adopted the fastest and most expansive port options in computing and improved subsystem performance to eliminate long-standing throughput bottlenecks. All the while there is always room for improvement and mistakes have been made. But all of that is a direct result of innovating towards the next major design change, which is the virtual keyboard—the "TouchBoard®" if you will.

Again, Apple will not be the first into this space (as others are trying) but there is no other computer company that can A) truly pull it off; and B) do it in a manner that actually makes sense. It does no good to just replace the keyboard with a virtual thing as Lenovo is doing. You have to replace the entire concept of what a keyboard is and how we interact with it. And it has to be fast and reliable (Lenovo's is hopelessly laggy). Apple will conquer this because they will have some future Tx chip that will control that crazy thing, and it might even be the first thing powered by an Ax chip—a computer within a computer. Gaming interfaces and audio/video interfaces and Photoshop interfaces and you-name-it-interfaces will explode from the imaginations of developers and bring us fantastic new ways to interact with our laptops.

If there is any other space worth considering, tell us about it.

Well, I guess the trackpad could become a second digital screen, first.

Who let the creeper in?
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 12:37

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
Or, to put it another way, what would you like the next MacBook Pro to be like? Besides having a better keyboard.
Well, for starters, I feel like the current generation isn't separated from the Air very well. It's really just a more luxurious, higher-priced Air — better components, sure, but ultimately not that many distinctive features (other than the Touch Bar, which… hopefully will trickle down to the entire line-up soon, or else it'll have a really hard time gaining software adoption).

Contrast the days of the iBook and PowerBook, or the white/black MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Maybe it would help if the Air had XR-like styling, with colors and a slightly bubblier look?
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 12:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
There's an old saying that says if you have a complaint, offer a solution.
You know, that's something my boss would like to say, and while this isn't a workplace environment, it's a logical fallacy. A problem doesn't cease to exist just because a solution cannot yet be found, and pointing out a problem isn't a bad idea just because the same person cannot also think of a solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
It doesn't have to be the right solution, just a demonstration that you are thinking the problem through.
But in this case, I'm really not. I'm pointing out that design progress on the laptop side wasn't as slow in the past, and I think that may be an indicator that it shouldn't be that slow today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
There is only one place left on laptops where there is room for true innovation, and that is the keyboard space.
I mean… that's clearly not true. Look at other vendors who are moving to touch screens. Or making the screen flip around (I'm not saying I'm a fan of it, and it comes with a lot of problems). Or ones who add cellular (why isn't Apple doing this?).
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Robo
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2019-08-19, 12:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
There is only one place left on laptops where there is room for true innovation, and that is the keyboard space. I mean, really, what else can you do? Battery tech could use a lot of improvement, but that has always been the case and that technology will be driven by some other purpose first (like cars or what not). Ax processors won't be "innovation" so much as technology independence. Screens? Not much to do there other than adopt new tech (like OLED or micro LED or something). Ports? They'll get spiffier or go away. There is room in wireless, but I think innovation in that space is software driven. The Tx chips are clearly giving Apple a competitive advantage and there is plenty of room for growth in that space.

As far as the design of the computer, however, the only space left is that keyboard. I know a lot of you roll your eyes when I say this because you want your Apple Tactile Pro keyboard to magically pop up out of the computer when you open the lid, but you are not the future. The kids of today who are growing up with little more than short-throw clicker keyboards or—more likely—virtual keyboards are much more open to innovation in this space. That butterfly keyboard is going away, just not in the direction you want it to go. The Touchbar is just the beginning. That whole space is going virtual, and it won't be Apple that is first, although they are well positioned. I truly believe it is working in the labs—with Force Touch and everything—and will be present on the next major industrial overhaul of the systems. It will start at the high-end and work downward over the course of 3 or 4 years. It will virtually eliminate one of the most vulnerable places on a laptop while simultaneously bringing new UI possibilities to the forefront of portable technology. It will eliminate the need for multiple keyboards for different regions (pick your language and the keyboard automatically adapts); it will replace a multitude of external devices (audio controllers, etc.); it will enable advanced drawing techniques, signatures, Apple Pencil support, and the virtualization of whatever fancy new editing interfaces developers can come up with.

And people will piss and moan (understandably in some cases) because the haptic feedback of mechanical laptop keyboards will be gone.
2015 "12-inch MacBook" Apple might have been working toward that future, but I'm really not sure 2019 "apology Mac Pro" Apple is. I think Apple understands now, perhaps more than they did in the past, that they can't just tell Mac users what they want. If anything, the furor over the low-travel keyboards underscores the importance of a good keyboard to Apple's customers.

And even in 2015, the keyboard was the very first thing discussed in the 12-inch MacBook's introductory video, with Ive stating that "a full size keyboard is the most familiar, comfortable, and accurate typing platform." And I think Apple genuinely believed that, and still does. I'm sure they've tested touchscreen keyboards in the labs. If they were ever to switch to a depthless keyboard, I think it would have been on their thinnest notebook. And even then, in that most constrained space, they tried their damnedest to make a physical keyboard work. I think that's telling.

Even on the iPad, a physical keyboard has been part of Apple's vision for that product since the very beginning. Why? I think it's because Apple has done a ton of testing and they know that typing on a screen isn't great for most people. It's fine for short bursts but you're not going to want to write a novel on it. You're not going to want to write code on it. Do you think the software engineers at Apple would be enthusiastic about replacing their MacBook Pros with ones with screen keyboards? And yes, it's possible that "the kids of today" are going to be totally okay with losing tactile feedback in their keyboards, but I'm not sure they're the ones buying $3,000 MacBook Pros. Or buying a hundred MacBook Pros for their company.

The MacBook Pro is, ultimately, a tool. People want tools that fit them, and that's not, like, a failure of their imagination or anything. A keyboard is, as it turns out, a really good tool for doing a lot of the things people want to do with MacBook Pros. Apple's free to make some crazy vision-statement keyboardless MacBook Pro, but that doesn't mean that people are going to buy it. I'm not sure "Apple's going to keep pushing toward an all-screen future whether you all like it or not" is a very good take considering Apple just discontinued one of its three laptop lines due to an apparent lack of demand.

I'm not even saying a book-style computer with two screens (or one giant bendy screen) would necessarily be a bad product. I just don't think it's a MacBook Pro.

When talking about potential innovation, saying "as far as the design of the computer, however, the only space left is that keyboard" is pretty reductive. And even if we were to assume that the only space left for innovation was the keyboard, there are ways to innovate besides turning the whole thing into a flat glass surface.

I agree with you that having eighty-odd apertures on the top surface of the MacBook's logic-and-battery case is undesirable, I just disagree that a touchscreen is the only way to address that. I wouldn't be surprised if future MacBook keyboards had a cover (not necessarily a key mechanism) similar to the Smart Keyboard's cover, to prevent dust and crumb ingress entirely and potentially make it more spill resistant? If you think about it it's kind of odd that we've made such strides towards making notebooks way lighter and more portable and yet they can still be fried in an instant if you spill a drink on them.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 13:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
it's possible that "the kids of today" are going to be totally okay with losing tactile feedback in their keyboards, but I'm not sure they're the ones buying $3,000 MacBook Pros. Or buying a hundred MacBook Pros for their company.
And that right there I think exemplifies how the Pro became too much like the non-Pro. Maybe it would've been OK for the 12-inch MacBook to have an oddball slightly-too-thin keyboard, much like it's OK for the iPad to only have a virtual keyboard built in.

But it definitely wasn't OK for the MacBook Pro to also have that keyboard. That's where they went off the wrong path. It doesn't need to be that thin and light and simple; the Air already is. The Pro can and should be a powerhouse.
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kscherer
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2019-08-19, 13:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
I mean… that's clearly not true. Look at other vendors who are moving to touch screens. Or making the screen flip around (I'm not saying I'm a fan of it, and it comes with a lot of problems). Or ones who add cellular (why isn't Apple doing this?).
To start, I mentioned those things in my post (excepting cellular).

Touchscreens are not going to solve very many problems, but they definitely create lots of new ones. In order for a touchscreen to really make sense, the UI needs to be redesigned, and that is the problem the iPad solves. I've used touchscreen Macs (modded things) and the UI is horrible for it.

Flip around screens are just not fixing any problems, and again they create many more, especially where reliability is concerned. I think this is a solution looking for a problem.

Adding cellular is not innovative in any way. Apple may not be considering it because all of their users have iPhones, and iPhones can share their hotspots. I know they are out there from other manufacturers, but really, how many? I suspect that most folks would just use their hotspot rather than pay for yet another cellular connection.

Who let the creeper in?

Last edited by kscherer : 2019-08-19 at 13:41.
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kscherer
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2019-08-19, 13:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo View Post
Apple just discontinued one of its three laptop lines due to an apparent lack of demand.
The 12" MacBook didn't fail because of keyboards or any other such thing. It failed because it was too expensive. Period. Had it been $999 it would have sold like hotcakes to students rather than the older MacBook Air, which was cheaper and more powerful. The MacBook was DOA because of its price, and that's it. From the very beginning it should have been the cheapest system in the lineup. Where Apple failed was in thinking that the "thinnest and lightest" thing was still where the premium pricing was at. It worked with the original MacBook Air because it was a new concept. It failed with the 12" MacBook because the "thin and light" thing had already been done, and the market for them had changed. I think that laptop was awesome! It was thin and light, and students wanted them, but could never justify a higher price on such tight budgets.

We sold about ten of them in the first 3 months as the gotta-have-it-nows rushed to get the new shiny. After that, they fell off to about 1 every 6 months through 2017, and then it took us over a year to sell the last one (a floor model that eventually sold at a $400 discount because no one was willing to pay $1299 for a computer that was never worth more than $999 brand new). I think I sold 1 to a student, once, but every other student* left with a $999 MacBook Air. I mean why would you spend more?

I would say it was an even bigger misstep than the G4 Cube or the 2013 Mac Pro. The market was sitting right there (students) and Apple was entirely blind to it. Even right now, today, that laptop—physically speaking—was the best option Apple had for the student market. Of all the people I know that are carrying laptops around, students are the ones who genuinely need the reduction in shoulder-sapping weight! And the 12" MacBook was by far the best laptop on the market for that.

*An exaggeration. A few students opted for 13" MacBook Pro's.

Who let the creeper in?
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 14:15

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
To start, I mentioned those things in my post (excepting cellular).

Touchscreens are not going to solve very many problems, but they definitely create lots of new ones. In order for a touchscreen to really make sense, the UI needs to be redesigned, and that is the problem the iPad solves. I've used touchscreen Macs (modded things) and the UI is horrible for it.

Flip around screens are just not fixing any problems, and again they create many more, especially where reliability is concerned. I think this is a solution looking for a problem.
I don't disagree.

I was giving examples of paths Apple hasn't taken. They probably deliberately made that choice, at least for the time being. But you seem to imply there's nowhere else left to go for the laptop, and… that just doesn't seem like a bold stance to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Adding cellular is not innovative in any way. Apple may not be considering it because all of their users have iPhones, and iPhones can share their hotspots. I know they are out there from other manufacturers, but really, how many? I suspect that most folks would just use their hotspot rather than pay for yet another cellular connection.
Eh, that's an excuse. They have cellular on the iPad and the Watch. It makes zero sense to have those and not have cellular as a $150 option on the MacBook Pro.

And before you say, "well, macOS apps have no notion of a metered connection, so the UX would be kinda terrible": that problem exists today with using iPhone tethering, so if anything, that's another argument for going all-in. It should be solved regardless.
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Robo
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2019-08-19, 14:22

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Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Well, for starters, I feel like the current generation isn't separated from the Air very well. It's really just a more luxurious, higher-priced Air — better components, sure, but ultimately not that many distinctive features (other than the Touch Bar, which… hopefully will trickle down to the entire line-up soon, or else it'll have a really hard time gaining software adoption).
That's definitely true. I think the existence of the two-Thunderbolt-port MacBook Pro really blurs the lines there, in an undesirable way. It's easy to forget that it was that product that was originally pitched as a MacBook Air successor with a retina display, being the same size and weight and using the same 15W-class processors as the old Air. I mean, it's only $200 more than the Air. At least it has the Touch Bar now?

I feel like the original sin of Apple's laptop line, when it came to not having clear distinctions between the models, was when they decided to take the 2008 aluminum unibody MacBook and re-brand it as a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Because it really wasn't, and that set this weird precedent where you "had" to be able to get a MacBook Pro for $200 more than the base MacBook (or later, the MacBook Air).

There probably shouldn't be essentially three different MacBook Pros, and Apple probably shouldn't have two different notebooks with the same screen size that are a quarter pound apart in weight and $200 apart in price. I actually half-expected Apple to just ditch the two-Thunderbolt-port MacBook Pro models instead of update them, and honestly I would have been okay with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Contrast the days of the iBook and PowerBook, or the white/black MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Maybe it would help if the Air had XR-like styling, with colors and a slightly bubblier look?
I would love that, honestly.

I've thought a lot about the 12-inch MacBook's failure, because it's such a weird product. Apple was convinced they had the future of the "everyday" notebook. But people just kept on buying old non-retina MacBook Airs. And then Apple introduced the two-Thunderbolt-port MacBook Pro, for people who wanted a three-pound 13-inch notebook with a retina display, and people...kept on buying old non-retina MacBook Airs. Apple clearly thought that the problem was that neither of those products were a wedge-shaped product called MacBook Air, so they finally made a retina notebook that was as close to the old MacBook Air as they could: same name, same "iconic wedge" (as Laura Metz repeated several times in the unveiling). And then, this summer, they unceremoniously axed the 12-inch, with no real replacement.

Why didn't the 12-inch MacBook work out? It's especially confounding because the people who have 12-inch MacBooks seem to almost universally adore them.

I think the problem with the 12-inch MacBook was in part a branding problem, but not in the way Apple imagined.

When Apple introduced the first MacBook Air in 2008, they sold it alongside the MacBook and MacBook Pro as a third sort of computer, different from the entry-level MacBook and the powerful MacBook Pro. It was premium, but in a very different way from the MacBook Pro. "MacBook Air" was a second type of premium product: users understood they were paying a premium for miniaturization. It wasn't intended to be the cheap MacBook for everybody.

But then in 2010, the script flipped. The second-generation MacBook Air, with a design that was in some ways less premium than the original, replaced the MacBook as Apple's cheap MacBook for everybody. It kept the MacBook Air name, however, even though it was the Default MacBook. And then, in 2015, Apple introduced a new, more expensive, more compact notebook where users paid a premium for miniaturization. And they couldn't call it MacBook Air, because the Default MacBook was called MacBook Air, so they called it just "MacBook." It was totally backwards.

They shouldn't have convinced themselves that the 12-inch MacBook was going to be the new "everyday" notebook. A vision statement of what everyday notebooks would look like a few years down the road, sure, but it was never going to be able to get down in price to be the cheap MacBook for everybody with expensive bespoke components like terraced batteries. It was the new MacBook Air, in the 2008 sense of the brand. The 12-inch MacBook was frequently dogged for being overpriced even though there wasn't anything in the industry comparable to it. To me, that's a positioning problem.

But just as crucially, once the MacBook Air design was adjusted for the mainstream in 2010 and became the cheap MacBook for everybody, Apple should have dropped the "Air" modifier. Because there will always be an opportunity for a premium miniaturized version of a product, just like there's always an opportunity for a premium higher-performance one. They shouldn't have tried to act like the mainstream cheap MacBook was the premium miniaturized version, even if it was the same size as the previous premium miniaturized one (and smaller in the case of the 11-inch), because that just painted them into a corner. Especially with the 2018 model, the entire point of the so-called MacBook Air was that it was cheaper and had a larger screen than the more compact model, albeit at the cost of additional size and weight. The naming was completely backwards!

I'd love it if we could get back to the base MacBook being just the MacBook, and then the MacBook Air could be the super-svelte premium model. How great is it, how freeing, that the base iPhone isn't called iPhone Air? If that iPhone needs to be thicker than the higher-end models (as it currently does) it can be, without causing a weird contradiction. I get why Apple keeps using the MacBook Air name — it's hugely popular — but I'd argue that the the MacBook Air name became popular in the 2010-on era, when it really should have just been MacBook all that time. That's why I've described these positioning mistakes as original sins; they were choices made years ago that have consequences for the clarity of the line to this day.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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chucker
 
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2019-08-19, 14:32

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Originally Posted by Robo View Post
It's easy to forget that it was that product that was originally pitched as a MacBook Air successor with a retina display, being the same size and weight and using the same 15W-class processors as the old Air.
That was a wild moment. It's like Phil was staring in the camera, asking "anyone? We're kind of running out of ideas here — you don't want the MacBook as the new Air… maybe you'll take this? You… you won't, will you."
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