Tuesday Talk ~ tribes and where Apple is at


(Image from a Mac Observer video showing the 1989 Macintosh Portable up against the Late 2016 MacBook Pro)
(Image from a Mac Observer video showing the 1989 Macintosh Portable up against the Late 2016 MacBook Pro)

Apple is still super successful, still shipping new things, still innovating. However, considering its massive R&D spend, it’s voracious buying of one tech startup and innovator after another, somehow shipping dates slip, gaps between product releases seem to be expanding and some anomalous products emerge. For example, iPhone 7 ships without an audio port, just Lightning one end and USB the other, then a month later Apple ships the new MacBook Pro with an audio port and no way of directly connecting the new iPhone without buying the Apple Lightning to USB-C Cable as an extra.
I can’t think of another time when you could directly plug two Apple products into each other. But more worrying is the long gap between the original 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the Late 2016 MacBook Pro: four years before a major case change and real laptop innovation. Really, Apple couldn’t have done this faster, with all its power, talent and resources? While I appreciate Apple’s long-held predilection to only release products that are absolutely ready (the other tack would be exemplified by Samsung’s disastrous incendiary smartphones), this still seems a weirdly convoluted process.

Some think the criticism of Apple has taken a disturbing new turn. Once upon a time it was almost laughable. People who knew very little about Apple would post the most ridiculous criticisms. (That said, I still hear them sometimes: ‘Apple isn’t compatible’. ‘Apple is just for home use …’ Duh!)
However, that’s changing: now people who love Apple products – absolute devotees like (and including) me, are criticising Apple too. There are distinct Apple tribes, according to some, and they clash. These come under Audiophiles, Applications and Technical Professionals, at least according to the Mac Observer.
But there’s another tribe the article above doesn’t mention: those who buy Apple’s products just because they like them – their use doesn’t go very deep, and actually, they don’t really care who makes what. Apple can act overly entranced with this big, often uncaring tribe, and to me, this is the real problem.
As for the more deeply-engaged tribes enumerated above, I’m not sure I buy this argument, at least for myself: I usually get on with any other Apple fan of any category. In my experience, we all feel we’re in the same boat.
But that boat is listing.

Once criticism shifts to a sense of betrayal, as it has with some people I know (in this case, over the Mac Pro, and the new MacBook Pro simply isn’t powerful enough to placate them), mark my words: it’s really hard to come back from that.
I’ve never thought ‘Apple can do no wrong’. I’ve had plenty to criticise over the years, but the bottom line is what usually keeps me with Apple. And it’s a very attractive bottom line:
Great products.

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5 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk ~ tribes and where Apple is at”

  1. “Once criticism shifts to a sense of betrayal, as it has with some people I know (in this case, over the Mac Pro, and the new MacBook Pro simply isn’t powerful enough to placate them), mark my words: it’s really hard to come back from that.”

    Some of this criticism isn’t rational.

    Sure there are people who genuinely wanted X and Y to be included in the new MacBook Pros and they certainly didn’t want Z removed. I’m picking these are largely a noisy minority.

    Some of those wants aren’t practical. The processor chips may not be ready or there isn”t support for the extra Ram and so on.

    Some of the complaints are practical, but conservative. You have to move on from legacy ports at some point and now is as good a time as any. A year from now, OK make that two years, these will be forgotten about.

    If the complainers buy, say, Lenovo or Dell laptops, they’ll find even more to dislike.

    And anyway, no sane person would throw away all their financial and intellectual investment in an operating system over a missing USB connector or SD card slot.

    We’ve been here before. When Apple dropped floppies, dropped optical drives, Appletalk… you name it. There was teeth gnashing then. Today hardly anyone remembers the fuss. And most of those who said at the time they’d never buy another Mac soon did.

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    1. I agree, except that Apple has never recovered fully from the Final Cut Pro 7 to X debacle. Even now, some editors continue to work on FC7 even though X has more than addressed all the issues. Even now, when they accept they’ll have to upgrade, they talk about Avid or Premiere. Apple has failed to placate them, and even to show them how Final Cut Pro X is actually really great now. These are top flight professionals Apple used to wholeheartedly have on board. That’s what I mean by ‘sense of betrayal’.

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      1. True! But many things about tribalism – and humans, for that matter – are irrational. Apple’s forté used to be in engaging with the stories people wanted to tell. Jobs said it wasn’t’t about specs, but the story. It feels like Apple can be losing control of the story these days. (But hey, my worrying is probably irrational too.)

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