What pros?

When my Mac Pro recently slipped into a coma, I began thinking about what my next primary computer will be. Until this past week, Apple hadn’t updated any Macs in quite a while1, and the direction they’ve taken the Mac line continues to puzzle me. It all started (in my mind) with ubiquitous glossy screens, and has worked its way down to touchbars and near-zero travel keyboards. Last week’s update to (some) Macbook Pros is welcome, but underwhelming. Six cores and DDR4 is great, but that’s only in the large model. Meanwhile, if I wanted to suffer through a 15″ machine, HP’s ZBook 15 has either hexacore Xeons or Cores, inbuilt color calibration, a trackpoint, a keyboard that I feel safe assuming is superior to the MBP’s, and a user-upgradable design.

I remain consistently confused by what professionals Apple is targeting. As a creative user, I’d whole-heartedly prefer the aforementioned HP. Most illustrators I know rely on Surfaces or other Windows machines with inbuilt digitizers. I know plenty of professional coders on MBPs (and Apple seems to push this stance hard), but I don’t know why23 – that funky keyboard and lack of trackpoint don’t make for a good typist’s machine. The audio world makes sense, Logic is still a big deal and plenty of audio hardware targets the platform. But honestly, when I see people like John Gruber saying the updated MBP’s “are indisputably aimed at genuine ‘pro’ users”, I’m a bit baffled, as I simply can’t think of many professional use-cases for their hardware decisions as of late. They’re still extremely impressive machines, but they increasingly feel like high-end consumer devices rather than professional ones.

  1. This MacRumors buying guide shows the timeline of updates rather well. ↩︎
  2. iOS development, perhaps? Apple’s developer tools are very good, and much like coding for the Mac on a Lisa back in the day, the only way to get iOS apps that aren’t horrifying (engine-dependent cross-platform games excluded, I suppose) is to do it on a Mac. ↩︎
  3. I would assume the UNIX compliance of macOS is also a large reason. And even out of the context of ‘what pros’, macOS is a huge draw. If Windows was a better (and native UNIX) OS (or if I could run Creative Cloud in Linux), I’d be a lot less confused about what my hypothetical next computer is. ↩︎