Macs Reportedly Getting Less Attention Within Apple

In October, after more than 500 days without an update, Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro, with a slimmer design and louder speakers. The laptop garnered mostly favorable reviews from the technology press but grumbles from creative types, a key constituency, who said the device under-performed rival products.

Interviews with people familiar with Apple’s inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company’s software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

This was a particular difficult read to parse because, while the piece seemed to paint a blunt picture that Apple is floundering and being somewhat contrarian with its own values, which is really hard to believe, it wasn’t written by just any broken-record soothsayer. It was written by Mark Gurman, whose track record for getting scoops on rumors and such has been top-notch, at least before writing for Bloomberg.

Although, this is one of the only times I’ve seen him, or anyone, present such scoops in a narrative format like this, as though an opinion piece. (Just look at the title of his piece: “How Apple Alienated Mac Loyalists”) I think that’s his way of projecting the story – at least the objective/reported aspects (or as objective as secondhand information goes) – as carrying significant weight. Using events in Apple’s recent history dating as far back as 2013 to corroborate his points tells me that as well.

If what he says is true, this is a major turning point for Apple, I think – as big as Steve Jobs coming back to Apple in 1997. Zooming out and taking into account the wider context of the tech industry obsessing over AI, among other things, makes Apple’s ambitions seem minuscule. It can even seem petty to some whose perspective is that Apple can’t even refresh their current computers to a baseline, satisfactory degree, much less be a legitimate player in AI or whatever paradigm will seem to matter in the near future. (Apple trying and failing at cars internally – again, however true – doesn’t help change that perception at all. You can thank Gurman for that info as well.)

If you haven’t read the whole article yet, go ahead and do that now. Consider what I just mentioned on top of that information. As good as Apple can execute a product – gleaming reviews of the new MacBook Pros and AirPods have to count for something – I can’t tell you with a straight face that they know where they’re going.


Further reading: My longform piece on what I think is happening at Apple nowadays, at least part of it. Don’t get me wrong, I wish the piece didn’t hold up. But I think it does.