What’s Up with Apple’s Resistance to Multi-touch Macs?

Apple's new MacBook Pro laptops are sleek, beautiful and expensive. But the addition of a touch strip above the keyboards on these devices only serves to highlight a very strange aversion to a technology that Apple made popular on mobile devices: Multi-touch screens.

In some ways, the Touch Bar reminds me of the central mistake in Microsoft's Surface Book: Rather than deliver the functionality its users want and need, Apple has stubbornly stood by an unnecessary limitation and then touted it as an advantage.

In Microsoft's case, I'm referring of course to the fact that what customers were really asking for was a thin and light Surface Ultrabook, not a clunky (and unreliable) detachable Frankensurface. And with Apple, it's just as fundamental. Put multi-touch in the screen where it belongs, you knuckleheads.

Doug said it best, on Twitter:
"The idea of touch-based controls is pretty amazing. How much more useful would the Touch Bar would be if it was screen-sized?"

One can only speculate about Apple's curiously slow-moving approach to improving the Mac. But I think I can make two compelling arguments: That Apple's mobile devices are so successful that it justifies ignoring the Mac. And that Windows 8 was such a disaster, that it removed any compelling reason to go down that same road with the Mac.

The first one makes the most sense.

Looking at Apple's most recent quarterly earnings, we see that the firm generated $32.4 billion from sales of iPhone and iPad, and just $5.7 billion from Mac: Those two devices are currently over five times the size of Mac by revenue. But the gap is really bigger than that: Most of Apple's $6.3 billion in services revenues were directly tied to usage from iPhone and iPad users, not Mac users. Meaning that the overall i-device ecosystem is much, much bigger than that for the Mac. So it makes more sense for Apple to focus the most effort on those devices that sell the most, have the highest margins, and are replaced far more often.

But if my Windows 8 theory is correct, Apple needs to reconsider. In the years since that terrible release, Microsoft and its PC maker partners have made a compelling case for multi-touch screens, and today's 2-in-1s in particular are more innovative---and, more important, more useful---than Macs as a result.

Yes, I'm sure that the Touch Bar is useful and will be embraced by Mac developers and users. Though I will, as always, send a cautionary alert that, at $1800 and up, the Macs that offer this functionality are far too expensive. You can buy a touchscreen PC laptop for as little as $200 these days, and flagship portable PCs from Lenovo, HP, Dell and other companies cost far less than the $1800 starting price of those Touch Bar-capable Macs. Like the Surface Studio and Surface Book with Performance Base, these new Macs are stupid expensive.

Both Microsoft and Apple made compelling cases this week that PCs---yes, the Mac is a PC---are the best choice,...

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