Why Apple Needs to Deliver New Macs Next Tuesday

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Erroneous MacBook Pro Mock-Up Courtesy Ars Technica
This has been a gangbuster summer for Apple. First came the iPhone 3G announcement in June, alongside OS X iPhone 2.0 with the AppStore, Mobile Me, and HD video in iTunes, then came a new round of incremental but strong new iPods, and amazing news about a major uptick in Mac sales during a down economy. In spite of some software issues, Apple is coming out with huge new gains in multiple markets and is healthier than just about any other tech company.

And yet, unless Apple rolls out rumored new Macs next Tuesday, all of that will start to look suspect. To find out why, click through!

The latest scuttlebutt holds that, going on three months after every other computer company on the planet has introduced laptops based on the Montevina platform from Intel, Apple will finally bring out updated MacBooks regular and Pro on Tuesday, Sept. 23. These are faster, lower-power, and mature chips. And they’re really late.

There are plenty of good reasons why Apple didn’t bring out new MacBooks this summer. The iPhone is Apple’s most important single initiative right now. Then bringing out new iPods as Back to School ended was the top priority, which Apple tackled last week. Get a nice two-week buffer, and you have Tuesday. The company’s biggest annual updates are wrapped up, and now it’s high time for Apple to maintain its core business. If, for some reason, Apple can’t deliver, I’m really concerned.

That’s because waiting until two weeks after new iPods makes sense. It’s planned marketing to maximize impact of each launch. Being later than that suggests a resource challenge that Apple isn’t prepared to meet, which raises major questions about the sustainability of the company’s long boom of late. We’ve seen this before. The original iPhone’s software needed so much work that lots of developers were pulled off of Mac OS X Leopard in order to make the device ship on time. And when Leopard emerged, it was noticeably lacking in the polish Apple typically delivers.

But that was just software — Apple’s hardware outside of handhelds was still shipping on time and on the cutting edge. If hardware is getting slowed down, too, it starts to look like Apple is growing to quickly to maintain its core business as it ought to. And that couldn’t happen at a worse time. Mac sales are through the roof right now. Apple is a bigger and bigger force in computers. And Apple’s not keeping pace, even though they’re working off of the same chips as the rest of the market. Over the long term, that could prove poisonous to the brand.

  • Tom

    So your telling us Apple is going to do a big update on the Macs, without any press warning, or any event, on the same day as the Google Android launch??

  • iCries

    Word, really. But I doubt we will see new models before October. :(

  • Michael Bradley

    Who gives a damn as long as it works! Some people care about having the latest just because it’s new but most people just want things that work reliably. That’s really what all businesses and most consumers want.

  • Josh

    I’m with you, they need to release these Macs to get things rolling again, but there’s no way they’d be able to pull it off this next Tuesday, like Tom said. Really too bad though.

  • Josh

    I’m with you, they need to release these Macs to get things rolling again, but there’s no way they’d be able to pull it off this next Tuesday, like Tom said. Really too bad though.

  • HandyMac

    Just yesterday I received an email from a major Mac mail order dealer titled “MacBook Prices Slashed! Now Starting at Only $999 – Ends 9/21/08”. They’ve also had MacBook Pros on sale for a couple of weeks. That’s usually a pretty good hint.

  • Brad

    Apple tends to release products when they are ready to be launched rather than feeling the pressure to release simply because dell has come out with their latest crap. Apple will release innovative product when those products are ripe and you will all be amazed and I will buy one. That is the way it is and it is good for the consumer.

  • Alex

    All news currently points to October 14th my friend.

    http://www.google.com/search?q

  • Fritz

    October 15 is the rumor du jour. Where’d you get “next Tuesday?” Are you thinking of Android, maybe?

  • Jazz1

    All I own are Macs. My two year old MBP is still serving me well. I’d really need something compelling to upgrade. Recently these netbooks have caught my eye. The iPod Touch I own gives me some lightweight mobility, but a Macbook size, or smaller would work better for me most of the time. The Air is too expensive IMHO. I have a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu on pre-ordered. Here is hoping Apple comes out with something that will make me cancel that order.

  • Alan Smith

    Please write correctly. It is “…Apple is growing TOO quickly …”, not “…Apple is growing to quickly …”

    And when do you end a sentence with an infinitive or preposition (ought to)?

    If you write correctly it adds credence to your content. Otherwise, I just cannot believe your accuracy.

  • Olternaut

    Next Tuesday? What are you a little kid? Wait till October 14th like everybody else.

  • D

    Actually, next week would be terrible for Apple to announce new product unless all inventory of existing MacBook and MacBook Pro’s are already through direct stores and channel resellers.
    I believe that Apple Inc’s fiscal year ends next Sunday. The first Tuesday after that would make more sense. I am surprised that someone as tuned in as Pete would not add that to his blog.

  • Robert Emslie

    With Apple having captured a record 10.4% of laptop sales in the most recent quarter, it seems premature to say they are overdue for an upgrade. Is there some aspect of the faster chips that is seen as a “must-have”? Longer battery life is always nice, but I don’t think that short battery life is a foible that the current machines possess.
    I’m thinking Macworld in January for any substantiative change to either the consumer or pro line, and before then, a Processor upgrade in October may occur.

  • Beast_m

    Personally, I think it was better when we had the G’s processors.
    I hear from people that their architecture was much better, but IBM can’t handle the regular speed updates. Sure they can’t, intel releases new speed like every few months, which makes apple in insane processes of regular hardware updates.

    Sure, its great that we can finally use Macs and windows (and linux) on same machine, but we sacrificed other stuff. Apple products became more like the dull dells and less special and unique(1 main strength of apple) . Seems the mac is being less MAC-ish.

  • Hrunga_Zmuda

    Not only the same day as the Android launch, but the opening day of Photokin (world’s fair of photography that happens every other year) which will have the unveiling of Photoshop CS4?

    More likely Apple will announce at Photokina that they have bought Adobe. :-P

  • Canucklehead

    Oct. 14 would be unlikely, as 10% of the North American market will be distracted by a federal election on that day, and while the average american doesn’t know that, Apple Marketing does (and canadians are good APPL customers). That is a busy news day already.

  • gjg

    I suspect that the delay with the introduction has more to do with production capacity constraints than anything else. If Apple’s market share has jumped as much as the recent numbers suggest, i.e., 10.6% of US laptop sales, then simply keeping up to demand is probably stretching their contracted production capacity. When you throw a new laptop into production, a learning curve (especially with Apple’s designs) is inevitable on the production side.

    Best decision is to use the older design during the Back-to-School season to ensure maximum production during a high demand period. Plus you’re so far down the learning curve on the older models that you maintain your profit margins even with the freebee iPod give-away. Apple can’t take the risk of a production interruption at that time of year.

    Production of new models probably didn’t start until after Back-to-School ended. Apple knows that there will be high demand on the new laptops too from the replacement market so they’re likely building inventory and getting down the new learning curve before introducing the new models.

  • Stevew

    Alan, where’s the problem with ending a sentence with a preposition or an infinitive?

  • blazer

    … of course the average american doesn’t know that. The average american is busy working to subsidize the Canadian livelihood.

  • Philip Machanick

    In the sense used, “ought to” really stands for “ought to do”; in general “ought” is followed by an infinitive phrase, as opposed to most modal verbs (will, should) that are followed by a verb phrase.

    So there is a sentence that ends in an implicit infinitive (though to the less informed, it may look like a preposition).

    Nonetheless quibbling over ending a sentence with an infinitive is the sort of pedantry up with which Churchill allegedly would not put.

  • willie

    I would love this to be sooner, but I’m leaning towards the rumored (I forget where) October 18/19. I think it’s more of a buffer. We’ll know soon if they’re going to announce it like they did the Let’s Rock event, and if that doesn’t happen I don’t think they’ll hold an event without any warning at all. After all, who would go during a time they have something else scheduled because they didn’t know about it? (Besides you and me.)

  • Goobi

    I’m guessing that the internals will be updated for now, while a redesign will come through at Macworld 09. For the first time there was a back to school offer on MacBooks in India, and I’m definite that was just to clear the stock.

    Dugg it btw. :)

  • jt

    Talked to a mac sales man at the store last night..he said . 10 14…blueray….more ram capacity ..slightly thinnner..no real word on the macbooks though, just MBpro’s….for what its worth :-)

  • JoeC

    Why do people try to turn this into something more complicated than it is. Just about all the Macintosh computers (with the occasional exception) are updated on a 9-10 month basis. Last update for the Macbook Pro and MacBook was February. That points to October as the likely next revision.

    They won’t update in October and then again in January. That’s way too close together. The only things that happen with that sort of frequency are slightly faster (but not different architecturally) processors, or maybe extra options that can be added onto a custom order, such as bigger hard drives, etc.

    The only anomaly going on this time around is the rumor that both the MacBook and MacBook Pro will be consolidated into several models of just one main chassis. Not sure why they’d do that, except maybe to save money. Though, it wouldn’t really save too much money, since you’d still have to have at least three different sizes (to accommodate 13, 15, and 17″ screens).

    Also, this change is rumored to finally be a substantive change to the case and keyboard design, which hasn’t happened for the MacBook Pro in several years. This suggests a real announcement, not just a press release. Perhaps a small event at 1-Infinite loop. Which again points to October, not this Tuesday.

    When in doubt, let the past guide your expectations more than rampant speculation by rumor mongers who are often less “in the know” than they pretend to be.

  • Hdan S.

    Actually, there is a new grammatical rule in place. It reads as follows: “A preposition is now perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with.”