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.

apple mac roundtable
A snapshot of the MacRumors Buyer's Guide from April 4, 2017:

macrumors buyers guide 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.

Top Rated Comments

A_Hunger_Artist Avatar
22 months ago
And that was when Jony Ive started packing up his desk...

In all seriousness it's incredible how good the state of the Mac is currently. Every single computer is just incredible - even the mini is a powerhouse right now.
Score: 76 Votes (Like | Disagree)
UltimateSyn Avatar
22 months ago
The Mac is in an incredible place now, and it’s only getting better. Awesome to see them deliver on those promises.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
clevins Avatar
22 months ago

For consumers the Mac lineup is in a very bad state right now. The current iMac is too small and aesthetically a absolute no go. That leaves only the very lacklustre Mac Mini and MacBook Air.
Here's your Attention Cookie. Happy?

It's idiotic to call the M1 Mini and Air 'lackluster'. They may or may not meet your needs but neither you nor any other single person speak for anyone aside from yourselves.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
22 months ago
This, and the fact that Jony Ive has parted.

People can complain all the want but the current crop of Macs are substantially more focused on function over form. And I don’t care how boring the Mac Studio looks - the fact that half of it is decimated to cooling and it runs at less than 50 degrees under most loads says it all.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ashdelacroix Avatar
22 months ago

And that was when Jony Ive started packing up his desk...

In all seriousness it's incredible how good the state of the Mac is currently. Every single computer is just incredible - even the mini is a powerhouse right now.
I think everything Apple is today owes so, so much to Jony Ive. He was still designing away in a forgotten corner of Apple when Steve Jobs came back and Jobs recognised Ive's sheer talent. But yes, a whole generation of amazing category-busting products under Ive's team was giving way to a generation of iterative products (largely) and making things thinner or with fewer ports (those things go together) that were indeed driving Apple into a corner where perfectionism was trumping practicality.

It was right to break out of that to some extent.

However, what Ive helped to push is Apple's incredible ability to fit so much into amazing compact designs and to ingeniously engineer solutions such as fitting a power brick and high-quality audio inside the new Mac Studio Display's thin frame. Look at the Mac Studio itself, for example, and the power of that in such a small footprint. That design didn't just land randomly one day on Apple Campus: it came out of a culture and a skillset and an ambition set by people working on the first iMacs and iPods way back when. No company has yet to catch up with the design language and verve developed by Jobs and Ive.

I think a huge amount of Apple's capability and its inventiveness and its ambition is down to Ive and his department, spurred on by his greatest "customer" and critic: Steve Jobs himself. We cannot criticise Ive for giving Apple such an incredible platform to build on. And I can't wait to fire up my new Mac Studio!
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
uller6 Avatar
22 months ago

For consumers the Mac lineup is in a very bad state right now. The current iMac is too small and aesthetically a absolute no go. That leaves only the very lacklustre Mac Mini and MacBook Air.
I'm not sure what you're talking about? I have an M1 iMac, which I love, and a 13" M1 pro, which I also love. They're fast as (*^#! And I love the look of the M1 iMac. As a "regular consumer" - i.e. I don't do video editing - in my opinion these are the best Macs ever made.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple card 1

Apple Ending Apple Card Partnership With Goldman Sachs

Tuesday November 28, 2023 3:09 pm PST by
Apple is ending its credit card partnership with Goldman Sachs, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple plans to stop working with Goldman Sachs in the next 12 to 15 months, and it is not yet clear if Apple has established a new partnership for the Apple Card. Apple and Goldman Sachs will dissolve their entire consumer partnership, including the Apple Card and the Apple Savings account....
iOS 17

Everything New in iOS 17.2 Beta 4

Tuesday November 28, 2023 12:18 pm PST by
Apple is wrapping up development on iOS 17.2, with the update expected to come out in December. While we're getting to the end of the beta testing period, Apple is still tweaking features and adding new functionality. We've rounded up everything new in the fourth beta of iOS 17.2. Default Notification Sound Under Sounds & Haptics, there's a new "Default Alerts" section that allows you to ...
iOS 17

Apple Releases iOS 17.1.2 With Security Fixes

Thursday November 30, 2023 10:12 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2, small updates to the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 operating systems that Apple introduced in September. iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2 come a few weeks after the release of iOS 17.1.1, another bug fix update. iOS 17.1.2 and iPadOS 17.1.2 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update....
Apple 5G Modem Feature Triad

Apple to Discontinue Custom 5G Modem Development, Claim Reports

Wednesday November 29, 2023 4:19 am PST by
Apple is discontinuing in-house modem development after several unsuccessful attempts to perfect its own custom 5G modem chip, according to unconfirmed reports coming out of Asia. According to the operator of news aggregator account "yeux1122" on the Naver blog, supply chain sources related to Apple's 5G modem departments claim that the company's attempts to develop its own modem have...
All New CarPlay Five New Features Article 2

What to Expect From All-New CarPlay, Still Listed as Coming 'Late 2023'

Tuesday November 28, 2023 7:44 am PST by
At WWDC in June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, increased personalization, and more. Apple's website still says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in "late 2023," but it has not shared...
Apple Logo

Apple Discontinued These 5 Products This Year

Monday November 27, 2023 7:03 am PST by
As the end of 2023 nears, now is a good opportunity to look back at some of the devices and accessories that Apple discontinued throughout the year. Apple products discontinued in 2023 include the iPhone 13 mini, 13-inch MacBook Pro, MagSafe Battery Pack, MagSafe Duo Charger, and leather accessories. Also check out our lists of Apple products discontinued in 2022 and 2021. iPhone Mini ...
iOS 17

iOS 17.1.2 Update for iPhone Likely to Be Released This Week

Monday November 27, 2023 8:24 am PST by
Apple will likely release iOS 17.1.2 this week, based on mounting evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs in recent days. As a minor update, iOS 17.1.2 should be focused on bug fixes, but it's unclear exactly which issues might be addressed. Some users have continued to experience Wi-Fi issues on iOS 17.1.1, so perhaps iOS 17.1.2 will include the same fix for Wi-Fi...
iOS 17

28 New Things Your iPhone Can Do in December's iOS 17.2 Update

Friday December 1, 2023 2:57 am PST by
Apple made the first beta of iOS 17.2 available to developers in October. Since then we've seen three more betas, and with each iteration Apple continues to add more new features and changes, many of which users have been anticipating for quite a while. Below, we've listed 28 new things that are coming to your iPhone when the finalized version is publicly released this December. 1. Help...