What will Apple do with Power Mac?

“It is fitting that Apple has held back the introduction of the next Intel-based desktop Mac — which some have dubbed the “Mac Pro.” For it is the desktop platform that poses so many challenges for Apple and the industry as a whole,” John Martellaro writes for The Mac Observer. “We all know that mobile computing is taking off and that fewer and fewer professional customers see a compelling reason for having a large, clunky tower on their desk (or even below it) unless they have a very special need… The most typical use of these “Pro” desktops is when the user needs all the computational power and memory she can get on her desktop plus Mac OS X; forget the heat load. Now, Apple’s primary professional markets include design and publishing, film and video, photography and graphics, music and audio, as well as bioscience and research. That sounds big, but when summed up, these professional markets constitute a very small percentage of Apple’s sales. So the burning question is, given the popularity of the iMac for consumer sales (and some penetration now into Pro markets!) the trend towards mobile computing, the diminished need for internal expansion, what role should a new Apple Pro desktop play?”

Martellaro asks, “How about making the new Apple Pro desktop the Apple Media Center as well?”

Full article here.

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  1. I am a “consumer”. Still, my Mac of choice is a PowerMac – a dual 2.3 monster we named “Overkill”. While I could, possibly, go to a 20″ iMac next time around, I am more likely to stick with the Big Box. For a few more dollars I get much better response from iMovie and Garageband. Part of this is based on the 17″ Apple LCD on my desk – were that not part of the equation, the 20″ iMac would be the clear winner.

  2. mmm..I don’t regard myself as pro, but I’m working with Adobe, Macromedia, Final Cut, Maya, and ZBrush. I currently own the powerbook G4, and I just cant bear the super slow respond when working with huge files.
    My next mac would be a super powerful PowerMac, I want to get things done faster, especially stuffs like rendering 3D / video~ things that are not creative stuffs.
    powerbook G4 would still be enough for mobile needs, showing presentation, etc.

  3. im a 3d designer and animator and let me tell you, this isnt just an area apple needs to update on – it needs a complete rethink, we in 3d and compositing need all we can get and as this is an area apple have been trying to excel in for some time, if anything more options are needed – like companies such as box – with multiple processors and graphics cards – and more graphic card support!, it worries me the amount apple are concentrating on ‘consumors’ of late

  4. I was speculating about this last week.

    My thoughts:

    the line will be all dual processors, entry level will be two 1.9gig Core Duos, next level will be the fastest Core Duo available (2.3gig?), top level will be dual quad-core chips clocking around 2.5 or 2.6gig.

    These are my thoughts. You may now freely critize me.

  5. What the author describes is similar to the “media center” I spec’ed here many months ago, but with a few variations. I proposed something of a cross between the Mini and the Xserve – a 1U A/V style “component” that could as easily fit under an LCD or into an A/V setup. As a media center it would of course have to have the usual (slot-loading superdrive, firewire input on the front, digital audio output and wireless audio/video streaming and A/V recording) plus a high-def tuner option and full size drive. As a media center it would only need a single dual-core CPU. A “pro” alternative would need to support two CPUs and an expansion slot or two.

    But an alternative design would follow the likes of the Shuttle XPC series, which follows “small form factor” principles. My own is the size of a shoebox, but includes an AMD 64 processor, *two* 3-1/2″ drives, optical drive, USB and firewire sockets, audio in and out sockets, PCI and AGP slots, and onboard ethernet. With an Apple style slot-loading optical it would have been even smaller. Such a desktop could easily sit next to a Cinema display, though it wouldn’t be appropriate for an A/V setup.

  6. It’s not just the new PowerMacs I’m waiting for, it’s the new displays I am sure will be introduced with them. Not that the current display line isn’t good! But whatever little add-on’s Apple has in mind (i.e.: iSight camera), will be welcomed.

    I am still using my (mostly) reliable 933 PowerMac G4. But it long ago stopped meeting Apple’s minimum standards for some of its new software and, if the money is available, I’m looking forward to getting a new one. I’ll still keep using my current one for support (i.e.: rendering) or guests though. It does have two fast Apple SCSI hard drives which haven’t been an option for years now.

    (I also expect the MacBook I ordered arriving in the next couple of days. White.)

  7. I’m like DLMeyer, except that mine is a dual 2.0 PM (sniff). You’re always going to have consumers who want the bigger, badder, less quickly obsolete desktiop models.

    I bought mine from a local reseller in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Megamacs. They’re great people, but I almost had to argue with them about why I “needed” the PowerMac.

    Some people will have to have deliberate, blinding speed even though they’re not video editors or graphic artists. Call it overkill, vanity, status seeking or what you will. Others buy them because they want to squeeze four or five years out of a system instead of two or three before it’s obsolete.

    Look at Mac sales before the switch to Intel. If the article’s reasoning was true, then only a small percentage of the powerpc macs sold would have been power macs for the bona-fide video editors, graphic artists, and white lab coat guys. This wasn’t the case then, and I doubt if it will be the case later. The only way I could see this coming to pass is if Intel somehow doesn’t get their next generation chips out in time for the Mac Pro, or if the chips don’t have a performance premium over the core-duo’s.

  8. Raymond describes exactly what I am looking for. I have a G4 tower and it is nice but too big. Apple needs a small form factor desktop with some minimum expandability for most consumers and a second one just a little bigger for the pro’s. My wife has a shuttle XPC and it is a work of beauty for a PC. It would allow this to be the media center for consumers. Apple needs to go there. Apple also needs to rethink their package spec philosophy. Apple tries to define one set of specs and everyone uses that. In the PC world each user can configure his machine in an almost infinite way and get just what he wants. I understand the reason for both ways and the costs incurred. Apple needs to expand the users options.

  9. Looks like John desperately wants the media center experience. I don’t have a television or a fancy stereo and I couldn’t care less if my new Mac can seamlessly interface with my nonexistent media gear.

    I use my Mac for the specific tasks of research, data analysis, and browsing; writing and designing presentations; email; listening to music and the news; and occasionally watching a DVD or burning a DVD or CD. My perfect desktop would be sufficient to handle all these tasks; power a 30-inch cinema display and/or two 23-inch displays; hold 2 internal drives for at least 600GB and 2GB RAM; contain a “Super Drive”, and be “smaller, lighter, and quieter” than current G5 towers.

    I resent the notion that Apple should abandon designing Macs for those of us in academia, government, and business. My Mac is a tool not a toy.

  10. Hopefully they’re planning to blow us away. Dual dual core, and maybe dual quad core or quad dual core if it’s possible. Certainly Intel are looking forward to having a customer that wants to try new things and push boundaries. I’d say they’ll also be 64-bit to allow for a big address space. I can’t see them going back to 32-bit and a limit of 4GB for the pro machines.

  11. My 20″ iMac (2gb RAM) does QX, Photoshop, Illustrator, FCPE pretty well and with a smaller footprint.

    Macpro will have to be blow-me-away standard to return from my present iMac-Powerbook combo.

    Nice if it comes though — midnight black with blue underlighting would be tasty!

  12. “Dual dual core, and maybe dual quad core or quad dual core . . .”

    Or even a core dual dual core quad core duo quad core dual quad core core and . . . spam.

    Scratch that. We want . . . . . . . a shrubbery.

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