Apple’s Shock MacBook Pro Decision

Updated Nov 14 below. This article was originally posted on November 12.

Apple’s decision to delay the launch of the ‘professional’ 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops into 2023 has left those looking to upgrade in a quandary – wait for the M2 Pro and M2 Ultra MacBooks, or accept what is on offer now .

Update: Monday 14 November: Apple moving its next Mac event into 2023 has another impact on the release schedule. As Dan Moren notesthe Mac Pro is not going to be released before the end of the year:

“But as 2022 runs out the clock, there are a few Intel laggards still in the pack. The Mac mini has moved over to the M1, yes, but a higher-end Intel model still remains for sale. More significantly, the company’s most powerful machine, the Mac Pro, is still nowhere to be seen, aside from a vague hint during the Mac Studio announcement in spring of this year.”

Why is it important to note this? Because of a very public promise made by Apple. During 2020’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Tim Cook and his team announced the macOS platform’s move from Intel to its ARM-based Apple Silicon. And it promised that all new Mac products would switch over to the new platform by the end of 2022.

With the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, mac Mini, and iMac having made the jump – and the launch of the Mac Studio – the Mac Pro is conspicuously missing from that package. There was no M1 variant to join the first wave of the Apple Silicon revolution. We’re now in the second generation of the hardware. While consumers have the MacBook Air and the inexplicable 13-inch MacBook Pro, professionals are waiting on the expected powerful upgrade to the MacBook Pro and the potential of the Mac Pro.

Apple rarely offers guidance on when new products will appear. Those waiting on the ultimate Mac still hold on to that 2022 deadline. Maybe there’ll be a press release in the next few weeks and a handful of machines on sale through the Apple Store to a select few… but the deadline is approaching fast, and the Mac Pro looks set for 2023.

Apple’s smooth presentation and reliable confidence around product launch timings hold true for the iPhone, but for the Mac platform, it remains a hit-and-miss affair with Apple refusing to offer a stable schedule that people can plan around. Is there a better way?

One thing that the delay does impact positively on is the MacBook Air. Curiously launched at the professional-focused Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier in 2020, it stands out as the current “best” MacBook laptop you can buy; that’s likely going to make it a best seller throughout the festive period.

And yes, Apple does have an M2-equipped MacBook Pro, but on closer examination, it’s little more than a MacBook Air with a cooling fan. It offers a little bit more performance, but for the vast majority of users, the M2 MacBook Air is going to have more than enough capability. Arguably the M1 MacBook Air still delivers here as well. Apple certainly thinks so, keeping the latter on sale at the $999 entry-level price.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is for those who want an illusion of a Pro. Those who want full-throated power available on tap for complete development and media creation will be looking towards the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops. Although they are still using M1 technology – the M1 Pro and M1 Ultra chipsets outperform the vanilla M2 currently fitted to the consumer machines.

Professionals and companies looking for their next-generation update are going to have to wait well into next year before they can move on. They are now caught in a quandary of “buy now but buy the previous generation” or “make do with whatever you have now and wait for the next generation.” Neither of these are attractive answers.

One of the benefits of the iPhone’s production cycle is how predictable it is/ The second week in September comes around every year, and with it comes a new iPhone. Consumers take this as read and can plan accordingly.

Moving away from Intel to its own silicon gives Apple more control over the design and production schedule of the entire Mac platform. It should be able to offer the Mac user base a regular and reliable schedule of upgrades… and it should be able to communicate this as well.

The iPhone launch schedule is boring by design, and it works. The Mac platform needs to inherit this attitude as quickly as possible so that consumers, professionals, and enterprise customers are not caught out by Apple’s plans. If the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops are to be updated biannually, then this should be common knowledge, communicated clearly, and be part of a predictable pattern put in place by Tim Cook and his team.

But that would require an even more shocking decision from Apple. A decision to tell people about their future product plans.

Now read the latest Mac, iPhone, and iPad headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple Loop news digest…

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