Let’s hope that Apple is not making decisions based upon what Macworld says. But it seems as if Macworld speaks and Apple does their bidding. We have been giving our comments on products for some time now and Apple completely ignores us and continues to put out sub-par products. We want Apple to improve their products, not kill them off. We don’t believe for a minute that Macworld has this kind of sway over Apple, but we wish they would use their influence better if they do.
This all started on 25-April when Macworld posted an article on the five products that they felt needed to be discontinued. While we agree with a few of them; iPod Touch and iPad Mini, the rest of them we think Macworld is smoking the American Wacky Tabacky. Macworld is headquartered in San Francisco right? California did just legalize a certain product, didn’t they? One day after Macworld released its kill list, Apple announced officially that they were dropping the Airport line of wireless routers.
For Macworld to specifically call out the Airport line, Mac Mini and iTunes for deprecation shows that they care very little for actual good products and care more for something new. Their rationale is that if Apple won’t update the products they should delete them. That can’t be more wrong. If Apple won’t update them, they should be forced / coerced to update them and continue their existence. This scorched earth point of view for products should not be fostered any further. The iPhone won’t be a cash-cow forever and Apple should maintain many products and lines to bolster their bottom-line.
Let’s take these one by one:
The original Airport Base Station was introduced in 1999 and worked with the original iBook only. From there it progressed through several generations that added greater bandwidth along with the abilities to add printers, play audio through attached speakers (Express only) and hard drives for backup. The last two options are what separated the Airport products from the off-the-shelf Linksys et al.
Who else makes a wireless access point that offers multi-computer backup along with networking of traditional USB based printers for OSX and Windows computers and be able to play audio from iTunes to an attached pair of speakers in your house? Crickets. While other wireless AP’s have added USB ports for print serving, none of them offer the backup options (Time Machine) of the Airport Extremes and audio of the Express’.
The Airport line needs to be upgraded, bring the radios up to par, add mesh networking capabilities and viola. Maybe add some simple firewall capabilities, and we’ld personally like to see POE (Power Over Ethernet) support brought back for our office installations.
You’ld think that Macworld has something against the Mac mini by including it on their list of five. The mini was first introduced in 2005 and has admittedly been a ginger throughout its entire life. Some of that abandonment hast been understandable. The mini was never designed to be a highly placed desktop system. That was the job of the iMac’s. It’s not really portable and its the farthest thing from high-powered that you could get. It was meant to be an inexpensive general purpose Macintosh. A role it fulfilled expertly.
General purpose or not it has survived in areas that we doubt even Apple had envisioned. The mini became attached to AV systems, became corporate email and web servers as well as being an inexpensive desktop system. It became an appliance. That in itself justifies its right to survive. What made the mini the perfect computer was exactly how it was designed. It was compact, reasonably powerful and could be paired with the keyboard, mouse and monitor of your choice.
Just as Apple made a mea-culpa for the abomination of the Mac Amateur, the mini deserves an apology. When Apple came out with the current 2014 version with soldered RAM, the market for the pre-2014 variants skyrocketed almost overnight. Hmmm, coincidence? We think not.
What the mini needs is a little bit of well deserved love and attention. Throw a current i5 in it with an optional i7, put back the SO-DIMM slots with support up to 32 GB of RAM, a few Thunderbolt, USB-C ports, gigabit Ethernet and we’ve got a winner for a few more years. Instead, Macworld would rather Apple just abandon the mini completely.
One simple question Macworld, just what takes its place? A third party product; Nope. Maybe another Apple product; sure, because people are going to spend $3k to watch MKV’s or Netflix on their TV’s or be an inexpensive server. Try again. No, there is no other alternative, and the mini is nowhere near dead as a product. Macworld suggests that a NAS device can replace the mini for the home entertainment centre; yeah because iTunes is so easy to load on Synology boxes.
We’ve saved the best for last; iTunes. Announced in early 2001, it started the revolution that made Apple relevant again. Getting rid of iTunes would be like giving up the Monarchy. Is it bloated (iTunes, not the Queen), yes. But it’s worth saving.
Over the years, iTunes became the de-facto bloatware. It started out as a way to play music on your computer. Apple offered the first legal and easy way to take your existing CD library, rip, store and playback at any time. With the introduction of the iPod months later iTunes became the only way to load and manage your music on the new device. As Apple added new features and possibilities, iTunes became the dumping ground.
Music, movies and applications were just the beginning. Apple added the iPad and iPhone to the list of devices supported by iTunes along with all of the software for them. Then there were the streaming services; music and pocasts. In many cultures its polite to burp when you’ve had a good meal and are full, iTunes would be the most polite application in those countries. Put something on its plate and iTunes would just swallow.
Luckily, Macworld is not suggesting that Apple get rid of iTunes, they just want to see it return to its roots. We agree. It’s time to get rid of the chuff that has been added to iTunes over the years. We’ld like to see iTunes return to its roots; music and videos and iPods. iPhone and iPad apps can be downloaded and updated through the App Store or a specialized app that handles their needs and has access to the iTunes Library.
But what about the others?
Macworld has also suggested getting rid of the iPod Touch and iPad mini. In our opinion, the iPod Touch is nothing more than iPhone without the phone. We agree that there really isn’t much need to have both devices these days. The iPad mini was originally to be a smaller and mostly lighter version of the iPad. With advances in technology the iPad mini is becoming superfluous; especially when you consider how large the iPhone is becoming - there’s little difference in size now.
There are certainly products that at some point need to be discontinued. Apple used to be in the printer and display business. It was nice when everything looked like it belonged together; like having an entire audio system comprised of nothing but Bang & Olufsen gear. Not everyone can afford to all B&O gear, or sometimes you just need smaller ‘speakers’ than what B&O makes. We get that. It was nice to have displays that matched and printers that just worked no matter what OS you connected or how; USB, wireless or wired. But they just weren’t profitable for Apple to continue in those areas.
Apple can’t make ‘buggy whips’ forever, but they can put resources into continually improving the products they have. Call it nostalgia, but there are some products that we just don’t want to see go - no matter what Macworld says.