RIP, Thunderbolt Display

Apple's Thunderbolt Display

It seems that Apple has discontinued the Thunderbolt Display. Here’s Matthew Panzarino:

The current Mac’s display is 5k and can be extended (in lower res) to the existing Thunderbolt Display which runs at 2560×1440 but I can tell you from personal experience that the difference in resolution sucks from a usability standpoint.

“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users,” said an Apple spokesperson.

Apple introduced the Thunderbolt Display way back in 2011:

With just a single cable, users can connect a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac to the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display and access its FaceTime camera, high quality audio, and Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt ports. Designed specifically for Mac notebooks, the new display features an elegant, thin, aluminum and glass enclosure, and includes a MagSafe connector that charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

“The Apple Thunderbolt Display is the ultimate docking station for your Mac notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With just one cable, users can dock with their new display and connect to high performance peripherals, network connections and audio devices.”

The display never saw a hardware update, even after MagSafe 2 replaced the old charging standard, not to mention when Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 started showing up on Macs of all sizes.

I gotta say, there’s nothing so sad in the entirety of the Apple universe as using a $10 MagSafe adaptor with a $1,000 display.1

The real question here is what happens next. Clearly, the external display business is not one Apple is super excited about, but I can see Apple wanting to offer a nice 5K external display to users who want it. My guess is that more Thunderbolt Displays have sold than one might think, and those users are often the most demanding of their hardware.

I really do hope there’s a Thunderbolt 3/USB C/Magic Unicorn Tears external 5K display on its way. While it’d require a new MacBook Pro, living in an all-Retina world sounds really appealing.2

If that’s still a few months out on the horizon, why pull the plug on the non-Retina Thunderbolt Display now? Or is this a sign that Apple’s packing up their desktop display business?

  1. Trust me on that; I have a Thunderbolt Display on my desk. 
  2. Seriously, Apple. Take. My. Money.