The “That’s How Apple Does Things” Tautology

a screenshot from the apple store web site showing a MacBook Pro with 8 gigs memory standard, offering a $200 upgrade to 16 gigs
Earlier this year I was on Mastodon, opining casually on Apple being so tight-lipped about their strategy with their highest-end pro Macs, and suggesting that Apple just speak openly about the long term plans because there isn’t really much of an Osbourne effect to be concerned with, and it will help pros trying to make a long term home on the Mac.

I had mentioned John Gruber in the toot because it was discussing an interview he did with John Ternus, so he replied to me and said “Easy. Because Apple does not talk about future products.”

Which was a really funny response to get from John Gruber because he literally participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by Apple where they specifically talked about future products, specifically pro Macs.

But this is less about me dunking on John Gruber and more about this kind of thought pattern I see a lot now from prominent bloggers and podcasters who cover Apple. You criticize something about Apple and their response is that that’s just how Apple does things.

The most recent such thing to make the rounds has been surrounding criticism of Apple for releasing a new MacBook Pro in late 2023 that still has 8 gigs of memory in its base configuration.

Pundits are taking to macsplaining that this criticism is just futile because this is just how Apple does things. Apple specs these base model Macs to hit a price point that sounds good, but they will be stingy in how it’s configured so that you need to make a hundreds of dollars upgrade to get something good.

Of course, my issue here wasn’t that I didn’t understand Apple’s strategy here (and neither is anyone else who is calling Apple out for this). I know this is their strategy, and I’m saying it sucks. A computer with the “Pro” moniker should be pro-level without qualifiers. People buying a pro Mac shouldn’t be buying one with just 8 gigabytes of memory in 2023, because even if that suits their needs now, needs grow, and a MacBook Pro with 8 gigs of RAM will, on average, have a shorter useful life than a MacBook Pro with 16 gigs (since you can’t upgrade down the road).

It’s not a pundit’s job to defend a position Apple takes that’s so indefensible their own PR teams don’t even try to defend it out loud.

Apple’s products have historically had their differences that have been misunderstood, sure, and it’s not unreasonable to explain that (and I continue to appreciate that macOS has a distinction between an app being quit and an app being open with no open windows).

But to just plain defend Apple’s right to be shitty capitalists extracting every last basis point of profit margin just for its own sake? When that very same Apple was talking a big game in September about their ambitious environmental goals? I just don’t get why you’d want to waste paragraphs or air on it.

It’s true that this strategy of under-specced products at the low end has been a cornerstone of Apple product strategy under Tim Cook, and it’s fine to explain that historical context to your audience. And you can tell me that I shouldn’t be surprised at behavior like this because it’s consistent with years of their behavior. But you do not get to tell me I just need to accept that. These practices are worse for Apple customers, and if your primary audience is Apple customers, what good are you doing your readers and listeners telling them there’s no more in expecting more from Apple? What good is your loud voice if all you want to use it for is to help a $2.8 trillion company work their way to $3 trillion and beyond?

icanthascheezburger isn’t here to shill for Apple; I am here to understand Apple and to call them out on customer hostility. If Apple wants to make record-setting revenues they can do so by earning the revenue by making great products, not extracting it through nickel and diming on entry level configurations.

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