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What is Apple Doing?

So, I’m reletively speaking kinda new to the whole “computer thing” that being said, I bought my first computer in November of 1989. I bought myself a little Mac SE and proceded to totally crash it in less then 7 days… I didn’t realize what this thing called the “System Folder” was and I thought I could trash it… bad idea.

I had friends that had owned Apple ][’s and Commodedor 64’s and stuff but I thought the whole computer thing was sorta dumb… I even WORKED on a TV show all about the computer industry, whatever.

Today I make basically 100% of my income thru the computers I either own or “purchase” (I advise all the purchases at SL\CE Editorial in West Oakland where I work). In the last couple of decades, i’ve watched the industry VERY closely. 

Back when Steve returned to Apple he complained that they had 15 products and proposed a GREATLY simplified product matrix. Consumer portable, Consumer desktop, Professional Portable, Porfessional desktop. It all fit very nicely into a 2x2 grid. He also claimed that, by dropping down to only 4 products, they could release NEW products on a 9 month cycle.

The question of this article is simple… will there be another pro desktop machine. If you go over to MacRumors, they have a tab called “Buyers Guide” right at the top of the page, I HIGHLY recommend looking at this page before you buy a new machine.

My mom recenly wanted to replace her iMac and I showed her that a purchase at this time would be silly because the iMac will PROBABLY be updated very soon. Well, that is if you look at the numbers.

At the time of this writing, Friday February 24, 2012, it has been 577 days since the Mac Pro has been updated. Now, thats a long time to be sure but the real information comes when you look at the number of days between PREVIOUS updates.

The interval between updates, if you go back to August 2006 is, 292, 240, 279, 420 (starting to slip), 511 (oops), and now its 577 days. That does not bode well for the pro user.

So why do you need a big ol’ Mac Pro?

Well in the “Little House on the Prairie” era of computing we used to talk about the number of expansion slots in the pro machines. the old 9600 used to have 6 expansion slots. When Apple moved to the Blue and White G3 (the one in the product matrix above) the pro’s cried fowl because the G3 only had 3 slots. The Mac Pro brought back a 4th slot but the fact of the matter is. There is so much built INTO a MacPro that I don’t think many people used all the slots.

Of course, there is always the “lunitic fringe” of pro users who need EVERYTHING and more but they are very few.

Some of us need lots or RAM, the current iMac can only accept 16 Giggle Bytes of RAM and yes there are those of use who would like to have MORE than that. The current, (577 day old Mac Pro) can accept 64 GB of RAM, uh… thats more then 16

Processsors are another desire of the lunitic fringe but suffice it to say, “More = Better” in most instances. The Mac Pros give you the option for up to 12 Cores and the iMac only has 4 Cores… Bummer. So if you are a monster power user, you want a Pro Machine.

The last thing that people buy Pros for is the various input and output possibilities. These are carried out by the use of cards plugged into those slots so this is sort of related to the SLOT issue. The difference being that now adays, most Macs have Thunderbolt and with Thunderbolt you have options.

So the question becomes, “Is Apple turning their back on Pros?”  Well that answer is an undeniable YES. There is a lot of evidence to prove this going back just a few years. They killed the XRAIDs, they bumped off the X-Serve machines. They bought and then subsequently killed off Shake, a professional level compositing tool after promissing to not “End of Life” it.

And of course the recent disaster of the DEATH of their professional video editing package Final Cut Pro, (I’m still not gonna call FCP X “Final Cut PRO X”… I just say “Final Cut X”.

And what of the rumors of the new MacBook Pro being “styled after the MacBook Air? Yea, the machine that is so think you can’t put a firewire port on it. “but hey… there is a Thundertube jack”… yea, ok.

So is there gonna be a new Pro Desktop machine? My guess is, NO.

I think we have seen the end of the Pro Market for Apple. And what does that mean for me? All I can say right now is… “I dunno”.

But for now, I’m waiting to purchase new hardware. But the iMac and the MacPro are over due for an upgrade, the MacPro is WAY MORE overdue. If we see a new iMac before we see a new MacPro, I’ll buy a couple of those, but if you are listening Apple… I’m waiting to buy SOMETHING… just lemme know what you got planned will ya?


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Reader Comments (2)

Chris -

I'm waiting too. I have a 5+ year old Mac Pro and have been holding out for new model to upgrade it. Do I think Apple could EOL the Mac Pro and leave us all hanging? Yes, they could just as you cite the Xserve and the Xserve RAID. But I don't think that is necessarily going to happen.

As update and upgrade cycles play out many online start predicting the demise of... _______. Fill in the blank - Aperture was a recent one before v3 came out.

My understanding is that the Mac Pro delay has as much to do with Intel's chip delivery as anything. It was reported last September that the next generation of chips, most likely the ones to go in a Mac Pro, were delayed until 1st or 2nd quarter 2012.

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon

- Chris

I'd overall agree that you're right on the demise of the Pro line being done in. And I think you are partially right as to the reasons for them doing so. Apple marketing did a great job showing how all the pros used a Mac to be creative (remember the Coen Brother's pimping Color for O Brother?) and that campaign got all of the prosumers out there thinking that if they had a Mac, they too would be fantastically creative. Appe's Pro page hasn't been updated in years either.

An equally important question to ask is this, "Does Apple need a Pro Line anymore?" The sales are not in it for them, we know that. If they really wanted to own the Pro market they'd simply buy AVID and be done with it. Whether they have the hardware or not they'd have the software. The idea isn't so far fetched if you remember what they did with Emagic back in the day. It was one of the main three audio packages along wth ProTools and Cubase. Now it's just a washed out version of Garage Band and slow to update Logic. Hook up AVID hardware for processing via Thunderbolt to whatever. Pretty much back to the days of pro creating before computers could start to handle things natively. Doesn't affect the product development line for Apple and still allows them to hold title of being creative, professional, and industry standard.

Our Mac Pro is a cornerstone of our small video business, but I just cut a 720P, 2 minute video promo shot on the a 5D using an iPad and uploaded it to a client's site. (Using AVID's app strangely enough.) Depositing the client's check in the bank didn't feel any different either. If I think back to the first iPod or even gen 1 of the iPad to what there is now, it might just be that maintaining the Pro line is like keeping the 1.44M/B floppy disk around; it's only holding back other inovations.

I know 5D footage isn't ProRes etc. etc. But it's only a short matter of time before processor and storage capacity catch up. Gen 3 will be able to do HD resolutions so who knows.

As always, appreciate your perspective and insight on all things editing, creative and technological.

February 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEinar Johnson

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