Tim Cook’s Tricky Problem Over New MacBook Hardware – Forbes
Many people believe that with the upcoming iPhone launch, Apple is all set to change the world once more. It’s a refrain about Apple that many are happy to repeat, but that’s not always the case. To take one example, look at the latest Mac hardware. If Apple is genuinely promoting new technology and ways of working with its hardware then it needs to address the growing adoption problem of the Touch Bar.
The Touch Bar was introduced in October last year in the high-end MacBook Pro machines. Replacing the physical function keys along the top of the keyboard, the touch-sensitive strip can mimic the missing function keys, display different buttons and controls, or act as an additional display.
The problem is not with the Touch Bar itself, I’m sure that Apple will continue to offer it with the MacBook Pro machines at the top of the portfolio. The problem is the lack of Touch Bar on any other maOS machine. The iMac Pro announced at WWDC earlier this year was conspicuously missing the Touch Bar. While Apple has a patent for the technology there is no Touch Bar enabled magic keyboard for the iMac or Mac Pro machines.
Neither has the Touch Bar moved down to the venerable MacBook Air or the ultralight MacBook.
And this is a problem. Right now developers who decide to use the Touch Bar know that they cannot rely on the presence of the Touch Bar. Any function present needs to be duplicated elsewhere in the user interface or it will become lost to the user. So the easy way out is simple… don’t push anything innovative to the Touch Bar, don’t extend functionality, and keep everything simple.
Until the Touch Bar becomes more prevalent it is never going to catch developers’ imagination. But without that imagination, users will not push to buy machines with the Touch Bar.
The question for Apple to answer is this. Does it want the Touch Bar to gather mainstream developer support? If it does then the technology needs to be pushed out across the full range of macOS computers. The Touch Bar needs to be everywhere to have a chance of being loved and supported so it can change the perceptions around a laptop’s user interface.
When Apple updates the Mac range (probably in October), watch carefully to see what happens above the number keys. If the Touch Bar is going to have any chance of adoption, it needs to start appearing on every machine now so it can be considered standard in around eighteen to twenty-four months.
But if it stays as an ‘exclusive’ feature to the top of the range MacBook Pro machines, then the Touch Bar is unlikely to be anything more than a shiny top to try to upsell you to a more expensive laptop, rather than a fundamental change in how you use Apple’s computers.