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Sealed-Box Macs: Should Computers Be Disposable?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-to-upgrade dept.

Desktops (Apple) 673

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's new Retina MacBook Pro is essentially completely non-upgradable, a sealed-box, following a trend started with the MacBook Air in 2008. It's a given that hardware companies are in the business of selling hardware, and would love for computers to have iPhone-like replacement cycles of 1-3 years. But does this mean we're moving irresistibly into an era of 'sealed-unit computing,' even for power users?"

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lo (0, Troll)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059869)

this is what we call flamebait.

Re:lo (5, Funny)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059905)

According to your sig, this is what we call insightful. ;-)

Re:lo (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060139)

This story is complaining although we have a lot of competitive products because apple chose a design not for you, you should complain.

"moving irresistibly"? (5, Insightful)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059903)

Only if you want to spend money with Apple. I'll stick with building my own, or using a laptop from a brand where I can upgrade it if I want.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (4, Informative)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059981)

Exactly. When you order a new Mac on Apple's website, it warns you that you can't upgrade ("Please note that the memory is built into the computer, so if you think you may need more memory in the future, it is important to upgrade at the time of purchase.").

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (4, Funny)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060305)

Does it also have a programmed-obsolescence chip? Hey apoptochip, cool.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (2)

fippo (2695319) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060383)

They don't need to actually have one, it would be bad press, so they do precisely the same thing by methods which won't get such bad press

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060313)

Some warnings are inherently inadequate. There/s decades of equipment where you could upgrade the hardware. Even some of the mainframes could be upgraded without support, the only thing stopping you was the support contract.

For things like the iPhone and iPad, that's perfectly reasonable, not for a desktop or laptop though.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (0, Troll)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059985)

Only if you want to spend money with Apple. I'll stick with building my own, or using a laptop from a brand where I can upgrade it if I want.

Good luck with finding a laptop with the MBPwRD's dimensions or display that you can upgrade.

Oh, wait. Make that "Good luck finding a laptop with the MBPwRD's display. Period."

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060045)

> Good luck with finding a laptop with the MBPwRD's dimensions or display that you can upgrade.

You labor under the false assumption that the rest of us accept the set of tradeoffs that Apple has ordained for you. Whereas you are forced to frame your response in terms of those things that you (wrongly) think we can't have, we are quite happy to take advantage of the diversity that the rest of the PC marketplace allows.

We are simply not limited to those narrow few choices that Apple will allow you to have.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (-1, Troll)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060225)

> Good luck with finding a laptop with the MBPwRD's dimensions or display that you can upgrade.

You labor under the false assumption that the rest of us accept the set of tradeoffs that Apple has ordained for you. Whereas you are forced to frame your response in terms of those things that you (wrongly) think we can't have, we are quite happy to take advantage of the diversity that the rest of the PC marketplace allows.

We are simply not limited to those narrow few choices that Apple will allow you to have.

Ok, then; how about "Good luck finding a laptop that you can upgrade anything but the main drive and perhaps the RAM. And even the SSD in the MBPwRD is theoretically upgradeable, since it is on a subassembly with a connector.

Alright, I'll play. (5, Informative)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060411)

Ok, then; how about "Good luck finding a laptop that you can upgrade anything but the main drive and perhaps the RAM. And even the SSD in the MBPwRD is theoretically upgradeable, since it is on a subassembly with a connector.

The T and W-series ThinkPads have socketed CPUs.

And the displays can be upgraded.

And the drive is removable, so you can add Blu-Ray or whatever you'd like.

And Lenovo publishes complete manuals with step-by-step instructions detailing how to disassemble everything and how to replace pretty much any part (along with a list of the FRU numbers for said parts.)

And they let you order individual parts (or you can just get them from any number of third party suppliers.)

And replacing CRUs doesn't void the warranty.

Your turn.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060253)

We are simply not limited to those narrow few choices that Apple will allow you to have.

That's funny, because that's exactly the impression I get whenever I see hordes of butthurt geeks crying here over Apple "restricting their freedom".

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (2)

Graham J - XVI (1076671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060299)

Everyone accepts a set of tradeoffs when buying or building a machine. Which non-Apple laptop do you have that has a 2880x1800 display?

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060373)

Until Apple shipped the retina display, 1920x1080 or similar were good enough for everyone. So now unless you have 2880x1800 the laptop is unusable piece of junk? I guess that's what Apple managed to convince lot of people already.

Let's get real here. A user replaceable disk drive or battery are way more important to me than such display - on a 15" screen you don't get much benefit from it anyway.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060467)

Good luck finding a Macbook Pro with 32GB RAM, dual Geforce 675M SLI and 1.5TB SSD RAID.

See? I can play the same game as you.

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060057)

It has more to do with the form factor than anything else. Lenovo's new ultrabook series have similar form factor and the same exact limitations (soldered memory / ssd, etc.)

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060293)

It has more to do with the form factor than anything else. Lenovo's new ultrabook series have similar form factor and the same exact limitations (soldered memory / ssd, etc.)

And yet no one whines about them "restricting choices", eh?

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060389)

It has more to do with the form factor than anything else. Lenovo's new ultrabook series have similar form factor and the same exact limitations (soldered memory / ssd, etc.)

And yet no one whines about them "restricting choices", eh?

They're from China. What is "choices"?

Re:"moving irresistibly"? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060361)

I'll stick with building my own, or using a laptop from a brand where I can upgrade it if I want.

There used to be a promising VBI project. It was killed because a business model without deterministic product lifetime doesn't compute.

Starts with apple (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060369)

It doesn't end there. Eventually you wont be able to build your own devices or find any that support minimal upgrading/repair. When the masses want toasters, eventually that is all that will be manufactured.

I don't like it either, but I'm not going to delude myself that we will *always* have 'open' systems. With a bit of luck ill be retired by then and i wont have to care.

Should .... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059909)

... pocket calculators be disposable? Same question.

Re:Should .... (3, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060111)

Pocket calculators are designed to do one specific task. Yes, there are some more advanced models that can do other tasks, but they fall under the same category.
What is a Mac or PC designed to do? Everything you can imagine. If it can be written in software, it should be usable on a machine like that. However, some software needs more RAM or a better graphics unit, or some users need more HDD space. That's why they're "upgradable", they're meant to be modular.

However that being said, this doesn't surprise me and should come as no surprise to any die-hard Mac users. Vote with your money.

Re:Should .... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060191)

Also, chances are that if you still have a pocket calculator from the 70s or 90s that those devices are still useful for their original intended purpose. They are not made obsolete by new software that chokes on a smaller hard drive or inadequate core memory.

Form follows function (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059925)

Since the design inside in constrained by the design outside, this is the result. Every component that's integrated to the board eliminates plug, sockets and cables. This is how Apple gives the then, clean lines that consumers love.

Consumer vs. Customer (4, Insightful)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060365)

Consumers love those things, but consumers eat whatever crap is put before them. Customers on the other hand require a bit of respect and insist the manufacturers design to their specs not the other way around.

Which are you....Mindless consumer or paying customer ??

apple gets it wrong again..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059929)

http://www.theonion.com/video/apple-introduces-revolutionary-new-laptop-with-no,14299/

MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059933)

It very much is the way things are going to be done and it turns out, people like it. The experiment was first tried with the MacBook Air and people bought it without hesitation. Had the Air been a flop this wouldn't be happening.

Or put another way, I've never met someone that "upgraded" their laptop after 2 years anyway. They hand it down or put it to work in the corner of the room, but they aren't upgraded. Whether it is a Dell, Mac, or Thinkpad. I put more ram in mine after 3, but I think I"m by far the exception. The most upgrades laptops probably ever received was in that period of time when you could replace the old hdd with ssd and get a huge bump. Now we're falling out of that even as laptops come stock with ssd.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (-1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059997)

People who buy Macs will buy Macs.

The fact that it is an overhyped followup to the netbook doesn't really matter.

All of this rhetoric about "this is what the customers want" is nonsense. You're an Apple user, you're stuck with what Apple wants to sell you: end of story.

When Apple seems like something more than an also-ran in computing, then their approach to putting together $2000 machines will seem more like something that people want rather than something people are forced to live with.

Not being able to upgrade RAM? Sounds like another 80s blast from the past.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060029)

Yes, people aren't interesting in upgrading their laptops. As for servicing them it isn't worth it for Apple anymore. It's cheaper to pay a worker bee in China $0.05 to make a new one than it is to pay someone in the US $20/hr to fix one that's broken.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060103)

$20/hr will get you new memory and new storage. That can take a machine that's otherwise a doorstop and breathe new life into it.

This used to be the sort of thing that Apple Fanboys used to like to brag about: getting more useful life out of a machine.

When you are talking about expensive machines, it's still cheaper to maintain and repair them. What Apple charges for it's hardware makes them not quite disposable by most people's standards.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (2)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060125)

It very much is the way things are going to be done and it turns out, people like it. The experiment was first tried with the MacBook Air and people bought it without hesitation. Had the Air been a flop this wouldn't be happening.

Or put another way, I've never met someone that "upgraded" their laptop after 2 years anyway. They hand it down or put it to work in the corner of the room, but they aren't upgraded. Whether it is a Dell, Mac, or Thinkpad. I put more ram in mine after 3, but I think I"m by far the exception. The most upgrades laptops probably ever received was in that period of time when you could replace the old hdd with ssd and get a huge bump. Now we're falling out of that even as laptops come stock with ssd.

Besides memory and HDs; how many laptops are truly upgradeable, anyway?

And from the looks of things, it looks like the SSD will be upgradeable [ifixit.com] , at least at some point. The memory is another story; so get as much as you can when you buy. But isn't that de regeur with most computer purchases, especially laptops?

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060407)

How about no?

I have 8gb of purchased DDR3, and I could go to 16gb cheaply. 12.5" machine, so not too huge.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060447)

Depends on the brand and the model. I can add RAM, change HDD, install bluetooth or a cellular card. Some laptops even allow you to install and upgrade other things as well. It's not as upgradable as a desktop due largely to thermal dissipation restrictions, but you can upgrade a fair amount on well designed laptops.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060477)

I own a MBP13 that I upgraded myself soon after purchase to 8GB of RAM and I plan to upgrade it to 16GB and an SSD when they both become more financially reasonable to do so.

I also own a Lenovo G555. I tried to replace the keyboard and found that it was a real bitch to do so. Why? Because Lenovo doesn't even know what particular keyboard model a G555 may be using and you have to disassemble the entire laptop to find out what it is before you can buy another for $70 or $80 (from sketchy sites) and $100+ (from seemingly more reputable ones).

Is a new KB an "upgrade"? Depends on your definition I guess. But it still shows that laptops aren't exactly a drop-in and fix deal. I assume that if the keyboard sucks that much to replace it would be just as much of a pain in the ass to do anything else.

My admittedly older MBP (which I just bought in February) was a piece of cake to upgrade and even if I had one of these newer models, once out of warranty, I wouldn't feel the slightest bit uncomfortable following some sort of upgrade tutorial on the web to do whatever it is I wanted to do to it.

YMMV.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060149)

Actually the MacBook Air sold rather... let's say "slowly"... for the first year or so, to the point that a less... "committed" company would have discontinued it. It was unpopular, because it was so much more expensive than the rest of the MacBook line, for a machine with the least horsepower, no CD drive, etc.. When the price came down into the territory of the white MacBooks then costumers went for it.

Re:MacBook Air confirmed most don't care. (0, Flamebait)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060285)

It's also worth mentioning that the new MacBook Pro Retina is really just a 15" MacBook Air. Like the Air, it's missing ethernet and a DVD drive. Like the Air, it has a thin form factor and is non-upgradeable. I think the only ports they added over the Air is a second Thunderbolt port (that you can use with literally nothing) and an HDMI port.

I'm not sure why Apple decided to go with the "Pro" brand, but the MacBook Pro Retina isn't "Pro" so much as it is a larger Air with a different display.

All the complaints that can be aimed at the Air (it's a slow, useless laptop that's only selling point is being pointlessly thin) can be aimed at the MBPR. Oh, and with the higher DPI screen that nothing bothers to support. (Because who the fuck is going to spend $3000 and redraw all their assets for some tiny fraction of users?) So there's that, too.

Look to Detroit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059941)

to see how well planned obsolescence worked out for the American auto industry.

No. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059955)

Maybe computer illiterate art-students and older people will be okay with being cowed into buying a new 'sealed' computer every few years.

However, anybody who knows anything about computers likely wouldn't be okay with that. Personally, I built my own computer, and couldn't imagine handing over 3x as much money to Apple for them to give me a less powerful, un-upgradeable, 'pretty' white box.

Can't tell if troll or just stupid.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060083)

un-upgradeable

Oh, please.

0.001% of computer users upgrade their own hardware. 0.00001% upgrade laptops. 0.0000000001% upgrade laptops beyond adding RAMor swapping in a bigger hard drive.

If you're the one person on earth who has successfully upgraded an "upgradable!" socketed CPU or graphics/network daughter-card, congratulations, I guess...

Re:No. (1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060167)

You are trying to commit the backyard mechanic fallacy.

The fact that something can be maintained by an expert doesn't mean that it needs to be maintained by the end user. You can benefit from a maintainable device by simply paying the expert less than it would cost to replace the expensive device.

What? No BMW analogies for the fanboys today?

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060423)

According to your numbers, the largest possible market for companies like newegg, ncix, etc. Is 0.001% of 1 billion - or 100,000 people. Yet those companies have expanded into each other's markets as well as expanded within their own markets. Granted, their bread and butter is mainly desktops but they do sell a significant number of laptop upgrades on the storage side (RAM, HDDs).

However, laptops are already mainly disposable computers. So I guess apple is just bringing them to their already logical conclusion.

Sager, OTOH, has a fully upgradable laptops in their line - you can change the storage, GPU, and CPU. They've certainly been selling enough to stay in business.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060151)

"What the hell do you mean this Italian restaurant doesn't serve curry? I want curry damnit and anyone that doesn't want it is a complete idiot for not wanting curry. You idiots who eat what you like and not what I tell you to like are such sheep!"
That's basically what you just said. Get over yourself, your needs are not the only valid ones.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060209)

"Can't tell if troll or just stupid."

I think you're a troll, but I'm willing to concede that you might just be stupid.

"Older people" are not keen on buying a new computer every few years; they're used to buying things that last, and resent it much more than Gen-X-and-laters.

P.S. Apple doesn't make white computers anymore.

Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41059963)

No thanks, Apple. I've had enough. The custom temp sensors / connectors for hard drives in the iMac? The obliteration of your Server OS in 10.7... countless other slights, rough terms/conditions... I always somehow managed to keep pulling for Mac and OS X because I felt it was the best UNIX workstation you could buy. Yeah, keep closing up.. as your market share grows you'll see more of this -- your restriction of choice will eventually get the best of you if you're not careful.

Re:Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060243)

WTF are you talking about the "obliteration of your server OS in 10.7"? The "server" OS has ALWAYS been merely a bunch of userlans services on top of the standard kernel, the only change in 10.7 is they started selling it that way.

Re:Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060323)

Compared to OS X 10.6 Server. They removed a lot of configurability and flexibility from the services.

Re:Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060419)

DHCP comes to mind...

Re:Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060255)

>The obliteration of your Server OS in 10.7

Ummm its $49.99 on the Apple Store. They pretty much admitted no real diff. between client and server. The hard drives are replaceable too.

Re:Forced obsolescence - it's what's for dinner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060421)

OS X 10.6 Server added a lot onto 10.6. Starting with 10.7 they removed a lot of this and replaced it with a heavily dumbed down replacement. Up until that point, from at least 10.2, each release of OS X Server was a nice improvement over the previous. 10.7 and 10.8 have seen it regress heavily.

$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059973)

Honestly, they're not "sealed" to sell more hardware. Nobody in their right mind is buying a new $3000 laptop every three years.

The reasons are twofold:

1) It is easier to make the laptop thinner and smaller if it does not have to have the mechanics necessary to facilitate taking it apart (screws, bulkheads, etc), or to make it modular (why not just mount a bunch of SMT flash to the motherboard for a disk drive rather than have a 9mm thick 2.5" wide 3" long metal box with yet another circuit board in it? It's more profitable to just integrate everything on one board.

2) We're in a state of development where hardware is a decade or more ahead of software. There is too much computer and not enough problem. My Athlon X2 from 2005 does everything I need it to do, and will do so for years to come. So, why bother with upgrades anymore? They are unnecessary unless you're a hardcore gamer, in which case you're not buying a laptop.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060047)

Those may be the reasons, but they're not good enough. Sealed hardware is fine for something priced to be disposable, it's NOT fine for something priced such that you want to use it for a minimum of 3-5 years. It was excusable on the Air beacuse it was a new addition to their product line, and it was pretty clear from the outset what the goal was there. But they are majorly shooting themselves in the foot by doing this with their main product line. You don't buy a Macbook Pro for its portability, you buy it because you're a power user. Well, at least that's how it used to be. Now you'll only buy it if you've got too much money you don't know what to do with.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0, Flamebait)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060123)

And what can you upgrade on a Mbp or any other laptop other than the ram?

I got tired of upgrading my desktop years ago when I saw I had to buy new ram, CPU, mobo and graphics unless I upgraded every few months for no reason

The geeks are usually years behind common sense lately

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060193)

You should be able to upgrade the hard drive.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060413)

And replace battery - that is what dies the fastest.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060465)

You should be able to upgrade the hard drive.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/08/retina-macbook-pro-ssd-modules-to-ship-next-week-from-owc/

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060239)

Battery.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (4, Insightful)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060079)

To be fair, some people do buy a new $3000 laptop every year or two. They usually resell their old one for a large portion of the original purchase price, though (MacBooks in particular retain their resale value reasonably well).

To the rest of your post, you've got it exactly right - it's not motivated by a nefarious lock-in plot to take away consumer choice. It simply reflects a prioritization of user-customizability below other factors, like product aesthetics and cost reduction.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060081)

entry level MacBook Pro is $1200.

My boss doesn't see a problem buying a $300 bottle of wine every weekend. Buying a $3000 laptop for each family member once every 2 years is likely a non-issue in his household. I think it is a matter of scale, just because you aren't part of the 1% doesn't mean they are irrelevant.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (-1, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060135)

So now Fanboys are part of the 1%.

That's a nice delusion you have going there.

Seeing is deceiving.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060279)

So is anyone who makes north of $25K /yr USD. You are in the 1% of the world income.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060441)

Sorry Jedidiah. I typically enjoy your posts, but he's quite right. I'm part of wildly unpopular 8.2% of top earners.

Everyone I know who matches or exceeds my income considers my interest in taking apart my laptops and tinkering with them to be a fetishistic side effect of my technical background. They like the idea of snapping in an extra stick of RAM and feeling "geeky" and they couldn't care less about the rest. Their strategy: They'll buy the warranty and gift it to a relative in 2-3 years so they have an excuse to buy the next one. And they do.

Apple is targeting them with great precision.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060085)

I purchased my $2k Alienware M17x laptop almost three years ago and barring some sort of catastrophic disaster, I plan on keeping it just as long... ...its the best for playing EVE Online :)

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060143)

Nobody in their right mind is buying a new $3000 laptop every three years.

I'd argue nobody in their right mind is buying a new $1500 laptop every three years, even.

Other than the Mac I was recently provided by my workplace, none of the Macs in my household is less than three years old - and they all still work perfectly well for what we use them for. Because the rest of your post is exactly right - for the vast majority of users, the increase in hardware performance has far outstripped their needs.

As a bit of an extreme example - my mom was using a hand-me-down 2003 G4 Powerbook until a few weeks ago. It was certainly somewhat slow by today's standards, but it was fast enough; and it met her needs for answering email, browsing the web, and occasionally working in Word.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (2)

sessamoid (165542) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060393)

I'd argue nobody in their right mind is buying a new $1500 laptop every three years, even.

And you'd be ridiculously narrow-minded about it. Just because that level of expenditure isn't reasonable for you doesn't mean it isn't reasonable for somebody else who has greater work needs or just a lot more money.

Re:$3000 every 1-3 years. Right. (1)

OldSport (2677879) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060351)

You seem to underestimate the whole "marketing" thing. It plays hand-in-hand with products that cannot be upgraded -- which is the case for every single piece of Apple hardware, save the highest-end Mac Pro. A product cycle of 1-2 years designed to make you feel like your perfectly good hardware sucks combined with the inability to un-suckify your hardware is huge.

No (3, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059975)

does this mean we're moving irresistibly into an era of 'sealed-unit computing,' even for power users?

No. Next question, please.

Germany's model (3, Interesting)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 2 years ago | (#41059983)

The manufacturer should pay S&H to receive such sealed units for recycling and it should be as simple as submitting a request on their website for a prepaid addressed bag/envelope/box to be sent to the customer.

Re:Germany's model (5, Informative)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060075)

As genie for today, I will grant you your wish: Apple Recycling Program. [apple.com] Not only do they pay shipping, you get a gift card, too.

Re:Germany's model (1)

imagined.by (2589739) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060195)

I find it astounding that they even take old PC hardware. Yet, Apple is demonized in almost every news article.

Re:Germany's model (2)

kwerle (39371) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060273)

Although it's true that they pay for shipping, etc, I've found that if you use your computer for as long as I do, the giftcard thing ends up being $0.

Still, that they do the recycling is cool/the right thing to do in my book.

Not new... but also inevitable. (2, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060005)

This isn't exactly new. The original Macintosh was rather deliberately designed to be a sealed unit, with no user-upgradable/replaceable components inside.

Just like pretty much every other piece of consumer electronics. How easy is it to upgrade your Blu-Ray player, or replace components in your clock radio? Microcomputers have been the exception to this, beginning as kits and retaining some level of user-customization (most of the time). But as they get closer in size a pocket calculator than to a refrigerator, with the components getting smaller and closer together in the process, the notion that you can open up and tinker with your laptop becomes about as practical as suggesting that you do the same with your wrist watch.

Re:Not new... but also inevitable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060237)

Repairing consumer electronics is MUCH easier than repairing anything made my Apple.

Re:Not new... but also inevitable. (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060241)

The original Macintosh was rather deliberately designed to be a sealed unit, with no user-upgradable/replaceable components inside.

What exactly were you going to upgrade, back then? That was well before the era of performance above-board video cards, multiple CPU choices, heat management, etc. Strangely, one of my earliest memories of computing was helping my dad add more RAM to one of the early Macs, probably the SE/30. It was far from a sealed unit...

Re:Not new... but also inevitable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060473)

Thinking back 25+ years ago, so please forgive any inaccuracies. Reasons to crack open a mid-80's Mac (128K or 512K Fat Mac) and void your warranty/AppleCare:
1) Replace the *#%$ flyback transformer
2) Aftermarket RAM upgrade (128K->512K)
3) Third party hard drive
4) Floppy disk 400K->800K upgrade
5) External video adapter
6) Other stuff lost in the corners of my mind.

Didn't the SE/30 also require a case-cracking kit?

Re:Not new... but also inevitable. (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060453)

You made an apples to oranges comparison instead of an apples to well, apples comparison. What apple has done is equivalent to an auto manufacturer deciding to weld the hood shut of a brand new car with all of the components for the engine inside /also/ welded onto the block.

It is really inexcusable and only the most die hard of Apple apologists can defend such epically bad environmentally bad behavior. When almost every other product from every other vendor on the market can be upgraded or have components replaced by the lay person your argument is shown to be hollow.

In a word no... (1, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060033)

I'm sorry if someone came out with a $25,000 disposable car, that needed no service, was virtually indestructible for 5 years and then had to be turned in for the next $25,000 disposable car, I'm guessing most folks would tell Detroit to stick it where the sun don't shine. Certainly there would be a few who had the money and if it was a great driving experience, with super tires that last the life of the car, a super electric motor, and sealed systems so there was simply no need for maintenance, those few who wanted to drive without concern might enjoy it. The rest of us want to sell it when we're done, many want the value of a used car. A disposable car is great for the dealer and the wealthy guy who can afford a $25,000 expense every 5 years.

A computer is not a phone. Trying to make it into one, because you like the phone model (and it pays better, and you lock your customer into your sandbox better) isn't just creepy, its a dis-service to your customer. Of course you can rationalize that we'll better care of you than anybody else, but that just smacks of a clingy lover whose jealousy and possessiveness is bound to kill the relationship. Stop trying to lock down your customer and just take good care of them instead. Sure, offer a closed solution as a premium product for those who want no concerns whatsoever. But leave the open box for the rest of us who will do with computers what we please, and certainly not what you had planned for.

Re:In a word no... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060331)

I'm sorry if someone came out with a $25,000 disposable car, that needed no service, was virtually indestructible for 5 years and then had to be turned in for the next $25,000 disposable car, I'm guessing most folks would tell Detroit to stick it where the sun don't shine. Certainly there would be a few who had the money and if it was a great driving experience, with super tires that last the life of the car, a super electric motor, and sealed systems so there was simply no need for maintenance, those few who wanted to drive without concern might enjoy it. The rest of us want to sell it when we're done, many want the value of a used car. A disposable car is great for the dealer and the wealthy guy who can afford a $25,000 expense every 5 years.

Isn't this exactly what anybody with a $420 a month car lease does (or anybody that trades in their car for the down payment on the next $420 a month car?)

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060055)

No. Next question.

The answer is "No." (1, Offtopic)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060061)

If it was a $20 issue, it lasted a year, and could be recycled, maybe. At $3000, or even $300, they can shove their nicely sealed hardware up their collective asses with a nice solid twist.

Re:The answer is "No." (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060267)

While you enjoy lugging your clunky kit computer around, I'm going to enjoy the cost and convenience benefits of modern manufacturing capabilities.

Re:The answer is "No." (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060427)

That might void the warranty.

arguably apple sells neither. (4, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060113)

apple sells an experience, it hasnt sold computers or catered to the "power user" since the 1980s. Instead, Jobs expanded upon the initial notion of easy to use computing thats attractive and modern and comes at a premium price. Part of that experience is acknowledging that in order to provide uniformity to the target demographic, the Mac-anything is going to be a closed box. when it breaks, the consumer need only buy a new one. Never fault the customer or insist they understand how to do anymore than consume the product and have fun within the lines.

Apple users, largely but not exclusively, are less computer owner and more internet user. For those of us who wanted a real computer, the kind you can get into and tinker with, we built one from parts.

I'd call this fixation on a single device (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060115)

Upgradeability of thin laptops has been pretty... slim for quite a while. DIY repairability is usually even more limited. Nobody forces you to buy one of those, if you don't want to. It just appears people want thin and light more than upgradeable and repairable. It's their choice - at least as long as they're not fooled into buying something differing from their promises.

Personally, I can't remember a piece of computing machinery I've owned that would have seen mentionable amount of use after fifth year after purchase, which should be technically less than properly functioning lifetime of much blamed Retina Macbook Pro with one battery replacement on Apple shop. The cost of that battery replacement is almost marginal expense, when you think upfront cost of the laptop itself. For most people buying those machines it really doesn't matter much.

Tell me of the problem when market is really running out of options that support replaceable components. Then I might get worried. Or - I don't know - since non-upgradeability of many smartphone components has seemed to be complete non-issue for most of the Retina-concerned Slashdot crowd. Yet, both smartphones and laptops are computing machinery, each targeting some specific form-factor niche, which tend to exhibit their own compromises.

Unlikely (1)

otaku244 (1804244) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060141)

I think that this is a "Big Laptop" competition. Dell is going to monkey Apple and HP as well as several others are going to follow suit.
Sealed box machines are not a disruptive technology so there isn't any real incentive to move to (apart from personal preference) it unless your manufacturer railroads you into it. Even at that, the Fed and Military would have a real cow under that architecture since they chop up drives are part of their data security process.
Also, in my opinion, there will be plenty of people who will have a hard time justifying spending $1500+ for a machine to only allow it to potentially live 3 years. That being said, I do think it will shrink the market for repairable laptops... in about 5 years.

Who replaces their computer every year? (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060161)

Maybe some people do this, but very few people I know could afford to. I have a nice benefit at work where I can get a new computer once every 3 years, and they will pay for it, then deduct the cost out of my salary over the course of a year. Since I know I'll have that computer for at least 3 years, I always get the max RAM & HD for my computer along with the best video card I can get. I usually alternate between an iMac and a MacBook Pro laptop computer and give away the older computer to a family member when I get a new one of the same kind (desktop/laptop).

Apple Computers tend to have a long shelf life and retain their value better than most PCs. My family's gotten over 7 years of use out of an old PowerBook I bought when I first took advantage of the offer at work. I've given away some other computers to family members or friends' kids too. What might not be useful for you anymore may be a big upgrade for someone else.

Re:Who replaces their computer every year? (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060359)

Maybe some people do this, but very few people I know could afford to. I have a nice benefit at work where I can get a new computer once every 3 years, and they will pay for it, then deduct the cost out of my salary over the course of a year. Since I know I'll have that computer for at least 3 years, I always get the max RAM & HD for my computer along with the best video card I can get. I usually alternate between an iMac and a MacBook Pro laptop computer and give away the older computer to a family member when I get a new one of the same kind (desktop/laptop).

I'm confused. Is this computer they buy for you actually yours or is it just the one you use at work? If it's just a new work computer, you shouldn't have to pay for that, but if the computer is yours to keep with no strings attached then it sounds like a pretty good deal, especially if you get to choose the specs. From what you wrote you get to keep the old computers whenever you upgrade, so are they just letting you keep your old work computer?

Non-Upgradable Retina MBP? ORLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060171)

Way expensive, but definitely possible: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/Aura_Pro_Retina_2012/

Yes - for 99% of users. (1)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060175)

Replace "power users" with "99% of users" and I would say yes. Definitely yes. Computers are becoming (frankly, they are already) disposable consumer products.

Soon even our radios & TVs wont be repairable (2, Insightful)

Tangential (266113) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060185)

This is horrible. Who would buy anything that they can't easily repaired and/or upgrade themselves? Next thing you know, we won't be able to pull the tubes from our radios and TVs and take them down to the drug store to test them.

NO (1)

rujholla (823296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060207)

With the current shortages or rare earth metals I think we should be working towards a fully upgradeable box, just to make them last longer.

Mabye this site should be Apple dot (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060235)

Apple really should be hosting this site. Two pro apple articles in a row. They are getting close and closer together now. Used to be 2 per day, now it's 2 in a row.

2 months old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060289)

This discussion is over 2 months old. Wowsers.

An inevitable thing for Apple (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060297)

Non user replaceable batteries were inevitable. Instead of charging $60 or whatever for a battery, why not charge double that?

Apple want a black box that no-one can service, even so much as replacing as battery. Purely a profit thing I imagine, but it does fit into their "don't touch our vision, plebian!" ideology.

At the risk of burning karma, disposing of perfectly functional items because they're a few years old and there's a fancier, flashier model seems to be the encouraged behavior with some Apple stuff anyway. They'd probably be wanting to junk it by the time the battery fails anyway.

Interesting discussion (5, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060311)

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my sweetheart, a market research person placed rather high up in a Fortune 500 company. She's a smart cookie. I consider myself to not be too stupid either. Anyway here's the gist of the argument.

I'm an old dinosaur, having been around the PC since it took off in the 70's. I've always had a PC since my teenage years - Apple II, PC XT, AT, and all the way across the upgrade path to the current i7 quad core I'm writing this on. As a dinosaur, I always have in the back of my mind the modular design of the computer. PC's were originally sold to us on expandability - the ISA slots. With those 8 slots you could increase the memory, add in a co-processor, a graphics card - hard drives, when those came out. The sky was the limit. And no one wanted to buy a computer that had few ISA slots - I mean, why shoot yourself in the foot right at the beginning? Compatibility was also paramount. It had to be IBM-compatible, because that was the "gold standard".

But the market has changed. Kids nowadays, and Joe Public who isn't a computer expert at all - well they really don't give a damn about keeping their options open. They want a neat little package that works with as little hassle as possible. The things I value in a computer are not the things they value in a computer. And unfortunately as I age, I am slowly but surely moving into a very niche market.

Of course I think the current trend is wrong. I am dead set against the top-down model that manufacturers are desperate to impose on people - buy this machine, and then only buy from my store, and only run apps that I say, and eventually, don't run apps at all - lease CPU time from us "in the cloud" (which is just another way of saying the old mainfraime/client model). I think there is great danger in this route - because no one will look after your data, and you can be denied access to your data. And of course you will have to pay to access your data. Without even mentioning security problems. Personal computers had broken through that top-down model and everyone had a mini supercomputer (at least what passed for one in the 70's) on their desk and could do anything they wanted. Now you will only be able to do what you are allowed. But again, the market doesn't care. The market wants facebook and skype and angry birds and a camera and a phone and to be able to watch tv, and that's it.

Apple has seen this, and oh god are they ever cashing in. Others are catching up. But the direction of the technology is the same, be it apple or the competitors. A locked device, and pay for service. I think it's a shame, but I'll be dead soon.

What exact "upgrades" do you expect to be doing? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060335)

Aside from internal storage(where 3rd parties have already released upgrades) what do they expect to be "upgrading" in these machines? Do they really think we are going to need 32 gigs of RAM in the next 5 years? Do they think that there ate actually laptops that let you upgrade the CPU? Or are they just bitching just to bitch? Don't like the trade offs Apple made to get a small form factor? Then don't ficking buy a retina MacBook pro. Was that REALLY so hard

heh (1)

mr_bigmouth_502 (1946960) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060355)

Well this is fucking stupid. I'm pretty sure that there's some way to crack one of those things open, but still, I it should be considered a crime to sell a desktop or laptop computer without any upgrading capabilities.

Apple is not interested in all computer markets (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#41060371)

There is not a single computer market; there are four or five. Apple has little, and lessening, interest in servers or the enterprise, because they believe the cloud obviates them. Apple has no interest in hobbyists, and has not since the Apple //. Apple is interested in consumers of data and apps, mobile or otherwise. They are interested in creators of consumable content and apps. They seem uninterested in embedded systems. Their hardware and software reflect these interests. The enterprise and hobbyist types are over represented here, and meaningless to Apple.

this is old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060387)

Technology has been moving this way for a few years now, at the very least. This is not new news, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It's not that I like this, I HATE it, but I'm not the CEO of Apple, so I have no say in the matter. All I can do is stick to my pre - x86 Apple hardware.

How many upgrade their laptops already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41060391)

The only reason I ever 'upgraded' my current laptop (purchased in 2006,) was as soon as I bought it to add more RAM (cheaper than getting it straight from the vendor,) and later to replace the hard drive when it died. So now with this, I'd have to buy their RAM upgrade instead of an after-market one right away. You can still replace the storage.

So, yeah. On a power-user desktop, I absolutely want upgradeability. But a laptop? MXM has basically failed from a user-perspective. It's now solely used for ease of choice during assembly. I have no problem with power user laptops being non-upgradeable. Everyone I know that buys a true "workstation" or "enthusiast" laptop replaces it every 2-3 years anyway, and even among them, the only time they upgrade anything other than storage is "just because".

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