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Apple Says I’m Obsolete — Sort Of!

In 2010, I acquired a 17-inch MacBook Pro to replace a similar notebook purchased early in the Intel-based Mac era. I had grown so accustomed to using large displays when working in my home office that I wanted to duplicate as much of that experience as possible on the road.

Of course, I had to accept the downsides.

So, although light for a large notebook, that MacBook Pro weighs in at 6.6 pounds. Add to that the stuff that I consider essential, such as a hefty USB mic for on-site recordings, and my filled portable case weighs more than 10 pounds. It may not seem all that heavy, but when you lug it on your shoulder across the long pathways from security check-in to the gate at an airport, it can get to be really painful. Well, maybe I should not have purchased a case with straps that dug in to my shoulders, but this was supposed to be a product that was designed to minimize such symptoms.

In any case, I haven’t traveled all that much in recent years for lots of reasons. So the MacBook Pro doesn’t get a whole lot of use. But I did a couple of upgrades, because the slow hard drive just made routine operations take forever to complete. So I fitted it with a RAM upgrade from Other World Computing, from 4GB to 8GB, and one of their 480GB SSDs. The latter made the real difference, since so many functions depend on the speed of storage devices.

Now I have not felt the urge to replace that MacBook Pro. As a business investment, it wouldn’t make sense even if I had a spare two grand or so on hand for a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. But it does appear Apple is hastening the time when this computer will become obsolete.

So as of this week, it’s now a “vintage” product. Thus, it hasn’t been manufactured in more than five years, and is no longer eligible for service at, I presume, an Apple Store. There are two exceptions. If you bought a Mac in California or Turkey, they are eligible for service for up to seven years after being discontinued.

I can certainly understand Apple’s position. It would mean keeping parts on hand to service old hardware, which can represent an added expense. Just as important, it’s still possible to have it repaired, since third party dealers continue to provide service and parts. So I’m not feeling at all abandoned. Indeed, Apple has delivered far better support than I might have expected, since it runs OS X El Capitan with good performance and compatibility.

Even if the MacBook Pro required a brand new logic board or LCD, paying several hundred dollars is a far better choice than buying a new Mac. The RAM has a lifetime guarantee, and the SSD should deliver years of faithful service. So, even if it breaks, I should manage to get several more years of faithful service from it should I invest in a repair. Even when Apple stops delivering OS X updates, I’ll still be able to use the apps I want.

Remember, that my basic needs are Internet access to manage my sites and the server, word processing software for writing, and audio editing apps to record my radio shows.

I realize that some of you would like to see Apple support every single product they’ve manufactured forever, or at least as long as there is a decent user base. I don’t know how many of these MacBook Pros remain in service, but they were built at a time when Mac sales were considerably less than they are today; the total was 13.66 million in 2010. It’s around 20 million now. Even though notebooks account for the vast majority of sales, the 17-inch MacBook Pro was not a huge seller, which surely explains why Apple made the decision to stop building them.

As a practical matter, getting a 15-inch MacBook Pro would lighten the load by more than two pounds. Armed with a smaller case, and being less obsessive about what I take with me, would no doubt account for another pound or so. That would make a fairly big difference when I’m lugging it around. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple came out with a new generation model, perhaps descended from the 2015 MacBook, where weight was reduced by another pound or so.

Obviously an iPad Pro would be a cheaper and lighter alternatives. But it’s just not for me, at least not yet. The lack of apps and functionality makes it impossible to manage my workflow, although I suppose that could change if Apple opens up iOS to allow for additional features that would serve the needs of the broadcaster or podcaster. I cannot, for example, find any equivalent to Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack. Being able to only run two apps at a time is not adequate; Apple should consider a quad-screen feature, managing four apps on an iPad Pro, for the next OS update.

For now, I’ll continue to enjoy my MacBook Pro. It’s in great shape, with only a few surface scratches on the case. I expect when I do sell it, it will command a decent price.