APPLE SHOULD have one or two interesting things to say about Macs and MacBooks next month amid a launch for some boring old phones. Specifically, about long-awaited updates to existing products and even, perhaps, a new line or two.
But the natural response to this shouldn't be the usual frenzy of child-like excitement that seems to accompany any Apple launch these days, albeit more muted in recent years, but an exasperated 'about time too'.
Apple is expected finally to update the MacBook Pro line-up of lappies, some of which are now more than four years old. Time doesn't move quite as fast in the world of personal computing as it used to, but what would people say if Dell, HP, Asus or any other manufacturer neglected a flagship product for so long?
And this from one of the world's most profitable and revered companies.
Apple's computing products have become so out of date and such poor value that even MacRumors' buyers' guide advises not buying pretty much every Apple laptop or Mac going.
Thinking of lashing out £1,000 on a MacBook Air? "Don't buy," screams MacRumors. Likewise the MacBook Pro, the Retina MacBook Pro and even the iMac desktop PC and Mac Mini.
The MacBook Pro, which will set you back £900 in PC World, was introduced in June 2012 and has a dated Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge microprocessor, a now laughable 4GB of memory and a spinning rust hard drive of just 500GB.
These weren't great specs four years ago, so would it have been too much trouble to just upgrade the basic components if nothing else?
Worse still, more up-to-date Macs aren't easily upgradeable, so you're stuck with the parsimonious levels of memory and tiny SSD capacities. Want more onboard storage? You'll have to wait until Apple releases a new model. And if recent experience is any guide you could wait some time.
For instance, £1,000 worth of Apple MacBook Pro with a fancy Retina display (one of a mere 13in) has a pitiful 128GB SSD at a time when 1TB SSDs can be picked up for less than £200 retail. Current price trajectories suggest that this could be closer to £100 within a year.
But Mac owners won't be able to upgrade, let alone buy a Mac or MacBook with such a capacity, unless CEO Tim Cook comes up trumps next month with something pretty damn good. It's more likely, though, that he'll put profit margins first.
Only the MacBook, which uses an Intel Skylake chip and was refreshed in April with a natty rose-gold colour, is recommended by MacRumors, and the Core M3 Skylake microprocessor isn't exactly a speed demon.
All this circumspection is coming from many of Apple's own hardcore fans. What happened, Tim?
The problem is that Apple is hugely profitable but doesn't seem too bothered about keeping its bread-and-butter computers as up to date as they should be.
The company seemingly prefers to focus on the iPhone and iPad and, if reports are to be believed, to lavish its time, money and attention on television projects that never seem to come to fruition, and vehicle projects that aren't likely to get out of first gear for a minimum of five years, if ever.
Indeed, boring old computers seem to have become an afterthought for Apple, a cash cow to help finance more exciting projects.
This neglect means that you can forget about developing virtual reality (VR) apps with any of Apple's current range of computers, even the most expensive ones, because none of them has sufficiently capable graphics cards. Most also lack an up-to-date microprocessor, and don't have enough onboard storage or memory.
Again, Apple has made the deliberate design decision to prevent people upgrading them, as you can with a standard PC, so customers can't take matters (or screwdrivers) into their own hands.
This is all the more negligent when you consider that it was hardcore designers that really made Apple what it is today, coalescing around the firm's platform from the 1980s to take advantage of more user-friendly and graphics-friendly hardware and software.
Apple ought therefore to be the natural platform of choice for VR developers. But it seems that Apple was asleep as VR took off, and has actively made life difficult for its customers with stubborn design decisions that value form more highly than function.
Perhaps it's time for Apple to start investing some of the firm's cash mountain in its range of computers before it gets left behind.
This autumn, hopefully, we'll see Apple's intentions and whether it plans to knuckle down and provide the kind of computing hardware its users want and, indeed, need, or whether it plans to motor off in a different direction. µ
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