That’s important because Apple has let its once-famous – and once-highly regarded – Mac line of computers to lay stagnant.  Neither the 27” nor the 21.5” iMac were upgraded in 2016. Worse yet, when the smaller 21.5” iMac was last upgraded in 2015, it did not come with the then -new Skylake processors, but was saddled with the older Broadwell CPUs and offered no graphics card option. Then to add insult to injury, it came with an insultingly slow 5400 RPM hard drive as standard. The “state of the art” smaller iMac could not be upgraded after purchase, and one had to buy the added RAM and faster storage at Apple’s inflated mark up.  Still, even if max’d out at 16GB RAM,  with the older Broadwell i7 CPU (processor), and with no graphics card option, how could it be considered state of the art?

Then there was Apple’s revered Mac Mini, which had not only been the province of those who could not afford the iMac; but more than that, it had been the province of tinkerers.  One could easily add RAM and Storage to the Mac Mini.  The 2012 Mac Mini was a gem. It had the option of a quad-core processor, and was easily serviceable.

The Internet was full of videos on how to turn the 2012 Mac Mini into a computing “beast,” with some minor upgrades. This became a cottage industry for geeks; and the Mac Mini fostered a subculture of techie Apple fanboys – rather amazing as Apple prides itself on catering to the technically clueless who just want a turnkey operation. Yet, the Mac Mini was lauded by tinkerers and techies all over the world.

Then came 2014, and Apple no longer offered the quad-core option with the Mac Mini; while also soldering in the RAM, forcing one to pay a premium for the RAM on the original purchase. Added to that, Apple made it very difficult to change the SSD drives, by introducing a second cover plate on the bottom. The 2014 Mac Mini was not as powerful as the earlier 2012 Mac Mini. What was Apple thinking?

Overnight, the older quad-core 2012 Mac Minis became more desirable and more expensive than the newer 2014 models.  Even now, the five year-old 2012 Mac Mini commands high prices, and purchasers often prefer the 2012 model over the anemic 2014 model.

But that was 2014. In three years Apple has not updated the Mac Mini.

The tinkers have moved from bypassing Apple’s obstinacy to creating a flourishing underground community of Hackintoshes.  Hackintoshes are PCs modified by downloadable coding to run Apple’s OS operating system, which is no mean trick, as Apple OS was only designed for Apple components. A flurry of coders now run websites where one can learn to install Apple OS Sierra on their PC.  Of course, the practice is in a legal gray area, as the Apple EULA (End User License Agreement) obliges users to only run the software on Apple products.

But the Hackintosh results are astounding. Quinn Nelson, at Snazzy Labs, built a homemade Hackintosh for $682 (in 2016) that outperformed not only the 2014 Mac Mini, but also ran the 2012 quad-core Mac Mini into the ground.  And Snazzy Labs did not even use a high-end i7 CPU to do it; but only the rather modest i5.

$682 Skylake Mac Mini Hackintosh Build  – Snazzy Labs

$682 Hackintosh Mac Mini vs. $1,300 Apple Mac Mini  – Snazzy Labs

Of course, some of Snazzy Labs’s success could be chalked up to the fact that Snazzy Labs was using a Desktop CPU on their Hackinstosh, not a lower-powered mobile CPU standard on the Mac Mini.

But what does one do with Intel’s Skull Canyon NUC which blasts the Mac Mini out of the water with a mobile 6770HQ CPU.

Quinn Nelson then humiliated Apple by building a remarkable Hackintosh for $70 with used parts.

Is a $70 Hackintosh Any Good?  – Snazzy Labs

Indeed, people are already making Hackintoshes of Intel NUCs.  There are websites such as TonyMacx86.com and Hackintosh.com where one can learn about these techniques.

The techies have leaped onto Apple’s lethargy, and are showing everyone how to build a better machine for less money, and still run Apple OS. And the quasi-legitimate practice has now achieved an air of respectability,

After years of waiting for a decent upgrade to Apple’s desktop computers, I’ve given up. I decided to build a PC; then make it work like a Mac. – Death to Apple’s Mac Mini: I made a Hackintosh – CNET

While this has been going on for years, Apple still has not updated the Mac Pro, its highest-end machine, since 2013.  It has let the Macbook Air die, though there are rumors that it may upgrade the Macbook Air at this WWDC – however that is iffy, and some rumors claim the upgrade will only be a processor; and will not include a better screen.

[I]t wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see everything but the processor [on the MacBook Air to] stay the same.  – The Verge

What is the point if the screen is not updated?!

Apple has also started soldering RAM in its laptop products, which has infuriated many, forcing them to buy extra RAM upfront at inflated prices.  Apple’s defense is that low-power RAM has to be soldered on; and without low-power RAM, Apple’s legendary laptop battery life would be shorter.  There is a germ of truth to that; but what excuse did Apple have for soldering RAM on the smaller iMac or the Mac Mini which run on household electricity? Something is fishy! Only the large iMac remains upgradable in RAM.

Apple has released a low-powered 12” MacBook line of laptops at horrific prices, which are underpowered with tablet processors, and are now being overshadowed by the likes of the formerly cheaper HP, which has now moved in with high end laptops, which the critics are praising.

True, Apple did improve the MacBook Pro with a touch bar almost no one wanted – why not a touch screen – but with price increases that were abusive, and which made the product more expensive than the comparably equipped larger iMac desktop.

Apple seems to have decided that its future is not so much in the hardware, but in the software: iTunes, and apps, etc. Apple regularly updates these, while ignoring much of its signature lines.  Apple also focuses more on iPhones and iPads than computers; but even as this MacRumors Buyer’s Guide shows, as of now, almost all of Apple products are sorely in need of an update.

As Apple seemingly retreats from the top tier, Microsoft and HP have moved in with high-end products, particularly Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 laptop  and Microsoft Surface Studio (which begins at $2,999, only only offers an i5 and 8GB RAM to start, which is criminal) and HP’s Envy line of laptops.  Unfortunately, Microsoft is copying, and out-gouging, Apple’s practice of obscene charges for extra options.  HP, thankfully, has not gone that route, and its charges for options seem more reasonable.

Many are blaming Apple’s lethargy on Tim Cook, as if he were the problem. Like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot, the disgruntled are waiting for Steve Jobs to return and save Apple’s vision. Well, Steve Jobs is not Christ, nor is he even Godot; and he is not returning.

The market has changed. Jobs started the market for micro-portability with the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.  Apple rode that crest while Jobs was alive. After Jobs died in 2011, the computer (the Mac) end of business started to decline.  Apple’s revenue from iMacs have slightly declined. Its revenue from iPads have greatly declined.  Services and the iPhone make up the bulk of Apple’s income.  This decline that we see is the result of Jobs’s vision, not a contradiction. It was the inevitable result of market forces that Jobs put into play.

Tim Cook has promised updates to the Mac line, but Apple’s credibility in that area is now weak.  Many people are expecting a lot from the conference.  Whatever occurs, I am sure many will be disappointed.

I would love to see a new Mac Mini.  Or maybe a refresh of the Macbook Air, with a better screen. I would love to see reasonable prices on all of this.  Apple is not selling state of the art any more, just above-average quality.

I am not holding my breath.  Apple’s inertia is not so much due to bad management as a shift in the industry.  Meanwhile, the Hackintosh-ers have taken over. Among techies, building a Hackintosh has moved from a curiosity to a requirement. This will not change. The techies are not only upstaging Apple; but also Intel, as they show what can be done with the new and cheaper Ryzen CPUs.

Steve Jobs will not be at the WWDC this week, not in spirit, not in any way. Apple is changing because the market is changing. The real contest this year will be between AMD and Intel.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also started a small website about small computers at http://minireplacements.com

 

Starting this Monday, Apple Computer’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017) is slated to start in San Jose, Calif. The conference is held annually to discuss Apple’s new technologies, and software creators are encouraged to interface with Apple Engineers in labs and workshops.  Ticket prices this year were $1,599 and since demand exceeds supply, a lottery had to be held to disburse the tickets.

The conference is as much show as technology, and we probably can expect CEO Tim Cook to condemn Trump’s pullout from the Paris Climate Agreement. But what has everybody on edge are the rumors that some of the Mac line of products will be updated.

That’s important because Apple has let its once-famous – and once-highly regarded – Mac line of computers to lay stagnant.  Neither the 27” nor the 21.5” iMac were upgraded in 2016. Worse yet, when the smaller 21.5” iMac was last upgraded in 2015, it did not come with the then -new Skylake processors, but was saddled with the older Broadwell CPUs and offered no graphics card option. Then to add insult to injury, it came with an insultingly slow 5400 RPM hard drive as standard. The “state of the art” smaller iMac could not be upgraded after purchase, and one had to buy the added RAM and faster storage at Apple’s inflated mark up.  Still, even if max’d out at 16GB RAM,  with the older Broadwell i7 CPU (processor), and with no graphics card option, how could it be considered state of the art?

Then there was Apple’s revered Mac Mini, which had not only been the province of those who could not afford the iMac; but more than that, it had been the province of tinkerers.  One could easily add RAM and Storage to the Mac Mini.  The 2012 Mac Mini was a gem. It had the option of a quad-core processor, and was easily serviceable.

The Internet was full of videos on how to turn the 2012 Mac Mini into a computing “beast,” with some minor upgrades. This became a cottage industry for geeks; and the Mac Mini fostered a subculture of techie Apple fanboys – rather amazing as Apple prides itself on catering to the technically clueless who just want a turnkey operation. Yet, the Mac Mini was lauded by tinkerers and techies all over the world.

Then came 2014, and Apple no longer offered the quad-core option with the Mac Mini; while also soldering in the RAM, forcing one to pay a premium for the RAM on the original purchase. Added to that, Apple made it very difficult to change the SSD drives, by introducing a second cover plate on the bottom. The 2014 Mac Mini was not as powerful as the earlier 2012 Mac Mini. What was Apple thinking?

Overnight, the older quad-core 2012 Mac Minis became more desirable and more expensive than the newer 2014 models.  Even now, the five year-old 2012 Mac Mini commands high prices, and purchasers often prefer the 2012 model over the anemic 2014 model.

But that was 2014. In three years Apple has not updated the Mac Mini.

The tinkers have moved from bypassing Apple’s obstinacy to creating a flourishing underground community of Hackintoshes.  Hackintoshes are PCs modified by downloadable coding to run Apple’s OS operating system, which is no mean trick, as Apple OS was only designed for Apple components. A flurry of coders now run websites where one can learn to install Apple OS Sierra on their PC.  Of course, the practice is in a legal gray area, as the Apple EULA (End User License Agreement) obliges users to only run the software on Apple products.

But the Hackintosh results are astounding. Quinn Nelson, at Snazzy Labs, built a homemade Hackintosh for $682 (in 2016) that outperformed not only the 2014 Mac Mini, but also ran the 2012 quad-core Mac Mini into the ground.  And Snazzy Labs did not even use a high-end i7 CPU to do it; but only the rather modest i5.

$682 Skylake Mac Mini Hackintosh Build  – Snazzy Labs

$682 Hackintosh Mac Mini vs. $1,300 Apple Mac Mini  – Snazzy Labs

Of course, some of Snazzy Labs’s success could be chalked up to the fact that Snazzy Labs was using a Desktop CPU on their Hackinstosh, not a lower-powered mobile CPU standard on the Mac Mini.

But what does one do with Intel’s Skull Canyon NUC which blasts the Mac Mini out of the water with a mobile 6770HQ CPU.

Quinn Nelson then humiliated Apple by building a remarkable Hackintosh for $70 with used parts.

Is a $70 Hackintosh Any Good?  – Snazzy Labs

Indeed, people are already making Hackintoshes of Intel NUCs.  There are websites such as TonyMacx86.com and Hackintosh.com where one can learn about these techniques.

The techies have leaped onto Apple’s lethargy, and are showing everyone how to build a better machine for less money, and still run Apple OS. And the quasi-legitimate practice has now achieved an air of respectability,

After years of waiting for a decent upgrade to Apple’s desktop computers, I’ve given up. I decided to build a PC; then make it work like a Mac. – Death to Apple’s Mac Mini: I made a Hackintosh – CNET

While this has been going on for years, Apple still has not updated the Mac Pro, its highest-end machine, since 2013.  It has let the Macbook Air die, though there are rumors that it may upgrade the Macbook Air at this WWDC – however that is iffy, and some rumors claim the upgrade will only be a processor; and will not include a better screen.

[I]t wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see everything but the processor [on the MacBook Air to] stay the same.  – The Verge

What is the point if the screen is not updated?!

Apple has also started soldering RAM in its laptop products, which has infuriated many, forcing them to buy extra RAM upfront at inflated prices.  Apple’s defense is that low-power RAM has to be soldered on; and without low-power RAM, Apple’s legendary laptop battery life would be shorter.  There is a germ of truth to that; but what excuse did Apple have for soldering RAM on the smaller iMac or the Mac Mini which run on household electricity? Something is fishy! Only the large iMac remains upgradable in RAM.

Apple has released a low-powered 12” MacBook line of laptops at horrific prices, which are underpowered with tablet processors, and are now being overshadowed by the likes of the formerly cheaper HP, which has now moved in with high end laptops, which the critics are praising.

True, Apple did improve the MacBook Pro with a touch bar almost no one wanted – why not a touch screen – but with price increases that were abusive, and which made the product more expensive than the comparably equipped larger iMac desktop.

Apple seems to have decided that its future is not so much in the hardware, but in the software: iTunes, and apps, etc. Apple regularly updates these, while ignoring much of its signature lines.  Apple also focuses more on iPhones and iPads than computers; but even as this MacRumors Buyer’s Guide shows, as of now, almost all of Apple products are sorely in need of an update.

As Apple seemingly retreats from the top tier, Microsoft and HP have moved in with high-end products, particularly Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 laptop  and Microsoft Surface Studio (which begins at $2,999, only only offers an i5 and 8GB RAM to start, which is criminal) and HP’s Envy line of laptops.  Unfortunately, Microsoft is copying, and out-gouging, Apple’s practice of obscene charges for extra options.  HP, thankfully, has not gone that route, and its charges for options seem more reasonable.

Many are blaming Apple’s lethargy on Tim Cook, as if he were the problem. Like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot, the disgruntled are waiting for Steve Jobs to return and save Apple’s vision. Well, Steve Jobs is not Christ, nor is he even Godot; and he is not returning.

The market has changed. Jobs started the market for micro-portability with the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.  Apple rode that crest while Jobs was alive. After Jobs died in 2011, the computer (the Mac) end of business started to decline.  Apple’s revenue from iMacs have slightly declined. Its revenue from iPads have greatly declined.  Services and the iPhone make up the bulk of Apple’s income.  This decline that we see is the result of Jobs’s vision, not a contradiction. It was the inevitable result of market forces that Jobs put into play.

Tim Cook has promised updates to the Mac line, but Apple’s credibility in that area is now weak.  Many people are expecting a lot from the conference.  Whatever occurs, I am sure many will be disappointed.

I would love to see a new Mac Mini.  Or maybe a refresh of the Macbook Air, with a better screen. I would love to see reasonable prices on all of this.  Apple is not selling state of the art any more, just above-average quality.

I am not holding my breath.  Apple’s inertia is not so much due to bad management as a shift in the industry.  Meanwhile, the Hackintosh-ers have taken over. Among techies, building a Hackintosh has moved from a curiosity to a requirement. This will not change. The techies are not only upstaging Apple; but also Intel, as they show what can be done with the new and cheaper Ryzen CPUs.

Steve Jobs will not be at the WWDC this week, not in spirit, not in any way. Apple is changing because the market is changing. The real contest this year will be between AMD and Intel.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.  He also started a small website about small computers at http://minireplacements.com

 



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