Apple's Renewed Focus on iPad Left the Mac Behind This Year

When looking at the current state of the Mac lineup, the new MacBook Pro is the only model Apple has updated over the past seven-plus months. Even the latest MacBook Pro models required a 527-day wait, which was considerably longer than the average of 320 days between previous MacBook Pro refreshes.

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A glance at our own MacRumors Buyer's Guide shows the new MacBook Pro is the only Mac currently listed with a "Buy Now" status, as all other models beyond the 12-inch MacBook have not been refreshed for significant periods of time. The longest overdue is the Mac Pro, last updated 1,084 days ago.

• iMac — 420 days ago
• MacBook Air — 638 days ago
• Mac mini — 782 days ago
• Mac Pro — 1,084 days ago

The lack of updates can be at least partially attributed to Apple having to wait on chipmakers and suppliers such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, each of which follow their own product roadmaps, although that cannot be the only reason given Skylake processors are now readily available for update-deprived Macs.

A lack of meaningful updates to several Macs this year impacted Apple's bottom line, as Mac revenue has declined for four consecutive quarters year-over-year. The declines have worsened each quarter, starting with a 3% drop in Q4 2015 and progressing to a 17% drop in Q3 2016, according to Strategy Analytics.

Apple investors now await the company's first quarter earnings results to see if the new MacBook Pro models will be able to reverse that trend.

Conversely, after several down quarters, the iPad has experienced a mostly upward trajectory over the past year, thanks largely in part to the iPad Pro's higher average selling price. Apple's tablet revenue is now stable on a year-over-year basis, after dipping as low as -21% one year ago.

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Strategy Analytics senior analyst Eric Smith attributes the stabilizing effect to Apple's renewed focus on iPads. He said Apple entered the 2-in-1 tablet market with the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard right in time to renew growth and capitalize on growing enterprise demand in the future.

Recognizing that Microsoft was changing the computing device market, Smith said Apple "pretty much forgot about Mac" in order to attack the 2-in-1 tablet segment with the release of iPad Pro models over the past year.

"Apple has been a master of cannibalizing its own business before other companies do so in a major way," Smith told MacRumors. "Apple let iPad slide until it became clear that Microsoft was changing the computing device market. It refocused on iPad with the Pro series and pretty much forgot about Mac to attack the 2-in-1 segment."

Apple's move was rather effective, as iPad market share has stabilized at 22% over the past two years after declining for the previous four years. But it would seem it took a change in stance to get there as, in the past, Apple essentially dismissed the idea of releasing a tablet-notebook hybrid.

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During a 2012 earnings call, when asked to comment on why the MacBook Air and iPad would not eventually converge, Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that combining the products would result in compromises. "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but those won't be pleasing to the user," he said.

By contrast, earlier this year Apple released a TV ad called "What's a Computer?" that positions the iPad Pro as a computer. "Imagine what your computer could do if your computer was an iPad Pro," the tagline concludes.


Likewise, Cook said the iPad Pro is a notebook or desktop computer replacement for many people. "They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones," he added. "I think if you're looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?"

In the post-PC era, it is perhaps unsurprising that Apple's attention has shifted more towards the iPhone—and by extension, the iPad. But many faithful customers are hoping Apple will eventually turn its sights back to the Mac, following what some critics believe was a disappointing MacBook Pro update amid an aging lineup of Macs.

Rumors suggest Apple will launch new iMacs in the first six months of 2017, and at least one model is said to include an option for new AMD graphics chips. The roadmap for other Macs remains less clear.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
48 months ago
Too bad they are a small company and cannot focus on more than one product line.
Score: 200 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Better Headline - Tim Cook Left Apple Behind This Year.

1. Removed 3.5mm headphone jack from iPhone
2. Made the Macbook Pro less pro
3. Neglected iMac
4. Ditched Display Business
5. Has made a loyal Apple customer not find any interest in any product in the Apple store

Get that man out of there. Please. Seriously.

-Signed Mac Pro Tower 2012 / 15 inch Macbook Pro 2011 / iPhone 6 user
Score: 109 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
If Apple abandons the Mac then I will abandon Apple.
Score: 103 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Absolutely disgusting and a true shame to Steve's legacy. And for what exactly?

The iPad Pro is just an oversized version of the original iPad Air design (which came out in 2013) and iOS 10 is terribly designed for it. Don't even get me started with that keyboard accessory? And charging the Apple Pen? Everything feels so flimsy and awkward, even Microsoft has it all figured out pretty well. And I'm really getting sick of those thick bezels & chamfered-edge design...

I mean we complain a lot on these forums, you can go back 15 years ago here and find complaints regarding the first iPod, however this truly is a continuous disaster and I hope to god this will reflect on their sales in the future, otherwise nothing will change. Just to think that employees and executives may read this and regard this as meaningless noise.

The Mac has been the backbone to this company for decades, don't strive for high profits, market share & low margins, strive for perfection... because that's what made them special in the first place.
Score: 86 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Hey macrumors, you made a mistake on the buyers guide for the MacBook Pro, it states "buy now", where it should read "don't buy" :D

Here is what appears to be an honest review from an Apple fan -
he is returning his.
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
48 months ago
Apple probably would have updated the Mac but with 200B in the bank,things are kinda tight
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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