On August 2, 2018, it was announced that Apple’s overall value had reached or exceeded a trillion dollars.
I don’t normally comment on “AAPL” as a business in the modern context, specifically, because I feel like it’s addressed well enough everywhere else. I’m sure dozens of other blogs and twitter feeds will have this take, but I do think it’s interesting the way some of us (and above all else this is a call-out post for myself) treat Apple when it comes to issues like updated products.
In short, knowing that Apple has, or could have, a trillion dollars hanging around, it seems ridiculous half their product line consists of a bunch of machines that are between two and three years old, when newer components have existed and are in many cases drop-in upgrades, or are on platforms that can be designed as drop in upgrades to the design in question.
The most egregious example of late is really the Mac mini. It is technically newer than the Mac Pro, but it’s also a platform that should be easier to upgrade. In addition, the Mini itself is using Haswell (4th generation) components, but Broadwell is available as a drop-in upgrade, and the 8th generation has been available for most of the year and is a very meaningful upgrade. In addition, the Mac mini is needlessly (because it doesn’t run on a battery) restricted to the lowest voltage types of components, and is built without basic upgradeability and expandability.
I’ve argued in Apple’s favor before, suggesting the reason they do this is to keep the cost of the Mac mini platform down, but newer versions of the systems you could reasonably build the Mini around have come out and would be much better performers. Even so, despite having less overall “desktop experience” marketshare than all of the other computer makers, Apple has more cash laying around than any of them, and so they can probably afford to just build an updated Mac mini with the bits bits to suit that platform’s needs.
Hardware issues are one thing, but using Apple’s products is often full of little cuts. For example, the free allocation of cloud storage is 5GB, regardless of how many devices you have, or what else you’re running. It stings to go buy a $1000 phone or a $2000 laptop (or more) and receive an angry message in just a few days of taking pictures or putting files on the desktop, due to the default configurations of Apple’s devices.
I think iCloud is a good product and I don’t dislike the things iCloud does, such as automatically backing up your documents folder, but Microsoft and Google’s services each start you off with 15 gigabytes free, and they each have ways to get more space free. For example, Google Photos will allow an “unlimited” number of photos at a reduced rate. Microsoft throws you a few extra gigs for even using the service at all, and again on the Google side, there are frequently special deals for storing more data in Google’s services if you have Android or ChromeOS devices.
Beyond all that, there’s the thousand tiny cuts of MacOS and iOS over the years. Little bugs or oddities about the experience that didn’t get fixed for a long time or haven’t been fixed yet.
Ultimately it stings to know that Apple has all this money, t hey could hire people, they could build more Mac models, they could improve the iPad’s utility and credibility as a “real computer” and they just don’t.
To put a finer point on it, I don’t think this is a “new Apple” or “Tim Cook” thing. Apple was pretty clearly on this trajectory before Steve Jobs died. It just happens to be now that they hit a trillion dollars.
Apple likes to think of itself as small, but it’s clear they’re really not. They’re the dragon of not just the computing industry, but the entire world - the highest valued corporation in existing - sitting on a giant pile of cash for no good reason.
Apple needs to either get rid of some of this cash - paying its taxes would probably be a good starting point - or hire more people if they need to work on issues such as keeping the Mac hardware line up to date, and fixing issues in its other software.