Forget The MacBook Pro, Apple Has Something Better

Updated Nov 21: article originally posted Nov 19.

It should be no surprise that the “Black Friday” season has countless discounts and special offers around laptops in general and Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in particular. That’s not something Tim Cook and his team regularly take part in; 2022 is very much an anomaly because Apple is offering some nice discounts on the current ‘professional’ 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops.

Update: Monday 21 November: More details on Apple’s offer to enterprise customers have come to light this weekend. Orders of between 5 and 24 units of either 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops running the M1 Pro or M1 Max chips will have an eight percent discount, while any order of 25 or more will see a ten percent discount applied.

The value of this offer is broadly similar to that offered to verified students and educational establishments, where it is possible to pick up the consumer MacBook Air and smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro with up to ten percent discounted from the sticker price. Given that, these smaller enterprise orders receiving the same order are not hugely out of character for Apple… neither is hiding it away and not shouting about the numbers on its website.

The offer is running until Christmas Day, another piece of evidence that Apple will not be launching the upgraded M2 Pro or M2 Max MacBook Pro laptops before the end of the year.

Mark Gurman has doubled down on his reporting that these new MacBook Pro laptops will not be launched until March 2023 at the earliest, some eighteen months after the launch of the equivalent first-generation Apple Silicon laptops. With no new products to boost sales over Apple’s largest quarter, keeping Mac sales as high as possible has pushed Apple into an unfamiliar space… offering discounts to keep sales up.

“The deal runs until the day before Christmas and that’s no coincidence: Apple was very clear on its most recent earnings call that its growth rate in the holiday period will slow in comparison to the previous quarter due to the March. The revamped MacBook Pro launched in October 2021, and there’s no similar debut happening during the holiday quarter this year.”

You won’t find them in the Apple Store – the time is not right to weaken the public perception of the high value of the hardware – but they are being quietly offered to enterprise customers. Mark Gurman reports:

“The company is offering a discount of as much as 10% off its 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1-based chips, according to businesses and Apple retail employees. That tops the typical markdown given to small and midsize businesses. The tactic is unusual for Apple and suggests it’s stepping up efforts to reinvigorate sales.”

Enterprise buyers can still be swayed by new designs and a sense of ‘must have the latest model’, but nowhere near as much as consumers walking into a retail store. There will be much more focus on the practical benefits of the hardware. Given Apple’s dramatic raising of the base-line specs of the Mac hardware in the move to Apple Silicon, the MacBook Air experience is a satisfying experience for those needing an all-rounder laptop.

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops have the new look, the slick screens, the fast charging battery, but their real benefit – and the key factor that would make them attractive to businesses – is their ability to offer a powerful laptop geared towards heavy computing tasks such as development, multimedia creation, and specific computationally intensive tasks.

If you are not looking for ultimate power, then the MacBook Air has proven itself to be more than sufficient; even if you go for the entry-level M1 Air from 2020, you’ll have a MacBook with reliable performance; and the M2 Air offers around 20 percent more power if you feel the need for a bit in reserve.

If the requirement is for power, that’s where the MacBook Pro becomes the better answer. Yet the current professionally focused, aforementioned MacBook Pro models were released in 2021 and are due for a replacement. While there was hope these would arrive in Apple’s October launch window, all of the indications now point to Apple deciding to delay into the first quarter of 2023.

Budget-minded enterprise customers on the lookout for a cost-effective move to the new Apple Silicon platform may look at Apple’s discount and be tempted to for what will soon be the older and less capable model, safe in the knowledge that the M1 Max and M1 Pro system-on-chips will deliver in terms of performance…

But Apple has something much better coming down the line. Any laptop investment will last many years, so you want to have the best starting position possible. Is that settling for an older model with lower specs right now or waiting for Apple to release the next-generation of MacBooks which will clearly deliver a better experience?

Now read the latest Mac, iPhone, and iPad headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple news digest…

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