I think the word “innovation” is often misused. Certainly there’s been no true innovation in smartphones for years, just incremental improvements. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that as incremental improvement is still improvement. Until someone truly innovates and makes the other companies look genuinely behind-the-times, there’s really no specific need to push for the next great breakthrough to happen before it would otherwise happen on its own. However, I do think there’s been relative innovation, or at least envelope pushing, over the past several years when it comes to computers from Microsoft, and not from Apple. I believe that the recent announcements of Microsoft’s Surface Studio all-in-one desktop and Apple’s new MacBook Pro‘s highlight this divide.
I’m a loyal Surface Pro user, presently using a Pro 3 as my daily mobile computing platform, although I certainly appreciate the versatility of the more traditional form factor Surface Book (which itself was just incrementally updated). At this point, it feels like Apple is just being stubborn not supporting basic touchscreen and pen functionality on their laptops. The Touch Bar would be a cool addition to a regular touchscreen, but is in no way a substitute or even partial analog for one. To my mind, the Surface Studio (Surface Dial included) is the type of product that could have and should have come from Apple. Frankly, Microsoft’s computer initiatives are making Apple look silly at this point.
To me, the only reason to stick with Apple anymore is if you genuinely dislike Windows 10, and there are certainly people who do, whether it’s for Windows 7, or a competing OS like Linux or macOS. Personally, I think Windows 10 is great and genuinely dislike macOS, but it would certainly have been an option I would have considered had Apple continued to provide the type of slick portable computing product I couldn’t get until the appearance of Ultrabooks on the Windows side circa 2011. It seems like since then, Apple has been content to stay the course. This course of action, or lack of action, was fine until PC vendors, and particularly, Microsoft, started to take proper advantage of touch and pen support.
Frankly, what Apple just announced is probably good enough for their core audience, who, I doubt will be going anywhere until Apple literally stops making new laptops. And even then, who knows? It seems strange to me, and something akin to the Nintendo effect, for Apple to not try and appeal to those outside their core audience, particularly since the company does so well with that on the smartphone and tablet sides of the business. As it is, instead of injecting new energy into the MacBook line, the Touch Bar only highlights how stale Apple’s computer vision has become.