New MacBook Pro proves Apple has lost sight of its core values

You have to admit that Apple did it's best to stick to its driving philosophy — simplicity, until now.

For better or worse, Apple has been a company that stirs controversy. Some call the company revolutionary, others call it a copycat and still others treat it with pointed disdain. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, you have to admit that Apple did its best to stick to its driving philosophy — simplicity.

Simplicity

Simplicity is an elegant and powerful concept that only works if things are, well, simple. The underlying complexity of any solution is irrelevant if your interaction with that solution is simple.

Tapping on a photo on your phone, for example, involves an exceedingly complex array of algorithms and physics that would boggle the average mind. Do you need to understand the relation between capacitance, voltages and quantum physics to tap the screen? Of course not; you tap on the image, it expands on the screen. It's simple.

Apple’s hardware had always followed this concept. When Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh, this is what he harped on. You take the device out of the box, you plug it in, and it works. You’re not messing with cables, separate monitors, graphics card and power supplies.

The subsequent MacBook Airs and Pros followed the same philosophies as well. They were simple, powerful devices that were a breeze to use. Did you have to dig into your bag for adapters? No.

The MacBook Air did, admittedly, offer limited connectivity options, but even the slimmest Apple laptop of its time offered 4 ports — a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB 2.0 port, mini-DVI port for video output and a “MagSafe” power adapter. Why? They were essential for keeping things simple for the consumer.

Contrast this with the 12-inch MacBook and the current lineup of MacBook Pros. With these devices, you’ve lost everything that’s of any use and gained USB Type-C ports that even Apple doesn’t yet use universally. In fact, you don’t even get an SD card slot on what is arguably the photographers’ favourite laptop.

A is for Apple Adapter

Just take a minute to think of Apple’s current ecosystem for a minute. You have the iPhone 7, which uses a lightning to USB-A connector, EarPods that use the Lightning connector (the wireless AirPods have been delayed), Thunderbolt drives that connect via Thunderbolt or USB-A and a bunch of accessories, hard disks and adapters that all use USB-A connectors. Apple’s Thunderbolt display also uses, as the name suggests, a Thunderbolt connector.  

With the MacBook and new MacBook Pro, you’re getting USB-C slots and a 3.5mm slot. Can you connect your iPhone to the MacBooks without an adapter? No. Can you connect your new EarPods to your MacBook without an adapter? No. Can you connect your Thunderbolt display to your MacBook without an adapter? No. Can you connect a portable drive without an adapter? No.

In fact, the only thing that Apple provides that can connect directly to your MacBook out of the box is the USB-C power adapter that comes with the new MacBooks. Everything else is a compulsory extra.

I don’t know about you, but my travel kit consists of a laptop, a phone, a power bank, a camera, a portable HDD and a thumb drive. If that laptop is the new MacBook Pro, nothing I have will connect to it without an adapter. Nothing. And I’m just an average user who likes to take a lot of photos. I used to like MacBooks for their simplicity. The devices were pricey, yes, but they offered great build quality, battery life and display, and the essential connectivity that I needed. They were simple and they worked. Now, not so much.  

A few years hence, we might very well be living in a world that thrives on USB-C, but that time is not now and even Apple hasn’t adequately prepared for it. So why in the world is Apple shoving USB-C at us?

Courage? I think hubris would be more apt.

Apple’s USP is its ecosystem. What happens when that fails?

Different for the sake of it

The 2016 MacBook Pro is a brilliantly confused product that doesn’t know who it’s targeting or why. All Apple had to do was slap on a single USB-A port and an SD card reader and everyone would have been happy. While we’re at it, was it really necessary to kill the 3.5mm jack on the iPhone?

When asked about the new MacBook Pro, Jony Ive told CNET, “What we won’t do is just do something different that’s no better.”

Well, the new MacBook Pro is different and it’s no better.

In fact, it’s worse.

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