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Apple’s 2016 in review (chuqui.com)
396 points by mef on Jan 3, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 385 comments

How do they fix this? They need to do more talking — and even more listening — with their users. Engage with the influencers. Sit down and find out what their developers need that the current products don’t offer. Find out what is making their users unhappy.

Asking people what they want will give you predictable results: complaints about any kind of change and positive feedback about shiny-looking features that demo well. You'll end up pulled in a million directions as you try to account for everyone's feedback.

The traditional Apple solution was to give a single idealized user — Steve Jobs — the power to improve his own experience. Nobody can replace Steve, but I think someone (or some group) inside Apple needs to fill this role before their products can become really great again.

Notice that the author doesn't say "do what your users tell you to do", but "find out what they need and what they experience as problematic".

Any user research will involve interacting with users, but it's not to gather their opinions, which is almost always irrelevant, but to document their behavior, needs and drives.

Users will offer solutions, because that comes naturally, but these need to be turned back into problems before being used. For example,

User: "I want a big button in the middle of the screen that says 'print' and then prints my stuff immediately!"

Researcher:"So you print a lot during your day?"

User: "Yeah, and each time I have to go down a long list of menus, and then I have to reselect the printer each time."

Apple has apparently been able to get by with user studies done on a target group of one (Jobs). However, he's not there any more, and the more time that passes, the more it seems that they haven't been able to fill his shoes.

Steve was a notoriously hard person to work with. Realistically, anyone who Steve was likely to name as his successor would be a follower, someone who went along with whatever Steve said and told him what he wanted to hear. What Apple needed was another person like Steve, but unfortunately, by letting Steve select that person, they ended up with someone completely unlike Steve.

> What Apple needed was another person like Steve, but unfortunately, by letting Steve select that person, they ended up with someone completely unlike Steve.

Paul Graham wrote about this back in 2012:

"I was talking recently to someone who knew Apple well, and I asked him if the people now running the company would be able to keep creating new things the way Apple had under Steve Jobs. His answer was simply "no." I already feared that would be the answer. I asked more to see how he'd qualify it. But he didn't qualify it at all. No, there will be no more great new stuff beyond whatever's currently in the pipeline. Apple's revenues may continue to rise for a long time, but as Microsoft shows, revenue is a lagging indicator in the technology business.

So if Apple's not going to make the next iPad, who is? None of the existing players. None of them are run by product visionaries, and empirically you can't seem to get those by hiring them. Empirically the way you get a product visionary as CEO is for him to found the company and not get fired. So the company that creates the next wave of hardware is probably going to have to be a startup.

I realize it sounds preposterously ambitious for a startup to try to become as big as Apple. But no more ambitious than it was for Apple to become as big as Apple, and they did it. Plus a startup taking on this problem now has an advantage the original Apple didn't: the example of Apple. Steve Jobs has shown us what's possible. That helps would-be successors both directly, as Roger Bannister did, by showing how much better you can do than people did before, and indirectly, as Augustus did, by lodging the idea in users' minds that a single person could unroll the future for them.

Now Steve is gone there's a vacuum we can all feel. If a new company led boldly into the future of hardware, users would follow. The CEO of that company, the "next Steve Jobs," might not measure up to Steve Jobs. But he wouldn't have to. He'd just have to do a better job than Samsung and HP and Nokia, and that seems pretty doable."


Bezos isn't following the example of Walton, Sears, or Montgomery Ward. Jobs didn't follow the example of Hewlett. Musk isn't following the example of Henry Ford. It would be a huge mistake for any startup to try to become the next Apple by following the example of Jobs. The Jobs worship has got to stop. He was a unique man in a unique historical circumstance. That time is over. Whether the next big thing comes from Apple or from someone else, it's not going to come from someone who is worshipping and trying to follow Jobs.

There's a difference between "following an example" and "learning from an example."

It's hard. Also, there wouldn't have been Steve Jobs without that crazy and convoluted history. Getting fired from the company, then founding a new one then getting brought back?

People focus too much on the 'nasty' side of jobs, but it's easy to be nasty, and a lot of people do that, what's hard is having the other aspects that might be more subtle

in his biography (or most likely I read it somewhere else), the group that worked with him had a whole way of presenting things to him, that "made" him go for the best solution. It was a ruse, which he might have been aware or not, but it worked. And of course people were on their feet to present the best products

Jobs had a very finicky way of thinking about products, but I guess that created a dynamic in which other people that worked with him also stood for things that they believed in and that resulted in a balance of qualities that is lacking

Also Apple is not thinking about experience. When they took the floppy disks from the Macs I assume people were more than happy to see they go. Heck even display port has some advantages (you need one tiny interface to plug whatever kind of monitor you want).

Now we get a crapfest of different very similar cables with USB-C with different ports that look the same (charging/display/etc) and we killed an existing interface that for the most part works

And guess what Apple, your Keyboard and Mouse may be wireless and bluetooth but they still need an USB cable to be charged! Which cable comes with it? USB-A

I'm assume Steve would be testing the aerodynamic properties of the latest MB line, if you know what I mean

> When they took the floppy disks from the Macs I assume people were more than happy to see they go.

There were a lot of complaints, even more than you're seeing now.[1][2] At the time it was still the main way people transferred files.

[1]http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB901747560996300000 [2]http://articles.latimes.com/1998/may/11/business/fi-48540

> if Apple's not going to make the next iPad, who is? None of the existing players

This is a great pitch for an early-stage fund. Sort of like the kind pg peddles :).

(I mostly agree with the analysis, but the bias is worth noting.)

As a customer, I wouldn't buy such a device from a new entrant out of fear of the dreaded "Our amazing journey" blog post when the start up is inevitably shuttered or acquired. The existing players are likely to still exist for the 4+ year device lifetime, which is handy for security updates, warranty and service and replacement purposes.

Although it would be helpful to remember that:

1. The big companies also shutter projects. Minus the "amazing journey" blog post. Their announcements usually have the tone of "Thanks for being part of the gigantic data collection experiment although you wouldn't quite know that yet. Here, take this gratuitous 6 month window to take your data out and then go f yourselves."

2. The security updates, warranty and service and replacement etc also involves occasionally bricking perfectly running systems (ala Windows 10), so it is hardly a comforting thought.

The point is shuttering a product is rarely the end goal for a larger companies product.

It is the end goal for almost every startup in the current climate.

Yes that's the difference between early adopters and the mainstream market. The early adopters will take a risk but companies typically need to change strategies to go beyond that. For details see the classic business book "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey A. Moore.


That means your needs are being met by current devices. That means you are not the target audience for a new disruptive technology. The initial users for this new company are desperate.

True, Graham offers a naive reading about when hardware startups can win. Yes, a start-up came up with the smartwatch(pebble), and another came up with the wireless earphones. And those were pretty good products .

Did they ever had a chance against Apple ?

No, because "pretty good" isn't good enough when your competition is Apple.

If we're honest is the Apple Watch even better than "pretty good"?

The watch2 is, watch1 no I wouldn't say it is.

> Apple's revenues may continue to rise for a long time, but as Microsoft shows, revenue is a lagging indicator in the technology business.

Well, revenue is already falling [1].

If you look at the first graph (revenue) you'll see that revenue is declining. Click "Trailing 12 months" to remove the seasonal trends.

[1] https://fairlyvalued.com/company/AAPL

Disclaimer: Fairlyvalued is new tool build by alch- and me.

Apple is not into the next wave. If it were, it would be a powerhouse of deep learning hardware and software. The next wave is going to be robotics and conversational agents. You can't make a new Apple with slightly better laptops and phones any more. If, at least, they developed and opened up Siri in the last few years... but it's dead in the water.

The next wave of what, though? Apple didn't get into search engines, or drones, or netbooks. They're a consumer products company. They make things they can sell. Let Google be Google, Amazon be Amazon and Apple be Apple.

Honestly I wouldn't be concerned if Apple never make a new category defining product in the rest of their existence. Jobs didn't spend his whole life dedicated to discovering new product categories, that's not how things like the iPod and iPhone happened.

Jobs biggest successes were matters of pure opportunism. Take the iphone. He couldn't have created that product in 2004, the hardware technology wasn't up to it. He was presented with a unique opportunity. A high quality OS core, world class developer and design talent, and mobile hardware that was just becoming powerful enough to run a version of that OS core. It doesn't matter how talented or how visionary he was, without those things all coming together at the right time the iPhone wouldn't have been possible.

People expecting Apple to come up with new products like that on some kind of schedule aren't taking into account how contingent these things are. Without the conditions for a new product category to emerge. Without the many different pre-requisite technologies coming together and without Apple having the right resources available to take advantage of them, these things simply won't happen. They couldn't happen, even with Steve Jobs around.

The received wisdom seem to be that SJ simply willed new products into existence and that somehow Apple should still be doing the same thing. That's magical thinking. But what they should be doing is developing their technologies and assets and applying them to new products and new problems. If that leads them into new product categories, all the better.

Do you know any good resources on the future of conversational agents? In terms of what need they fulfil - I don't use Ok Google/Siri/Cortana, and rarely use my Echo but for music, and find it hard to understand where they fit in. Home automation is the only thing that comes to mind ("only").

The term they should be able to fulfill is natural interaction with a humans.

You should be able to crawl into your car and sputter "take me cough to the hospital" to which the car vocally responds "Right away" then drives itself to the hospital.

edit: Meaning, this interaction should play out exactly the same as if you had a full time driver/butler whos only job is to sit in the driver seat of your car and wait for your commands.

Check out X.ai and Clara labs. Some of their blog posts highlight what needs they fulfil. These are not messaging agents but conversational nonetheless.

Has anyone stopped to think, "do people actually want to talk to a computer?" I think we are more simply interested in commanding them to get our tasks done easier, but this "conversational" nonsense and making it more human like is, well, nonsense.

>but this "conversational" nonsense and making it more human like is, well, nonsense.

Can't say I've ever been impressed when one of these systems fails to understand me and replies with a human-like response. Feels disingenuous.

Then you'd expect all the executive team at Spple to be Steve's hand selected Yes Men, a bunch of followers unable to do their own thing. Yet what we hear from people who actually worked for Steve that this isn't how he operated or selected talent at all. He ruthlessly weeded out Yes Men. What you're representing is the caricature of Steve Jobs, but a one dimensional personality like that could never have achieved what he did.

This is a very clever analysis. Thanks for that, it makes a lot of sense.

It also explains why it's shifted from being a computer company that makes gadgets (Jobs) is now becoming a gadget company that happens to make some computers as well (Cook).

In all this, the gates are wide open for Microsoft to score some good points here towards devs.

Has others have pointed out - becoming a widget company was Jobs plan all along.

The true value of Steve Jobs is the reality distortion field. That's really was is missing here with the new Mac.

All the discutable decisions about the Mac that people complain about are just similar to the trends set under Jobs, the difference is that he would make the people believe that Apple was 100% behind the Mac. There would no need for Jobs to write twice in a month to employee and the press to say that Apple was committed to it.

I'm not sure what is missing exactly, but the MBP failed at delivery rather than feature. For example, did Apple really need to can all their Mac related accessories at the same time, building up a negative climate. They could have rebranded the LG monitor. Somehow give the people a hint that Apple is behind the USB-C, not just picking up and leave it up to the third party to sort out. (which is BTW what Apple has always really done, it just seemed handled better)

Apple strategy is to keep everything secret until they do a big delivery event. They are utterly bad at delivery since Jobs is gone, and the lengthy secrecy they keep around everything is now not building hype, just building apprehension.

> Has others have pointed out - becoming a widget company was Jobs plan all along.

That's not the case: back in 2001 post-PC thinking was popular too, and Jobs stood out against it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmvmtmqqbeI . That's evidently why Jobs was so reluctant to make the iPod work with Windows PCs: his whole plan for the iPod was to have it sell his intended Digital Hub, the Mac. He did eventually come around to post-PC thinking of course, but only quite late: even in the D 2007 interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85PMSYAguZ8 he and Gates were quite resistant to it.

How do you figure there has been a "shift" like you said?

In 2007 Jobs was using the phrase "post-PC", and by the time he died in 2011, more than half of Apple's revenue was iPhone/iPad/etc.

To me it seems that Cook is just continuing the trend.

The shift is the pure neglect towards the dev community. Something that most likely would not have happened so blatant and fast under Jobs. It is also completely not necessary that making great phones excludes a company from making at least decent upgrade cycles in their computer hardware.

Why should one exclude the other?

> It is also completely not necessary that making great phones excludes a company from making at least decent upgrade cycles in their computer hardware.

You bet! all those billions sitting in their coffers and they still couldn't pull their asses to achieve progress. It is like Microsoft of the XP era.

I was pulling my hairs in 2003 cursing at Bill Gates, then switched to Mac until now. But I think the Mac era is over as well and Bill Gates is cool again. He's really great in his humanitarian work.

> He's really great in his humanitarian work.

I'm sure a lot of what Gates is currently doing is praiseworthy.

But to be even-handed, we should also remember the means by which he obtained a lot of the money he's giving away.

How do you figure "pure neglect"? What are the features you're missing in the current Mac lineup? Which products from other manufacturers make a meaningful improvement on Apple's offering for "devs"?

Well a computer with enough GPU performance to work with VR would be a nice start. Apple don't currently have anything available other than hacking an eGPU set up together.

The "current" Mac Pro is over 3 (4?) years old now. Users can't upgrade it because of the proprietary GPU cards and Apple don't seem able to keep it relevant themselves.

It's difficult to have a professional relationship with a supplier where the best options for macOS are either a dodgy Hackintosh or a used 2012 Mac Pro with a new GPU.

VR is a subset of PC gaming right now, and Apple has never offered hardware sufficient for high-end PC gaming.

GPU nowadays is almost a misnomer. They are more like supercharged versions of the old "floating-point calculation" chips. As such, they have plenty of applications beyond VR - bitcoin, data analysis, encryption etc etc etc.

GPUs are for more than VR. All 3D rendering is moving to GPUs, All machine learning development needs GPUs.

GPU is the future of professional computing in many emerging sectors. Apple currently ships no hardware compatible with any of this.

Here's one piece of anecdata, not for a "dev" but for another high-end use case: professional photography.

My wife is a professional photographer. Her current photo-editing computer is a Windows 7 desktop with 16 GB of RAM.

We know Windows 7's days are numbered, so we're starting to think about her next editing computer. The two most obvious options are (a) some Apple product, or (b) a computer running Windows 10.

Here are the major criteria for the replacement, which need to remain true for 3+ years after the computer's purchase:

(1) It must legally run current Adobe products. (2) Can support > 16 GB RAM during its lifetime. (3) There must be minimal unplanned downtime. (4) The price can't be exorbitant, relative to a medium-high end PC. TCO should also be reasonable. (5) It must be convenient to transfer photos from her camera's SD card. (6) We'd like to minimize the time and attention we put into initial setup and maintenance.

So the most obvious options (currently) are:

* Apple: MacPro, iMac, or MacBook Pro

* PC: Windows 8 or Windows 10

Here's how I score the options, although perhaps someone will correct me:

(1) Easily satisfied by all options listed.

(2) No MacBook Pro satisfies this. Fast SSD for swap is helpful but sub-optimal.

(3) Windows 10 (non-enterprise) fails this, because of unavoidable updates. MacPro and iMac fail this because (AFAIK) Apple doesn't offer loaners for these during warranty work.

(4) For initial purchase cost, the MacPro is a fail, and the MacBook Pro is nearly a fail. However, all current Apple products are potential TCO fail given the lack of user-replaceable components.

(5) AFAIK the desktop Macs fail this, although connecting an external USB reader should be easy enough. I suspect the MacBook Pro would be more hassle, given its ports/dongles mess.

(6) All of the options should satisfy this criterion well-enough.

As far as I can tell, the winner is a Windows 8 PC.

Why is no Apple product a viable winner, given our criteria?

- Nothing in the current lineup meets all our criteria.

- We don't know if/when something will be added that meets our criteria.

- We're not sure what Apple's longer-term plans are, so we don't want to invest time/money into a PC-to-Apple transition, just to need to reverse it in a few years.

The three issues listed immediately above strike me as a pointless fail in Apple's strategy, at least relative to my wife's business's needs.

Looks like the only blocker for Windows 10 is the "minimal unplanned downtime." Although Windows 10 does have mandatory updates, I have yet to see one that requires immediate and sudden reboots. Yes, if you get prompted for an update reboot and delay it a few times, the system will eventually force the update, but a simple workflow change of rebooting the system every night when you're done working with it and are going to bed would eliminate the unexpected updates and the associated downtime.

I'm not particularly concerned about unplanned reboots. The real issue is some Windows 10 updates have caused problems which made the computers unusable until remediated.

There are some points in the business calendar where 1-2 days of downtime is catastrophic. For example, shortly before the deadline for submitting highschool senior photographs to the yearbook publisher.

If we could purchase a version of Windows 10 which allowed her to delay installing updates for 1-2 months until a crunch time is over, that would probably be acceptable.

AFAIK only Windows 10 Enterprise allows that, and I'm not aware of any legal way we can get that.

If we do have to go the Windows 10 route, my contingency plan is to look into setting up a firewall (external to the Windows 10 box) that blocks all relevant Microsoft IP addresses.

The "immediate forced reboots" on Windows 10 are vastly overhyped and received much more negative press than they should have. I am yet to experience a reboot when I didn't want it. Anecdotal for sure but I've set my inactive hours inside Win10's settings and never had a problem.

Windows 10 is your best answer. It's gonna be supported very long and it's a 99.9% painless upgrade from Windows 7.

Definitely invest in a mid-to-high range PC would be my advice. I have 5-year old i7 3770 CPU and I am yet to find something that makes it choke. Only refreshment I did to my now 5-year old PC was to increase RAM from 16 to 32GB and to get GTX 980 (was 650 before). The PC is flying whatever I do -- and I'm a programmer, trust me I do a lot.

I mentioned this in another post, but the issue with updates isn't that they're immediate, it's they they're forced.

My wife needs her system to be stable during certain points in the yearly business calendar, and an unavoidable, potentially-breaking update is a serious concern.

But why Windows 10 rather than Windows 8? Both will receive security updates for a long time, and (AFAIK) Windows 8 doesn't have the issue of unavoidable pushed updates.

The only real downside I know of to Windows 8 is its bad UI, but I'm told there are 3rd-party shell replacements which approximate the Windows 7 interface.

I don't have extensive experience with Win8 first-hand, but I've heard from many people that Win10 has a much better backwards compatibility. Practically almost nothing ever broke for people, while conversely Win8 had a lot of complaints.

I can't argue either way though. I as a programmer took the plunge one afternoon around 8 months ago and never looked back. Win10 is superior to Win7 -- my girlfriend's graphical processing software (and part of her games) even started working faster after her upgrade.

All of that is anecdotal of course but strategically speaking, Win10 will be around for much longer.

For (3) check local independent repair shops. I know of several Apple-authorized repair shops that rent inexpensive loaners while they're working on your computer.

Thanks for the tip!

Indeed Jobs himself described computers as like trucks (large ute/pickup), whereas most people only need a regular car.[0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfJ3QxJYsw8

Jobs was a salesman. He said a lot of stuff - and not all of it stood up to scrutiny.

He said no one would use phablets and called them the 'Hummers' of phones - this was back when a 5-inch phones were considered huge. He also denigrated 7-inch tablets by saying users would need to file-down their fingers to use them (and yet iPhone users could comfortably use 3.5-inch screens). Apple proceeded to profitably venture into both product categories with the iPhone 6+ and the iPad mini.

We are now in a post-'Post-PC' world: iPad sales have plateaued/slumped over the last couple of years. If there is money to be made selling computers, Apple will sell them regardless of what they said in the past.

Precisely. Continuing Steve's vision as best they can imagine it (not well). Don't forget when he used the post-PC phrase he was very clear PCs are still going to be needed and valued. It wasn't supposed to be either-or.

Pretty sure in 6 years Jobs would have picked up some new trends, details and directions. Pretty sure we'd not be stuck in some infinte repeat loop. Thinner. Groundhog Day. Repeat.

Looks more like post-MBP

Perhaps they should rehire Jean-Louis Gassée. Buy up the remnants of BeOS from Access, just for good measure.

I've thought about this a lot. Wouldn't Steve have realized this inherent contradiction? Is this an understood reality at the top levels at Apple?

That is, does Tim see his role now as maximizing revenue from the current position, with the goal being to hand off a healthier company to a "visionary" successor?

My personal answer fluctuates depending on my daily gut feeling about human nature. And how many times sourcekit crashes.

I think about this a lot too, and the question I have is – has there ever been a visionary who made his way to the top of the corporate ladder of ANY company, however enlightened? Would love to hear about it.

I think Satya Nadella, his vision has turned Microsoft around completely from a dull company to a company with vision for the future.

I think you give Satya Nadella too much credit. Steve Ballmer laid much of the ground work. Ballmer granted an interview to Bloomberg where he gave some candid answers [1].

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-04/steve-bal...

This makes me think of a sort of pendulum. Maybe what Apple needs now is to just be boring for a decade.

That doesn't really seem to be so: Scott Forstall was only fired after Jobs had left, while Cook and Ive are not really shrinking violets either. And in fact it seems that some of the missteps of the post-Jobs era, such as the too-early Apple Watch, were the result of Ive's assertiveness. The central problem seems to be two-headed: Jobs' succession plan seems to have been to put in place a Forstall/Ive/Cook trumvirate, but that arrangement went the way of most triumvirates; and to the extent that one person is in charge at Apple, that person (Cook) wasn't a "product guy" in the Jobs era and seems unable or unwilling to take on SJ's role as hands-on product monarch. Add to that Ive's apparent (and fairly understandable) increasing boredom with having to iterate away on the same old core Apple products for another large chunk of his life, combined with his increased political untameability in the post-Jobs era (what will the stock do if he announces his departure?)

> What Apple needed was another person like Steve...

They had one. Tim fired him.

What makes Forstall so great? If he's truly worthy of that comparison, perhaps Apple should buy him along with Snap; it would be hilarious if Snapchat turned out to be the NeXTSTEP of this generation.

Wouldn't Fadell be just as good?

Scott Forstall combined Steve Jobs's sensibilities and obsessive attention to detail with a deep, working background in software engineering. He championed UI usability and responsiveness, spearheaded accessibility initiatives out of care rather than for PR, and led the OS X, iOS, and Safari teams through arguably their best and most reliable years.

Scott Forstall is why the iPhone was the iPhone. Tony Fadell was almost why the iPhone was an iPod.

Scott didn't manage the "macOS" team sorry. Bertrand, Craig & Andreas, not Scott.

Yes, but Forstall was responsible for skeumorphism across all of iOS, so I'm not certain he really was as visionary as Jobs.

To be fair Jobs seemed to be a big fan of skeumorphism too - the leather stitching on the Calendar.app was supposedly modelled on Jobs's Learjet so it can't all be attributed to Forstall.

Not to mention, the Maps fiasco happened under his watch.

Whilst this was a big blunder, the Apple Maps project was an absolutely enormous undertaking. The Google Maps app itself had an almost 10 years head start, beginning life in 2003 at a startup which Google purchased. I think it's impressive what Apple managed to put out even though it fell far short of Google's work.

True, but of course the choice was up to Steve Jobs, not Apple. Also, how the hell would you hire "person like Steve" anyway?

As Paul Graham said, "So if Apple's not going to make the next iPad, who is? None of the existing players. None of them are run by product visionaries, and empirically you can't seem to get those by hiring them. Empirically the way you get a product visionary as CEO is for him to found the company and not get fired. So the company that creates the next wave of hardware is probably going to have to be a startup." – http://www.paulgraham.com/ambitious.html

> What Apple needed was another person like Steve

I know--so obvious, right? All they needed was another Steve Jobs. Why didn't they think of that, and just go out and get one? I hear they grow on trees.

The typical way of addressing the 'users don't know what they want' sort of issue is to build some really high quality ideas or concepts and then talk with some of your users about them. See what they like see what they don't. This can be done poorly too, I attended a Lenovo tablet investigation which was sad from the perspective that the people who were putting it on for Lenovo were trying to insure that everyone said only good things about their design decisions and the designers were trying very hard to get actual opinions from people. The user experience agency was clearly a wasted expense for Lenovo, and their lead tablet designer reached out directly to some of us with counter opinions to solicit more feedback.

I feel like it's less about coming up with good ideas/questions and more about having the "idealized user." A user with extremely good taste that can guide development. And put that user in charge of everything.

Clayton Christensen (guy who wrote Innovator's Dilemma) has a pretty good debunking of the "target user" approach, telling us to instead focus on what job users intend to do with your product. Tells it through the story of trying to figure out the idealized milkshake buyer: https://youtu.be/f84LymEs67Y?t=27s

This whole idea goes by the name Jobs to be Done. Intercom has a sick PDF book on applying the concepts to product development: https://www.intercom.com/books/jobs-to-be-done

Interesting read, thanks!

How does the current Apple identify the correct idealised user when they don't seem to share the required taste?

They need to relearn and engage in user discovery and questioning until they realise what niches they occupy and their use cases and needs.

I doubt Apple's former lead would ever have put out a Mac that needs a dongle to connect to iPhone but not Android. I doubt he'd have killed Apple monitors as an iMac sat next to a black LG is just so damn ugly. iOS, MacOS and current hardware shows, oh so clearly, that once notorious sense of detail and overall direction is long gone.

As is, their idealised user is envisioning all the wrong gimmicky things and missing most of the details. They're trying to play "what would Steve do?" but not being him they can't play that game well.

>> I doubt Apple's former lead would ever have put out a Mac that needs a dongle to connect to iPhone but not Android

That just says it all really, doesn't it? Macs simply don't "just work" anymore. I feel like they're making almost random hardware changes

> I doubt Apple's former lead would ever have put out a Mac that needs a dongle to connect to iPhone

The original iPod was incompatible with many Macs still in use at the time that lacked FireWire ports.

> needs a dongle to connect to iPhone

What's wrong with the USB-C to Lightning cable?


Does it come in the box? No. So you just bought a $900 phone, and a couple months later you bought a $2.5k+ computer, and oh, HAHAHAHAHA, the fucking cable you need isn't included.

What type of user experience is that?

As a side note: there's nothing wrong with usb-c. I can see why it's an improvement! But the reason apple are pricks is they didn't also throw in a single usb-a port so we can keep using the dozen devices and 30 cables I already own.

I don't get this argument. How long does a manufacturer keep supporting an old port because users have older devices?

The current phone does not come with a usb-c cable because it is older than the MacBook Pros and the Laptops don't come with a lightning cable because not everyone that has the laptop has an iPhone. I'm sure the next iPhone will come with a usb-c cable and then people will complain that they can't charge it with their old laptops.

> What type of user experience is that?

It's one for people who pick up the new cable and get on with their lives.

People have issues with Apple's hardware decisions with their laptops, minis and Mac Pros that aren't addressed by a cable.

One paper cut issue is solved by buying a cable and they can t get by with their lives on the new or lack their of new hardware.

>> Find out what is making their users unhappy.

> Asking people what they want will give you predictable results...

Asking someone about what's making them unhappy is very different from asking them what they want. In my experience, the value in talking to users is in understanding common pain points, not finding solutions.

Also the case in game development. Players make great patients, but bad doctors.

> complaints about any kind of change and positive feedback about shiny-looking features that demo well

"The internet" wanted a better cheese-grater Mac Pro, Apple delivered a shiny, un-upgradable computer.

"The internet" wanted incremental Mac upgrades, Apple added the gimmicky TouchBar to the one Mac model that was still popular.

3D touch, Mavericks' Finder tags, Siri on the Mac, using the watch to unlock your laptop... I feel that Apple's updates are 90% gimmick and 10% substance at this point. I agree that Apple needs to find a new Steve Jobs, but in the meantime, asking customers for feedback doesn't look like it could make matters worse.

Yep. I imagine this is (at least in part) why Blackberry and Palm didn't invent the iPhone. Prior to Apple's entry, how many people were saying what they wanted in a smartphone was to remove all those buttons?

As crappy as they were, all the windows phones I owned before the iPhone came along were using soft keyboards. Wasn't like something "new". Albeit, iPhone keyboard was a definite advance in terms of usability which it's primary stylus being your finger. The crappy stylus driven keyboard is probably what made Blackberry so popular and the iPhone was a natural evolution of people wanting to just use their hands with such a device without compromising screen real estate.

> Prior to Apple's entry, how many people were saying what they wanted in a smartphone was to remove all those buttons?


1) Apple weren't the first innovating in that regard. I don't know who was, I just do know Nokia was experimenting with Nokia 770 and Nokia N800 in 2005-2006. True, they weren't smartphones, but they were going in the right direction. Without many buttons. The Nokia N810 had a keyboard, and that was less well received than its N800 keyboardless counterpart.

2) Apple didn't remove all buttons from the iPhone (power, volume keys were still there). The two important changes were:

A) Removal of the physical keyboard, replaced by a (by then) well working OSD. Working with a capacitive screen.

B) They made 1 main button.

He is correct. Blackberry was the leader of the smartphone and the keyboard was his best loved feature.

Sure there were other smartphone, Apple wasn't the first, etc But thinking that people would just go 180 was just extraordinary. Apparently people were ready to sacrifice quite a lot for the huge screen of the iPhone.

> Blackberry was the leader of the smartphone

Leader where? Blackberry was never the marketleader world-wide. That was Nokia, and OS-wise it was Symbian until ~2010 when iOS and Android took off. Nokia was never very popular in US though.

> and the keyboard was his best loved feature.


Because on screen keyboards were still using resistive touchscreen with pens. Which is a terrible user experience. Apple used capacitive touchscreen instead, and even though the resolution was low, it worked.

Nokia didn't invest enough in Maemo, and didn't want to adopt Android either. When they finally did go with Maemo, Elop came with plan A. Look at the user experience of Sailfish. That could've easily been Nokia in ~2014...

A lot? At least looking at the evolution of the smartphones in those years.

Henry Ford: "If I asked people what they want, they'd say 'faster horses'"

It is unlikely, although possible, that this quote is correctly attributed.


Actually, churning out better horses is what Apple does best. We are at a point where every other company has figured out how to make a good/great horse, and hence the Apple advantage is diminished.

So what? The key take out here is "faster", so asking questions is not necessarily irrelevant, instead of focusing on making one's horses shinier or more economical. You need to find out what problem to fix.

These days all apple will give you is a thinner horse with less features.

A thinner, slightly faster, slightly blacker horse that will needs to stop for water a little sooner.

I like the 2016 MacBook Pro. The disappointment I felt was that after such a long wait for the update, I was expecting/hoping for a best of breed laptop, with no real flaws. In day to day use I don't actually think about its various (and widely discussed) flaws so much, and I just get on with using it as a tool to do my work.

The Touchbar is useless, though.

> The key take out here is "faster"

Even that part is mostly wrong. A fast horse can run more than 40MPH which about all you can expect from a car in a city. The main reason most people don't own a horse isn't that a car is faster.

Users ask for things that are obvious. No kidding faster is better. Can we have it cheaper and more reliable too?

If you ask most people in 1870 how to improve those aspects of a horse they'll tell you all about horse breeding but that doesn't get you a car.

> Even that part is mostly wrong. A fast horse can run more than 40MPH which about all you can expect from a car in a city. The main reason most people don't own a horse isn't that a car is faster.

Only on flat ground. Make a horse go uphill for a while and he will soon stop if carrying anything. A car, even an ancient one, not so much.

Add to that that cars can maintain a sustained speed as long as they have fuel, and of course cars are much faster than horses all things considered, and of course this is one of the reasons of their adoption - you can get much farther with a car than with a horse in the same amount of time, and it needs less maintenance as well.

> Make a horse go uphill for a while and he will soon stop if carrying anything. A car, even an ancient one, not so much.

> you can get much farther with a car than with a horse in the same amount of time, and it needs less maintenance as well.

But that's not faster. That's endurance, reliability, economy. You're arguing that the tortoise is faster than the hare, but "being faster" isn't how the tortoise won the race.

> A fast horse can run more than 40MPH which about all you can expect from a car in a city

A slow car can go much more than 40 mph. Both cars and horses may be practically limited by traffic most of the time in crowded urban environments, but cars are still faster, even in most cities, on both peak and practically-attained-average speeds.


"The Model T had a front-mounted 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) inline four-cylinder engine, producing 20 hp (15 kW), for a top speed of 40–45 mph (64–72 km/h)."

Being faster than horses isn't why cars won. Given the choice between a modern car and a hypothetical horse with the same or higher top speed, most people are still not going to choose the horse.

Your ignoring the massive additional logistic costs that horse drawn transport has vs mechanised.

I'd like an early 2015 MBP with 32 gig, faster processor and SSD and no fancy light bar....

Oh wait, that's a fancier horse...

And Ford could have asked: "Do you prefer it faster or that it's a horse?" - "I already have a horse." - "OK, I'll make something that goes faster."

> Henry Ford: "If I asked people what they want, they'd say 'faster horses'"

From the OP:

>>> Once they do that, they then need to go off and be Apple, but from a base of knowledge instead of a set of assumptions — assumptions that seem to be flawed and incorrect. But what Apple doesn’t want to do is start building products the way other companies do, because we don’t need “faster horses”, we need Apple to look beyond what users are asking for and figure out what they really need. That’s been Apple’s innovation strength in the past, and right now, it increasingly seems missing from the products they give us.

Exactly, I find myself needing to use this quote all too often but it is a wonderfully well considered statement on product engineering.

Really? I have a lot of hay, and it grows in my field for free. Horse manure goes well on my roses. I don't have petrol. I really did want a faster horse.

You're in luck: Maximum-speed horses are indeed still available.

Indeed, if you have the money - you can buy racing speed horses and in many countries it's still legal to ride them on the road while abiding standard road rules and avoiding highways. (The term 'Enterprise Horse' came to mind and I had a giggle)

Enterprise Horse you say?

You want a Suffolk Punch boiy[sic][1]!


[1] boiy, or some spelling there of, is how old fellas round these parts (Suffolk, England) like to refer to each other. :)

There is of course the concept of a "Young" old Boy

A very good point.

For anyone wondering what a proper young old boy sounds like I would suggest the following factual and totally legit documentary on the storm of 1987 ...as described by one "Brian from Melton":-


I'd rather have a faster horse than a skinny, old horse with a touch bar.

This pseudo-intellectual quote makes no sense when what was actually delivered was a slower horse with 3 legs.

I'd like an early 2015 MBP with 32 gig, faster processor and SSD and no fancy light bar....

Oh wait, that's a fancier horse...

Bottom line is Apple has forgotten they are a computer company first and a lifestyle company second. This year they tried to be a lifestyle company first and it was a huge mistake. They'll fix it, I give Tim Cook 3.5 years to right the ship or he'll be gone and they'll try to get someone who can.

No, bottom line is Apple have forgotten they're a company that sells awesome - or at least tries to - and have become a company that sells branded stuff, just like every other company selling branded stuff.

That (IMO) was the Jobs difference. He wanted game-changing awesome in everything - the PR, the advertising, the packaging, the launches, the personal story, the ecosystem, the design, and the product internals.

Sometimes he got that very wrong. Mostly he didn't. But I always felt that Jobs was absolutely consistent about the goal, even when his idea of awesome was as much of a miss than a hit. (As at NeXT.)

Cook doesn't understand awesome in the same way. He understands useful, more or less, and he understands incrementally better. But he's not obsessively and addictively dedicated to making things that are unexpectedly cool and insanely great - or at least as insanely great as they can be, given what's possible. Mostly he seems to want to make money by cutting production costs to raise margins - which is fine for a company, but not very exciting for anyone else.

The problem for Apple is that Jobs was one of a kind. Not only is there no one at Apple who can replace him, I'd be surprised if there's anyone in the entire industry. The only two people who are similarly obsessive, effective and obnoxious are Bezos and Musk, and they both have other plans.

And I'm not saying that as a fanboi, because Jobs was clearly an obnoxious asshole for far too much of his life. But credit where it's due - he was uniquely smart and talented.

Apple's best hope might be to keep a very close eye on the AI startup scene and see if they can talent-spot the next major player before he/she gets to billionaire status.

>Asking people what they want will give you...complaints. ..You'll end up pulled in a million directions

This sounds dismissive. I get what you're saying but user information is invaluable. I assume you mean, make sure you get information from your customers in a productive way. For example I've never known a dev who wasn't surprised watching a usability study.

This sort of analysis just screams post hoc fallacy.

I went from almost never needing to restart my mac (with Snow Leopard) to having to restart it a couple of times a week with Sierra. The UI just becomes totally unresponsive (the cursor stops moving, the time in the menu bar stops ticking and the spinning wheel stops spinning) and needs a restart. And I don't even have things like SIMBL installed (I used to with snow leopard, not anymore). I just have Karabiner elements and Little snitch running (oh and coconut battery since Apple in it's great wisdom decided to hide the remaining time estimate).

The new versions of macOs provide no added advantage and have a lot of regressions. I used to use Exposé all the time, now I don't because everything slows to a crawl when I activate it.

And I run into severe bugs. For example, when I installed Yosemite and activated Filevault, it managed to corrupt my partition and all my data (luckily I had a backup).

I really wish Apple starts actually hiring good software engineers or at least manage them to work on their OS because right now it's embarrassing. It reminds me of when Windows ME was a thing. If Apple ran the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ad nowadays they wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on.

And then don't even get me started on their pro apps. Aperture used to be a great app (much better than lightroom), they stopped its development.

This. The thing that made the MacOS ecosystem worth the pain and sacrifice was the quality and things "just working". What I don't understand is Apple has more than 10 times the developer resources they had 10 years ago yet quality has gone backwards. Do you really need to be a Stalin to ensure your company makes quality software?

They're stuck conforming to an artificial schedule of once a year major releases. They won't let themselves take the time they need to get things right anymore. It's no surprise quality has gone down.

Quality usually don't go up when releasing less frequently, quite the opposite. The more you change things, the more likely you are to have severe bugs. When Apple was releasing major OS upgrades less frequently, you usually had to wait until a .4 or .5 point upgrade to have something usable.

The first release of macOS Sierra (10.12.0) was vastly more usable than the first release of MacOS X Snow Leopard (10.6.0). I should know: I transitioned to Snow Leopard on release and practically nothing was running on it. I think it's the only time in my life I reverted to the previous version of macOS... It didn't prevent Snow Leopard to become one of the best OS, in the end.

The problem is that Apple is shipping things that aren't right/ready, but this should be independent from the release schedule.

At least they had time to reach that .4 or .5 version. Now they pop out a new one before the old one is fixed, and we're stuck in a never-ending cycle of suck.

I think their scale is actually a part of the problem. They try to act like a small company but they aren't anymore, and it's working against them.

I grew up with Windows, switched to to OSX and got an iphone 6 years ago, it was amazing. Apple made me love my job, programming on my MBP was awesome. Now it's exactly that, no added advantage, but regressions. Same on iOS in my opinion. Time to move on.

Move on to what though? Windows 10 is never up to date for me. Linux decides to reinvent the UI paradigm every couple of years or are still running X for maximum battery usage

I tried Windows 10 for a couple of weeks and while it was better than I expected it's still a mess.

The short version is that the Windows ecosystem is plagued by legacy software (even Windows itself).

As a daily windows user I'd say the main problem is hidpi support. It can't do mixed dpi environments properly, which is the typical experience when you use a (hidpi) laptop combined with an external monitor. Microsoft blames this on legacy software, but even office doesn't work properly.

A secondary issue are forced updates breaking things, which i've had on two of my 4 windows laptops so far. Finally, the mess of legacy and new settings screens is annoying, but once setup it doesn't matter much, so it only affects the first-run experience.

Aside from those i think w10 is nice. I wouldn't mind replacing my mini with a windows machine, and if apple doesn't update it soon i probably will.

It's a challenge. Given that most of my work is operations for Linux systems, containers, Kubernetes - either to bare metal in my garage, AWS or GCE, it could be (reasonably) argued that maybe I should be running that on my local system.

I just got the Kaby Lake XPS 13 Developer Edition. If you want to be cutting edge and "refined", you'll have issues. By cutting edge I mean things like:

XPS13DE ships with Ubuntu 16.04, kernel 4.4. Switching to an external DP/TB3 monitor kernel panics. Switching to 16.10, kernel 4.8 makes Network Manager unhappy.

Using the Kensington SD4600P dock I bought (because the Dell docks are, to all reviews, horrible, and buggy), you can't run multiple displays except through Windows - OS X, Linux, ChromeOS can only drive one.

Not major issues, to be sure - but they do challenge where I want to be, a 'just works' experience (that I -used- to have with Apple, but less and less so recently), neat and polished (it is so nice to just put my laptop in a vertical dock at my desk, plug in a single USB C and get:

- power to my laptop

- 4K DP

- external keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc

all from that one little cable.

There haven't been any significant UI paradigm changes in Linux desktops for quite a few years. They've become boring technology, for the better.

That's good to hear. I used to enjoy the GNOME2 and KDE2 and 3.5 days but after that I switched to Mac OSX (as it was then). I am now running macOS and Windows 10 but with a Linux console box (WindowMaker on VNC, classic eh) but don't feel a strong desire to switch back after my attempts with Unity and GNOME3. XFCE is still there I suppose.

I'm glad they're settling into boredom - I just want to get stuff done without faffing around. Gone are my days of ndiswrapper for fun and XFree86Config for kicks. Actually, they're probably long-gone for a lot of people....

Does sleep/resume work?

> I used to use Exposé all the time, now I don't because everything slows to a crawl when I activate it.

Too true. I just tried opening Mission Control on a maxed-out MacBook Pro with Sierra and it took 7 seconds. It's a shame that Snow Leopard isn't compatible with most toolchains now.

Really? what are you running? Base 13" MBP here running ubuntu vm in virtual box, slack, Xcode, iPhone sim, safari, iTunes, messages, calendar, 1password and vs code, plugged into an external 4k display along with the internal one (Both at scaled resolutions) and it opens in less than a second. It definitely drops frames but that is more on the intel gpu trying to push so many pixels.

I will say Snow Leopard was by far the peak of OS X stability (And with that, probably the best OS I have ever used) but Sierra is far from being bad or unusable for me.

That's roughly what I'm running + some Adobe CC apps and a half-dozen Chrome windows. I believe the difference is the cached v. uncached performance of Mission Control; after the initial (really really long) loading time it's fine, but once enough windows need to be re-rendered it freezes up.

That's at least 6 seconds slower than a 2010 MacBook Air running Sierra. It might be worth watching Activity Monitor when you open it to see whether you have something like swapping or simply I/O issues loading all of the icons – high latency is a common indicator that a storage device is about to fail.

Most of my Sierra pain comes from plugging/unplugging my 27" Cinema Display on a 2013 MBP. Have to reboot to get them to sync again. In frustration I told my wife, "It's like XP all over again." (Not really but it's indeed a major pain to have a workflow that worked flawlessly for a decade to suddenly stop working.)

Both of the problems you mentioned sound like previously undetected hardware issues or possibly an issue with a kernel extension. Sierra, like its predecessors back to 10.0, does not need to be restarted except for updates in normal usage – but the symptoms you describe are characteristic examples of a hardware failure (halting animations suggests it's not I/O but something like the CPU/GPU or a kernel extension). Similarly, enabling FileVault is a reliable process which doesn't cause disk corruption but since it accesses the entire disk it sometimes exposes pre-existing corruption.

I would start by checking the logs to see whether there's anything obviously failing, running the hardware diagnostics (reboot while holding down the D key – https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257), and then uninstalling all of the apps which you mentioned that require privileged access since at least Karabiner and Little Snitch are kernel extensions and third-party kexts are notorious sources of bugs for months after a new OS X release.

I've experienced these UI hangs. It's the OS reacting poorly to memory pressure.

Parts of the UI hanging can be memory pressure (or, at least in the past, things like network issues with e.g. LDAP or network home directories) but I've never seen that halt animations, mouse motion, or stop the clock from updating.

I do agree that Apple needs to get better at I/O scheduling – even with an SSD the experience is less responsive than BeOS was on 90s PC hardware — but the animation loop has typically been a reliable diagnostic cue in my experience for distinguishing between swapping / disk failure and other issues.

> I've never seen that [memory pressure] halt animations, mouse motion, or stop the clock from updating.

This is exactly what I've seen. If I catch it early enough and can get the UI to respond to me tabbing to the terminal, I can kill Safari's web content processes or whatever it is that's leaking memory and it goes away.

The only thing I've seen stop the clock (besides SystemUIServer itself hanging) is a forkbomb. But even that didn't stop the cursor. If the cursor is stopping, that indicates something more serious is going on.

Seen this on a family member's Mac. It ground to a halt in exactly the same way computers have for ages when too much virtual memory is being used.

I think what's happened is that every single developer at Apple has SSDs on their work and home computers so they get wasteful with memory. When iPhoto needs 150% memory to update an index you're not even going to notice that with an SSD, but with an HDD the system can freeze up.

This will eventually resolve itself once every computer has a SSD, but in the meantime the existing Macs with HDDs will be a mess.

I see memory pressure cause even SSD-equipped Macs grind to a halt in this way.

I am not sure what you're doing different, but the exact opposite is true for me. I don't reboot my computer unless some update from work forces me to. I run a bunch of programs all the time. Here is my laptop currently and this isn't even the highest, I've gone much longer than this on both my work and personal laptops. Both are regularly connected/disconnected to big displays too.

$ uptime 13:41 up 38 days, 17:01, 6 users, load averages: 2.21 2.01 2.01

And the “modern” incarnation of Exposé is an example of the lack of polish that many people now see from Apple. Since the beginning of the Mac, the menu bar was the “safe spot” for dragging (if you started a drag by mistake, you could always throw the mouse at the top of the screen and drop safely — nothing would happen). The modified Mission Control breaks this now; if you drag just a bit further than you intended, the whole desktop goes away and now you have an even bigger problem: not only is there no “safe” spot to drop, your accidental drag can now create even more chaos by moving objects onto entirely different screens!

Smart user interfaces are practically invisible, created by dozens of tiny accommodations for each situation. The Mac is starting to lose that fit and finish.

I would look for hardware errors - I haven't had to reboot my MBP outside of system updates since back when Mavericks had buggy graphics drivers. And I have all kinds of crap running.

I used to get this as well. Disabling Spotlight seemed to fix it.

Yeah but then I wouldn't be able to search my emails with Apple Mail so it's not really a solution either...

Indeed, it wasn't completely pain free, but it was a better alternative to rebooting several times a day.

Same here. Even worse, the issue happened so frequently that I had to reinstall a fresh copy of Sierra. Frustrating!

Downgrade to El Capitan

If you're browsing this and say "Great, another developer article shitting on Apple after the Pro release who thinks they have figured out everything about the company", please do read this. I was truly surprised at the depth, fairness, and considerations in this article.

I'm very curious to see how Apple plays out in the next few years and will likely look back at this article to compare, if I remember to.

As a developer, I wonder if making a Mac Developer model could be an interesting path, and if it would make financial sense in any way given the idea of "power users".

But the Macbook Pro was meant to be for Power Users?

I have no idea what these self-annoited "professionals" do, but it's actually quite difficult to get the MacBook Pro to its limits. Doing webdev or using Xcode it's hard to ever notice any delay.

But maybe I'm just a noob who isn't professional enough to suddenly discover that life just isn't worth it without 32GB of RAM.

For me, it is not just what the MacBook Pro can do now, but what it will be able to do in three or four years. When I buy my computers, I am looking for something that will last several years. That means having the memory and storage capacity for the future, not just what I need today. Apple is making these things like iPhones, and probably hoping that we will buy a new one every two years.

I have older MacBook Pros that I upgraded the RAM, and upgraded the storage (both capacity and speed), and they still work strong. When I am done with them, I pass them down to my kids.

Virtual Machines. If you use VM's, 16gb is likely going to be a problem. I, quite easily, hit it all the time. It has nothing to do with being 'professional enough'. The nature of a dev's daily work can vary greatly with what kind of dev they are doing.

Maybe you're simply hitting the limitations of trying to use a laptop for everything? If you're often maxing out 16GB then upgrading to 32GB isn't going to offer you much additional headroom. For laptops 64GB and beyond currently require some pretty major tradeoffs.

You're right. I would prefer to have a desktop, but then I'm paying for two computers.

Bollocks, I have a 16GB ram MBP from 2014, running a VM all the time and compiling on both the VM and the host OS. No problems there. The 32GB might be more comfortable for some, but I have hard time figuring out how something so exclusive has now become a necessity.

> The nature of a dev's daily work can vary greatly with what kind of dev they are doing.

This was a very important part of your comment. It's good that 16gb isn't an issue for you, but for some of us, it is.

One thing I would like to know is how we got here - that some NEED 32GB of RAM in a laptop. Scouring the web for some time shows me that in 2015 it was quite hard to get a non-gaming laptop with 32GB of ram. Now, there are quite a lot of voices that cry that it is some bare minimum.

To me it seems that more people now prefer laptops to desktops and it is annoying to sacrifice performance for portability. The lack of a truly powerful desktop Mac definitely is not helping in this regard either.

Actually replying to lsadam0 but can't for some reason

> If the 2016 kept the same thickness but offered 32gb, I would have been happy.

That's not possible with the current chip offerings from Intel though. The Intel CPUs that fit the MBP form factor and other features APple needs only go up to 16 GB RAM. If you doubt this is a pain point for Apple, note that Apple standardized on 16GB RAM out of the box. I'm sure thy'd love to be able to offer 32GB as an up-sell.

Sure they could inflate the MBP form factor an re-design around the chipsets that do offer 32GB RAM, but the chipsets that suit the current form factor and support 32 GB are supposedly due out next year.

"That's not possible with the current chip offerings from Intel though. The Intel CPUs that fit the MBP form factor and other features APple needs only go up to 16 GB RAM."

That's entirely reversed. Your statement should read:

"That's entirely possible with the current chip offerings from Intel. However, it's not possible with Apple's requirements for form factor and power."

Thanks, I did not know that.

> One thing I would like to know is how we got here - that some NEED 32GB of RAM in a laptop

Inefficient programs with shiny GUIs.

OSX + GPU + Chrome + Hipchat alone consume over half of the available memory on my machine right now. And that's just the software which supports my development, no editors, compilers or VMs.

Start to throw in modern editors, VMs (software which behaves very poorly when swapped out), compilers that trade memory space to reduce CPU usage, or a JavaScript heavy website, and you're one errant command away from your machine becoming unusable as it starts swapping like mad.

I run a virtual machine (to which I allocate 8GB), Qt Creator, chrome, safari, slack, iTunes, Skype, Sourcetree (all of the apps that are deemed to be memory hogs) and some more support tools, and I still have memory to spare. I have the impression that macOS has got really efficient with memory management. On windows, I never keep so many applications open (mostly due to non-existing window management)

I don't really disagree with you. I'm not a big fan of laptops at all, but they have become necessary in my life. I would prefer a desktop.

That said, I use a 2014 MBP and feel it's already as portable as I need. If the 2016 kept the same thickness but offered 32gb, I would have been happy.

I generally expect to use a Mac for 4-5 years after I've purchased it. I've added memory to every Mac I've owned so far at some point in its lifecycle. I have a hard time believing that in 2021 16GB of RAM will still be sufficient.

That is a valid concern. I'd like to believe that at some point we will shift back to developing for performance. At home I have been using a 2009 mbp with 4GB of ram and only upgraded it to 8 last year. I have still managed to put an app to the store with it (before the upgrade).

As an artist/illustrator, I'm often working with multiple, large (1GB+) files when preparing stuff for print. Photoshop eats up 8GB of ram doing just about nothing, so when you try to bulk apply some rendering action, export files, or hell, even use their brush engine with something besides the default tool presets, the current gen macs don't cut it. And this doesn't into account running a Cintiq and another display, or their awful integrated graphics setup, etc, etc

I'm currently looking at gaming Desktops to replace my current setup because those are the only things with enough horsepower anymore. It sucks because I feel like I'm going to have to divide up a lot of the scripted tasks I have to make my workflow more efficient, given the lack of a real Unix environment on Windows.

You got your answer in your question: "webdev". If you use After Effects it's recommended to allow it 8GB of ram so you have 8 left, your browser takes 3 to 5GB, you now have 3 to 5 left but usually you have photoshop that needs to be running too so remove 2GB and now you are really tight on memory.

It's a non-starter for CUDA development, which is important to anyone doing serious GPU programming.

The MacBookPro now seems like a sideline for Apple. They put a lot of design and development into the iPhone because they sell so many of them. It makes sense from a business standpoint, but it's disappointing if you're a developer or power user.

If so, why did they bother designing and engineering in an entirely new touch-based interface in the form of the touch bar, using a watch-OS based subsystem, and update all the integrated apps to support it? That seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a sideline product. If that were the case surely they'd just have upped the specs on the existing designs.

But the Touch Bar feels like a bolt-on "innovation", i.e. something Apple did to prove that they are still innovating and driving sales, rather than refinements to the MBP experience (the "P" in MBP) and more power.

My point is that Apple knows that laptops are a declining market. Still, the professionals who use MBPs drive adoption of other Apple products.

Pretty sure the Pro stands for Profitable, Problematic or Prohibiting; could be all three

The "Pro" moniker has simply meant "more expensive" for years now.

In 2009 I bought my first Apple product: an 8GB 13" MacBook Pro that cost $3000 ($1000 for the extra 4gb, like a dumbass). Quite soon after I got an iPhone 3GS. Now every computer in the house (family of four) is an Apple. Every phone is an Apple. Even AirPlay was an influencing factor in selecting a hi-fi receiver (HTR7065). Apple TVs sit next to actual TVs.

Yesterday I replaced our fleet of TimeCapsules and Airports with Lumas. Despite their problems they are still better than the Apple product. Rumor has it Apple isn't working on Airports any more.

Today, I began looking for a replacement for the 2009 MBP, which my 11yo son now uses. I started by looking at Microsoft Surface.

In the present, Apple doesn't meet my needs and as I look to the future, when I will need a new machine, the MacBook "Pro" is more like a MacBook "Bling".

Apple used to be an ecosystem. Now its just incremental phone updates.

If you think MBPs have problems, it's nothing compared to the issues I've had with Surface. Microsoft really needs to execute much better in addition to creating innovative experiences, firmware and driver meltdowns aren't fun.

Heck, Apple has become the "conservative" choice for a computer that is boring but will work with fewer problems. How we got here I have no idea.

> If you think MBPs have problems, it's nothing compared to the issues I've had with Surface. Microsoft really needs to execute much better in addition to creating innovative experiences, firmware and driver meltdowns aren't fun.

See, I've had the exact opposite experience with my Surface. Most of the people I know much prefer MacBooks but are exploring the possibility of switching to something in the surface line. I know some of my friends had initial issues with the Surface Book but now they love it after much needed updates.

I think sometimes Microsoft pushes hardware out a little too early but, at least in my experience, they always make it a great experience even if it comes after several updates. But like Apple products it's usually best to wait until after the initial kinks work themselves out anyway.

Has the Surface Book stabilized yet? I really want to buy one but I keep hearing about their issues. My S3 is probably an abandoned puppy now but works really well... when it is working at all.

MBPs are still the best computer one can get for a rock solid Windows experience; even the surface book trackpad (supposedly precision?) seems to not really compare to what comes on a MBP, and touch doesn't often fill in the gap. Over the last years, I've always regretted my PC purchases (4), but have never regretted my MBP purchases (3). It is really hard to come up with the courage to try again.

That is my feeling as well. I walk past the Microsoft store and look at the slick surface hardware and daydream about it being a good device and me using it, then I remember the many years of windows pain that I suffered. I keep walking.

Just to be clear, I have no problem with windows, just that it seems to run best on Apple hardware via bootcamp.

This might answer your question. Written by a Mac user attempting this switch.


Personally, my experience with my Surface Book has been nothing but pleasure. I have the latest SB, and it's the best laptop I've had in a long time. It's well crafted, feels good working on it, and quick. And the battery life is awesome. I cannot express how impressed I've been with the battery life. And this isn't browsing the web. This is with Unity and Visual Studio open and actively working with it.

Going back to my rMBP for work feels limiting and slow.

There are workflow changes and difference I'm having to work through. They are different systems, after all. But it's been a good experience so far.

Nice to see you had a good experience. For what it's worth, I'm not considering the new MBPs and I'm still dreaming of getting a surfacebook. As a previously long time Microsoft employee, I'm already quite used to windows. I just hope it doesn't come with a lot of heartache.

So I don't own a Surface Book but most of the folks I know who have one felt like it had stabilized a while ago. It still look like 4-6 months depending on the issues you faced but most of them love it now.

I currently own a Surface Pro 4. I love it. I had some issues up front and Windows is still Windows but it's gotten better and so far I love it. I'll admit it's impossible to beat a MBP's trackpad.

But as with everything I've seen folks with basically every opinion on the Surface line. So your mileage may vary.

The SP3 I had was a nightmare. Backlight bleed on the screen, unpredictable battery life, random freezes and even just windows deciding to install updates randomly during the day if I left it alone for half an hour.

The SP4 I have is better but still has issues with sleep/hibernation, at least compared to every Mac I have used. With my Macs I can leave them for a week and they will wake up immediately, and still have decent charge. I leave the SP4 for two days and it is dead. Leave it for a few hours and it takes 10 seconds to wake.

> Now its just incremental phone updates.

And the software side of those updates is bad.

Apple hardware is probably better than ever. The mechanical engineering and precision involved blows away anyone else in consumer electronics. The new MacBooks and iPhones are truly works of art compared to the cheap injection-molded stuff everyone else is pumping out.

But the software just keeps getting worse and worse.

My iPhone (and those belonging to my friend and family with iPhones) regularly has strange graphics glitches and Springboard crashes. MacOS is a clusterf*ck with tons of poorly-implemented useless "features" and UI glitches.

My suspicion is that Apple is hitting a level of software complexity where the development and maintenance costs of correct code are too high. I believe writing correct software has a super-linear cost; if you have N components in your code, you can expect something like O(N^2) cross-component interactions in your code, because any given piece of existing code is likely to interact with some portion of new code. I suspect Apple will have to change their software engineering practices if they hope to go back to a good level of quality and usability with a reasonable temporal and financial engineering budget.

Even if Apple hardware is a feat of mechanical engineering and precision, I don't want to upgrade my Macbook Air or iPhone 6 with an Apple product right now because nothing fits my needs.

I want a phone with a flat back that won't rock on a desk without a case. I want a desktop with modern specs. I want a laptop with great battery life.

Your issues really sound like they're hardware-related. It's not surprisingly that hardware problems would occur in a few instances, given that Apple is pumping out millions of these. Fortunately, Apple is pretty good at replacing defective specimens.

Counter-anecdotally, I've owned a sequence iPhones starting with the 3G, and I've never experienced any serious glitches, ever. I remember Safari used to crash a few times a week on iOS 8, but that's ages ago.

It started happening immmediately after updating to iOS 10, and not just on my phone. And that's just the start of it; iOS 10 has tons of other inconsistencies and annoyances. I used my several-year-old iPhone 4 the other day and it was a way better experience.

> My iPhone … regularly has strange graphics glitches and Springboard crashes

Sounds like a hardware fault. You should take it to an Apple Store and have them run a complete diagnostic. Heck, the next time you see the graphics glitches, take a picture of the screen, and depending on the nature of the glitch, that alone might warrant replacing the device regardless of what the hardware test comes up with.

Only started happening after an iOS 10 update. The graphics glitches are resolution-related, not bad VRAM or anything. I'm also well out of warranty.

What do you mean by "resolution-related"? And it's not unusual for major OS updates to trigger hardware faults, either because they do something a bit differently, or because the older OS was simply masking the hardware fault somehow.

And FWIW, I've never heard of anyone else complaining of graphical glitches after upgrading to iOS 10. And if I search for "ios 10 graphics glitches", the only relevant hits are some complaints about minor glitches with the new UI for notifications (I assume that's not what you're talking about, and I also assume these minor glitches have been fixed).

> My suspicion is that Apple is hitting a level of software complexity where the development and maintenance costs of correct code are too high.

Nope, just a lack of solid engineers. Anyone worth anything bailed years ago, and they're left with a used car salesman running the show (Craig Federighi). Holy Jesus is that guy a tool.

How is he a tool? I didn't get that impression based on his demos and interviews I've heard

>> ($1000 for the extra 4gb, like a dumbass)

I looked back at a review of the 2009 MacBook because I didn't believe RAM was that expensive back then, but I was wrong:

* To upgrade the RAM in the 2.26GHz model, which comes with just 2GB of RAM in its standard configuration, Apple charges an extra $100 for 4GB (a pair of 2GB modules) and $1,100 for 8GB (a pair of 4GB modules). The 2.53GHz model, which ships with 4GB of RAM can be purchased with the optional 8GB of memory for an additional $1,000. *

The last unibody MacBook Pros that I owned, I upgraded to 8GB and 16GB for $35 and $79, respectively.

It's not a rumour -- Apple has dissolved their internal router/networking group.

Some have pointed out that Apple may be moving from the Airport to some sort of all in one Alexa/Google Home type device that also is your wireless router... Has anyone debunked that rumor?

Do not know about the all in one. But do have the Google Mesh three pack and really like it. It is pretty cool how it moves around connections and you do not even know.

Network is faster but the app is what I really like. Now just roll over grab my tablet and see if the proper kids are at home. Also allows you see if who they said went home actually went home. How long until they figure how I know?

I mean they never made any sort of official announcement and they still sell them, right? So wouldn't it technically still be a rumor or did I miss something?

I agree with your assessment though. Seems dead.

No announcement, but an anonymous "source close to the company" according to e.g. The Guardian [1].

I think that's a bit more solid than a rumour, though Apple is secretive enough that it could also mean that they're planning a replacement product similar to Alexa, for example.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/22/apple-sto...

> Now its just incremental phone updates.

Don't forget the watch, and the advances in dongle technology.

  > Now its just incremental phone updates.
Feel free to move to another manufacturer which makes revolutionary upgrades with each release. If you find one. Or one which matches Apple's phone CPU.

Forgive my ignorance but what is a Luma? I tried googling it but seems to be a common term.

I guess is this one: https://lumahome.com

A device like Eero, https://lumahome.com


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> But here’s the problem: sitting in this niche of excluded users are some of Apple’s strongest supporters, the influencers that create word of mouth...

I see this point made a lot, especially on Hacker News whenever this general topic comes up. I'm just curious: what evidence is there to support this point of view?

I'm as frustrated as the next software engineer that the new Macbook Pros aren't targeted at me or users like me (and that there hasn't been a new Mac Pro in a long time), and my next primary machine may well not be an Apple product when my current Macbook Pro ages out. But I don't really see an argument that draws a line between that fact and a future perception issue for Apple - and that seems to be accepted as gospel whenever the topic of Apple comes up in developer circles. Who are these "influencers" whose opinions purportedly closely align with software engineers' and why do consumers care about them?

I don't even want to know how much revenue I brought Apple by "word of mouth" alone as I've been one of the gazillion fevered and outspoken Unix converts (Darwin fan since 2004). Friends, family and random people in every potential "evangelizable" context – don't even get me started on how many fellow netizens, students, sysadmins and developers I actively tipped over as well (these often were the hardest actually).

Macs or later iPhone, it didn't matter we had to tell everyone that those nice and shiny devices were the real deal and we kept showing and telling until the last potential convert saw the light as well.

I have been buying a new Mac and iPhone almost annually for about ten years now – even (or especially) after 2011 and 2013. I honestly was thrilled by iOS7, I loved it from the moment of its introduction and only saw potential.

All that said, no "OSX" release has made me happier than Snow Leopard unfortunately and I am still convinced that "Losing the Functional High-Ground" by Marco Arment channeled an important message about a pattern most of us likely still see across the whole product line-up even though many things got better since.

Why else have we slowly but steadily stopped recommending Macs over the last two years?

When will that happen to iPhones or iPads? I'm still recommending them left and right but it somehow also is getting harder in a way, especially when people keep losing their safe-in-the-cloud data (in some cases even those precious moments with iPhonephotos).

Unfortunately Apple does seem to need a (kool-aid sober) benevolent dictator with taste and wholistic understanding of their core product/business (what is that going to be btw?).

I can definitely believe that you, as an individual, have driven tens of thousands of dollars in sales Apple's way over the last decade. But even if we assume that there are tens of thousands of people doing the same thing as you (as effectively as you) for the same reasons, that adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars, which is three orders of magnitude below Apple's sales per year, and your impact is stretched out over a decade. Hard to see that loss as more than a rounding error on any Apple projection.

What I'm asking after, I suppose, is evidence that there are "gazillions" of former "Unix converts" driving significantly more money than I'm estimating here. I still continue to feel like this whole "software developers are influencers" line of argumentation when it comes to Apple products is just wishful thinking crossed with extrapolating from very limited personal anecdotes.

I'm sure we each overestimate our importance. Plenty of my non tech friends went out and bought tech without asking me, heck they probably know i'd tell them not to buy that windows phone on a plan but they did anyway because it came with free spotify.

I think the better insight is that our needs, for practicality and occasional updates, are quite common. Its nice to add more memory or disk without needing a new machine. It would be nice to have a replaceable battery in my laptop. Apple is screwing up all these simple things.

For the past couple of decades, Apple computers have been over-represented in movies, TV shows, magazines photos and DJ booths. Sure, some of them were paid product placements,but I bet it was mostly free because the creatives (photogs, prop wranglers/set designers) genuinely liked Apple and/or had an Apple computer conveniently on hand. This was instrumental in making Apple 'cool'. That free advertising alone is worth billions (including home DVDs and reruns)

Probably the people Apple relies on to make the software that encourages the "buy-in" of the ecosystem in the first place.

People are not buying iPhones to spend the majority of the the time using the built-in native apps of iOS.

The day Apple makes a power cord that doesn't have a cable sheath with the consistency and durability of silly putty is the day I will recognize them as back on track.

It's a small detail, but the power cord is the one part of the computer that users have no choice but to interact with every day and they've been ignoring the problems with them for the better part of half a decade.

Every Mac at work either has detached and frayed around the power connector strain relief, or looks like an extremely precise samurai has made tens of small cuts in the jacket of the cable.

Of all the MacBooks, MacBook Pros and idevices I've had over the years (including my still running perfectly Jan 2011 MBP) I've never had a single issue with any power cord tearing / breaking or power supply even fail as far as I can remember. I always assume when I hear of people with this problem that they're disrespecting their hardware by jamming it in doors / desks or perhaps have pets that chew on them.

Blaming the user isn't helpful.

I've had more problems with Apple cables than any other brand - and Apple tends to make their cables sleeker looking. Coincidence? I doubt it.

At least they've improved from the Wallstreet-era Powerbook G3 chargers, though. I think I went through 3 of those circa 1998. Of course, those machines, and the early G4 Powerbooks, had bigger issues than just that. Dark times in Macland.

(As an aside, how people talk about their device history is a good litmus test of the length of their experience with Apple hardware, thanks to the Intel switch laptop name change.)

In some circumstances you can certainly blame the user. Any remotely feasible charger cable can easy be broken by repeated abuse. The real question is what percentage of users break their cables. If that percentage is very low, then I think you can blame the user (or, rather than blame, sugggest they just be a little more careful). I have no idea what the percentage is in this case.

I also have never had this problem. I hypothesise that it has to do with being taught how to coil cables in Music Tech A level. (The method I was taught involves ensuring the cable isn't twisted, and securing it with insultating tape.)

If you leave out the tape, and you put a bunch of them in a box, this is the ritual for summoning an elder god. (the elder god is always gone by the time you re-open the box, but the non-euclidean tangle they've left the cables in is quite apparent.) Unless you're the kind of person who will happily and patiently sit uncluttering the cables without yanking them for a few hours, you'll damage your stuff extracting them from this class of mess.

For reference: I am actually still using the charging cable that came with my 2009 MBP (via a magsafe2 adapter) with my latest work-issued MBP as the spare adapter in the home office. The cable is a bit grubby, but undamaged and entirely functional.

>I've had more problems with Apple cables than any other brand - and Apple tends to make their cables sleeker looking. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Perhaps you had more Apple cables (an obvious branding) compared to any other brand? And your apple cables get more use than others (e.g. on your main laptop, compared to some cable left for years connected to a printer at the office, etc).

Except if you had e.g. an equal number of Dell and Apple machines, etc, or buy branded cables from a single brand.

Same here, and I used to think people were being careless... until I started working remotely from places like coffee shops where I had to bring my charger every day. Turns out the thinner MagSafe cable will fray after a while if you unpack and pack it on a daily basis. I bet it's due to winding the cord around the brick. I use the little legs you can flip out (they've been removed on the new charger). The last few months the cable has frayed in two places. Easy fixable with electrical tape, although I wish there was a way to pack the thing without straining it.

I have never had an entire Apple charger stop working, though.

I can't find the document but Apple's official instructions for their chargers include winding around the pop-up plastic legs. I've never had a frayed cord since the days of the TiBook, but I have managed to break a leg on the adapter and crunch the connector when the laptop fell while connected. MagSafe, while a little pricier, has been more cost-effective for users compared to the truly unacceptable design that existed before.

Apple got rid of both MagSafe and those pop up winding legs on the new MBP.

Yeah, interesting - that's certainly not and never has been my use case (ultra / daily portable), there must be some sort of rating for number of insertions / connections similar to the varying USB standards over the years - I wonder if that's published somewhere, if so we could probably do the math and come up with a - moves per week rating for a charger?

I guess my wad-up-roughly-and-throw-in-the-bag method is gentler somehow than using the built-in pegs. Laziness wins yet again?

I'm onto charger 4 now I think? Usually have to replace it every ~12 months due to either cable sheath detatching from the inner cable and then splitting as I wind it up. Atleast two of them have also shorted out or only charged my macbook <1/2 the times it was connected.

tl;dr they're pretty trash, but maybe so are other chargers.

Out of interest are you the standard 240V or in the USA with the 110V chargers? Also, again just out of interest - are you in an especially humid or hot climate? I'm just trying to think of any 'extremes' that may cause consistent failures like this if the user isn't mistreating the product.

Why not just patch the cable with some electrical tape? Buying an entire charger just because the cable is fraying seems excessive.

I've tried this and not long after doing it, the cable started fraying at the end of the taped section (and this despite the fact that I took some time to make sure the tape was properly placed, and tapered towards the cable). This is besides having a separate charger for home and work, and never coiling the work cable (that goes in the bag) around the power adapter.

There really is something wrong with the stupid cable. It's unthinkable that any of my other non-apple cables would do this.

You really expect a mac user to value function over form?

So, someone like Linus Torvalds?

I’m have to admit being a bit baffled by how nobody else seems to have done what Apple did with the Macbook Air – even several years after the first release, the other notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and clunky* things. Yes, there are vendors that have tried to emulate it, but usually pretty badly. I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring my laptop to be thin and light. (...) I want my office to be quiet. The loudest thing in the room – by far – should be the occasional purring of the cat. And when I travel, I want to travel light. A notebook that weighs more than a kilo is simply not a good thing (yeah, I’m using the smaller 11″ macbook air, and I think weight could still be improved on, but at least it’s very close to the magical 1kg limit)*

People forget that thin, quiet, light, etc are also "function", and more important to some people than function they'll never exhaust in their use cases, like a bleeding fast GPU.

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It's not about function over form. It's more about whether you want to risk damaging a $3000 piece of equipment, because you're too cheap to replace a $100 charger.

My solution was to get one for work and another for home, and the only time I ever wrapped up the cable is when I am traveling.

My main computer is a 15 inch retina macbook pro from 2013. I use it a lot (roughly 10-12 hours/day) so it's plugged often. It always gets quite hot next to the magsafe connector so what happens every time I buy a new charger is this: - the part of the cable next to the magsafe connector becomes yellow from the heat - the yellow part of the cable starts to become less resistant and kind of flakes - Eventually the wires are exposed.

This takes about 1 year, 1 year and an half. I never jam it in doors or desks. I do not have pets. I sometimes put it in my bag but I do not wind up the cable to avoid having additional tear on it. I do live part of the year in hot and humid climate (like Japan in summer or South East Asia) which might accelerate the issue.

But honestly, this is a problem, no matter how careful I am, I have to buy new chargers.

I think the real issue is the old cable wrap design that comes with no visual instruction on how to use it. Most people with frayed cables I've seen pull the cable tight from out of the adapter and start wrapping, when it should stick out a bit then slightly bend with a relatively loose wrapping. That isn't just apple cables, every audio cable (live performance cables, xlr and quarters) I've used will break if you wrap it too tightly. That said I have also never had fraying issues with my apple PSU's and I've had a MacBook as my primary computer since 2006.

Now it doesn't really matter as they just use a standard USB-C cable so you can use whatever brand cable you want.

Apple themselves have a support article specifically addressing how to handle their power cords gingerly... ;)


99% of users won't see this though.

Seriously? You don't think even 2% users are going to lift the brick using its own cord, or (accidentally) pull the cable past its safe bend radius, or wrap it tightly around the Apple-provided cable-wrapping arms?

There's a reason why everyone else uses thicker cables and strain relief.

And it's not because of end-user negligence: it's because of engineering pragmatism.

To be able to ignore the instructions you have to be able to read them first. ;)

Although all this is irrelevant since Apple phased out mag safe, the "ears" that hold the cable, and added a removable cable.

Fair point about the ears and user replacability.

Still, Apple's Lightning cables are also extremely vulnerable to bending and abrasion. What makes you think their USB-C cables will be much better?

Non-technical customers who can't afford to buy new cables, or don't know to use better aftermarket cables, are already known to resort to using springs from pens as ad-hoc strain relief: https://www.google.ca/search?q=iphone+charger+spring

> What makes you think their USB-C cables will be much better?

Nothing, but at least those can be replaced without having to upgrade the whole power brick.

I've destroyed the adapter by carrying it twice a day in my backpack. Who could have guessed Macbook Pro users are on the go. It's not a door, it's not jamming it between tables, but it's an inevitable place where it ends up being.

I can definitely see if it was jammed into a bag or wound tightly (got to be a pretty fine line there!) how it could happen, similar to how if I jam my IEM earbuds into my bag all the time I'd break one in no time I'm sure. But at least the larger chargers have those neat L shaped hooks that are supposed to encourage the correct diameter twist - I would have thought that'd be the saviour? Usually when I've heard of it or seen it it's at the MagSafe end and it's clear that the cord has been pulled backwards away from the laptop regularly - which to me is still a design flaw if that's how users are using them they should be altered. Having said all that - the amount of HP and co laptops I've seen with bent charger pins or squealing caps in their power packs is unreal and they're often more expensive than an Apple charger depending on the wattage.

As I write this my MBP is plugged in to a power cord with about two inches of bare wire just below the connector. This cord is only ~4 years old and it has had exposed wires for several years now. I can't see how my use is unusually hard on it. Definitely no doors, desks, or pets. It pretty much just sat in my room and I used it.

Honestly: be really careful with that charger / cord - that could likely easily start a fire or spark and ignight something nearby. If you haven't the funds to replace it - may I suggest at least insulating it with either some non-conductive heatshrink or electrical tape to keep you going?

In any case, perhaps replace it? Or you don't much care for electric shock, fire damage, fried electronics, etc?

Find an excuse to take your MBP to the Apple Store and let them see the power adapter. There's a good chance they'll replace it for you.

I'm careful with the power brick and cables now since I've had this happen on a few Macbooks.

I'd say half of the Macbook users around me have suffered problems with power brick cables. Specially where the mag safe cable connects to the power brick.

I wouldn't blame it on users though. I've never seen other power bricks so plagued with these problems.

I don't have the problem with the chargers - but my 27" Apple Cinema Display is starting to have problems with the mini-displayport cable that is built the same way. It's also built in to the monitor so you can't just replace it when it goes bad...

The only cords I've ever had an issue with have been Apple cords. I've literally never had a cord from a different company break or fray unless it was a freak accident e.g. having my foot on a dangling headphone cord and yanking my head up.

At this point, absolutely no one who uses a MBP on a daily basis will believe this propaganda.

Just stop already.

It's not propaganda, it's my experience (and actually the guy sitting next to me at work as well, although he said his girlfriend has gone through a MacBook charger and her current one although working is looking tired but not broken yet).

It moves past being just your experience when you add in the bit about "I always assume when I hear of people with this problem that they're disrespecting their hardware by jamming it in doors / desks or perhaps have pets that chew on them."

It's fine to say you don't have issues, but if six other people are saying they have issues, and know people with issues, it's rude to write them all off like that.


EDIT: replacing the paraphrased quote to try to avoid unfairly representing the original statement and remove my read of its intent. I had paraphrased it down to ""I assume the people having issues are responsible for those issues" which dropped the bit about perhaps having pets or similar and so put everything on the disrespecting the hardware part.

That's not a direct quote of that I said, the sentence I wrote is phrased in the past tense with the intent (and you'll just have to take my word for it) of surprise and / or previous thoughts on the matter up until the time of writing it. When you quoted me there you actually changed the construct of the comment to become an argument or judgement which was not the intent.

Fair edit and comment on my own, thanks for the clarification.

I hear this a lot, but I still use a 2009 MacBook Air with the original "magsafe" power cord and it's fine.

Me too, but I had to learn the "right way" to wind up the cable (make a little strain release loop before you start winding the rest around the clips). I shouldn't have had to learn that though, since it should have been designed to be durable enough to work the obvious/intuitive way.

See, I have two cables that I've never wound up, one is on the verge of tearing and the othaerntore years ago. I didn't handle them roughly as far as I know and all of my PCs have never had such an issue.

Even if every user was using it wrong I would still call it an Apple issue as their solution is obviously not meeting the needs of their users.

I have Apple cables that old that still have nothing wrong with them. I think it was maybe about 4-5 years ago that they switched the materials, every cable I have had since then has started to disintegrate after a few months. In my office cupboard we have 5 mighty mice that have all worn through after 6 months use and we have stopped buying official Apple lightning cables.

The day Apple makes a power cord that doesn't have a cable sheath with the consistency and durability of silly putty is the day I will recognize them as back on track.

That's a really strange thing, because it's such a well-understood problem and the solution is known. I don't know why Apple makes such lousy power cables, even if they messed up a decade ago, you'd think they'd have fixed it by now.

Jony Ive considers standard strain relief cones to be unattractive and prohibits Apple from shipping them.

Well figure out a way to make them attractive! That's kind of the job of a designer, you don't get to redesign the appearance of an airplane to remove the wings because you don't like how they look.

This seems to be a trend with apple, completely breaking the form follows function principle everywhere anyone can see.

I can think of $89 reasons each!

I've come to the conclusion that the problems with the power cord are mosty due to its design rather than any abuse or user action.

The second layer of wiring that twists around the core wire is going only in one direction (a simple helix as opposed to a double criss-crossing helix like coax cable). Hence, if you twist the cable in the opposite direction, the helix becomes undone. I suspect that causes pressure on the white plastic insulation, and also leads to some electrical issues that increase resistance, produce heat, and causes the white plastic insulation to become yellow/burnt and to start disintegrating.

The funny thing is that you can abuse the cable in any way or you can be extra careful, but the only thing that will matter is in what direction you coil it. If you don't travel a lot and don't touch it, you're unlikely to notice any problems for years.

I read somewhere that the problem is two-fold: the design department's hesitation to use any sort of strain relief and the softer type of coating that is supposedly more eco-friendly.

Eco-friendly becomes something of a joke if you need to buy a significant extra number of them...

It might be simpler than even that. Most cables are black because black ones are more durable for many reasons(UV resist and more choice of composition/processing)

Apple likes their bright colors too much to do that :)

The power cord -- by which I mean the USB 2.0 cable for using with the power brick -- that comes with the MBP 2016 is actually surprisingly thick and rigid. It also feels weirdly unpleasant; the rigidity is not good for a cable intended to be slung over the edge of a table. But it probably lasts longer than the old MagSafe cables. (I wouldn't know; I returned mine and went back to my old 2015 model.)

There's a rumor that they're working on a wireless charging technology for iPhones where it charges completely wirelessly without using one of those clumsy power mats.

So your dream will likely come true in a different--yet much better--format.

I had the same complaint until this year: I am actually impressed with the new USB-C (and even USB-A<->Lightning) cables coming from Apple this past year.

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