Within the past week Apple has discontinued the full-size 2018 HomePod and the 2017 iMac Pro. Both of these devices have replacements, but I imagine some people are a little disappointed that Apple doesn’t keep updating these devices and selling them as they worked for certain purposes.
The 2017 iMac Pro was originally intended to replace the 2013 “trashcan” Mac Pro that Apple supposedly ran into “thermal constraints” with and never updated, and now the 2017 iMac Pro is replaced by the 2019 Mac Pro. The newer Mac Pro actually has room for expansion cards and hard drives but is also in a hideously expensive case and like previous iterations only supports high-end Xeon configurations. The newer Mac Pro also doesn’t have an M1 or other ARM-chipset-based option and instead uses an intel-based platform that may not remain in Apple’s lineup. Both the iMac Pro and current Mac Pro started at an eye-watering $5000. These devices have always been out of my reach but they’re priced similarly to other workstations with the same hardware at first, the difference being that Apple almost never drops the price over time. Still, the iMac Pro included a 5K display and a stand for the display. To outfit the current Mac Pro with a professional display from Apple you’re gonna need to take out another loan, Apple’s Pro Display XDR is another $5000 but it doesn’t even come with a stand for that price. You can just use a VESA mount? That’s $200.
The 2018 HomePod was originally $300, that price seems insanely high but it was similarly priced to other high-end “smart” speakers from Sonos and other companies. Every review I read or heard had high praise for the HomePod’s audio quality and uniquely capable microphones for hearing request. For the past year or two the HomePod was often on sale for closer to $200. Just last year Apple released the 2019 HomePod Mini and at $100 and much smaller it is a very odd product compared to similarly sized smart speakers. In the past year, Apple has also made their Apple Music subscription music service accessible on some other smart speakers. All of these smart speakers have enormous privacy concerns, and send what they capture (intentional or not) back to their manufactures.
Of the three major makers of smart speakers, Apple, Google, and Amazon, I trust Apple the most because they’re the only one of those three whose motive is selling devices (and now service subscriptions) to people and businesses. Google is primarily funded by being the middleman for advertising publishing and in some cases an advertising publisher on their own products. Amazon is primarily funded by being an online store that breaks their workers, a middleman for other stores, and handling high-availability network and other hosting services for thousands of businesses. They are all corrupted by the profit motive, none are truly trustworthy for that reason, and only Google has some workers in a new union. Facebook makes some similar devices and I have no idea how anyone trusts them at all when they have helped and profited from the rise of white supremacy and at least one genocide that I can think of. I am not kidding about the genocide. Facebook’s primary funding is also advertising from other advertisers to their users.
All of these smart speaker devices seemed to be destined for replacement or destruction when either nobody buys smart speakers anymore or when one or more of the competitors in that market drops out and the other two follow suit.
Here in 2021 with climate change barreling down on us, it seems insane to buy electronic things that don’t have a shelf life of more than 4 years. Apple will no-doubt continue to support the iMac Pro with software updates for years to come, but the writing is on the wall for both it and the original HomePod. When it comes to the iPhone line, those devices are supported with software updates for years longer than their Android counterparts and Mac hardware from 2013 is still supported with the current version of macOS, Big Sur 11.3.
The Apple TV box has not received a hardware update since 2017, and Apple’s confusingly-named Apple TV+ subscription service and Apple TV app available on other devices and TV’s I would not be surprised if it is the next device to expire. Apple’s Apple Arcade game subscription service and Fitness+ fitness subscription service seem like the only things keeping that device around and some of the Apple Arcade games I’ve tried perform terribly on the Apple TV.