What was your reaction last week to the surprise release of the macOS 10.15.7 update? Were you pleasantly surprised, or did you curse Apple for yet another update in the space of just over a week?
Your response is one gauge of whether change is a challenge which you’d usually prefer to decline, or whether you’re more like to champion it. For what it’s worth, I was delighted, as it provided me with another puzzling update to unravel, and the hope that it would leave Catalina in a better state for those who’d rather not move on to Big Sur, at least for a while yet.
We need to appreciate that there’s nothing wrong with either response, nor various shades in between. People are different, and technology needs to learn to live with that. It’s the same as with WWDC, or new product announcements. In the latter case, there are plenty who live at the bleeding edge who’ll be trying to order the new release before the end of the event, and many others who’ll be content to look at their existing Mac/iPhone/iPad/Watch and shrug their shoulders.
This isn’t an age thing either. Some of the most staunchly conservative when it comes to change are kids. Yet I’m now on the wrong side of 65 (in some respects, at least) and can’t wait to order my first Apple Silicon Mac. It goes deeper into development, with wars between languages like Objective-C and Swift. For every Swift fan evangelising religiously, there’s at least one doubter who’ll stand fast with Objective-C, or even C++, rather than go Swiftly to the devil.
Every day I hear from faithful Mac users who long for the time before the dreaded Butterfly keyboard, when displays had matte rather than shiny surfaces, and when they could still run 32-bit apps. It’s a market in which Apple has no presence, nor it would seem any aspirations. After all, who’d want to sell old products to old fogies like them?
It’s curious that Apple, a vociferous supporter of diversity in the workplace, doesn’t see the choice of change in the same terms. It uses all manner of devices to nudge or persuade us to keep upgrading our operating systems, Mac hardware and more. If you run macOS, iOS, etc., Apple will do everything to enourage you to keep upgrading your hardware and software: resistance is futile, and now quite hard work.
Imagine for a moment two or three carefully chosen older Intel Macs bundled with a non-upgradable but maintained version of macOS Mojave. Every cent of their development costs has already been repaid many times over. Apple’s only overhead would be a small team of software engineers curating macOS 10.14 to eliminate its remaining bugs.
For those challenged by change, it would be a compelling purchase, for Apple a steady seller over the next half dozen years or more. As those users needed to replace their existing Macs, they’d be able to continue buying from Apple rather than shopping around for spares on eBay.
Those classic Macs wouldn’t distract change champions from buying new products. You’d hardly expect someone in the market for a modern iMac or Mac Pro, or one of the unannounced Apple Silicon models, to be impressed with the past, unless of course they might collect classic models in the same way that many collect classic cars.
This is an ideal time to start this new old product line too. Whatever Apple might come up with by way of solving the problem of running Windows and old Intel versions of macOS on Apple Silicon systems, there’s nothing like giving users the choice of a real Intel processor on which to run their virtualisation software. For some users, that could make the difference between continuing to buy Macs, or switching completely to Windows systems.
For third-party developers, a classic Mac line would already have the support of almost every app you can imagine, each of them mature and essentially free of bugs and cost of maintenance. I’m sure that a classic App Store would do thriving business as well.
It’ll never happen, of course, for offering such classic systems would be admitting that the future isn’t always better than the past. But even when you’re an ardent change champion, you’ve got to admit that the user deserves the choice. Dragging along those who are challenged isn’t going to make anyone happy.