The fact that Apple was so quick to patch the embarrassing security flaw in its MacBooks shows the company still cares about notebook computers.
The fact that it was allowed to happen in the first place suggests it doesn’t care all that much.
Consider the lengths that Apple goes to in order to secure its latest phones. It spent years perfecting facial recognition technology, even going so far as bringing in prosthetics makers to ensure that the technology couldn’t be spoofed, all so you could open your iPhone X just by looking at it, without ever entering a password.
Now consider the lengths Apple went to in order to secure its MacBook. It left open a root account – the most powerful account there is on a computer, capable of issuing any commands or running any apps that are available to the operating system – meaning you could log onto any MacBook running the latest version of the operating system, without ever entering a password.
All you have to do on an un-patched MacBook is type “root” as the username, press “Enter” a couple of times, and voila! You’re in!
In contrast, breaking into an iPhone X via its Face ID system involves taking a 3D scan of the owner’s face and making a stone-powder mask out of it, and then taking a 2D, infrared photos of the owner’s eyes and very carefully glueing them onto the 3D mask so the photo follows the contours of the mask.
To say it’s a lot harder to hack into an iPhone than an unpatched MacBook is an understatement. It’s not just harder, it’s a lot harder!
Indeed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s 5.47 times harder to hack an iPhone X than it is to break into a MacBook with an unprotected root account.
By complete coincidence, a factor of 5.47 is exactly how much more revenue Apple makes from the iPhone than from the Mac. In the last four reported quarters Apple sold $US141.3 billion worth of iPhones, and $US25.9 billion worth of MacBooks.
In terms of actual devices, the difference is even more stark. Apple sold almost 217 million iPhone in the last four reported quarters, compared to 19.3 million Macs.
The company that was founded on the Mac now sells 11 times more phones than it sells Macs. On Apple’s homepage, the MacBook is listed last, behind the iPhone, behind the Watch, behind, even, Apple TV.
Macs get very little love from Apple any more. The previous MacBook Pro was on the market for four years before it got a serious upgrade.
The beloved MacBook Air has been allowed to wither on the vine (though, arguably, Air fans have been well-served by the new, ultra-thin MacBooks, provided they don’t care about travel on the keyboard).