Strong opinions, weakly held

Why are Apple laptops becoming harder to take apart?

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.


  1. For one thing, a new MBP wouldn’t have any magnetic drives to accidentally wreck…

  2. I replaced the fan on one MacBook Pro when it started making a ticking noise – I could have gotten Apple to do it for free. I pulled the DVD from another and replaced it with a secondary hard drive. If I’d been able to afford a larger SSD drive then it wouldn’t have been necessary.

    But with AppleCare, cheap(er) SSDs and Thunderbolt, internal expandability is far, far less of a necessity then it used to be. When the internal bus is hanging out from a port, who really needs to fiddle around with the internals? I like being able to pull out the internals but I’m seeing less and less of a need to do so.

  3. Too much “doom and gloom” for a first generation product. Apple might end up making the new RMBP some what user upgradable in later revisions if the market wants it. They may just end up offering 2 product lines if it’s viable. I think the real question is if they use the RMBP as a baseline and actually put effort into optimizing software to run flawlessly for 5 years and maybe even beyond. If they stick to that, there is nothing to worry about.

    As a comparison, my PS3 has been running strong for about 6 years now and it has gotten better with time.

  4. Extra bonus of new MBP: the SSD wouldn’t have been harmed by a magnet. I’m actually surprised your old hard drive was–just how strong a magnet was it?

  5. I am person who has upgraded and repaired many a computer in my day myself. But the simple fact is that laptops have never been easy to upgrade (when compared to a white label desktop) and even more difficult to repair (excepting the few components that were also relatively easy to upgrade like disk and RAM). I’d be surprised if even 1% of users ever upgrade their laptops.

    Even brand name desktops have always been harder to upgrade/repair than white labels, they often have strange case constructions that make adding anything other than components from the same manufacturer difficult. Ever try to put a honking video card into a Dell desktop? Sometimes just the physical dimensions make it impossible not to mention that they use power supplies that usually can’t support the new video card, so if you want to replace the video card, you’ve got to upgrade the power supply too.

    What I don’t get about the people complaining so loudly about the new MacBooks is simple, if you don’t like any aspect of the machine, upgradability, no ethernet port, no optical drive, whatever, then just don’t buy it. No one’s forcing you.

  6. James Whitney

    June 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Another possibility is that the manufacturing and part procurement process for the retina MacBook Pro is less expensive than that of the old MacBook Pro because of the modularity of the latter. I say this because if you equip a retina MacBook Pro and an old MacBook Pro with equivalent specs, the retina MBP is significantly less expensive. It’s possible that Apple is willing to accept a lesser margin on this product to get it out there, but it certainly seems odd that a much better machine is less expensive.

  7. “Ending is better than mending, as we learned in Brave New World…

    I think it’s a combination of manufacturing costs, squeezing out savings by designing out any user or field-serviceable components.

    And it’s part of How Things Are Now. Cars without dipsticks to check the oil level, ever-longer service intervals…things are better made than ever, with improved tooling and manufacturing processes, and people are less interested in maintenance. Who really likes changing their own oil, once you factor out any savings? It’s not ideal, not responsible in many ways, as there is no process to recapture many of the discarded materials. But it’s the end result of our expectation of ever lower prices and higher quality.

  8. The thought process behind friends buying a mac vs another laptop that would be “upgradeable” seems different as well. Buy a pc laptop – get one that’s good enough, but expandable vs Buy a mac laptop that will be good enough for a couple of years.

  9. Manufacturing costs are one thing, but user experience is the key.

    Removable battery? Huge volume of space taken up by mechanics for removability and stiffening the frame, etc… either sacrifice battery life or increase size or decrease durability.

    Replaceable RAM? Each stick of memory is 50+ electrical contact points subject to vibration, oxidization, and must be clamped down to prevent failure.

    Replaceable hard drive or RAM? Gotta meet industry standards, thus increasing size and adding more points of failure. And, again, potentially sacrificing durability, size, and/or battery life.

  10. “…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.”

    IS your desire for the new design MacBook Pro driven by apathy for user-serviability, or the sexy screen on the new laptop. If, for example, the Retina display was available on the other new (non-Retina) MacBook Pros, whould you still want the new design because of its lighter weight and higher battery life, or would you prefer to keep you optical drive and user-replaceable components?

    Apple can use the business decision of putting the Retina display only on the new non-upgradable MacBook Pro and steer your buyer preference towards where they want it to go by not leaving you any other options.

    These tradeoffs aren’t forced on consumers in the Wintel marketplace, and were less as well when the clones existed.

    I’m still waiting for that midtower expandable Mac… but Apple would rather make me choose between a WYSIWYG iMac, or a MacPro.

  11. For the record, I replaced the hard drive and added memory to my Macbook 2007, and yes, I did it myself. I suppose I bought the cheaper of the Macbook models at the time knowing that I at least had this upgradability path in my future. Now, I really have to make sure I pick the “right” laptop when I go shopping again, or else I’m toast.

    I’m fine with Apple doing all this, but I do wish they’d stop diminishing our options. To me, expandability amounts to insurance and makes me feel better about my purchase. I’m fine not buying the slickest, thinnest, lightest as long as I can get the most powerful.

    For what it’s worth.

  12. I also don’t believe the number of people upgrading their laptops after purchase is very high and, if you follow Apple at all you’ll know they are aimed at the mass market. Not the small percent of people that read tech blogs and upgrade machines themselves. After all, that’s where the money is. We all love thinking about the future and can’t wait for the next great device to come along. But the only way to get there is to keep progressing. Apple is constantly progressing and this new MacBook pro is just another example. Best laptop screen ever, thinner and lighter than previous MacBook pro, etc. Apple HAD to do it this way to make it all fit together. Will another company now start making gigantic laptops again just so a (relatively) few users can upgrade their own machine? Probably not. I welcome the new MacBook pro’s and whatever comes next from Apple (let’s face it, no other manufacturers are doing much of note these days).

  13. I suspect the 5% figure is much higher. Once you also add in the number of people who have had to have a part fixed out of warranty the number needing to be able to change components will be higher yet.

    I think Apple can get away with this on iPads and iPhones (although both my devices had less than expected lifetimes as software requirements exceeded their specs) partly because of the lower price and expectation.

    If you look at the latest MacBook Pro the retina display is awesome. Lots of people want it and were expecting it. How many people care the marginally thinner enclosure? I suspect less people than care about upgradability – especially if you let them know exactly what the inability to ugprade or repair means. The weight improvements would no doubt fare better.

    Apple started with their own closed world and people didn’t mind… until eventually they did and their world started crumbling. ADB, FireWire, New World, PPC. The MacBook started flying off shelves when BootCamp came out because all of a sudden the machine was more open.

    Whether they can continue to get away with it now will depend on whether what they sell now is cool tech or just cool fashion and what the viable alternatives are.

    I would not underestimate the impact of the tech-savvy early adopters who jumped in at the start of the MacBook era and evangelized the platform. When the non-tech savvy see the techies they respect using non-Apple hardware again (because those guys really want upgradability) they’ll ask why. Combine that with the natural urge to want to stand out and be different and the eerie saturated glow of Apple logos adorning laptops…


  14. “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.”

    In addition, if you’d had one of the new Retina MacBook Pros, the magnet wouldn’t have damaged it anyway.

  15. I remember when solid-state transistors replaced the old tube radios I had built and replaced defective parts on. Suddenly I bought a red Sony portable with a battery, and on/off switch and a tuner. Open up the back and there was absolutely nothing you could do with it. The car I drove then had a carburetor. I could adjust the mixture with a screwdriver. Now I have a fuel injector and a little computer inside the car that diagnoses the flaw. Of course, you can fix it yourself, but you need some expensive machines to do it.

    I think that’s the model that Apple is using. Computer nerds, by definition, don’t like not being able to get down under the computer and get their hands greasy — oh, that’s cars. But the truth is, most of us are better served by a computer that’s like a transistor radio instead of a superheterodyne, six-tube thing that gave us AM radio.

  16. And, of course, putting a magnet on a new Retina MacBook Pro would be perfectly safe 😀

  17. I object to the notion that the way apple makes its products, is an manifestation of our throw away economy. As a long time Mac user (totally depending on it for my profession), I have on several occasions wished an old mac would die, so I could justify a new purchase. But the thing ket on working. The shortest living mac, an iMac bondi, lasted 4 years… I always buy a little more ram & rom, and that’s it. The machines they produce become obsolete, not due to deficiency but to the the lightning fast evolution of technology. Once obsolete to the more demanding professional they live happily in the hands of less sophisticated users.

  18. “My suspicion is that the number of people who upgrade any of the components of their laptops is very small”

    while your point is specifically about laptops, i don’t know a single mac user who didn’t upgrade some apple hardware in their past, and using a third party vendor no less (except of course those that own only iOS devices).

  19. I’m remembering early claims about the iPhone’s eminent failure because the OS is not “open”, and how the newer MacBook line and the iPhone would suffer in the market because the battery couldn’t be swapped. I think it’s safe to say these factors haven’t slowed sales much.

    I’ve owned two MacBook Pros, a first gen 17″ and a 15″ purchased last year. The only customization I’ve done was to replace a hard drive in the first, and only because I needed more than its original paltry 160GB. This is no longer a problem for me with the newer’s 500GB.

  20. If manufacturers kept using Legacy Components because they were “more servicable” by aftermarket components, we’d all have laptops containing ATX Motherboards and 5.25″ CD-ROM Drives.

  21. Yeah, it all looks good on paper. Until you realize you really want those 16GB of RAM in your new retina macbook and there’s simply no option because apple does 8GB max. Oh, and you need to replace the motherboard so instead of $X it will cost you $X x 3 because of other parts.

  22. “I know a lot of people think that computers are becoming less maker-friendly because greedy companies want to get more money for parts and labor…. I doubt that is ever really the case.”

    I bought a 2008 Macbook Pro a few years back and the motherboard went bad, I took it to Apple and they wanted $1200 to replace the motherboard($300 more than I paid for the entire computer). I went home, bought the part for $200 on eBay and installed it myself. It is quite clear that the reason they make their computers so hard to service is so that customers are forced to pay their ridiculously overpriced parts and service charges.

  23. Yes, it seems like it would be hard to argue that it’s Apple’s fault in this case: nobody else is making a laptop with this set of features plus user serviceability. If one of Apple’s competitors was making such a laptop, and selling it well, then you could point to Apple and say “they’re just screwing us over”. But nobody else is, which suggests to me that maybe there isn’t really a market for it. People who want expandability are a relatively small set, and tend to be those who don’t care about having the thinnest laptop.

    So at least he’s insightful enough to note that it is the consumers’ “fault”. It does sound rather strange, though, to hear someone complain that the glaring problem with the new flagship product from one of the world’s top computer companies is that people like the wrong things.

    Next up: why the shows on TV are so bad, and why there is a McDonald’s on every streetcorner in the world.

  24. I have almost always added or replaced memory in my computers, but that’s about it. Apple has all but eliminated the need to do this by equipping the Retina MacBook Pro with ample memory – the base 8GB is more than the maximum in the last Macbook Pro I bought.

    It used to be that you would open up and tinker with your computer to add disk drives when you started running out of storage. Now you just plug in a new USB drive instead. No fuss, no muss and far easier and more reliable than the old days.

    I noticed something interesting, though. I have always had trouble with the batteries of my PowerBook/MacBook Pro systems. They have been quick to expire and leave the computer half itself. Apple has prepared us for this switchover by putting sealed battery technology in iPhones and iPads. I have iPhones and iPads and have never had the slightest problem with battery life on the machines – and I run them very hard. This has given the the impression that the sealed batteries are not only more efficient and last longer, they are also considerably more reliable.

    So I am happy to trust Apple with this new battery technology for my new Retina MacBook Pro, which I’ve had for about three days and absolutely love. From my viewpoint, it hardly seems like a tradeoff at all.


  25. I’d bet your 5% figure is fairly accurate. I understand the frustration of some people with Apple going this direction. I enjoy my Macbook Pro, and I love tinkering with my own computers too. But at the same time I’m hardly surprised Apple’s products are becoming less user-serviceable. I believe (perhaps erroneously) that the bulk of Apple’s user base non-technical people. I’d bet the bulk of Mac users are consumers, not makers. Roughly, 95% or so, if I had to guess.

  26. Good, brief post and I agree with Paul. Saving a buck in manufacturing is hard to do. A few thousandths thickness in material, a connector, material composition, decreased machining time… the list is endless. Apple is doing this for a reason, and so far, their reasoning is usually pretty damned good. The only time I ever upgraded hardware in an Apple laptop was because of OS changes that demanded more memory. At the rate that CPU performance changes, my new policy is to start out with a maxed out unit and to hell with upgrades. You can still get 3-5 years out of a laptop. Even at $3k, that’s $50-80/month for a screaming box, not including salvage value. By then, the scratch and dent burden demands replacing anyway. This ‘problem’ is not a problem. It’s what innovation looks like.

  27. If you had had the Retina MacBook Pro, the magnet wouldn’t have been a problem.

  28. In answer to the question about how strong the magnet was, it was a magnetic money clip.

  29. I am someone who has upgraded the hard drive on nearly every Macbook Pro I have ever had. Right now I have a 15″ MBP where I have an upgraded 1TB HD installed in addition to an SSD (removing the DVD). And I’m really questioning the MBP with Retina. #1, I want the storage space, and #2 I’m not so sure I want the Retina display. I have a hi-res matte display on mine now that I got for the additional display area, and it borders on small type/legibility issues. I don’t care about an even sharper display with less usable space, especially if it comes with extra memory/computing overhead. Maybe I should get the new MBP sans Retina and ride it out as long as I can. Apparently it’s all good for Gruber, but I don’t like being locked in to certain configurations with no 3rd party options.

  30. I see the primary issue as the battery. RAM has become far more reliable… the SSD is replaceable. The battery is the achilles heal. Time will tell if there will be a reasonable approach to battery replacement … or if we are going to be melting down our Macbooks every three years going forward.

  31. The catch with the battery though is that it’s where Apple can deliver the most capacity by not making it easily replaceable. If you look at any of Apple’s recent hardware, you’ll see that the battery has expanded to fill any empty space that’s available. By sacrificing the idea of a modular, easily replaceable battery, Apple has been able to devote a lot more of the total volume of its devices to holding battery cells. Of all of the tradeoffs, this is one where you really can’t have it both ways.

  32. “I am someone who has upgraded the hard drive on nearly every Macbook Pro I have ever had.”

    I’ve upgraded the hard drive on nearly every computer I have ever had. Not the one I’m using, though, and I think we’re at a pivot point: a huge chunk of the data that compels storage updates, in particular, is commodity data — media files, installers, etc. Data that, with a decent enough network connection, doesn’t necessarily need to be on your system until you ask for it to be there.

    Apple’s betting that the future of “upgrading your computer” is through something other than bits of electronic kit. We’re at the bleeding edge of that, whether it’s cloud storage or renting cycles from EC2 or networked media services. There’ll be a recurring price tag which will doubtless annoy people who are used to a model where you pay for hardware rather than intangible access privileges, but after so many false starts for the networked computer, I think we’re on the brink.

  33. Something about developers mindset that always boggles me. Their often total disregard of dollar value of “time”. If you spend a day or even half a day replacing an item in your laptop, you might feel that you have achieved something, but please have no illusion, this repair is not “Free”. I feel no shame on never lifting up the hood of my car.

  34. All these techies are complaining about Apple because they know Apple is the undisputed leader and every other PC manufacture will eventually follow their lead, as they always do.

    If anything, it’s good news for consumers who don’t care about specs. Specs matter less and less everyday when it comes to everyday computing, if they really matter at all for 90% of people out their.

  35. I’m in the the 5% who want to update some pieces of hardware on their laptop.

    My old MBP 5.1 (2008 Core2Duo) came with 4Gb RAM and I upgraded it to 8Gb, less than 40$ operation. The 320Gb HDD 5400 was slow and full, so I put a fast 500Gb 7200 RPM instead (80$) and may choose a Crucial or OCZ SSD in a near future (100-200$).

    My battery should be fixed also, so I’ll change it by a new one, with more capacity (5600ma), about 100$.

    If you select Retina, you should take right now AppleCare for 3-5 years and it’s not cheap.

    And worst, In my company or at customers site I may not have access to Wifi, so I need Ethernet port, it’s available in all MBP except Retina. And I don’t want to spend extra bucks to get what any basic Laptop PC get de-facto. I manipulate ISO images and need to burn some, so a DVD-RW is needed and here also I don’t want to spend 75$ to get an external burner.

    I also want to get my extras MagSafe and don’t want to get a new adaptor MagSafe2-MagSafe adaptor.

    And if Retina is smaller, lighter but with all needed external adaptors, how heavy will it be in your bag ?

    Apple is using a dangerous strategy, laptop market is not tablet/smartphone market and they do something they did in the past (68k-PPC era) and they were near disappears. But this time Steve won’t be there to save them.

  36. Hamranhansenhansen

    June 18, 2012 at 5:48 am

    This is just standard changing-of-the-era blues that the guy has. In 5 years, when iPad is 75% of the low-end PC market, he is going to need therapy.

    You can rewrite his article for video store clerks also.

  37. I have never actually upgraded a laptop, so I take the main point in this post. However, this observation worried me…

    “The design may well be comprised of “highly recyclable aluminum and glass” — but my friends in the electronics recycling industry tell me they have no way of recycling aluminum that has glass glued to it like Apple did with both this machine and the recent iPad.”

    Is this the case? 64 million iPads and counting is a largeish mountain of unreusable material.

  38. Jasper Janssen

    June 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

    On the Desktop, I have pretty much never bought a complete computer — I have always had the hard drives on a different upgrade cycle than the rest of the computer. For my parents’ computers, or my grandmother’s 2006 Mac Mini, those have never changed. Upgrading RAM, without changing the rest of the motherboard? Almost never. Not even on my own PCs mostly.

    On laptops, sometimes during the purchase/fitting out process, as in “it’s cheaper to get this post-purchase and install myself”, but really, that’s a cost issue and not a need issue.

  39. The SSD is replaceable? With what? The Retina MBP’s SSD is a custom part, not off-the-shelf.

    And what happens if you don’t want to pay Apple’s absurd component prices (overpriced SSDs, $200 for an extra 8 GB of RAM, $200 for a new battery)? If you buy the 8 GB of RAM version and subsequently discover you need 16 GB, you’re stuck.

    The strength of the MacBook Pro line is flexibility. Apple whittled away at that by putting in a battery you couldn’t swap out, and now they’re doing it with the missing optical drive, soldered memory, custom SSD, no Ethernet, and no FireWire. Now I’ll get to carry around even more stuff I can lose (optical drive, external battery, adapters).

    While we’re on the subject, where IS that Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter we were promised?

  40. My initial reaction was that Apple was going towards throw-away laptops.

    I just learned the MBP-R battery service from Apple is $200, and can be done at the Apple Store. Expensive but not so horrible that it will dramatically shorten the useful life of the hardware.

    I’ve always upgraded my machines…. but I’m down with the new design direction. I’m waiting out this round and picking up a used 2011 MBP to let the early adopters sort the new MBP-R out.

  41. iPads aren’t very repairable. My sister in law’s 10 month old second generation iPad display started to flicker (on and off). She took it to the Apple store. They just gave her a new iPad rather than try to repair it.

    The important thing here is to get the Applecare extended warranty and upgrade before it runs out (2 years for iPads, 3 years for Macs).

  42. nick s 18 June @ 12am – Thank you, succinct and informative.

    John 17 June @11pm – Transcends the 5% and is well ensconced in the 1%

    SeaFox on 17 June @ 9pm – “apathy” and “sexy” used as pejoratives diminish your thoughts and opinion.

    However, when a consumer buys product A, it does not necessarily mean that they are apathetic or even antipathetic to products B,C,D.

    The consumer should/will weigh up the pros and cons (and their money) and proceed with an informed choice.

    Apple consumers want affordable, stylish and durable products, products that are lighter, smaller, faster, reliable, trustworthy and … I am sure aspirational, is in the mix.

    Physics dictates ~ Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.[Newton]

    The force is the consumer, thus Apple moves forward. However, sometimes the force is Apple itself and the consumer moves forward. It is an act of equipoise as we all move forward.

    I postulate that the future is abound with kit that runs on closed integrated systems, systems that have coalesced around – well engineered software – and guess what, they are affordable, stylish, durable, lighter, smaller, faster, reliable and trustworthy.

    Punch cards, optical drives, RS-232, floppy discs, 8-track tapes oops, have been supplanted

    Apple use the business decision of putting the Retina display only on the new non-upgradable MacBook Pro … Because, it’s a temporary situation as the technology evolves economically; sooner or later (surely by the end of next year) all MacBooks will be “non-upgradable” and extremely “user-serviability” un friendly. Look at it as a tougher “tinkering” challenge.

    The tradeoffs aren’t forced on consumers in the Wintel marketplace, initially … Because the Wintel “partners” are generally static, until a force drives them on, and more often than not, these days that force is Apple.

    ” …I’m still waiting for that midtower expandable Mac… but Apple would rather make me choose between a WYSIWYG iMac, or a MacPro” – You say “that” as if it was promised to you by Apple.

  43. Step back and look at the name on the product – MacBook PRO. A pro-level user needs quality hardware that is fast and stays out of the way. A pro-level user buys a piece of hardware that is usually top-of-the-line at the time and slams as much RAM and storage in it as it will hold. A pro-level user usually turns over hardware every one-two years at most. If that is unacceptable to you, you are not a pro-level user. Simple as that.

  44. People are scared of the Retina MBP not because they’re being forced to buy one, but because it’s a pretty clear signal that the future Apple signaled with the Macbook Air back in 2008 is the future of almost all laptops, which make up an increasingly large proportion of computer sales.

    @Henri sounds like you would be better served by the older MBP. Apple retained the old model because a small number of users do require the features they culled from the new MBP. The number of users that require those features diminish over time; essentially Apple is choosing to improve functionality (and decrease costs) for the majority at the expense of inconveniencing the minority.

    I use serial ports on a not-infrequent basis. I understand that my needs are overwhelmingly in the minority; carrying a USB serial cable (when I need it!) is not a huge inconvenience. Ethernet and optical disc drives are similarly being put on a legacy path.

    @davesmall It no doubt was easier to swap the iPad with a like model on the spot than to perform the repair while the customer waits. I have no doubt Apple either repairs or scavenges partly working models for parts .. it makes financial sense to do so.

  45. Lets also consider another angle that is often neglected.

    Right now we say the laptops are not easily repairable or upgradable. That is because they are brand new and no one has tried.

    Some enterprising soul may find a way to unglue the battery or screen or to replace some part or whatnot. Often this takes a while for it to happen. Any time a brand new product with a different enough design comes along it looks like it is all put together with magic and voodoo. But soon, someone learns the tricks.

    This is also true of the “this thing is not recyclable” problem. Well sure, maybe with today’s processes. But I remember a few short years ago when our regional waste management folks were saying that plastic was not recyclable because all the differing kinds of plastics and because small parts jam machines and whatnot. HOWEVER now someone found a way to use lasers and infrared light to identify the type of plastic and a sorting mechanism that didn’t jam on bottle-caps. So there will be someone who will figure out how to get to that recyclable stuff in iPads and recycle it.

    We can’t (shouldn’t?) always design the products of the future to be compatible with the habits of the past.

  46. To thos complaining about the RAM upgrade… Just pretend the 8 GB version doesn’t exist, and decide for yourself if the MacBook is worth the $2300. If not, buy something else. If so, you won’t have to ever worry about upgrading the RAM, just like any laptop where you’ve purchased it maxed out.

  47. Crikey folks … imagine the community of camera enthusiasts in 1840 who were then so pissed off in 1880 when George Eastman shipped the box camera with GASP! a roll of film (technically film appeared in 1888). No more schlepping giant wagons of metal or glass plates and chemistry.

    Look where the non-user tinkering got us with photography. That sure sucked.

    Folks, computers are tools for your mind, tools for creativity and building. Get that? Tools for building, not building the tool. You don’t need to build the damn tool, get over it.

  48. The idea that non-serviceable devices are somehow a feature and something that users want is a huge red-herring.

    Apple could allow their hardware to be serviceable without impacting usability in any way. People who don’t care would keep on not caring. People who want/need third party or self-service would be able to.

    Plus, nobody’s devices are perfect. Parts will break and need to be replaced. And nobody will just chuck the entire device instead of replacing one part — that would be insanely wasteful.

    Parts will still be replaced, just that Apple wants to be the only ones to do it. They kill and take over the 3rd-party service industry, which is a nice lucrative business; and they can show reasonable attempts to defened their technology for their ongoing patent wars.

    Consider if Ford made their cars so that only Ford could service them and only Ford had approved parts. And then claimed that’s what car owners want. A single controlling entity dictating terms and prices. Yeah, right, it’s all about the good of the user.

  49. If you’re upset about the RMBP now, just wait a few years when the internals of a computer consist of (at most) three solid tiles — the display, the battery, and the circuitry (inluding memory and storage).

  50. The reason you bought Apple was you wanted it to work. IF you want a breadboard, buy one! Want a tinkertoy, get one and google “hackintosh”! Woz is not at Apple anymore, nor is the HomeBrew Computer Club the cutting edge now; that’s over. Buy the Retina Display Pro (just use it) and write some innovative useful software and Get Rich! If you insist on hacking hardware, do it outside the case. Plug-in modules (the answer to ‘missing’ ports) first!

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