Today at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference, many things were unveiled.
The new MacBook specs and MacBook Pro, slashed prices, the new iPhone 3G S, and of course, Apple's next installment of OS X, Snow Leopard. Despite the fanfare however, Apple's announcements were largely non-exciting.
Yeah it's true. I do use Macs. But it's true too I have several custom built PCs at home. The announcements shown off today however, reveal that Apple is indeed not a hardware company. It's a software company at heart, and monetizes those products through its hardware sales. One of the most obvious proofs of this is the company's iPhone. Just about the only good nugget of today's presentation was Apple's talk about Snow Leopard. Indeed the next-generation of OS X with its BSD underpinnings has great features going for it. In fact, installing Snow Leopard will free up 6 GB of space if you upgrade from Leopard.
But anyway, let's move on to my top 5 reasons why Apple's hardware is really still lacking and behind the curve.
1. Hardware Support
Everyone knows this one on Tom's Hardware, and even Mac users know it. The confinement of major hardware components is a huge adoption block for many PC users. Gamers, enthusiasts, have long since complained about Apple's lack of hardware support. Granted, this limited pool of major hardware support also lends the Mac platform its overall stability. However, I have to point out here that Apple has been touting game support for the longest time, and its hardware support for games is extremely appalling.
Even with the recent Nehalem-based Mac Pros that can take an ATI Radeon HD 4870, you can't CrossFire. Yes, the Mac Pro can take more than one HD 4870, but the Mac Pro doesn't have enough power connectors--only enough for one card.
The Mac Pro is priced way out there for what it comes with, even by breaking the hardware down into individual components. The $2499 starting point for the Mac Pro should come with at least the HD 4870, not the paltry Nvidia GeForce GT 120. Apple doesn't have to have nearly as much hardware support as Windows, but it should have support for the upper end hardware and some limited support for mainstream options.
The Mac Pro: A powerhouse of a computer with the most ridiculous video options.
In today's keynote, Apple said "the majority of new Mac users pick a laptop over a desktop." Well... we'll refrain from using explicit words here, but when we spoke to a long time Apple enthusiast James S. about this, he said:
"I wonder if they've considered the possibility that their crap desktop line-up has some part in that..."
2. Price / Evolution Strategy
I have a Mac Book Pro that I bought about the time Apple moved over to Intel processors. Prior to that, I couldn't stand using Macs since they were so horrendously slow for what I wanted to do. But that all changed with Intel processors. But I am the one who wrote the big article on Apple prices last year. How can I possibly list "Price" as a bullet point in this list? Let me explain.
Apple tends not to reduce prices unless something revolutionary comes out, and even then, the company tries to maintain its price points. When Apple releases a new major product stepping, like the first Intel MacBook Pro, it's actually priced very fairly. At the time of the initial product line's release, the prices are fair. However, Apple doesn't lower its prices much or at all over time. Instead, it prefers to incrementally upgrade the hardware of the products over time. This is why Apple has the overpriced stigma--the prices don't change, only the hardware. Unfortunately, even these upgrades aren't nearly enticing enough for PC users that Apple wants to convert.
But Apple may be feeling the squeeze now. From PC makers? No. From Microsoft? Some. From the economy? Definitely. Apple's entire line of computers received price cuts today at WWDC. The MacBook Air for example took a big $700 cut. The MacBook Pros took only minor cuts, but all the notebook products received upgrades. What was left out? The Mac Pro.
While Apple did make price cuts today across the board for the most part, it's still not enough. Either cut prices more, or deliver better specs.
3. Odd Hardware Adoption
When the new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pros were unveiled, Mac users will up in arms over the disappearance of FireWire support. Well, they're back. Why Apple hasn't included HDMI in its notebook and desktops is an odd omission as well. In the unibody MacBook Pros, the exclusion of a mini-DVI port was a big bag of hurt for many people. DisplayPort, while a good step forward in terms of display carrier technology, isn't widespread at all.
But wait! I can buy the $99 dual-link adaptor! No thanks. This is one of a few reasons I'm not on the newer unibody MacBook Pros.
4. Small Steps Appear Big
Let's take the new iPhone 3G S. Nearly all of its features that people got excited about at WWDC, should have been on the previous phone anyway. In fact, may of the features were available on other phones long before today's announcement.
Cut and paste for example was held out for so long, that now when Apple unveils it at a big convention people go nuts over it. For me, it's more of a sigh of relief than something to clap about. Worst yet, the iPhone 3G S still won't support background applications like the Palm Pre. Background apps is a major feature, and sorely lacking on the iPhone platform.
5. Sometimes Removing Hardware Support
The FireWire port that was dropped back into the MacBook Pro was cheered. Why? Apple screwed FireWire users big time when it was removed. The new SD card reader slot on the notebooks are a welcome addition. But in all honesty, this was a toss in feature on every other PC notebook since man landed on the moon.
My current 15-inch non-unibody MacBook Pro has an ExpressCard reader--the newer 15-inch does not while the bigger 17-inch does. Appropriate to palm face now.
C'mon Apple, get caught up with the times hmm?