We can't be more than a few years away from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who mostly predicted the future when he introduced the original Mac in 1984. Computers should be sealed appliances.
It was not quite true then, and it is not completely true now, but the vision is closer to reality than ever before. How? Let's take Apple as an example. My napkin calculation reveals 275 million of the 280 million iPhones, iPads, and Macs Apple sells each year are sealed devices with no possibility of upgrading.
My math may be of a few million here and there, but the upgradeable products seem limited to Macs, and since Macs are about 80 percent of all Macs sold, they won't be easily upgraded to anything from RAM to storage to battery ̵
I get this inability to upgrade new products thanks to Stephen Hackett who managed to do just that – upgrade an old iMac to an SSD that replaced an aging hard disk drive. My husband and I have done exactly the same thing to squeeze a few extra years out of old iMacs and old and underpowered Mac mini models. Each one required a special toolkit and a few YouTube videos because Apple didn't make it easy to upgrade.
Except for maybe applications in the App Store. Or an old iPhone for a new iPhone.
Upgrading a Mac to anything is just becoming a footnote in Apple history. Gone are the days of installed RAM in a Mac laptop. Or the option to replace an old hard drive for a new and faster SSD. Hey, today you can't even replace a battery.
At home, we have a MacBook Pro and an iMac with Retina 5K display. Other than RAM in the iMac, nothing else can be upgraded unless heavy operation is involved, and even though we've been knocking around on Mac and PC for a few dozen years – each – we won't care about any of the machines. We have three external disk drives – of hard drive – connected to each (two as clones, one as Time Machine), but I even fear that manual backup system is dedicated to history thanks to iCloud, Amazon S3 usability and other cloud services that make backups easier to manage.
Yes, the days of ripping open a Mac to see what's wrong or to replace RAM, or HDD, or battery – are gone.
Or are they?
Apple has promised a modular Mac Pro that will debut some time over the next year. How modular? Are we talking hardware component level? Or, modular the way Apple looks modular? Even the highly touted and well-liked iMac Pro is not upgradeable without surgeon credentials.
As old Macs – those that could once be upgraded here and there with new components – begin to die, the phrase " You can't make an old Mac new again " becomes an axiom of truth . Those days are near, and that may explain why the legendary Mac Pro Cheese maker provides a healthy price tag for used models.