Have Apple Execs Been too Preoccupied to Focus on the Mac?

There has been a lot of commentary in the past week about Apple’s perceived lack of interest in the Mac. From the curiously expensive, yet limited, MacBook Pro that Apple just announced to the moribund three-year-old Mac Pro that seems to have been forgotten, Mac users are seeing little useful evolution of the computers they use. Apple touted the MacBook Pro as being for “pro” users, but lots of “pros” have been chiming in about how this Mac isn’t for them.

But perhaps Apple’s top executives have been too busy to focus on the Mac. I’m reminded of when Apple delayed the release of OS X Leopard because of the iPhone, because too many developers were needed for the latter project. But what’s the product this time? The mythical Apple car?

Maybe all the top Apple executives are too busy with the ultimate vanity project: their huge new “campus.” I can’t imagine that the top brass at Apple are not involved in this project, and overseeing a building of this size must take a lot of time. Apple certainly needs new digs, but something this ambitious isn’t the type of project you can just hand off to an architect. Could the new Apple campus be siphoning off the time and energy of Apple’s key executives at the expense of the Mac?

16 thoughts on “Have Apple Execs Been too Preoccupied to Focus on the Mac?

  1. The Apple execs may be preoccupied with other things, but the main problem is they don’t use Macs for any serious work, creative or otherwise. Nor do they understand the needs of all their serious, productive users. To some extent, this is a hazard for all top-level decision makers- their time is too valuable to prepare or create anything. They look at reports created by other people. When they present reports (created by others), the presentation is set up by someone else. They don’t ever have to see, touch, carry, or lose a dongle, and they don’t imagine what a problem it is to carry half a dozen adapters, to meet the connectivity needs of the traveling professional.

    Apple has produced a line of computers that takes away most of the features that I want, and offers me nothing new that I care about, all at a much higher price. And they will learn the wrong message from their failure. The Macs will sell poorly, because they aren’t designed to be useful to anyone interested in anything other than appearance. They will conclude that the market is uninterested in Macs, that the market for computers is dead, and so they don’t deserve much attention or improvement. The opposite is true. The Mac market is eager for new Macs, portable, desktop, and workstation, with increased power and features, at a competitive price. Had Apple offered such a computer, sales would have been brisk. Offering an inferior product at a high price is not a winning strategy.

  2. The Apple execs may be preoccupied with other things, but the main problem is they don’t use Macs for any serious work, creative or otherwise. Nor do they understand the needs of all their serious, productive users. To some extent, this is a hazard for all top-level decision makers- their time is too valuable to prepare or create anything. They look at reports created by other people. When they present reports (created by others), the presentation is set up by someone else. They don’t ever have to see, touch, carry, or lose a dongle, and they don’t imagine what a problem it is to carry half a dozen adapters, to meet the connectivity needs of the traveling professional.

    Apple has produced a line of computers that takes away most of the features that I want, and offers me nothing new that I care about, all at a much higher price. And they will learn the wrong message from their failure. The Macs will sell poorly, because they aren’t designed to be useful to anyone interested in anything other than appearance. They will conclude that the market is uninterested in Macs, that the market for computers is dead, and so they don’t deserve much attention or improvement. The opposite is true. The Mac market is eager for new Macs, portable, desktop, and workstation, with increased power and features, at a competitive price. Had Apple offered such a computer, sales would have been brisk. Offering an inferior product at a high price is not a winning strategy.

  3. Vere,
    Some good points well made, but I feel I must always remind people of this….
    “…They will conclude that the market is uninterested in Macs, that the market for computers is dead, and so they don’t deserve much attention or improvement…”
    Apple have money to burn. They can afford to release much worse experiemental ideas to a niche public, have poor selling hardware, tinker with software that ruin whole weeks and sometimes years of long and short term users, without a dent in their reserves.
    so the idea that somehow they would concede to an avenue they do not want to travel down is mistaken.
    Apple are doing exactly what they want to do. Going where they intend. And you or I have long been discounted as having to be told reasons why and thus we cannot truly conclude why.

  4. Vere,
    Some good points well made, but I feel I must always remind people of this….
    “…They will conclude that the market is uninterested in Macs, that the market for computers is dead, and so they don’t deserve much attention or improvement…”
    Apple have money to burn. They can afford to release much worse experiemental ideas to a niche public, have poor selling hardware, tinker with software that ruin whole weeks and sometimes years of long and short term users, without a dent in their reserves.
    so the idea that somehow they would concede to an avenue they do not want to travel down is mistaken.
    Apple are doing exactly what they want to do. Going where they intend. And you or I have long been discounted as having to be told reasons why and thus we cannot truly conclude why.

  5. It’s a matter of priorities.

    Let’s say you had these 3 businesses:

    1) This business brought in ⅔ of your company’s revenues and profits
    2) This business years ago was the prime source of revenues and profits, but it has been consistently diminishing over the years, and currently accounts for only about 10% of your company’s revenues and profits, and the market for that product is continuing to dwindle
    3) This business has grown from a startup several years ago. It has been continually growing annually at a 25% rate or higher on average, and it currently exceeds the revenues and profits of business (2) with an outlook for continued growth

    Your priorities would be to put more time and money into businesses (1) and (3), with less of a priority for business (2).

    In Apple’s case, those businesses are of course:

    1) iPhone
    2) Macs
    3) Services

    • So what you’re saying, despite Apple blurb to the contrary (no we’ve not forgotten macs, i love macs – t. cook) that they are no different to a wholesaler selling curtain rings from a nice website for profit…

      Apple actively glorify themselves as being more than just about profit. But you’re right, they are not. They desperately want to be considered both cool and high-end too. That tells where the billions in R&D goes…

  6. It’s a matter of priorities.

    Let’s say you had these 3 businesses:

    1) This business brought in ⅔ of your company’s revenues and profits
    2) This business years ago was the prime source of revenues and profits, but it has been consistently diminishing over the years, and currently accounts for only about 10% of your company’s revenues and profits, and the market for that product is continuing to dwindle
    3) This business has grown from a startup several years ago. It has been continually growing annually at a 25% rate or higher on average, and it currently exceeds the revenues and profits of business (2) with an outlook for continued growth

    Your priorities would be to put more time and money into businesses (1) and (3), with less of a priority for business (2).

    In Apple’s case, those businesses are of course:

    1) iPhone
    2) Macs
    3) Services

    • So what you’re saying, despite Apple blurb to the contrary (no we’ve not forgotten macs, i love macs – t. cook) that they are no different to a wholesaler selling curtain rings from a nice website for profit…

      Apple actively glorify themselves as being more than just about profit. But you’re right, they are not. They desperately want to be considered both cool and high-end too. That tells where the billions in R&D goes…

  7. Don’t think it’s about “focus”. Instead, I think it’s a result of Steve Jobs famous warning about what happens when you don’t put product guys in charge of a tech company.

    Jobs named Tim Cook as his successor, someone who had ZERO experience as product guy, but was a top-notch supply chain guy. The slow core rot of Apple, mainly in the Mac department, but pervading ALL facets of the company to some degree is exactly what Jobs warned about.

    The famous Jobs quote:

    “I have my own theory about why the decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The product starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

    Cook isn’t a salesman, but he’s still not a product guy. So ALL the products: hardware, software, and services suffer. And again, while the Mac is worst hit, services tend to suck, AppleTV gets more and more irrelevant, and iOS has more and more QC issues. The product is no longer the focus at Apple, but I don’t think it’s because of “preoccupation”; it’s just about the folks in charge not understanding product-orientation.

    • Well said. And I think there’s something about Ive getting a bit too much power in the mix as well, as far as how Apple has lost its way. Minimalism is a fine design ideal. But when it starts to overcome every other consideration, well…. There is such a thing as going too far.

  8. Don’t think it’s about “focus”. Instead, I think it’s a result of Steve Jobs famous warning about what happens when you don’t put product guys in charge of a tech company.

    Jobs named Tim Cook as his successor, someone who had ZERO experience as product guy, but was a top-notch supply chain guy. The slow core rot of Apple, mainly in the Mac department, but pervading ALL facets of the company to some degree is exactly what Jobs warned about.

    The famous Jobs quote:

    “I have my own theory about why the decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The product starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

    Cook isn’t a salesman, but he’s still not a product guy. So ALL the products: hardware, software, and services suffer. And again, while the Mac is worst hit, services tend to suck, AppleTV gets more and more irrelevant, and iOS has more and more QC issues. The product is no longer the focus at Apple, but I don’t think it’s because of “preoccupation”; it’s just about the folks in charge not understanding product-orientation.

    • Well said. And I think there’s something about Ive getting a bit too much power in the mix as well, as far as how Apple has lost its way. Minimalism is a fine design ideal. But when it starts to overcome every other consideration, well…. There is such a thing as going too far.

  9. They may be busy and preoccupied with other things, but what irks me is that updating this otherwise mature platform (iMacs and Mac Pro) would require so little effort. I finally gave up and bought a “new” iMac to replace my wife’s 2010 model. Even though it got a minor speed bump after the product announcement, my heart sunk when I saw the About This Mac window described it as “Mid 2015.”

  10. They may be busy and preoccupied with other things, but what irks me is that updating this otherwise mature platform (iMacs and Mac Pro) would require so little effort. I finally gave up and bought a “new” iMac to replace my wife’s 2010 model. Even though it got a minor speed bump after the product announcement, my heart sunk when I saw the About This Mac window described it as “Mid 2015.”

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