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No, WSJ, Apple shouldn't kill off the Mac

Glenn Fleishman | June 16, 2015
The Wall Street Journal is not trolling us, is it? Columnist Christopher Mims penned an essay titled, "Why Apple Should Kill Off the Mac" (it is behind a paywall), and goes on to enumerate various reasons. But it ignores the elephant--or El Capitan--in the room: Apple will never again let another company decide its destiny.

Not having the Mac, as Mims would prefer, would have reduced some of how thinly Apple was spread. But this transition is over, and Apple is back into a building stage in which it reaps the rewards of the software engineering performed since 2012 and new hardware released in the last two years: the Mac Pro, the 5K iMac, and the 12-inch MacBook.

This would be the worst time of all for Apple to stop making Macs.

The Mac is not a typewriter

The Mac is not just a flagship product, despite its reduced share of revenue, and the reduced importance of personal computers in the universe of all computing devices. It is the foundation on which everything Apple is today was built. It also remains the foundation of its longest-term, most loyal customers. Not fanboys, but women and men who have used a Mac for 10, 20, or even 30 years because it fits them best.

Yes, Apple regularly kills its darlings and pisses off its best customers. Dumping OS 9 for the NeXT-derived OS X--a necessary and painful step. Moving from the dead-end of PowerPC processors to an Intel architecture. Embracing Microsoft to bring Office back to the Mac, then developing its own productivity suite. Going all in one "flat" design with Yosemite. Delaying a true Mac Pro refresh for years, then producing an aesthetically pleasing high-performance system. Releasing a laptop with--get this--one port!

Those core users were mostly the ones who bought the first iPhones, because no other smartphone platform worked well with the Mac. They bought the first iPads, because they liked the iPhone. It is only in the last three years or so that Apple's mobile audience has grown largely outside the universe of Mac owners.

Killing the Mac means a stake through heart of tens of millions or more users who grew up with that computer. It means walking away from thousands of software companies, including key partners like Adobe (part of the WWDC keynote).

But let's pretend that even that is not important and Apple could weather it.

Apple will never again cede its future to other firms' control. It is why Apple makes its own chips, buys industrial-manufacturing firms that create special tools which it puts into its assembly partners' factories, and even blows a wad of cash on a failed attempt to generate more sapphire screens.

And it is why it has its own computer platform. One hundred percent of software development for the iPhone, iPad, and Watch (and Mac apps) occurs on Macs. There is no other way to assemble software for those devices. Even with the highest-end Mac software currently available, developers strain against the amount of time it can take to compile and test builds, whether in Mac-based emulators or when cross-loaded onto a developers' test devices.


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