WTF Is Apple Thinking With the New MacBook Pro and Touch Bar?

Let me preface this with saying I’ve been a Mac user my entire life since I was 4-years old. My first computer was a Macintosh SE, and I’ve only owned Macs since then. I’ve been to actual Steve Jobs keynotes in person, and ran an Apple news and rumor website for 5-years when I was in high school. I also usually hate when journalists and the media judge a new Apple product before anyone has actually used it, but today’s MacBook Pro event left me troubled and confused.

Touch Bar: What Problem Does It Solve?

As someone who now works in product development, I’ve learned a thing or two about creating value for customers. First and foremost, you need to solve a problem. Take the iPod for example, it solved the problem having to carry around a CD player and a case full of CDs with you everywhere if you wanted to listen to your music. The value proposition of 1,000 songs in your pocket on a single device was obvious.

As for the new Touch Bar, with the exception of a few niche use-cases like video editing, DJing, and maybe graphic design what problem does it solve? Who is the target market for the Touch Bar? People who want fast access to emojis?

It clearly wasn’t designed for a power user like myself who memorized every key on the keyboard decades ago. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I’ve never wanted faster access to emojis, I hate autocorrect as I type, I liked having a physical power button and esc key, and having a mute button always present has been more useful than not. Why would I want to give that all up for Touch ID, and a Touch Bar? How does it make using my Mac more efficient to use two hands, and constantly have to look down at the Touch Bar that is always changing between applications? Did anyone at Apple even ask themselves these questions?

It sounds like a user experience nightmare.

I thought the Pro was for Professional?

In 26 years of using Macs I’ve literally messed up my neck and jaw to the point where I have chronic pain and had to switch to a standing desk due to years of looking down at computer screens. The new Touch Bar is even less ergonomic and now requires me to look down even further. Ouch.

Not to mention, the majority of my computer time is now at a standing desk using a display, and wireless keyboard and track pad. I don’t actually do graphic design with just my MacBook Pro, and most professionals do not either. The whole concept of using both a track pad, and the Touch Bar at the same time doesn’t really make sense for professional designers like myself unless we are away from our desks. Even then, so what? I’m already selecting and clicking with the track pad.

The Touch Bar seems more like a gimmick targeting average consumers.

Pricing: WTF?

This is by far the most wtf pricing I’ve ever seen from an Apple product since perhaps the original iPod or G4 Cube.

I own a late 2013 MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina with a quad core 2.6GHz Intel i7, with 1TB of solid state storage, 16GB of RAM, and 2GB of graphic processing. It’s been 3-years, so I don’t remember the exact price, but it was somewhere between $2,800-$3,200. Again, I’m a power user, who does graphic design, product development, and this is my primary computer.

Three full years later, a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar just announced today with nearly identical specs of a quad core 2.7GHz i7 (which is only a 100mhz difference), 1TB of solid state storage, 16GB of RAM, and 2GB of graphic processing is $3,199. That is not a typo.

The same computer I bought 3-years ago is somehow the same price 3-years later, and they took more features away than they added.

To make matters worse, the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar does not have MagSafe, a Display port, HDMI, Micro SD slot, or any standard USB ports which means no thumb drives, or even charging your iPhone from your laptop without buying another cable even if you have an iPhone 7. The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar only has 4 USB-C ports which will require dongles to connect a display, or HDMI, or anything else really. You can also now only charge it using one of those ports so you’re actually only really getting 3 available ports when charging (unless your display also provides power which most do not). At least they kept the headphone jack.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know they’ve improved the speed of the RAM, and some of the other components but those increases aren’t that considerable despite the misleading charts Apple loves to present. While the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is in fact marginally faster then the computer I have today, it is not $3,199 faster. Once again, there is no clear value proposition for why anyone who has bought a MacBook Pro in the past 3-years should upgrade. To actually get a noticably faster computer then what I have today would cost me $3,499. Ouch again.

I could literally buy the new 28-inch multi-touch enabled Microsoft Surface Studio with matching specifications for the exact same $3,499 price tag.

What provides more value to a professional designer, editor, or even DJ? A 28-inch touch screen computer, or a MacBook Pro with a thin little Touch Bar replacing critical function keys that requires dongles to connect to anything? Hmmm.

I’m sure Apple will sell plenty of these computers, and will use the Touch Bar to convince customers to buy more expensive computers to increase Apple’s profit margins. However, they failed to provide a faster more innovative computer for professionals at a reasonable price point. I’m sure in the future I may even own one when they bump the CPU/GPU and drop the price, but it will not be for the Touch Bar.

Sadly, today’s announcements also means it will likely be another 3 or more years before we see anything new from Apple when it comes to the MacBook Pro, which is disappointing to say the least.

Where the hell is a multi-touch screen Mac?