Five Years Ago Today, Apple’s Uncharacteristic Apology Set the Stage for the Mac’s Renaissance

Five years ago, the Mac lineup was in a bad state. Over three years had passed since Apple redesigned the Mac Pro with a sleek but constrained “trash can” enclosure, while the iMac, MacBook Air, and Mac mini had also gone years without updates.

A snapshot of the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide from April 4, 2017:

At the time, some users began to question whether Apple was still committed to the Mac, especially at the high end of the market.

The criticism ultimately led Apple to hold a meeting with a small group of reporters, where it apologized to pro Mac users and ensured that it remained committed to the Mac. In a rare and surprising move, Apple also pre-announced it was working on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro with a modular design, a new pro-level iMac, and a new pro display.

The meeting, which was disclosed to the public five years ago today, involved Apple’s former marketing chief Phil Schiller, software engineering chief Craig Federighi, and then-VP, now-SVP of hardware engineering John Ternus. One of the reporters in the room was John Gruber, and the quotes that follow are from his Daring Fireball coverage.

Schiller’s apology to Mac Pro users:

The current Mac Pro, as we’ve said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it. And for that, we’re sorry to disappoint customers who wanted that, and we’ve asked the team to go and re-architect and design something great for the future that those Mac Pro customers who want more expandability, more upgradability in the future. It’ll meet more of those needs.

Federighi’s admission that Apple had designed itself into a “thermal corner”:

I think we designed ourselves into a bit of a thermal corner, if you will. We designed a system with the kind of GPUs that at the time we thought we needed, and that we thought we could well serve with a two GPU architecture. That that was the thermal limit we needed, or the thermal capacity we needed. But workloads didn’t materialize to fit that as broadly as we hoped.

Schiller ensuring that Apple remains committed to the Mac:

We’re committed to the Mac, we’ve got great talent on the Mac, both hardware and software, we’ve got great products planned for the future, and as far as our horizon line can see, the Mac is a core component of the things Apple delivers, including to our pro customers.

To say that Apple delivered on its promise is an understatement. Not only did Apple release the modular Mac Pro and the since-discontinued iMac Pro, but it also finally ditched the problematic butterfly keyboard on MacBooks, announced its game-changing transition to Apple silicon, brought back a wide array of ports on the latest MacBook Pro models, gave customers an entirely new option in the Mac Studio, and more.

Apple’s roundtable discussion with reporters will forever be a turning point in the Mac’s history.
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