I can count on about 3 fingers the number of times I've plugged my MacBook Pro into a terrestrial Ethernet cable.
1) Some us want to do things at more than wifi speed at work. You know like transfer large files.
2) Configuring network gear. From routers, to switches, to server ILO and iDRAC etc.
3) Network troubleshooting. (from as simple as ... "is this network jack working" to "enable port mirroring on the switch and analyze a traffic problem")
4) Network hotspot. (I used my laptop as wireless bridge for other wired devices pretty regularly.
I'm fine with the macbook air not having a network jack. I'm fine with the macbook not having a network jack. You trade size for convenience etc. And joe consumer or even pro-sumer doesn't need it much.
But an actual professional, needs an ethernet port, frequently. And a dongle is annoying, forgettable, and fragile.
Pros need connectors. Not dongles. To not have a network port on a pro laptop is a joke. (And I say this as someone with a 2015 MBP.)
You can argue that some CEO waving around a pro doesn't need an ethernet port, and you'd be right. He doesn't need more than an air either. The pro for him is a status symbol.
Apple should capitalize on that ... the macbook elite; a status symblol mac for ceo's that's more expensive than the rest. A macbook pro for people who need to get work done and need it to be able to actually do things and connect to things, and a macbook air for budget conscious users who just need an ultrabook to do email, write essays, and do light spreadsheet, web browsing, maybe even a little on-the-go html editing etc.
The trouble with apple is that the current pro really isn't all that pro. I'd gladly swap the size of my 2015 macbook pro with my 2009 macbook pro if that meant it could have an ethernet port, even more battery, etc.
Some vendors go too far with too many SKUs for it to make any sense. Apple goes the other way ... but also too far. There aren't enough sku's to really cover what people actually need.
And besides, if something decides to torch my internal FW or Ethernet port, I get to replace a multi-hundred-dollar motherboard (probably), or at least require surgery to replace an internal interface board. If something torches an Thunderbolt Ethernet dongle, HOPEFULLY it will only require a quick and relatively inexpensive swap-out of the dongle.
Nonsense. You've still got the thunderbolt port to fry. Adding a dongle doesn't reduce your 'risk surface' it adds to it. Not only can your 'thunderbolt port' go, but now you also have the risk of your dongle getting lost or broken. And as ANYONE who has ever used dongles know, the odds of the dongle being responsible for wrecking your port are pretty high. Because now instead of a nice flush surface you've got a dongle sticking out of your expensive port just waiting to lever your laptops internal guts around.
Right now I would definitely trade both of my dedicated ports (which by the way, I thought I wanted!) for another Thunderbolt port.
I'm having a hard time picturing a situation where you need a *bunch* of thunderbolt ports and you aren't at a desk you sit at regularly. You could just install a thunderbolt hub if you needed more.
That's the difference between ethernet and thunderbolt. I AM likely to need ethernet anywhere; so simply leaving a dongle plugged into the ehternet cable at my desk isn't good enough. But I'm only likely to need thunderbolt at my desk (especially multiple thunderbolt.)