Apple’s marketing boss says the MacBook Pro ditched a crucial port for photographers because it’s ‘cumbersome’

The new MacBook Pro, sans Touch Bar.
Steve Kovach/Business Insider

While Apple’s new MacBook Pro looks as though it’ll be a powerful notebook for most people, it has generated massive amounts of skepticism within the professional crowd at which it’s ostensibly aimed.

The common sentiment is that Apple has slashed too many ports and high-level features for the sake of thinness and battery life. There’s a small but vocal group of people who think the company has forgotten who the Pro is for.

The Pro’s high price and RAM limitations have brought the most complaints, but another source of ire is its lack of an SD card slot. In short, that’s the thing that lets you pop a high-end camera’s memory card into your notebook and quickly transfer photos. Since a lot of professional photographers use MacBook Pros, any of them looking to upgrade might not be happy needing a dongle to do what was simple before.

Unfortunately for them, though, it looks as if Apple isn’t budging. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller defended the move in an interview with The Independent, saying the new MacBook Pro lost the port because it was “cumbersome.”

“You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out,” Schiller said. “Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off.”

Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller.

Instead, Schiller touted the wireless transfer technologies that are built into many modern cameras. “That’s proving very useful,” he said.

We’ve been through this song and dance before. Apple has a long, notorious history of ditching ports and standards. People get angry, Apple makes a few bucks off of adapters, and everyone eventually gets used to it.

Angry photographers have a legitimate complaint here, though. Though many high-end cameras support wireless transfers, it’s difficult to call that tech speedy or reliable. SD cards, as dated as they are, still just work. The new MacBook Pro might force camera companies like Sony or Nikon to do better, but this isn’t like the iPhone 7 ditching the headphone jack – Macs don’t have the kind of industry-moving market share that iPhones do.


Speaking of – though Schiller said the SD slot is worth sacrificing for professional photographers, he defended the decision to keep the Pro’s 3.5 mm headphone jack by saying it’s necessary for professional audiomakers.

“These are pro machines,” Schiller said. “If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there; we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones. But many users have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5 mm jack.”

That seems a bit inconsistent. Ultimately, these gripes are unlikely to deter most MacBook buyers – Schiller claimed Apple has “had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before” – but if you’re a photographer or photography enthusiast looking for a new Apple machine, you’re in for a transitional period.