In a company blog, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens observes that “Apple is asking users to define the future of the MacBook Pro… Once again … Apple has presented the market with a choice. They have two professional laptops: one that is serviceable and upgradeable, and one that is not,” concluding after a teardown that the Retina MacBook Pro is “least-repairable laptop we’ve taken apart,” and that “We have consistently voted for hardware that’s thinner rather than upgradeable… But we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Our purchasing decisions are telling Apple that we’re happy to buy computers and watch them die on schedule… Every time we buy a locked down product containing a non-replaceable battery with a finite cycle count, we’re voicing our opinion on how long our things should last.”
Wiens notes that beginning with the original 2008 MacBook Air, Apple has been sacrificing performance and upgradeability to acheive a thinner form factor, with, for example, RAM soldered to the logic board, meaning that a heretofore simple memory upgrade would now involve a prohibitively expensive replacement of the entire board, and a non-swappable battery.
Did we want a machine that would be stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever? Would we support laptops that required replacement every year or two as applications required more memory and batteries atrophied? Wiens notes that consumers overwhelmingly voted yes, with Air sales soaring to take 40% of Apple’s notebook sales by the end of 2010, buyers voting with their wallets to purchased the device despite its built-in death clock.
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