The 'sealed-box' Mac: Cutting-edge design or planned obsolescence?
The new MacBook Pro with 'Retina' display appears to be a harbinger
Computerworld - The first Mac I ever bought for myself was a Power Mac 8500, circa 1995 -- ancient history now, but despite its uber-boring beige box, it was a truly great machine, able to do things that most PCs of the time could only dream of. In modern terms, it was the great-grandfather of a fully-loaded Mac Pro.
More to the point, almost every feature about it was upgradable, including the CPU, which was on a swappable daughtercard. That workhorse Mac saw heavy-duty daily use, including code compiling, video digitizing and 3D rendering and animation, for more than 10 years, while computer hardware and architecture advanced rapidly. I fired it up for this article, and it's still humming along. This longevity is noteworthy enough, but even better is that with its upgrades it could have been considered nearly state-of-the-art for most of its life. With memory finally maxed out at 1GB (for a machine that first shipped with 16MB), high-speed SCSI-3 drives, FireWire and a G4 CPU upgrade, it could even be induced to run Mac OS X 10.5. (No, I didn't do that myself, but it can be done.)
The non-upgradeable MacBook Pro
Enough nostalgia. Let's jump forward to June 2012, when Apple unveiled the new top-of-the-line 15-in. MacBook Pro, with its ground-breaking Retina display, a truly drool-worthy laptop if ever there was one. It's fast, powerful and stylish, setting the standard for what a full-featured yet highly portable laptop can be. But that gorgeous package comes with a cost. iFixit, in its teardown analysis, gave the Retina MacBook Pro the lowest possible score, 1 out of 10, for its almost complete lack of upgradeability. There are no user-replaceable parts whatsoever, including the battery or even RAM, which, in a trend begun with the MacBook Air in 2008, is directly soldered to the logic board. What's wrong with this picture?
Apple has long divided its offerings into "pro" and "consumer" lines, and this divide has only diverged lately, as an ever-growing proportion of Apple's revenues and profits have come from consumer-focused products such as iOS devices - the iPad and iPhone (and to a much lesser extent, Apple TV). While power users may need and want upgrades for Macs, consumers, usually replace their iPhones, iPods and iPads, with new devices rather than upgrading their current hardware. Updates happen at the operating system and application level. In short, these are all "sealed-unit" devices by design, with no hardware-level upgradeability.
- Apple has bigger plans than just song ID with Shazam deal
- Mac Pro shortage sets record as worst Mac production debacle
- Apple slates WWDC for June 2-6, sets up ticket lottery
- Apple patches Safari's Pwn2Own vulnerability, two-dozen other critical bugs
- Microsoft's free OneNote vaults to top of Mac App Store chart
- Apple discounts iPhone 5C 8%-9% in five markets via storage cuts
- Apple hands stock worth $12.1M to top execs in retention deal
- Hands on: Apple's Mac Pro is the fastest Mac ever
- Apple CFO to retire in September after he cashes in $53M stock award
- Apple's CarPlay to spark mobile apps war in your car
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Laptops White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!