Apple entering the “retro era”?

Last year, the performance, battery life, and even the subversion of the software ecology of the M1 chip surprised many people. The molds of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air equipped with the M1 chip have not changed, and people are increasingly looking forward to the new Mac series products to be released in 2021.

With the passage of time, more and more exposure information of the Mac product line has been released. In addition to the removal of the touch bar and the return of the magsafe charging port mentioned in our previous article , Tianfeng International analyst Guo Mingchi, who has a high prediction hit rate, has The report said that the new MacBook Pro will also usher in the HDMI interface and SD memory card interface.

In addition, the iMac product line has also revealed that it will return to a colorful design. Combined with the previous iPhone 12’s right-angled edge design, is Apple going to make a big stride toward the "retro era"?

I do not deny the possibility of paying tribute to the classics, but to classify it as "design is a reincarnation" is a bit thin, and the notion of design reincarnation is not entirely applicable to electronic products.

Design is a cycle, not fully applicable to electronic products

With the return of the HDMI interface and memory card interface, the mainstream view is that Apple listened to the adjustments made by professional users. After all, the 16-inch MacBook Pro had a tradition of adjusting the physical ESC button based on user feedback.

The return of more interfaces is also related to Apple's 2016 MacBook series product line cut off USB-A, memory card interface, etc., to fully adopt USB-C interface. Although USB-C is conducive to a unified interface, after 5 years of accessory ecology, it is still not perfect.

▲ Several charging cables sold in Apple Store

For ordinary users, it is not easy to choose USB-C to lightning, dual USB-C cables and other adapter cables, because the cables will also have special specifications and standards, and transmission speed and compatibility are one of them. It works but not necessarily easy.

For professional users, the usable and easy-to-use standards have risen a lot, and they often have higher requirements for transmission performance, compatibility, and stability. A friend of mine had the need to switch 2 4K monitors at the same time. He tried docking stations of various price ranges on the market, and finally found a product with a balance of performance and compatibility at around 1,500 yuan.

For users who often shoot, the computer comes with an SD memory card interface, which is more convenient.

Professional users are looking forward to the stability, the previous all systems cut off the SD interface, etc., for the MacBook Pro series is still a bit big.

Moreover, the emergence of the M1 chip is also an opportunity for the MacBook Pro product line. On the one hand, Apple attracts professional users to turn to the software ecosystem built by the ARM architecture. In addition to the performance of the M1 itself, a more friendly interface is not helpful.

On the other hand, the performance of the M1 chip also makes it appropriate and reasonable to change the mold.

According to the disassembly diagram released by iFixit, whether it is a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, the version with the M1 chip is no different from the old model in terms of internal configuration, and even the MacBook Air is replaced with a piece of aluminum where the fan was originally placed. Extender.

▲ Picture from: iFixit

This shows that the internal space of the product can be used more efficiently.

In our previous evaluation, we also mentioned that the energy consumption ratio of the M1 is very good. Not only the battery life is improved, but the heat performance is not high, and the low heat dissipation pressure is also conducive to Apple's more drastic changes to MacBook Pro products.

And Guo Mingchi’s forecast also mentioned that this year’s new MacBook Pro will adopt a right-angled edge design similar to that of the iPhone 12, which is also conducive to putting down the HDMI interface, which accounts for a relatively high area.

The return of these interfaces does not conform to the concept of "design is a reincarnation". It is more a balance between technological development and user needs. The MacBook Pro product line has made various adjustments to the butterfly keyboard and touch bar in the past few years. The same applies to this interpretation.

▲ Touch Bar is also time to say goodbye

Let’s talk about the iPhone 12, the same right-angled side as the iPhone 4 and the “sandwich” style of glass and metal frame, which makes people think that Apple is paying tribute to the classics.

But in fact, there is a tribute part and a part of technological development, like the introduction of a glass back cover. On the one hand, it is used with Magsafe charger to better use wireless charging.

On the other hand, the improvement of the anti-fall ability of Gorilla Glass and the growth of Apple's cutting and splicing process have allowed the metal middle frame of the iPhone 12 to fit more precisely to the screen and glass back cover, pursuing integration to the greatest extent.

It is not uncommon for Apple products to return to classic design, which involves the limitation of technological development, and there are also reasons why Apple takes the initiative to do so.

In order to promote the replacement cycle, Apple has also contributed to the flames

After talking about the transition plan passively introduced due to technological development, let's talk about Apple's initiative, which is a tribute to classic design.

The right-angled sides on the iPhone 12 and the rumored return of iMac to colorful design have caused a lot of discussion. After all, the last iMac that provides multiple color types has been nearly 20 years ago. The change still holds a more positive view.

▲ iMac G3 with colorful shell design

Looking back at the development of the iPhone and Mac product lines, you will find that every few years Apple will make drastic changes to the product. Apple wants to transform new technologies into product designs that truly enhance the experience. The resulting cycle is also quite interesting.

In the previous article , I mentioned that the big change in appearance is a great attraction for iPhone users.

Why does Apple make major changes to its products according to the cycle? First of all, to adapt to the user’s changing habits. I also mentioned that with the continuous growth of mobile phone performance and the further growth of the average cycle of software and system support, whether Android or iPhone users change Machine cycles are growing, and 2-3 years have become the norm for most users.

▲ Picture from: PC World

Through this cyclical big update rhythm, Apple has adapted to the habit of increasing the user replacement cycle. The changes in appearance, the application of new technologies, and the support of new communication protocols will use more improvements to attract old models. The users of the equipment stimulate the market to a greater extent, which in turn leads to a phenomenon of large-scale replacement.

During the period, the return of excellent classic designs that have disappeared due to technological development is also one of the excellent tools for attracting old users.

On the other hand, the big improvement corresponding to the user replacement node has prompted old users to switch, and further avoided the loss of users, ensuring that the old users stay in the ecosystem built by Apple. It can be said that the cyclical change rhythm adapts to user habits and promotes the sales of Apple products.

▲Picture from: Apple Insider

Similarly, this logic can also be applied to the Mac product line. The history of computer development is much longer than that of smartphones. The Andy-Beer law has not completely failed. The growth of hardware performance needs to be consumed by more mature software applications. Increase and decrease promote the development of the market.

Thin and light notebooks, high-performance notebooks, and desktops have proved that computers are a highly differentiated and mature market. Each year, new product performance growth is limited, and software energy consumption growth is also limited, resulting in a much longer replacement cycle than mobile phones.

The emergence of the M1 chip is a harbinger of a new round of cycles. In the past few years, Apple will complete a full range of changes from the MacBook series to the Mac Pro.

A long enough iterative cycle allows Apple to digest new technologies and transform them into product designs that can truly improve the experience, while also adapting to people’s replacement cycles and spurring more sales.

And behind the product cycle is Apple's pursuit of the optimal solution and even the ultimate form of product design under technological development.

In order to pursue a wireless future, reincarnation will not stop

We often talk about the optimal solution of product design, which refers to the product design that is produced under the conditions of technological development, cost balance, and the greatest satisfaction of almost everyone's needs in a certain period of time.

Now you may be able to understand why classic design continues to appear in electronic products. It is not necessarily bad that classic design is eliminated. It may be because it is no longer applicable in the process of pursuing the optimal solution, and when the technology has developed to a certain level, Classic design would be a good choice.

Looking back at the history of Apple’s many products, you will find that integration and wirelessization are the ultimate goals of Apple’s pursuit of products. Since 2008, when the MacBook Air used the one-piece shell technology, Apple has been obsessed with extending it to more products. .

In 2016, the USB-C interface of all MacBook Pro series was obviously changed to increase product integration. When it came to mobile phones, Apple implemented an integrated molding process with iPhone 6. Although the back cover was replaced with glass due to the wireless charging function. But Apple still wants to reduce the stitching and try to shape the integrated grip and visual experience.

Since the iPhone 11, Apple has adopted a new back cover process, punching holes directly on a whole piece of glass instead of splicing the camera module with the glass.

As for the pursuit of wireless, Apple has repeatedly emphasized that in the AirPods promotional video, Apple's former chief designer Jony Ive mentioned:

We believe that the future will be a wireless world. This is just a small step towards a truly wireless future.

Later, many Apple executives emphasized this concept.

After understanding Apple's pursuit of the ultimate form of the product, you can understand why it has repeatedly reduced the interface. The analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also mentioned in the latest iPhone forecast report that the replacement of the lightning interface may be a design with no interface and with MagSafe.

The reason why the iPhone has been able to persist on the road of wireless and the Mac has returned to its original place is also related to the ecological difference between the two parties.

As the controller of the iPhone ecology, Apple has the right to live and kill the accessory ecology. The MFI certification system is the best proof, and when the 3.5 mm interface is cut off, it also comes up with AirPods, a solution that can bring a good experience.

In contrast to the computer accessories ecology, Apple does not have so much control. As a productivity device, it still needs to exchange data with the outside through a large amount of hardware.

On the software side, Apple has built a set of iCloud-based data transmission methods. With the development of network transmission, the remaining solution is the hardware problem.

In order to pursue a wireless world, the cycle of development of Apple products will continue.

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