Olli Thomson

When Highly Paid Executives Talk Nonsense

Phil Schiller, who glories in the title of Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, has been explaining why Apple, in its ongoing quest to strip out all useful connectors from its products, had this to say about the reasons for dropping the SD card slot on the new Mac Book Pro in an interview with the Independent:

One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this — we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adapter if you want, or do wireless transfer.

This is a truly bizarre line of reasoning. Does Phil genuinely expect us to believe that the very smart people at Apple got together and decided to drop the SD card slot because when you put a card in it sticks out a bit? Apparently he does. Not only does it stick out, but it sticks out ‘halfway’ (which leaves it sticking out a massive 16mm – I measured it). So it’s ‘cumbersome’. Let’s get rid of it. Perhaps Phil doesn’t use computers often but pretty much everything you put into a port of any kind on a computer sticks out. As I type there are four things sticking out of my computer, all of them by more than 16mm.

What else? Well, Phil rightly points out that there are other types of card out there, like CF. Yes there are Phil and do you know how many cameras use CF cards compared to SD cards? A handful of high end pro DSLRs and the even rarer medium format digital cameras. Overwhelmingly, cameras and video cameras use SD cards. Phil is telling us that because Apple can’t cater to the needs of the (let’s generously say) 10 per cent of camera users with CF cards then they won’t cater to the 90 per cent who use SD cards. Brilliant logic there Mr Senior Vice President.

Still all is not lost. Phil reminds us that there are plenty of USB card readers out there we can spend extra money on to replace the capability Apple have stripped out from their very expensive computer. Just don’t forget to order a Type A to Type C USB converter at the same time since Apple, in another of those ‘courageous’ decisions they are renowned for, dropped all the Type A USB ports (those are the ones 99 per cent of the world USB cables connect to). As one reviewer pointed out, with the provided cables you can’t actually plug your new iPhone 7 into your new Mac Book Pro). So that’s two extra accessories you’ll need just to restore the capabilities that come as standard with a $200 Chromebook.

Phil’s final brilliant idea is to use wireless transfer. ‘That’s proving very useful’, he claims, proving in turn that he’s never tried it. Wireless transfer off cameras is generally quite poorly implemented where it exists but even if it were perfectly implemented it’s still dependent on the quality of the wireless connection. What are the chances of successfully transferring multiple gigabytes of RAW files or 4K video files when on the road using the under-powered and over-used wi-fi in your hotel or local coffee shop? No doubt it all works seamlessly in the pristine world of the Apple mothership, but that’s not real life.

Having said all that it’s irrelevant to me since I don’t use Macs, though when I recently replaced my old laptop I did for a brief moment consider a Mac Book Pro. One of the reasons I decided against it was precisely because it meant buying into a take it or leave it approach to future upgrades. Apple would decide what kind of computer I needed and if it worked for me, great. If not, tough. This new model is definitely in the latter category.

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