The Apple Conundrum

apple conundrum and devices that i can't plug in anymoreApple, once upon a time, was the go to source for hardware for developers. Some developers may still swear by it. I however, am rolling far away from the Apple tree.

The price of current edition Mac Book Pros have gone up so much that I can not justify buying it. Apple products do not make me money. They are not required for me to do my (entire) job.

Rewind about 12 years. I bought my first 15″ Mac Book Pro. This was the first time they were aluminum bodied. That MBP was a sweet sweet piece of hardware, and as a novelty, I know I paid way too much for it. I fell for the Apple upgrades and spent about $2500 for it. That laptop lasted me about 2.5 years with one battery replacement, and a few other hardware related issues, which was unfortunate.

Move forward to 2009 when Apple released the full body aluminum models. This design was damn near perfect. I got myself a 13″ MBP for around $1700. In 2011 I upgraded the RAM to 8GB because I could. In 2014 I upgraded the hard drive to SSD and retained the original HD as extra storage because I could. In 2017 this MBP still functions fully, albeit a slightly diminished battery capacity. I’ve gotten over 8 years out of about $2200 in total. Unfortunately for me, Apple has deemed this hardware to be “no good!” incapable of upgrading it to the latest OS, which means I can no longer do part of my job (iOS development) on this fully functional hardware. This form of forced obsolescence is, quite frankly, bullshit.

Move forward to today. To get a MBP of approximately the same capacity (500+GB space and 8GB ram), ignoring “slight” CPU improvements, and a fairly under-powered GPU, I’m looking at a minimum $2229 out of the gate. And guess what? I can’t even do my job with that as-is courtesy of Apple Innovation and their desire to remove all of the ports. I’d need to add a pile of dongles or a “dock” just to get back regular USB, ethernet, external monitors, etc. That’s an extra $300 easily.

At the very most in my life I need a Mac OS machine that’s capable of running the latest Xcode on the latest OS.

Which brings me the conundrum. Do I bother to blow money on a new laptop that I (for the most part) know will not last me as long as my prior laptop?

Do I try and buy a used one that’s capable of running macOS High Sierra? The resale value tends to be a bit high too though, but at least that money doesn’t go right back to Apple.

Do I find an alternative Ubuntu capable laptop and just pick up a cheap-ish Mac Mini to do my Xcode work on? I could probably buy both of them for less than $2000 easily. Unfortunately that puts a kink in the work flow, that’s for sure.

What do other hybrid developers do? I work with web, native mobile, and other “creative” code projects. All of which are cross platform except iOS.

Thoughts or opinions welcome.

By Darryl Clarke

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