Resurgent MacBook Pro Hobbled By Intel’s New Technology – Forbes
As expected, Intel’s formal announcement of its seventh-generation ‘Kaby Lake’ Intel Core processors at CES in Las Vegas has set the tone for this year’s generation of high-end laptops. The new Core chips join the Y- and U-Series processors announced in Autumn last year. 2017 will be the year of Kaby Lake.
The biggest selling range of laptops last year was Apple’s MacBook Pro range. Having gone years without a significant update, Apple heavily pushed the new laptops as being packed with cutting edge technology, new ideas, and sitting at the very peak of performance.
Unfortunately they all shipped with Intel’s sixth-generation Core processors, so this week’s news bursts Apple’s cutting-edge marketing bubble quickly and cleanly.
In Apple’s defence, there are advantages with using the final iteration of a previous generation of technology. Engineers will have a far better understanding of the architecture and how to maximise performance, the fractional gains that the operating system can make in every area will be maximised, manufacturing issues have been overcome, and there is a significant economy of scale in production of the chips.
The choice was to either delay the launch for around six months to have access to enough components, or push ahead with a sixth-generation laptop for Q4 2016 and have an attractive ‘this is why you should upgrade’ bullet point in Q4 2017. Given the huge volume of sales that the 2016 MacBook Pro machines have achieved and Apple’s desire to have a new family of machines ready for the festive period, it went for the latter.
In terms of turnover, market position, and revenue generation, Apple made the right business choice to release the MacBook Pro machines in November last year.
Yet the feeling of ‘brand new MacBook’ that millions now have is being tempered with the news that the heart of the laptop has been superseded, in many cases less than two weeks after finding the laptop under the Christmas tree. That feeling is not unique to new Apple owners, but the weight of expectation that the community placed on the MacBook Pro, the promotion by Apple of the laptop range as living on the cutting edge and the power of the ‘Pro’ designation means that the MacBooks are going to suffer any backlash thanks to being the tallest poppies.
The 2016 MacBook Pro range is a curious mix of older stop-gap technology, and new ideas around interface and design. It’s an awkward step forward that had to be made and one that many were happy to make with Apple, but Intel has shone a light on just how awkward it was.