During last week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), people trying to order a new Mac had a problem. For some configurations, customers were told to wait until August to get their new machine. Admittedly, many of these delays involve systems with extra memory or storage. But you can’t upgrade many Macs after you buy them, so – for some – this problem isn’t trivial.
How bad is the problem? Apple’s 14- and 16-inch. The MacBook Pro laptop, which has been on sale since last fall, has weeks left from delivery. If you order now, you’ll have to wait at least July 28 before the new hardware arrives, and probably until August. Worse: Base 24-in. The iMac, if ordered now, will not be on hand “for nine to 10 weeks” according to Apple’s online store. (Higher-end iMacs are now available.)
Reports of many delays have come from annoyed customers. But the ongoing backlog has had a big impact on education and enterprise customers.
I will first focus on how supply chain issues affected the education market, as this was one of the most difficult.
Delay hurts education the most
Anyone who has worked in the field of education – either K-12 or higher Ed – knows that summer break is the only chance to replace, refresh or retire your fleet of computers and tablets each year. For this reason, the life cycle of the device in schools is built almost entirely around the summer holidays.
If the delay means a school can’t buy enough Macs to update its fleet this summer, that school won’t have another chance for the whole year. Schools do not have more than one week break in any given year – and one week is not a realistic time frame for managing or upgrading the life cycle.
Colleges and universities can, in theory, make up for these delays somewhat better. Winter breaks in semesters are often several weeks long. IT teams often use that break to manage large projects such as upgrading technology, saving student work, and training teachers and staff. While it’s not ideal to try to do major lifecycle management tasks during that short break, it’s at least possible. During those short breaks in the semester I never updated the device lifecycle but, in my higher ad days, I managed a complete system refresh across several Mac-specific labs.
Enterprise and small business customers are probably less affected by this delay. Typically, a non-academic business can update a complete or periodic life cycle at any time of the year because there are no long breaks in their business activities. But the upcoming release of macOS Ventura, which will drop support for the Mac as part of Apple’s efforts to move its customers to Apple Silicon, changes that calculation somewhat, especially if the companies are largely or exclusively Mac-based.
What happened to Apple?
One of the main reasons behind the delay in new Macs is the slowdown in the supply chain which has affected companies across many industries. However, with Apple unveiling new M2-based MacBooks at WWDC – they won’t be available until July – it may be that Apple is allowing some of its products to be restricted to encourage people to buy these upcoming models.
(I certainly doubt their tactics.)
It’s also important to note that buyers aren’t experiencing this delay through many of Apple’s resellers. Macs are available without long delays to some Apple sales partners, including Amazon. Most enterprise and education customers, however, tend to order directly from Apple because it ensures that they will be able to easily add their new Macs to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager and enable the Zero-Touch installation.
Some of Apple’s channel resellers may add your purchases to Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager, but figuring out which reseller can do it can be challenging. This may mean that you have to work with a seller who has no previous relationship with you or who does not offer the discounts you need. Schools and government agencies often receive discounts when they shop with certain vendors, and some of these groups have to use certain vendors whenever they collect technology.
Bought from unsupported vendors
To drive through the current delay, you can shop around. It’s easier and more convenient to buy directly from Apple অথবা or any Apple-backed vendor তবে but you can buy from other companies. This will probably add some steps to the process and will probably not allow Zero-Touch deployment. But, if you are in a crisis, it is worth considering.
If you’re trying to do this, you’ll need to use Apple Config to configure the new Mac and join Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager. This requires each Mac to boot and use the Apple Configurator for the iPhone app released by Apple last year to make the connection. That process is not difficult. In fact, it’s similar to setting up an Apple Watch. To start the process you point the iPhone’s camera in an animation displayed on the Mac’s setup screen. If you add a lot of Mac, it can be time consuming.
What should you do?
Given the current delay, you need to make some decisions to navigate this. The first question to ask yourself is if you need that custom Mac configuration, especially if the standard option is available. And, if the standard option is delayed, can you replace a different model now available?
Next question, if you need that custom-configured system, can you delay the purchase?
If none of this is possible, then your next step is to make a purchase from a channel partner that enables automatic connection to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager.
If this is not an option, you will have the question of sourcing from a different vendor and manually adding a new Mac. It will take more time and resources, so you need to plan for it too.
Ultimately the problem comes down to how important this purchase is to your company. None of these options, or the tradeoffs that you will be forced to do, may be ideal for your situation. So, consider this: you probably have the advantage of delaying your purchase altogether. If you wait, you may be able to buy newer and more powerful powered machines from the custom upgrade that Apple is delaying.
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