Arguably, the Mac has come very, very far since its early days – just look at the Retina display and have a rundown of the newest iMac models’ specifications.
When the computer was first released as the Macintosh 31 years ago, Apple was facing stiff competition from the IBM’s personal computer. Arguably, it was advanced for its time: when the young Steve Jobs introduced it in an event in 1984, it was met with a standing ovation:
But wait, isn’t this entry about the future of the Mac? Yes, but to look at the future, you need to take in lessons from the past first. In this case, the old Macintosh didn’t really do well at all, considering that the PC was heavily used in favor of the Mac. Add the fact that Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985, Macintosh was virtually invisible in the market, with Windows-run computers taking the lion’s share of the revenue. He returned 1997 after Apple bought NeXT and shortly thereafter, was named the chief of the Cupertino-based company.
Under him, Apple began its resurgence and once again, became a profitable company and introduced the 1998 iMac, which is the grandfather of the 27-inch computer that we see now. Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2011, leaving a legacy of greatness not only in Apple, but in the whole tech world.
Given that the last 30 years was storied and filled with ups and downs, it would be hard to guess the future of Mac. Will it reach its golden anniversary, or will it be discontinued in a decade thanks to the ever-advancing pieces of technology? Let’s take a look at what the future holds.
Steve Job’s prediction
Jobs was a no-nonsense man and he doesn’t hesitate to say what’s on his mind. One of his most iconic statements was when he claimed that PCs – including Macs – will transform to tools which would cater to specific members of the population. Speaking at an AllThingsD conference, he said:
PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people. … I think that we’re embarked on that. Is the next step the iPad? Who knows? Will it happen next year or five years from now or seven years from now? Who knows? But I think we’re headed in that direction.
This is starting to become true nowadays, despite the Mac’s steady growth. Apple itself is priming the iPad Pro to replace laptops and even Microsoft is doing the same with its newest Surface tablet. The world is steadily shifting to portable devices: more people now access the Internet through their smartphones than their desktop devices.
Not everybody needs trucks, but they are pretty valuable considering that they are needed in transporting and transferring goods. Take note however, that they only cater to a specific group of people. This could be PC’s and Mac’s fate in the next decade or two.
Does everybody need Macs and PCs?
If you think about it, what Jobs said has a lot of substance: only a minority people NEED Macs, PCs, and laptops.
Back in the day, these computers were a necessity: you needed them to surf the Internet send e-mails and do your work. Nowadays, other than advanced and program-specific tasks, the things you can do on the PC can also be done on the Mac. People who don’t need to type documents every hour or edit videos have no need for a desktop – their phones fill the need.
Mac is still a consumer product, but partially due to its price (the newest entry-level 21.5-inch one is priced at $1499) and its reputation as a technologically advanced product, considering it as a device for the masses is absurd. Remember, not everybody needs a thousand-dollar Facebook and selfie machine. However, its appeal is strong: customers regularly flock to Apple Stores worldwide to try out the Mac, take selfies with its front camera, and be awestruck with the Retina display.
The people who need the Mac
The future of Mac is still a bright one, considering that there are tons of people – especially in the tech and multimedia sector – who prefer and need Mac.
These include people who regularly edit videos, work on documents everyday, and those whose livelihood relies mainly on their Mac computers. In work-related endeavors, Mac computers in offices are a must – Apple has recently been pitching to large enterprises, most notably IBM, to use their computers in their workplaces. It’s quite ironic, considering that these two were going at it 30 years ago, but this shift towards enterprise makes sense and it really makes me think that the Mac is here to stay.
So far, IBM has adopted Macs and Macbooks into their offices with astounding results: only 5% of Mac users in IBM needed help from tech support compared to 40% of that of Windows. These numbers alone attest to the Mac’s intuitiveness. Though they are more expensive compared to their Windows-run rivals, they are cheaper for large companies in the long run: they don’t need to be maintained often and fewer personnel are needed inside help desks.
“The Mac keeps going forever”
In an interview with Jason Snell of Macworld, Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing claimed that Mac is still an integral part of Apple’s vision in the future:
“There is a super-important role [for the Mac] that will always be,” Schiller said. “We don’t see an end to that role. There’s a role for the Mac as far as our eye can see. A role in conjunction with smartphones and tablets, that allows you to make the choice of what you want to use. Our view is, the Mac keeps going forever, because the differences it brings are really valuable.”
We can safely say that with this statement, there’s no chance that we’ll see the Mac taken out of Apple stores worldwide.
The success of the iPhone and Apple’s other products are heavily contributing to the Mac’s success: it puts pressure off Apple’s shoulders, as Schiller pointed out. Due to the ever-increasing sales of the iPhone – the latest iPhone 6s sold over 13 million units in the first weekend – it gives Apple financial freedom to further invest and improve on the Mac.
With that said, we’ll likely encounter improved versions of the device in the future.
Mobile vs Desktop
Although mobile platforms are steadily gaining ground, desktop is still everyone’s go-to partner for work-related endeavors.
As mentioned earlier, Steve Jobs’ prediction isn’t far off, but the iPad and other tablets can’t sufficiently emulate the desktop experience yet. Sure, you can equip a tablet with a keyboard, but good luck trying to switch through programs and type at the same time, and the iPad Pro tries to address this by introducing multitasking features, like Split Screen, but it’s still easier to work on a computer while using a mouse instead of tapping a screen with your fingers.
Let’s say you’re working on a paper on your mobile device. The way you work will be ugly and unfriendly – you will need to switch from your word processor to your browser every 10 seconds, and the whole experience will be horrible. Switch things up and try to edit a long video, Photoshop an image, or try to create a vector design on a mobile device. Impossible, right?
These are why we still need desktop devices: people still need them to function, and unfortunately, mobile devices are not able to replicate while desktop brings to the table. Also remember that they still overpower mobile devices – an iPad’s processors and chipset will be laughable if compared with a new 27-inch 5k Retina display Mac computer. There’s just no way they would be able to match up. You also need to take battery life into account too.
What the Mac will be in the future
If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
Since Mac sales are gradually increasing and the models are incrementally improving, I wouldn’t count the Mac out in the near future. Unless if we see a dramatic change in tablet computer technology or if Apple and Microsoft markets their respective tablet computers awesomely, tablet computers will always play second-fiddle to desktop ones.
However, the Mac will definitely have to adapt to the technology of the time – something that Apple is adept at doing – and this will pave the way for numerous changes, may it be on its design or materials, to occur. Times are ever-changing but we won’t see any dramatic overhauls to the Mac computer soon, save for a few tweaks and improvements.
Overall, we will look at the current 27-inch Mac 30 years from now with the same nostalgia and feelings as we did on the 1984 one. People will remember it as Apple’s first foray into 5K resolution displays – and this could double by the time we reach 2045. And yes, we’re saying that the Mac will still exist by that time: mobile devices can emulate the power of desktop computers, but it’s not able to allow people to work with it conveniently.