Thoughts about the MBP delay

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by abs1nthe, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. abs1nthe macrumors member

    Mar 14, 2010
    I've been thinking about something posted in the Waiting for Arrandale thread - what are the logical reasons for Apple taking so long? A similar thing happened with another major tech company just recently, and if any of you are interested in the high-end GPU sector, you're probably familiar with the nVidia Fermi fiasco. The more I compare the two scenarios, the more similar they are, and taking what we now know about nVidia's reasons, perhaps we can deduce that Apple is suffering similar problems.

    The basic story is that around October/November of last year, people started wondering what nVidia's next generation card would be, when it would come out, how it would compare to ATI, etc. The original predicted release dates were based largely on the same idea we're basing our predictions on; that is, the typical length of time between refreshes, and historical months/days when products were announced. nVidia, unlike Apple, does not employ Fort Knox-esque security measures regarding new products, but at the time, nothing was really known. Many, including myself, were sure that nVidia would have to release something in time for Christmas, as they usually do, for risk of having nothing new for the holiday buying season and essentially getting raped by the competition. Around that same time, ATI began releasing their 5000 series GPUs, which we know became incredibly successful. In our case, we see virtually all computer companies using ix chips in notebooks; Apple is one of the few that haven't yet updated their line. People began to worry what was taking so long, and many nVidia fans jumped ship and started buying ATI simply because nVidia was taking too damn long. No one wanted to buy a 200 series GPU because they were outdated, and it made sense to wait for the update. Panic, rumors, wild speculation, and mass disappointment began to mount. Starting to see the similarities?

    Well, as it turned out, the reason for all the delays was a mass failure in production, countless F-ups with engineering, and a slew of other obstacles that made it impossible for nVidia to make their chip perfect in the time frame they originally set. Essentially, they had envisioned a chip that was to be extremely powerful, revolutionary, and groundbreaking - and if it had come out on time, it would have been. But they overshot the mark, and Fermi ended up being too large, too hot, too expensive to produce, and came with a pretty low rate of yield. On top of all that, it was 6 months late to the game, and in the end, wasn't fast enough to warrant an upgrade for 5000 series owners. Granted, it still hasn't come out yet, but by now pretty much all the details, including pricing, are known. The general consensus is that nVidia failed pretty hard, and there's no debate that ATI wins this round by a longshot. By the time Fermi is in stores, ATI will be ready to refresh the 5000 series.

    Did nVidia do this on purpose, knowingly, willingly? Of course not. Much of it wasn't their fault since TSMC (the corp that makes the silicon) had their own problems in manufacturing. But the point is that, no matter how much nVidia WANTED to get their shiny new product out the door and smash the competitor, no matter how crucial it was to get it done on time, they simply couldn't because of low-level hardware issues, a problem with their supplier, and unforeseen issues with manufacturing.

    I think, since I'm a firm believer that the iPad doesn't have anything to do with the MBP refresh, Apple's delay is due for many of the same reasons. I think there probably were/are problems with Intel, possibly a poorly planned GPU solution that ended up being revised at the last second, or maybe some other screw-up that we don't know about. Maybe Apple really did want to make this a huge revision instead of a minor speed bump, but in developing/adding new features, it took much longer for all the bugs to be sorted out. I think Apple, just like nVidia, wants this thing in the consumer's hands as soon as possible, in fact possibly more so. But both companies, I think, are smart enough to know that they've screwed up in the past when they rushed an unfinished and flawed product out the door, and paid for it dearly, and don't want to do the same thing again.

    So ultimately, I think it's more complicated than the half-assed answer people give about SJ sitting on a pile of Arrandale MBPs and hoarding them so that the iPad can get all the attention. I also think that the wait is almost over. I predict that it will be released by the end of April. If nothing happens by then, alternatively I think we can expect to see much more than a mere processor upgrade. Bottom line, I think the wait will be worth it either way.

    Let me know what you guys think.
  2. highscheme macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2009
  3. SoCalRich macrumors 6502


    Feb 6, 2010
    I think this is one of the most logical well thought out and intelligent suppositions of the current situation. Very well done.
  4. Zaqfalcon macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2010
    An interesting perspective - thanks abs1nthe.
  5. macmike47 macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2007
    On the road
    It's true - that, and the hype surrounding iPad is presumably something they don't want dampened (even slightly) by the MacBook Pro update.

    Incidentally, has anyone noticed that we're on the longest gap between updates since at least 2002? :eek:
  6. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    There is a large difference between the audience for standalone GPUs and ready to use laptops.

    nVidia customers tend to look for information and research ATI vs nVidia. Most of Apple's customers are wowed by the user experience (which still has not aged), which cannot be compared. nVidia's sales would fall dramatically if they become outdated in terms of hardware. Apple's sales tend to stay the same (or in our case, rise).

    Apple has nothing to worry about. A few spec whores jumping ship is nothing. The main audience is still there buying MBPs.
  7. hypermog macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2009
    Good post. I think the delay is related to the GPU, whatever it may be. The awkward manual graphics switch on even the latest Sony Z series Arrandale is just crappy. Apple must be pining for something better.
  8. Gorilla Power macrumors 6502

    Gorilla Power

    Mar 19, 2010
    LMFAO !!!
  9. ss957916 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2009
    Really? It wasn't that funny. In fact, I'd say it was quite obvious and unoriginal.
  10. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007

    Well written.
  11. Gorilla Power macrumors 6502

    Gorilla Power

    Mar 19, 2010
    :eek: Sorry its just that the first post is supermassive and the one right below is like a slap of wet fish on your face.. honestly made me lol. :)

    EDIT : absolutely no offense to the OP though, its excellent that someone has actually taken so much time to figure out things and express all of it here.
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Who says they're delayed. Yes they are delayed because of people's expectations but they may (or may not) be delayed by apple's time line.

    This "delay" has occurred many times with apple and time in and time out, they eventually update the computer. Sometime people are unhappy having waited for so long and only got a small update and other times they're pretty pleased with the result.

    The risk of waiting however is people's expectations increase, especially when they see what apple's competitors are doing. This may raise that expectation out of line with what apple really will do and the resulting whining/complaining will ensue.
  13. Gorilla Power macrumors 6502

    Gorilla Power

    Mar 19, 2010
    Well said ! This is exactly my point too.
  14. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Can't help but agree. I think that Intel backed them into a tight spot by essesntially forcing them to Intel integrated graphics with Arrandale; full-time discrete graphics would nail the battery stat.

    I'm hoping the extra long wait for us will be rewarded with an excellent resolution in the graphics department.

    [edit: apologies for the bad, and unintended, pun.]
  15. theLimit macrumors 6502a


    Jan 30, 2007
    up tha holler, acrost tha crick
    People's expectations always overshoot what Apple has in store. Every single update to every single product is immediately followed by a slew of threads whining about how disappointing the update is. Once the update does happen, I expect all the "waiting for Arrandale" type threads to be immediately supplanted by "I waited X long for this?!?!1!?" and "I should have bought X months ago!" threads. Of course, there will also be a rash of "I just bought my MBP! Apple ripped me off!" threads from those who didn't wait and adamantly claimed that the C2D models were more than enough for their needs. It happens every time.
  16. abs1nthe thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 14, 2010
    LOL nice, I was expecting either a tl;dr or this. Kind of walked into that

    Thanks, man!

    This is true as well. I think we can consider it a delay in that, 1) The refresh has now reached the point of being one of, if not the, longest gap between updates for the current product line, and 2) Apple is slowly falling behind the competition. Not by much, but enough to where at least people start noticing and either refusing to buy the current MBP and holding out on a purchase, or switching to PCs to better suit their needs.

    The other point, about a wait inevitably resulting in unfulfilled expectations, is very true as well. The same exact thing happened with nVidia in my original example. The wait took SO long, in fact, that by the time any real news finally surfaced, even nVidia "fanboys" had lost any interest in the product altogether. I personally stopped reading the prediction threads about Fermi and forgot about it, because we were lucky enough to find out detailed specs ahead of time and dismiss it as a flop. With Apple though, it sucks because we won't know anything until the day of release (most likely).
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think the powerbooks had a much longer cycle between refreshes, it has not reached those proportions. Likewise the iMac, Mac Mini and Mac Pro all had bouts of extended periods between refreshes

    Yes and no. There will be people tired of waiting and switching over to windows, however those people are either folks who have not switched over (from windows to mac) or are recent switchers. Folks like me have a heavy investment in native OSX applications and its a huge expense to switch just because I got tired of waiting. Most people who are entrenched in OSX will remain and ride out the delay.
  18. Gen macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2008

    With all the hype Apple built for the iPad do you really believe they would take any attention away from that with any updates to anything they sell? :rolleyes:
  19. gwsat macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    I, too, had recalled how much longer it was from the introduction of the aluminum Powerbook G4, until it was finally replaced with the first generation Macbook Pro more than 3 years later. We now know that this long delay was the result of Apple having wrongly concluded that it could somehow get a version of the G5 chip to work practically in a laptop. It couldn't.

    Apple's G5 CPU miscalculation sounds remarkably similar to what abs1nthe has hypothesized about the GPU problems Apple seems to facing now. I will be interested to see how it all plays out and to learn the facts about what is really going on.
  20. February1088 macrumors member

    Feb 21, 2010
    It was funny b/c it was the first reply after that huge chunk of post and it was very short

    To get back on topic, I think the reason why its delayed so long was because they weren't initially planning to go with i5/i7 in their updated MBP's but then they changed their mind because the PC competitors were using those processors aggressively in their sales. Apple wanted to sell the updated MBP without ix chips because they were costly originally but decided that its better decision to put those chips in the MBPs. But they want to wait a while before updating it because they feel like they can make more profit if they release the Arrandale-based MBPs later since they are more costly to manufacture

    They're just trying to be greedy, is how I see it
  21. supham macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2010
    I don't think they are late. Apple has some experience at creating product. I'm sure there is not too much here that they have never encountered before. They know how to work through issues.

    We think they are late. I'm sure Apple is progressing on the timeline they set far back.

  22. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Supply + demand.

    Anyone think it's possible that Apple is doing this to drive down the price on a used macbook pro? It would take a generation or two, but in a while, the bloat of C2D Macbooks on ebay will cause their price to plummet, allowing people to purchase a used one for less.

    Effectively doing a price cut, without lowering prices.
  23. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    I'll be sure to mention that people bought old technology when the Macbooks are updated because let's face it, any computer you buy right now is old tech in a month or two. That doesn't mean it doesn't work great.

    As for updates, I think the previous one was absolutely great. They basically fixed everything that was wrong with the unibody Macbooks with the 13" MBP. No production flaws like loose batter covers and whatnot, much better display, FireWire...still very happy with mine.

    Apple has no huge incentive to update. They still have a very good lineup that works great and outside internet forums like this one, people are not looking for the absolute fastest whatever, they're looking for something that will help them do their work and other tasks with ease. the current MBPs still deliver that in spades. The next one will do it a bit faster but this won't be visible in most everyday tasks at all. I truly hope Apple can deliver something other than just speed boosts in their next MBPs.
  24. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    What's the risk in waiting?--saving money? Hardly a risk to me. In fact, quite the opposite--there is a huge risk in buying now. True, the update may not amount to much but if that's the case there are plenty of other competing laptops to buy.

    The vast majority of Apple's customers are entirely ignorant of specs or what a new processor means. They see a shiny, well designed computer and they buy it. However, if you're on these boards you aren't one of those people and should wait. In the meantime, its a beautiful day and I think I'll go biking.

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