Mac desktops: Pipeline Tim becomes Roadmap Tim

Tim Cook says that new Mac desktops are on the way, according to Apple’s roadmap. But haven’t we heard this before from the CEO of Apple?

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Many people have been wondering just what is going on inside Apple when it comes to Mac desktop computers. The company seems to be stuck in a strange lethargy as its Mac product line has stagnated in recent years, causing much disappointment and anger among Mac users.

So what's going on inside of Apple? Macs have clearly been put on the backburner while the iPhone gets the lion’s share of the company’s marketing and development efforts.

Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg Technology:

Interviews with people familiar with Apple's inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company's software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

In the Mac's heyday, people working on new models could expect a lot of attention from Ive's team. Once a week his people would meet with Mac engineers to discuss ongoing projects. Mac engineers brought prototypes to Ive's studio for review, while his lieutenants would visit the Mac labs to look at early concepts. Those visits have become less frequent since the company began focusing more on more-valuable products like the iPhone and iPad, and the change became even more obvious after the design team's leadership was shuffled last year, according to a person familiar with the situation.

In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there's no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.

That's part of a broader shift toward making Macs more like iPhones. Apple prioritizes features, like thinness and minimal ports, that sell its iPhones and iPads, which generated about 75 percent of revenue this year. Those are contrary to professional needs, like maximum computing power.

The internal turmoil has taken a toll. More than a dozen engineers and managers working on Mac hardware have left for different Apple teams or other companies in the past year and a half, said people familiar with the situation. Some were looking for a less all-consuming work environment, while others felt the future of Mac hardware was unclear in a world of iPhones and iPads.

More at Bloomberg Technology

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently tried to address this problem by posting some comments on an employee message board that mentioned the company's Mac product roadmap.

Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch:

One of the memes to come out of the somewhat contentious rollout of the MacBook Pro is that Apple has given up on the desktop Mac. Given the slower upgrade cycle of desktops and how well my Retina 5K iMac is holding up, it took me a while to pay attention to what was going on there — until it had reached a fever pitch.

The consensus was that Apple is no longer interested in keeping up its desktop business because the portable market was eating it alive.

In a posting to an employee message board, CEO Tim Cook seems intent on putting that particular branch of discussion to bed.

“Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops,” Cook wrote. “If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.”

Cook cites the far better performance of desktop computers, including screen sizes, memory, storage and more variety in I/O (ha) as a reason that they are “really important, and in some cases critical, to people.”

More at TechCrunch

Tim Cook’s new nickname: Roadmap Tim

So is Tim Cook for real on the possibility of new desktop Macs coming soon?

The optimistic part of me wants to say yes, but the pessimistic part of me can’t help but remember all of the comments from Cook about the amazing stuff that is supposedly in Apple’s product pipeline. He has mentioned the pipeline so often that he got the nickname Pipeline Tim from the MacDaily News blog.

Now it seems that Tim Cook has moved to citing Apple’s roadmap as a defense against charges that the company is lagging way behind in releasing new Macs. So Pipeline Tim is out and Roadmap Tim is in.

But will the roadmap defense work any better for Apple in the long run? I think the jury is still out on that, given how many times Tim Cook has fallen back on the “amazing stuff in the pipeline” rhetoric.

At this point Apple has to actually produce updates for all of its desktop Mac computers, including the Mac Pro and Mac mini. And then it has to update them regularly before the company can rebuild its credibility among Mac users.

Apple redditors aren’t buying Roadmap Tim’s comments

Now you might be thinking that perhaps I’m just a really cynical guy when it comes to evaluating Tim Cook’s statements, right? Well apparently I’m not the only one who is taking his recent comments about new desktop Macs with a huge grain of salt.

The TechCrunch article spawned a very large thread on the Apple subreddit, and the folks there weren’t…um…shy about sharing their opinions about Roadmap Tim's thoughts about the Mac.

I’ll just leave you with this selection of comments from the thread, and you can decide for yourself if anybody is buying Roadmap Tim’s attempt to reassure Mac users:

Ihaterobocalls: “.. after which he said "I promise. It's going to be great!"

Trump rubbed off on him after only one meeting!”

Davidyoyo2: “Make Macs great again.”

Ipoopsplinters: “The best macs. Only the greatest macs ever. Haven't ever been a better mac. Its just amazing.”

OtherSuns: “The next Mac will be an aluminum box with an Apple logo on that doesn't even glow and it will not have any ports, nor any wireless connections.

You just plug it into an electrical socket and it starts deducting money from your bank account.”

Thiskillstheredditor: “For people keeping track, this is twice now in the last few months where Tim has had to reassure the public that Apple still cares about Macs.”

Skellner: “You know, if it was 2014 and they were revving the Mac Pro, I'd be excited. A year later, new hardware. That's how it goes.

But geez...over 3 years since an update without even a price drop. WTF Tim?”

Juancastim135: “3 years and you can't even update a processor in the Mac Pro Apple? Give me a break.”

Pleasebemyfriend: “That's what I'm thinking. Tim Cook basically saying "LOL chill bro, update coming like real soon". Even if they updated it tomorrow, it still wouldn't void the fact that they have abandoned their Macs for three years. Saying you're dedicated to desktops while neglecting your desktops makes him an ass.”

Overstim: “Okay, lets say Apple DOES release the most amazing iMac and MacPro, ever. (There’s absolutely no reason to expect this, but lets just say, for the sake of argument). That’s still only half the problem.

Because what then? Sit on them, don’t say anything, don’t do anything, don’t upgrade them for another 3 years? That’s not gonna work, Tim. It’s not just products we pros need, its an ecosystem, and a company that stands behind it. A company that listens and responds to their customers.

Apple is now nothing but out of touch aristocrats, sitting inside a gilded tower, tossing breadcrumbs down to the stinking masses and expecting us to be grateful.”

SwaggyMcSwagSwag: “Oh my god. They're really turning into Microsoft now!”

More at Reddit

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