Apple’s “Longevity” Problem By Josh Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Apple’s “Longevity” Problem          By Josh Blagden

Mac sales have been down for a year or two. Apple erroneously blames its low Mac sales on the longevity of the Mac. That’s only half true. It’s true in the sense that if Macs didn’t last as long as they do, owners of pre-2011 MacBooks would have already bought new ones because their old ones would have died. On the other hand, Apple’s longevity notion is false because the low Mac sales are not merely because Macs last ten years, but rather because in the past 3-4 years, Apple hasn’t made a MacBook worth buying.  If Apple had MacBook Pros which had upgradeable RAM and storage - not to mention a MacBook Pro with an optical drive which can be replaced with a second hard drive or a second hard drive bay instead - Mac users probably would have bought new Macs by now instead of trying to get the most out of their current Macs. 

In addition to upgradeability, the other issue with Apple’s current Mac lineup is that they overcharge for storage upgrades. They start you out at 128 gigabytes and charge $300 to go up to 256 and another $300 to go up to 512 gigabytes. If you wanted to get a current MacBook with 512 gigabytes of storage, you’d have to spend an extra $600 for that upgrade. And then there’s the RAM pricing - Apple charges double what they should for RAM upgrades, which is especially problematic because it’s non-upgradeable. I can understand Apple wanting to make some money from RAM upgrades, but I think $200 for a 16 gigabyte RAM upgrade is a bit much. At this time, Crucial charges $82 for a 16 gigabyte RAM upgrade for my late 2011 MacBook Pro. I could see Apple charging $100 for that RAM upgrade, but not $200.

The problem with Apple’s current lineup is that none of the new MacBooks are user-upgradeable, employing a strategy of planned obsolence. The RAM is soldered in and the Solid State Drive uses a proprietary interface, a problem which is only worsened by Apple’s ridiculous Solid State Drive and RAM upgrade prices. This is also true of the Mac Mini as well as the 21.5 inch iMac. The 27-inch iMac is pretty good because it has four user-accessible RAM slots and the CPU is socketed instead of being soldered to the motherboard, but it’s not very good for playing games because it has a non-upgradeable AMD GPU, which is a problem becauseMac games use OpenGL instead of DirectX and AMD cards simply don’t do very well in games that use OpenGL; Nvidia’s GPUs crush those of AMD in OpenGL tasks. Also, most of the Macs which are sold are laptops, which is due to two reasons: 1. In general, most people prefer laptops over desktops, and 2. Macs are double the cost of  IBM Clones, so you’re only going to want to buy one. Admittedly, Apple still sells the 2012 MacBook Pro(non-retina), which is great because it has upgradeable RAM and storage, but it’s four years out of date. If you have a MacBook from either 2011 or 2012, you’re all set because today’s Macs are neither different nor upgradeable enough to justify buying a new one. For now, all we can do is hang onto our current Macs and hope that Apple will realize the importance of user-upgradability and expansion before we need to replace our current Macs.

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015