Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Phil Schiller talks MacBook Pro controversy: why Apple dropped the SD card reader but kept the headphone jack
In an interview with The Independent, Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller discusses the development and public response to the new MacBook Pros. He says that “many things” have impressed people and “some” have caused some controversy, referring to the ongoing debates about Apple’s design goals versus the needs of pro users. Rebutting critics, Schiller announces that orders for the new MacBook Pro have set a new online sales record, beating previous sales for ‘pro Apple notebooks’.
The interview also focuses in on a few specific complaints, such as the decision to remove the SD card slot but keep the 3.5mm headphone jack which it classed obsolete for the iPhone 7. Schiller has interesting answers for these questions.
Regarding the lack of SD card reader, Schiller says the slot is “cumbersome” as an inserted card sticks out from the side of the machine. He also says that the format war between SD and CompactFlash means a portion of customers were already resorting to other means and Apple couldn’t keep everyone happy already. Schiller says more and cameras are relying on wireless transfer methods which are very useful. For new MacBook Pro owners, he recommends wireless transfer or buying an USB-C adaptor (like this one):
The new Pros have no SD card slot for a camera memory card. Why not?
Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer.
The Independent asked if it was “inconsistent to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack as it’s no longer on the latest iPhone”. Schiller said the 3.5mm jack is more than just about headphones for the laptops, which makes it different to the iPhone 7 situation. He says if it was just to plug in headphones, the port wouldn’t be necessary. However, the 3.5mm jack remains in the product as pros have “studio monitors, amps and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions”.
Schiller also confronts critics who saw the new MacBook Pros and were disappointed, suggesting Apple doesn’t care about the Mac business anymore, or at least the Mac desktop business. Schiller strongly disagrees and says “We love the Mac and are as committed to it, in both desktops and notebooks, as we ever have been.”. That being said, Schiller admits he was a bit surprised by the negative reactions, even though all Apple product fuels early criticism and debate.
On the Touch Bar innovations, Schiller largely repeats what other Apple executives have said. Schiller says the notebook form factor is not going anyway anytime soon but the Touch Bar enables a more interactive experience that is “coplanar with the keyboard and trackpad”. Schiller also says that iOS and macOS are fundamentally different products and necessitate unique software.
We’re steadfast in our belief that there are fundamentally two different products to make for customers and they’re both important. There’s iPhone and iPad which are single pieces of glass, they’re direct-manipulation, multi-touch and tend towards full-screen applications. And that’s that experience. And we want to make those the best in that direction anyone can imagine. We have a long road ahead of us on that.
Then there’s the Mac experience, dominated by our notebooks and that’s about indirect manipulation and cursors and menus. We want to make this the best experience we can dream of in this direction.
Schiller quotes one particular example, the Mac menubar. He says if you made the mac a touchscreen, you’d have to work out a way to use the menubar with touch and says it is simply not as good or as intuitive as with a mouse and trackpad.
Read the full interview with Apple’s SVP Marketing on The Independent’s website. In case you aren’t up to speed, Apple is releasing two new MacBook Pros this month. The cheaper 13 inch MacBook Pro, featuring upgraded CPUs, a thinner body and superfast SSD speeds, with two USB-C ports is available in stores now for $1499. The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar are not yet available; they feature four USB-C ports, faster CPU and GPUs, super-fast SSD, and a touchscreen in place of the function row to display dynamic controls and UI.