Apple's desperate Mac damage limitation message hints at a divided company

AppleWhat next for Apple's high-end Mac?

Earlier this week Apple held what can only be described as an emergency damage control press conference meant to reassure customers that the company hasn't forgotten about the desktop Mac. But instead of feeling reassured, I feel the meeting highlighted divisions within Apple.

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For some background, you can find details about the upshot of the meeting here, and my ZDNet colleague David Gewirtz has spun out some thoughts about what it means for high-end Mac users here. What I want to do now is some reading between the lines. I wasn't at the meeting but have read everything that the five journalists who were invited to the meeting -- Ina Fried, John Gruber, John Paczkowski, Matthew Panzarino, and Lance Ulanoff -- wrote about it.

The first thing that struck me was the Apple executives who were and weren't present at the meeting. Present were Phil Schiller (SVP worldwide marketing), Craig Federighi (SVP software engineering), John Ternus (VP hardware engineering), and Bill Evans (Sr. Director Corporate Communications). Not present were CEO Tim Cook and Chief Design Officer Jony Ive.

Ive's absence is interesting given Federighi's claim that Apple "designed ourselves into a bit of a corner" with the Mac Pro, and suggests that Ive had nothing to do with the Mac Pro and didn't want to be caught up in any toxic fallout from that blunder.

It also raises an eyebrow when the CEO decides to avoid a press conference of this magnitude. Again, it suggests that he wants to distance himself from the debacle.

Another thing that struck me was how unusual it was for Apple to hold a press conference where executives fell on their sword over past mistakes, promised to do better, and made assurances that new, better stuff is coming at some point in the future.

The apology is a new direction for Apple (remember how, back in July 2010, then CEO Steve Jobs dealt with the "Antennagate" crisis by claiming it wasn't a problem?) and the promises that new stuff is coming in the future sound lame. I mean, this is what Apple does, so it's really weird that the company feels the need to hold a press conference to tell people that it's going to be making more new stuff in the future.

There was also something else that you don't normally see from Apple -- desperation. It was so palpable that Mashable's Ulanoff even commented on it: "Part of the reason Schiller and company are talking to us in between product cycles is an almost desperate need to communicate to Mac Pro users Apple's continuing commitment to the market."

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