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For the past couple of months, there’s been a storm brewing, deep inside the Apple community. Apple commentators, writers and fans alike have been thinking about the future of Mac. Sparked by the fact that the Mac Pro hasn’t seen an update in 3 years, the Mac Mini’s sad state of affairs, and the new MacBook Pro’s lukewarm response Which Should You Buy: Apple Macbook Pro 2016 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4? Which Should You Buy: Apple Macbook Pro 2016 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4? Don't know whether to go with the MacBook Pro 2016 or the Surface Pro 4? We've covered all the reasons why you might -- or might not want -- one of the two laptops. Read More .

Some are questioning the existence of the Mac platform years down the line. Some are looking for alternatives. If you’ve come across such articles online, let me give you the other side of the story.

The Mac platform (both hardware and software) isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon.

1. Touch Bar Shows Apple’s Commitment to Hardware

Macbook Touch Bar

Touch Bar’s future still hangs in the air, it’s an entire new interaction paradigm. We won’t know if it’s an actually useful feature or a gimmick for at least 2–3 years. It’s been more than a year and 3D Touch is just starting to become useful Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone 3D touch is really just a fancy name for a pressure-sensitive screen, but adds a whole array of extra input options to iOS. Read More .

But the fact that Apple put in the resources to develop and release the Touch Bar Apple Unveils New Touchy-Feely MacBook Pro Apple Unveils New Touchy-Feely MacBook Pro Apple has taken the wraps off of its brand new MacBook Pro. It's a beautifully designed piece of hardware, with several innovative touches and some annoying caveats potential buyers will have to beware. Read More shows us Apple’s commitment to the future of the Mac. It just might not be exactly the way we envisioned it.

When you think about it, there’s an entire computer living right above the keyboard. There’s an ARM chip like the one in the Watch, there’s a touchscreen and Touch ID. That’s an amazing technological feat. It’s now up to Apple and third party developers to make it a must-have feature, rather than a gimmick.

2. Yearly Updates Show Apple’s Commitment to macOS

MacOS Sierra

Ever since Mavericks came out, macOS started on the path of yearly updates. The fact that Apple releases one major version of macOS every year with new features 11 macOS Sierra Things You Couldn't Do in El Capitan 11 macOS Sierra Things You Couldn't Do in El Capitan Every new macOS release introduces new tricks and features, and macOS Sierra is no exception. Read More and fixes is a big deal. Funnily enough, this is something Mac enthusiasts don’t exactly want. Mac is our workhorse. Many (myself included) would prefer if Apple took two years updating macOS, making it more stable.

3. You Can’t Develop iPhone Apps on an iPad (Yet)

mac xcode

Right now, the Mac is the only way to create apps for iPhone and iPad. Xcode only works on the Mac. Yes, the iPad has Swift Playgrounds but it’s an app created for learning to code, not for creating apps.

You could look at Swift Playgrounds on the iPad and extrapolate that it’s not too long until we have Xcode on the iPad. The reality is far more complex. It’s not that the iPad isn’t powerful enough, it’s also the fact that creating an app for iOS takes a lot more than Xcode.

It takes online libraries, little tools for automation, not to mention the terminal. And all this needs to run side-by-side or one after the other. This isn’t possible in a closed iOS “one-app-at-a-time” ecosystem.

4. Developers Love Unix

mac iterm

Like Linux, macOS is built on top of Unix. And developers love Unix because of the terminal Customize Your Mac Command Line With These Terminal Alternatives Customize Your Mac Command Line With These Terminal Alternatives One of the best ways to make macOS your own is to customize the command line, either through alternative apps or just tricking out the Terminal app. Read More . It gives them specialized automated tools Install Mac Software From Terminal With Homebrew Install Mac Software From Terminal With Homebrew Install (almost) any free Mac app by typing four words and hitting "Enter". Read More that help them work better. Starting a new web project or server takes a couple of lines of code. Things like this don’t exist on Windows. If they do, they’re hard to work through. New age languages like Ruby The 17 Best YouTube Programming Tutorials The 17 Best YouTube Programming Tutorials In this post, we'd like to point you to some of the best YouTube programming series we've found. All of these are sufficient for getting your feet wet as a newbie programmer. Read More are still difficult to setup and use on Windows.

Developers use Macs for the same reason the rest of us do. They get Unix features, along with hardware that’s superior to anything on the PC side which can run Linux.

5. Some Professional Tools Are Exclusive to Mac

sketch app mac

Microsoft is doing a good job of luring digital artists Microsoft vs. Apple: A Fierce Battle for the Best Design Microsoft vs. Apple: A Fierce Battle for the Best Design With its Surface device family, Microsoft has penetrated a niche that was tightly held down by Apple: sleek hardware aimed at professional creatives. Paired with the Windows Creators Update, Microsoft may have a winning ticket. Read More with the Surface Studio and Surface Book, but designers still prefer Macs. Sketch, which is currently the hottest tool for UI and Graphic design is only available on the Mac. Then there’s Apple’s own set of pro tools: Final Cut Pro, Logic, GarageBand, and so on.

In my option, the best tools for working with Markdown also exist only on the Mac What Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It Now What Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It Now Tired of HTML and WYSIWYG editors? Then Markdown is the answer for you no matter who you are. Read More .

The Mac has always been a machine for creative work. And it’s one of the best systems to get any kind of work done. The app ecosystem is the proof of that. Yes, Windows has more apps but you won’t find the quality of apps anywhere else. The thoughtfulness and polish is what makes Mac apps a pleasure to use.

6. The Numbers Are Steady

quarterly mac sales

Mac sales have been pretty consistent in the last couple of years. Around five million units per quarter, one after the other. Mac isn’t exactly a declining business. Thanks to the more expensive MacBook Pros, the average selling price is actually going up.

The iPad has been on a steady decline for the last 12 quarters. Going from 18.6 million sales in Q1 2015 to 10.6 million sales in Q1 2017. That’s quite a drop.

quarterly ipad sales

Of course, the iPad still sells twice as many units, but not all iPads are used for getting work done.

7. Neither iOS or macOS Will Change Massively

The conventional wisdom is that the iPad will replace the Mac. While some users can replace their Mac with a tablet, it’s not for everyone. The iPad can be a great productivity machine Can the iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop? Can the iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop? The iPad Pro can do a lot, but can it do enough to completely replace the humble laptop? That depends. Read More . If all you do email, communication, writing and basic Office stuff, there’s no doubt you can do all it on the iPad.

But as soon as you introduce even a bit of complexity, things fall apart. Writing an article on the iPad is easy Word Processing On Your iPad? We Compare The Best Apps Word Processing On Your iPad? We Compare The Best Apps If you've got some words to be processing on your iPad, we've got the apps to help you do it. Read More . But using tools to edit it, add images, links, uploading it to WordPress is almost a nightmare. I tried it and I gave it up in a week. The same goes for coding, designing, image editing, audio ending and so on.

A lot of this is because of the way iOS is designed. Apps can’t talk to each other, there’s no way for two apps to take over one single file, there’s no official automation support New to iOS Automation? 10 Workflows to Get You Started New to iOS Automation? 10 Workflows to Get You Started Did you know you can automate many common tasks on your iPhone with a simple app called Workflow? Read More .

The other thing is the lack of apps. There’s no proper Photoshop or Illustrator on the iPad. There’s no feature rich code editor or IDE on the iPad (though from what I hear, Coda 2 is pretty good). There’s no incentive for developers to pour millions of dollars in developing an iPad app. Some can’t exist on iOS because of platform limitations.

The iOS ethos hasn’t changed in the past decade, and I don’t see Apple making any drastic changes now either. It’s not their style.

But What If It Did Happen?

Now that I’ve laid out my argument for why I don’t think the Mac is going anywhere anytime soon, let me try and tear it apart.

Last quarter, Apple sold 5.4 million Mac units and earned $7.2 billion in revenue. Those are huge numbers sure, but they’re nothing compared to the iPhone: 78.2 million units and $34.9 billion in revenue. Apple is the iPhone company. As the iPad runs iOS and the same hardware, it benefits from Apple’s breakthroughs in iPhone hardware and software.

It’s possible that at some point in the future, Apple will stop caring about the Macs. Maybe the numbers won’t make sense to Tim Cook.

The Mac has been the preferred workstation by creatives, professionals and a subset of developers. I truly believe that for a majority of those users, there’s no other “great” option in the market right now. But what if Apple decides that it’s not the market they want to cater to anymore?

macbook pro

We’ve seen glimpses of this with the new MacBooks already, which let go of higher performance and high capacity RAM in exchange for sleekness. Then there’s the Mac Pro which hasn’t seen an update in three years. The Mac mini’s last update was two years back, and they actually made it worse.

I like to think that there are enough people inside Apple rooting for the Mac. And there’s enough people out here who cherish the Mac. Whose livelihood depends on it. And I hope Apple continues to cater to that market.

What do you think about the current state of Mac hardware and software? Where do you think the puck is going? Share with us in the comments below.

Charts via sixcolors.com

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  1. Michael Walker
    March 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I agree with Helen. Its not thaf Apple will stop making things, this is their business. People used to pay Apples premium prices because all in all, it was worth it. That may not be the case anymore. These new machines are sacrificing performance for thinness and still charging a growing premium. Apple is charging more for less, and no one but the true fanboys will want to pay it.

  2. DJ
    March 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I find that developers will use the best tool for the job rather than what looks cool in a coffee shop. A mac develops iPad and iPhone apps excellently and yes it is built on top of Linux.

    However, most developers I've worked with just create a partition if they want a particular OS to work with. You try and make a case to your manager for a MAC, it's almost impossible as you can do everything (bar iPad and iPhone apps) on a windows or linux PC.

    It is all down to personal choice. What used to make a MAC a better proposition for creative types and graphics designers is no longer the case, all are now equal.

    I can see why you would buy a MAC for work (as you can run any other OS on it) but for home? It has to be either Linux or Windows for the masses of interoperability that can be achieved relatively easily.

  3. Helen Steeply
    March 22, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Speaking as a 'developer,' this article misses the point.

    I don't think macs are going to disappear.

    I just they're turning into something I don't want to buy.

    • Khamosh Pathak
      March 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Oh, interesting. Of course, different developers work differently. The ones I talked to, even web developers feel that they either can't or don't want to switch from Mac.