Instead of trying to out-innovate everyone with new services or coming out with new iPhones when no one really cares as much about the device anymore, Apple should recommit itself to an old favorite—the Mac.
The Mac has been left to languor as many pundits other than myself have already identified. It hasn’t been where Apple makes the majority of its money for quite some time. As a lover of Macs, it saddens me that Mac refreshes have been reduced to afterthoughts by Apple.
Putting the Mac on the backburner was fine when iPhone sales were still growing. But now pretty much everyone who wants an iPhone already has one and Apple is adrift and desperate for a new hit product. But, it already has a great product—the Mac. It just needs to bring some excitement back to it. Perhaps that excitement could be regained with a little perspective.
Anything that Apple has product-wise no longer sells itself. Apple’s recent marketing efforts for its newer products have seemed staid, as if they’re trying to show people who consider taking a chance on something like Apple Watch that they are just expected to do so. Would be buyers don’t really hear anything from anyone who actually owns one in the way of talking points on the pro side of the purchasing equation. There’s nothing like someone telling a good story to make you consider buying whatever it is the story is about. What long-time Apple Mac fan doesn’t have a story to share that demonstrates the human-like connection they enjoy with their beloved friend?
Apple Marketing can show me great graphics, music and celebrity voiceovers with some obscure message that I never seem to get and then the commercial closes with big bold letters saying “Apple Watch.” It’s simply not enough to make most people drag their butts down to an Apple store to buy one.
I’ve referred to Apple as a gadget maker but they’re still the only manufacturers of Apple computers. These iconic personal computers had a bond that not even iPhone users who walk unsuspectingly into oncoming traffic can rival. Macs used to inspire loyalty and evangelism.
Apple is still the 2nd richest company after Alphabet–Google’s parent company, last time I checked. As an aside, branding and marketing can seem so far off the mark. For example, I never get why some names are chosen for things like parent companies, but I would have opted for Google’s parent company to be called “Calculator.” My thinking goes that Alphabet is ancient and while the word calculator harkens back to math nerds with pencils and soft eyeglass cases in their shirt pockets, it just sounds better than Alphabet, which brings to mind soup for me. Google is kind of like the great-great grandson of the Calculator. It’s not in the least more closely related to “Alphabet.” We’re searching for mathematical answers and equations with the calculator. With Google, we’re searching for…everything. And with the Alphabet we are able to write disjointed blog posts. Writing about Apple makes me digress and I like it.
Apple needs new Macs that can bring the passion back to the user base. I think Mac fan boys are dying out and need something to cheer about. I believe the computer industry could use the Mac to be relevant again.
So, why has the Mac been left to wither by Cook and Co.? Well, to answer the question, for any number of reasons, but it’s been in retreat as an Apple product for quite some time. Apple may currently prioritize increasing its footprint in China. But that doesn’t mean the Mac should not be looked at anew. There are more compelling Mac user stories out there then there are iPhone users’ or any other Apple product for that matter. It could be argued that Macs are the single most venerable product in the history of personal computing. That’s a lot of feel good material if Apple wants to mine it.
Sure, Apple’s move to Intel processors could have been seen as the shift that really precipitated the Mac’s decline in the long-term. I say long-term because the Mac was initially successful using industry-standard hardware guts like its Wintel counterparts. But, the renewed interest in the Mac was only brief (in technology years) in the grand computing scheme of things. Outside of their different external hardware design, Macs became more like PCs internally—their hardware hearts otherwise known as logic boards, hard drives and memory burning out much sooner than their non-Intel Mac brethren that came before them.
Internally was where the Mac user base was connected. I would venture to say that Macs lost a lot of their heart when they went all-Intel. The heart is where we draw our passion from, where we base our relationships on and with whom. It is also why we remain attached to things like the traditional Mac when our heads are telling us to give up on them because they’re no longer worth loving.
Not that Tim Cook or Jony Ive care, agree or even ever notice, but the easiest (and perhaps best?) decision for Apple to make going forward should involve revisiting the Mac and its place in the world today. The Mac made Apple great once and before it became a gadget maker. It could do it again but only if Apple is willing to share the stories of those who can tell them best—the Mac users who were thinking differently before Apple advertising made it cool to do so.