The new MacBook Pro is brilliant but it may just have killed Macs in the enterprise
Apple is already getting a lot of flak about the new MacBook Pro not being “innovative”, particularly when compared to Microsoft’s Surface Studio. I disagree. I think the MacBook Pro and its Touch Bar is an innovative update that prizes usability over innovation for innovation’s sake. It will be the Mac that everyone wants for the next year.
But that’s not the problem. The price is that five-letter word that has dogged Apple up and down the years: price. And where this is going to hurt Apple is in the place where it’s seen a lot of growth lately – the enterprise.
In the past three years, Apple has built a $25 billion business of enterprise sales. Large companies love their iPhones, iPads and Macs and Apple has been helped by strategic alliances with the likes of IBM. IBM has even become a Mac user itself, publicly stating that every Mac it buys saves the company between $273 and $543 over a four-year lifespan.
As of today, though, the entry-level Mac laptop has gone from £749 (the 11in MacBook Air) to £949 (the 13in MacBook Air). The cheapest MacBook Pro was £999, and now it’s £1,249 –and you can add in the cost of obligatory dongles too. If you had a budget of £50,000, yesterday you could equip 67 employees with Macs. Today, that’s 50. One CIO I’ve spoken to told me that this may have cost Apple £100,000 of business.
Apple, of course, will argue that its entry-level business device isn’t the MacBook Air anyway. The company will say it’s actually the iPad Pro 9.7in. Even as a massive fan of the iPad – my 12.9in Pro is my most-used computer at home and work – for anyone who spends a considerable time at a desk, a laptop is currently a better option. You CAN work on an iPad Pro (I do it all the time), but it still lacks some basic features that almost everyone will want, particularly full support for external monitors. When iOS lets me plug my iPad Pro into a monitor and get an extended desktop at native screen resolution, I’ll be able to use it all the time. But not before.
Of course, Apple has some good reasons for this effective price hike. It would be naive to think that the volatility of the pound post-Brexit vote doesn’t have a lot to do with Apple’s pricing in the UK. But it’s also worth noting that many of these price changes affect the US too. The cheapest entry-level Mac laptop hasn’t just been eliminated over here.
If I was an enterprise customer considering Macs, today I would be pushing them further down the consideration list. Given the incredible hard work of Apple’s enterprise team and the success they’ve had off the back of great designs, lower TCO and the support of the likes of IBM, that’s a massive shame. I hope that this isn’t a sign that Apple, once again, isn’t taking enterprise customers seriously.