Plot spoiler, unless you've had your head in the sand for the last decade, then it should come as no surprise that Apple's dependence on the traditional desktop computer, the thing that got them started, is small. Even more, Apple's reliance on creatives to keep them in business is even smaller.
I saw a graph, one that went steeply downhill over a period of time, doing the rounds on Facebook this week, actually being shared by a smart person I have a lot of respect for saying "look Apple don't make much out of the desktop computers anymore." They may as well had been sharing a picture of the earth from space with a comment 'Look the earth is not flat!' What I really thought was, are we really still having a conversation about how little Apple rely on the desktop computer for their income, surely not?
But it seems a lot of people are in denial still about Apple.
One of the most common things that is asked of me when I tell people what I do for a living is 'have you worked with any famous people?' We work in an exciting and glamorous industry, what we do is seen and heard by a lot of people. According to the UK government figures, the creative sector contributed about £92 billion to the UK economy in 2016, although mining down into the data all the creative production industries combined including film, TV, photography, performing arts etc. were about £23 billion of the big number. I'm proud that our industry makes a meaningful contribution to the economy, although one can't help wonder how much bigger that number would be if we were given what it really costs to deliver the work we do, that's a discussion for another day. These numbers should be similar in many other countries too.
I wonder how many famous people you know in the fresh produce industry? I bet you can't name one of them. However, the revenue from the fresh produce industry dwarfs that of the creative sectors combined. So does that from pharma and medical and many other industries. Yet I can't recall a single post from someone in one of those sectors suggesting that Apple make a computer for their specific needs.
One could argue that Apple only exists because of the creative sector and they owe us. Perhaps that is true, but owners of rubber boots could make the same case to Nokia, yes it's true that's where Nokia made a lot of its money for a long time. Then they became a mobile phone giant, that was until a computer company called Apple reinvented the mobile phone and I think we all know what happened next. If you want to draw any comfort from the comparison then Nokia's foray into phones ended badly and now some suggest Nokia may be returning to their first love.
Now please read what I am saying carefully, does this Apple fanboy wish Apple would surprise us with a dream computer that makes every studio owner on the planet happy? Of course I do, they may yet do so. Is the creative professional still important to Apple? They say we are, however looking at the financial statements from Apple, for example, the already small income from Mac sales just went down again. As Mac Rumors reported this week Apple Sold Fewest Macs in Any Quarter Since 2010, and that number only makes up about 10% of the entire Apple income. That income is every Mac sale, and the professional part of that is a small number too, you get the picture?
So is Apple lying when they say the professional creative matters to them? No, but it's relative to the larger picture. Do all my clients matter to me? Of course they do, but some of my clients make up 50% of my income and others less than 1% and if I'm making a business decision I have to take those numbers into account. Apple is no different from any other business on the planet, at the end of the day it comes down to numbers, and creative professionals are a small number in one of the smallest numbers on an Apple income report.
What this week's news proved yet again is that Apple continues to be hugely successful in their ventures, this is despite idiots predicting them going bust because they didn't make a desktop with 30 PCIe card slots. For all the 'Apple should get back to making computers' people. They do, by the way, they just happen to be ones we wear on our wrist or stare at all day. Or the 'Steve would be spinning in his grave' rhetoric that's trotted out every time Apple does something else that makes people unhappy. Would he? Steve would be upset that despite his death Tim Cook has led it to a trillion dollar valuation? I suggest you read a couple of books on the life of Steve Jobs before you believe this wouldn't make him happy. May I recommend the excellent Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson or iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, an unauthorised biography by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon as a start.
Back to the question in the title of this article 'What A Trillion Dollar Apple Means For Creative Professionals.'
As I've already stated, it means that while we are important to Apple, we are not as important as we would like to think. Even when the promised Mac for professionals arrives I doubt it will do much to move the needle on the small number that Macs contribute to Apple revenue, I also suspect the spec and price are unlikely to make every creative professional using a Mac happy.
As the proverb says 'hope deferred makes the heart sick' and a lot of Mac lovers have become sick of their beloved Apple, for them it might be too late, some have done what they previously thought unthinkable and gone to Windows or built a Hackintosh.
I'm happy with my Mac Pro Late 2013 and my MacBook Pro, but perhaps I'm just easily pleased, what I will say is that it works for me as a professional and both machines have paid for themselves many times over. For those unhappy with the pro offering in the Mac line and hoping for an Apple creative professional renaissance, I don't think it's coming, and it might be time for you to look elsewhere for your needs, being an Apple lover it sticks in my throat to say that, but sometimes we have to face reality. I'm not going anywhere but I understand why others have made the choice to switch.
If you are convinced that Apple's will return to its roots, then my suggestion is you pray that Apple's venture into mobile goes the same way as Nokia, although I somehow doubt it.