I think it’s pretty naive personally to assume the biggest market for the MacBook Pro is developers.
The biggest market is for developers and designers… It’s not the only one, but it is certainly the biggest one.
I’d suggest that the most vocal market is developers and designers. Remember that there are a lot of business and home Mac users who’ve never performed either of those aforementioned roles…
Do you have proof of that? I’m skeptical.
I’d ask the inverse. Like you, it seems to me that there are more devs and designers using Macs than the general population, but we ARE devs! Thus we fall prey to implicit bias.
I’m not really sure I’m suffering from much bias. I don’t own a Macbook Pro and I don’t know anyone personally that does. I’m just betting that the segment of people who call themselves “power users” outnumber actual devs.
How much memory does a dev need? I’m interested in other people’s RAM breakdown.
Mine: Editor: 100 MB Terminal: 20 MB Desktop system: 200 MB (Entertainment/Browser: 4 GB)
The issue is not how much memory do we need today but buying the extra RAM to give the machine extended life. Today 16GB is enough for me. But what about in 5 years? I buy Macs because they are solid machines for far longer than their PC counterparts. When I can’t order more than 16GB of RAM in a $3,000 machine, that means I probably won’t get as much life out of it.
Put it this way; the 4 year old machines these are replacing were also capped at 16GB. Four years ago 16GB was enough headroom to future proof the machine. Today it isn’t.
Let me turn it around:
Apple laptops with 32gb of ram are going to be (very) rare in 2 years. Makers of software for OSX are overwhelmingly using apple laptops. This is going to create some backpressure against the pattern of ignoring how much ram your code uses.
We’ve heard the reasons for the 16gb cap before (power consumption).
The thing apple isn’t realizing is that developers use their laptops at their desks, plugged in, the vast majority of the day. Even when flying, most flights have power plugs.
The compromise of less ram for an hour or two of extra battery life isn’t worth it.
I use a laptop as my main dev machine because I can close it at the end of the day and put it in my bag and open it at home if something comes up.
Maybe I’m in the minority though.
I hate to say so, but anything refering to “developers” as a heterogeneous group has to be rejected outright.
Many developers don’t need 32 GB of ram. Other use their device unplugged all the time. Apple doesn’t cater to a specific kind of developer, and I think the size of that group is widely overestimated and - business-oriented - neglectable to do hardware development for.
indeed. my work MBP has 8GB of RAM – and for most things it’s enough! I unplug it and use it in the car, or around the house, or on a couch, or in bed, or in coffee shops. I often run down the battery in normal use; if I had to pick between an upgrade to 16GB or 2 hours of extra battery life, I’d be hard-pressed to choose.
but I know that my experience is just mine; I don’t need tons more RAM because my tools don’t demand them. but some tools do. and I move around a lot – but not everyone does. I like the macbook pro primarily because it strikes a fairly good point for me in the pareto-optimal curve of performance-when-plugged-in vs efficiency-when-unplugged – but not everyone needs that point on the curve, of course.
a similar point of contention is people who complain the MBP doesn’t have a powerful enough GPU option. for some applications, it sure doesn’t, and sometimes when I play games on mine, I really wish its GPU was better. But stuffing a 150 watt GPU in a laptop completely changes its entire design (I have a gaming laptop, and the experience is night and day!), requiring way more mass, a different structure, different tradeoffs – and would definitely make the laptop worse for a whole lot of use-cases. and there’s only so much area of the curve one laptop can cover, sadly.
This. I’ve never felt a need for more than even 8GB so far. I’d much rather have 8 or 16GB RAM and know that the battery life is long enough that I can do a full day’s worth of work without a recharge, so I can set up anywhere and not have to worry about where the nearest outlet is or whether I even brought a power adapter.
Honestly, professional developers are already a small minority of Macbook users, and developers who really benefit from 32GB RAM are a small minority within that group. I don’t blame Apple at all for writing them off for now. If you really need 32GB, maybe what you need is a full desktop-replacement laptop, designed for max computing power while sacrificing battery life and portability. They’re out there, but Apple isn’t making them.
Personally, 16GB gives me a bit more headroom but I could probably get by with 8GB in this day of PCI-E NVME SSDs (oh, the horror of having to survive with 8GB RAM!). I don’t typically run more than 1-2 VMs concurrently though.
Seriously though, I’m guessing that the next generation of MBPs in this new form factor will almost certainly support more RAM. By which time any issues with the new chassis, keyboard, Thunderbolt 3, Touch Bar, etc will be worked out. That’s the laptop I’ll be looking at, not this first generation model. I can understand the complaints though, particularly amongst those who had held out for the much anticipated Skylake-based refresh.
Yeah I expect the next update of these will be the better deal. I don’t mind the RAM personally, but they seem kinda overpriced, and there isn’t much support for USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 yet. Quite a few people have been complaining about the keyboards too.
I don’t want to lump developers categorically; maybe should have s/developers/power users/g.
The larger point is choice; by making the hard stop at 16gb they’re eliminating an entire segment of the market that does want 16+gb of ram in their portable desktop that runs osx.
Minority maybe, but you’re basically using your laptop as a portable desktop in my book. You’re just using your computer in different places, that it is a laptop is tertiary to your use patterns. I’m in the opposite camp, hell no to more ram less battery.
As for me, I do use my laptop unplugged, right now for example, losing about 30% of my battery life with DDR4 memory versus low power DDR3 means why should I bother buying a laptop, it’ll just be a portable desktop that can barely survive a trip on a plane.
Thing is, I want 32GiB of ram too, but I don’t want to lose that much portability. And given this is more on Intel, I can’t blame Apple for this one. That said, its odd that even Apple can’t push/prod/shove/provoke/inspire/bribe/whatever Intel to get a chipset that does provide 32GiB of memory. It either speaks poorly of Intel for being effectively useless at gauging their own market, or Apple for not pursuing an alternative like Arm to provide it to us.
I’m a developer as well, but I can’t picture myself requiring more than 16GB of RAM for any dev-related tasks…
Even if the primary use-case is unexpected; it seems clear that the MBP, especially in the last few iterations, is built to be a “portable” device. The form and function of the product is to be as powerful as it can be without sacrificing portability (lightness, size, and battery life). The fact that there is so much emphasis on the display itself tells me that they expect to you to be looking at the main display.
Someone can correct me on this, but I believe it is the case that Apple employees tend to use laptops in a portable way rather than all being connected to large displays. Even if the use-case outside of Apple is usually different; the influence from inside is likely stronger.
Ram != space or weight.
The point is ram == power draw, which would either necessitate a larger battery or less battery life.
I would prefer less battery life.
It’s interesting that this isn’t an issue in the Windows world because if one manufacturer won’t compromise on battery life for more memory, someone else will. Apple are the only company who can sell laptops that run MacOS and as a developer, it’s that unix backend with a nice UI over the top that I’m looking for, so either I go find a different unix with a nice UI or I put up with Apple’s prices and hardware limitations.
Personally, buying a 16GB machine now for the kind of money Apple are charging just doesn’t seem worth it, but if you’re not using lots of RAM at the moment maybe it’s okay for some of you.
If you allow me to link to my own blog, here are some theories on why Apple doesn’t seem to be targeting the “real” “Pro” market now: http://cfenollosa.com/blog/what-do-pro-users-want.html
In summary, I think that right now the MBP is mainstream, and that “general public” is feeding Apple’s system usage reports with “mainstream data”. Thus, when they use that data to make decisions, they are not biased towards “real” “pros” anymore (quotes again)
Anyway, if you’re interested in the topic, please read it, I spent an insanely big amount of time trying to explain myself…
Honestly your article is good but kind of all over the place :)
One of your central points seems to be that Apple is streamlining its business, and that developers and “Pros” are not its biggest market segment any more.
I think that’s valid, and I also think you make a good point about the “Pro” branding.
IMO though your article is only really tangential to the discussion at hand - the RAM limitation in the latest MBPro.