You can probably imagine what the response of iFixit’s CEO was to the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display once he took it apart and found that it is probably the least user-serviceable laptop Apple has ever made. He hates it.
What I like about his piece is that he doesn’t place the blame on Apple. Instead, he puts it on consumers:
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. When we choose a short-lived laptop over a more robust model that’s a quarter of an inch thicker, what does that say about our values?
I know a lot of people think that computers (and many other products) are becoming less maker-friendly because greedy companies want to get more money for parts and labor, or even better, shorten the upgrade cycle and sell more computers, or cars, or appliances, or whatever.
I doubt that is ever really the case. There are a lot of tradeoffs that go into product design. When it comes to laptops, there are capabilities (display resolution, processor speed, storage space, battery life, and so on), size and weight, cost, and upgradeability. Apple seems to have gotten the impression that upgradeability is the factor that people care about the least, and I suspect that they’re right.
My suspicion is that the number of people who upgrade any of the components of their laptops is very small — I’d be surprised if even 5% of customers did so. I would imagine that the number of people who repair laptops on their own is even smaller. What’s funny is that I’m one of those people. I unthinkingly set a magnet on a MacBook I used to have and destroyed the hard drive, and I was very pleased to be able to take it apart and replace that hard drive myself. That being said, I’d rather have one of the new MacBook Pros with Retina Display than that old MacBook any day of the week.