Your view is certainly more comforting, but it doesn’t seem to be based on any greater amount of empirical evidence than the “hyperbolic” view, arguably less so.
Let’s just agree to some facts:
'1. It wasn’t just Sal that was let go;
the Automation team has been disbanded they scrapped the position of product manager for Automation.
'2. Apple don’t just sell hardware anymore; they sell a lot of services, and their strategy over the last 4 years at least has been to cross-sell their products and services and get consumer buy-in (i.e., the ‘build an ecosystem’, argument**).
'3. For a “hardware” company, there’s been a dearth of new Mac hardware offered by Apple in the last 3 years.
Now lets move on to more contentious points:
'4. Most of Apple’s hardware sales are phones, but since the mac’s $5bn/pa sales would be an outstanding success for any other company, the lack of development (see #3 above) of the mac platform for a cash-rich “hardware” company like Apple can only be due to one of two things:
i. incompetent management
ii. lack of interest in the platform.
All the evidence suggests Tim Cook is a pretty good manager, so that’s one strike against point i., and Fact #3 above is one in favour of point ii.
'5. What can we make of #2? If Apple are all into the “ecosystem”, then why is one part of the ecosystem apparently being left to rot (cf #3)? The only rationale for that would be i. again, incompetence or ii. it’s not seen as a significant contributor to the ecosystem. Supporting evidence: you can’t plug your latest flagship iPhone 7 into your latest (yet to be released) flagship MacBook Pro. What does that tell you about ‘ecosystem’?
'6. What can we make of #3? I don’t buy the argument that Apple are waiting on Intel or for some breakthrough technology to arrive. I don’t buy it because none of that would have stopped them from making more useful, incremental upgrades to things like the Mac Pro, Mac Mini or even iMac. Why did the MBP not get a 34GB RAM option this year? Oh, its the boards, oh its the heat transfer, oh its…an excuse. For a company in Apple’s position, if they’d have wanted to make it happen, they could have and would have made it happen.
1 through to 6 lead me to the conclusion that Apple is deliberately under-investing time and resources in the mac platform - and I’ll repeat, that’s a $5bn/pa revenue stream - and I can’t see any other reasons for that other than those given in 4.i and 4.ii. I don’t believe 4.i and so that only leaves me with the “hyperbolic” conclusion of 4.ii. Further supporting evidence: Tim Cook’s famous quote that he doesn’t understand why anyone would need anything more powerful than an iPad Pro.
It may well be less comforting, but I think it’s at least as well-supported as any alternative theory I’ve heard in recent days.
And yeah, those Surface Studios look real nice. The sort of thing you’d have expected Apple to make once upon a time.
** which hypothesizes that the more interdependent you can make your products, the harder you make it for your competitors to steal your customers – my real-world experience in commerce suggests this argument is only partially true, and vastly over-rated when applied to expensive home appliance purchases where people are generally more willing to make sacrifices of convenience in order to benefit from cost savings or performance or other enhancements, but that’s an aside.