Macs 'do more' than iPads says Apple’s Tim Cook

Cook promises 'more' for Macs

Apple hasn’t updated some of its Macs in three years, and this has got Apple’s professional users worried – but Apple CEO, Tim Cook, took a few moments to promise bread and circuses during last night’s shareholder’s meeting.

Do something

“You will see us do more in the pro area,” Cook promised. “The pro area is very important to us. The creative area is very important to us in particular.” 

The Apple leader’s statements may be understood as a cool glass of water in the desert for many creative pros who have begun migrating to cheaper and more regularly updated Windows-based systems.

There is little doubt, at least when it comes to Apple desktops, that the Mac Pro market has been poorly served.

Apple’s decision to pay lip service to those users may stem the tide, but the challenge of delivering something they need remains Apple’s to solve. Having not updated these Macs since December 2013, the company really has no margin of error. The most recent desktop system upgrade was the October 2015 iMac.

‘Macs do more than iPads’

In further statements, Cook suggested some philosophical change within company management. When asked if Apple has plans to merge Macs and iPads in some way, he said:

"Expect us to do more and more where people will view it as a laptop replacement, but not a Mac replacement - the Mac does so much more," he said. "To merge these worlds, you would lose the simplicity of one, and the power of the other."

“The Mac does so much more,” speaks volumes. Does it mean Cook’s Apple no longer sees the iPad as the future of the PC? (Steve Jobs famously promised “PCs are going to be like trucks”), or does it reflect a company developing a deeper understanding of what’s required from professional machines in a mobile age?

Cook’s statements suggest we may find out soon. "Don't think something we've done or something that we're doing that isn't visible yet is a signal that our priorities are elsewhere," he said.

Is this an inflection point?

Reading between the lines it seems possible Apple has delayed significant Mac upgrades while it pulls other technologies together. Referring to Apple’s research & development commitments, Cook promised products other than iPhones that will be “essential to Apple’s growth”.

We know the company has been exploring new technologies, including AR and VR. If Apple chooses to introduce new virtual experiences, it will also need to create the hardware and software to enable and build those experiences.

Cook also promised to “do more” with Apple’s professional software, which kind of means Logic and Final Cut, both of which may have some bearing on Apple’s AR plans.

Apple rumor sites regularly suggest future Macs may host USB-C ports, AMD graphic chips, processor improvements and MultiTouch keyboards and mice.

I think we’ll see some form coalesce among all these claims at WWDC 2017 – if the company plans core-level VR and AI support (and everything Cook has said in recent months suggests these plans link to the heart of Apple’s platforms), then its developer’s conference will be the first place to learn of these plans. It will also be interesting to see how reliant this new platform-ecosystem will be on the 64-bit processors now used by over 90 percent of Apple’s mobile users.

Apple has been investing a huge amount of energy in ensuring all iPhones in use run 64-bit.

In other news

In a rebuke against historically illiterate protectionism, Cook told shareholders Apple spent around $50 billion last year at U.S.-based suppliers and that around two-thirds of the corporation’s global employees are there. “We love this country,” he said.

Cook discussed Apple’s other products, saying the company couldn’t make enough Apple Watch Series 2 devices, observing AirPods are a “cultural phenomenon”, and noting a little frustration at Apple Pay adoption in the U.S. in comparison to elsewhere in the world.

He promised next year’s Apple Shareholder Meeting will take place in the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park.

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