An Impossible Game

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read
An Impossible Game
Not my image, but I'm unclear of the source of this recreation…

Apple currently sells 10 distinct Macs and 6 distinct iPads, which is way more than they did when Steve Jobs used the above grid to explain their computer strategy.

The Game

I need to do two things:

  1. Trim the Mac line down to 4 machines to fit this grid.
  2. Chop the iPad line in half (down to 3).
  3. I'm also making this harder by counting different sizes of the same product line as different devices. So the 14" and 16" MacBook Pros are 2 computers.

The Macs

  • The consumer notebook was the only obvious one, with the latest M2 MacBook Air being the choice here (they would need to get that starting price down a bit if they didn't have the M1 in the lineup anymore, though).
  • The pro notebook was also pretty clear, and while I personally love my 14" MacBook Pro, if we can only have one then the 16" has to be the pick.
  • Consumer desktop is more and more niche by the year, but I'd have to use the iMac rather than the Mac Mini.
  • My pro desktop choice might be the most arguable, but I think the Mac Studio is a better device for more high end users. Yes, the Mac Pro (even with Intel chips) can reach higher heights, but come on, the Studio is more than enough for almost everyone, and we need to make cuts.

The iPads

This one was tougher, and I think this gets less painful at 4 iPads, but my artificial rule was 3, so here we are.

  • The 12.9" iPad Pro lives on as it's the biggest iPad, has the best screen, and the best tech. I think there would be zero controversy over this pick.
  • Then there's the iPad Air, which fills in the middle tier device. The screen is worse, the tech is worse, but it's still very, very nice in a way I think people want their iPads to feel, even if they don't need the Pro models.
  • Finally we've got the brand new "normal" iPad. This is just the entry-level model with a bunch of compromises to get it to a low(ish) price point. It's not the right iPad for me (or likely for you), but it's the go-to device for people who just need an iPad and don't want to break the bank.

Despite my owning an 11" iPad Pro, I don't think people will be yelling about me booting it from the lineup; instead, I think the lack of the baseline iPad and the Mini will rub some folks the wrong way. For what it's worth, I originally killed the Air and left the Mini, but that didn't quite feel right once I explained it in the post. I know people love their Minis, but I think many people will find their phone is close enough in size that it could go. Again, not saying that's for everyone, and if I made my rule 4 iPads could live, the Mini would have made the cut.