Yes, it is fine for a rich person to spend $2,900 for a laptop on which to surf Safari and stream YouTube. But it is the kind of user I am describing who of necessity needs 16gb of ddr3 RAM (and a GPU with a couple gigs or more) in order to reasonably accomplish what they do for a living. Your characterization of these kinds of users as “elites” (when a well off fifty-something who buy this computer because it’s “the newest one” and proceeds to do nothing but send emails and browse Facebook are “the rest of us” and regular non-elite folk) is pretty silly.
I think the increasing prices of the MBP are an issue worth discussing in its own right. I did not refer to rich people streaming YouTube; I actually meant everyone buying a computer for work, including authors and bloggers and app developers, and indie film makers and musicians and everyone else who might feel called out. I did not mean elites as the pejorative term it’s sometimes used, but as a description for a group that might be the top of the class (in whatever terms), but that’s also comparatively tiny. A pro device should absolutely acknowledge their needs, but should also focus on a broader audience.
There are several definitions of “pros” thrown around in these discussions, and some I think are extremely specific and niche. If you broaden the term to everyone whose work is dependent upon it, then yes, the selection of users you mentioned is an important part of that–but just a part nonetheless.
Further, I find your characterization of the conventional function key row as “cryptic” to be laughably histrionic. You can’t seriously liken it to a relic of “cold-war” obtuseness, as though each key — all sufficiently labelled, by the way, on my keyboard (old MBP) — were yet another hieroglyph.
The function keys on Apple keyboards have two kinds of functionality: the traditional functions, and the newer, non-essential multimedia functions. If we look at the traditional function keys, then I wouldn’t call “f1” to “f12” “sufficiently labelled”. It literally just means “functions 1 to 12”. Which functions? Who knows! Imagine if the letter keys didn’t have the actual letters on them, but were just labelled “L1” to “L30”. Granted, they aren’t as crude and relic-like as keys like “end”, “scroll lock”, “pause/break” etc. But it’s simply not true that they are clearly labelled.
The multimedia functions of course are clearly labelled, but I don’t think you are referring to them. I use them a lot, but I don’t see how screen brightness or volume would be essential to a workflow?
I absolutely grant you that the behavior of the Touchbar might be confusing in some instances, or not show what the user currently needs in others. But that’s a criticism of the current implementation, not of the concept itself per sé. I don’t have the MBP with Touchbar, I don’t care that much for it. I think the biggest advantage of that device is TouchID. But I do think that there is a lot of old baggage on current keyboards, and I do think the function keys can and should be improved upon. I use (some) keyboard shortcuts myself, but again: the Touchbar is not meant to replace these, at least for now. Even the iPad still offers keyboard shortcuts.
I think a very interesting topic is whether these nested menus make sense that Apple demoed at the launch. I highly doubt that. But what about timelines? Is it faster to do that on screen, to move your cursor onto a timeline and then swipe or scroll? Or is it faster to swipe the timeline on the Touchbar? I don’t know, but I’m sure there are going to be done studies about it.
I grant you that the Touchbar has little going for it when you have memorized the position and function of all 78 keys on a modern Apple keyboard. If you’re a master of keyboard shortcuts. For those people, the Touchbar doesn’t offer much. But that’s already a presumption! How many MBP users are really capable of that? How many people who work on their MBPs are? If you have to look at your keyboard for at least some of the keys, how does the Touchbar fare then? Your article convincingly tells the story of pros who don’t ever look at their keyboards and who have very specialized workflows. The Touchbar scores badly there. My point is that not everybody is like that, and when you change the original proposition (looking at the keyboard or not), it changes the whole analysis.