Apple’s Sneaky Strategy To Replace Your MacBook Pro – Forbes
This month saw Apple declare one of its MacBooks obsolete. The final ‘white’ MacBook with the plastic casing has passed through the system and is now considered a relic. Those out in the wild will not magically stop working, but repairs are going to be uneconomical compared to buying a replacement.
Curiously Apple could not do this on a global scale as a number of territories have consumer protection laws that backs up an expected lifespan of a product in excess of Apple’s preferred duration – which is exactly why these laws in place.
Inside these moves you can see Apple’s strategy for the Mac computers take shape, especially the MacBook and MacBook Pro machines. How often can Tim Cook and his team get consumers to buy a new Mac?
The Mac family is going through a change. Thanks to last month’s mea culpa, the Mac Pro change is clear (essentially ripping up the circular design and starting again). The most recent earnings report shows that unit sales and revenue are up. Apple’s job now is to keep the revenue generation building.
Part of that will be doing its best to bring over the idea of consumers renewing a MacBook or MacBook Pro on a regular basis. With the iPhone the expected timescale is every two years – the product cycle with the vanilla numbered models and the ’S’ models offers a clean refresh every 24 months. When it was launched, the iPad was expected to follow a similar rhythm, in practice it took a little bit longer for the tablets to reach the point of replacements, with three years being a good rule of thumb.
Apple launched a new MacBook Pro last year, and while you could argue that it was little more than the equivalent of an ’S’ iPhone release (with a new gimmick in the form of the Touch Bar and some increased specification) it was the first decent refresh since 2012 and Apple is confidently calling it the fourth generation of the MacBook Pro.
That suggests a cycle of around four years for the Mac family, and that means you can probably predict when changes are coming.
I’d assume that Apple will be looking to do the equivalent of a ‘MacBook Pro S’ at the midway point in the generation game. If you take the 2016 models as the start of a new cycle, that means a notable step forwards in 2018, with the 2017 and 2019 machines bumping up specifications to stay relevant, but not make too many changes which would upset those who had bought a new machine in the last twelve months.
If Apple can create two blocks of macOS fans, with half buying a new macOS machine in years divisible by four, and the other half in the even year that lands in the middle of that cycle, it will have replicated the successful formula that has seen the iPhone generate significant growth and revenue for Apple over the years.
Desk-bound computer sales will never rival that of the smartphone, but maintaining a steady and slow development pace with only a few leaps forward per decade brings much-needed stability to the market, stability that Apple can exploit for increasing sales and revenue.
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