Informationweek commentator: Apple ignores loyal Mac Pro customers

“Creative professionals and media producers, those quirky non-conformists that were some of the earliest adopters of the original Macintosh, have long been the bedrock upon which Apple built what limited success it’s had in battling Windows’ hegemony in the enterprise,” Kurt Marko reports for Informationweek. “These customers, who are more concerned with simple elegance than Microsoft compatibility, and have always valued the Mac’s clean, consistent interface, reliable OS and, until recently, malware-free security, have made Macs a staple with photographers graphics artists, and video editors.”

“Many of these folks, dealing as they do with large graphics files and sophisticated, CPU-crushing software, favor Apple’s high-end workstation, the Mac Pro, over more mainstream iMacs or MacBooks,” Marko reports. “the Mac Pro serves a certain, arguably influential if not numerous, niche. Customers love the machine’s expandability. Sporting four drive bays, dual processors with up to 12 cores, 8 memory slots maxing out at 64 GB of RAM and two double-wide PCIx slots for dual high-end graphics cards capable of driving 6 displays, the Mac Pro is indeed a workhorse.”

Marko reports, “Sadly, Apple has let the Mac Pro languish. Last updated almost two years ago (several generations in iPhone time), the machines, while still powerful, are saddled with dated hardware and showing their age. Mac Pro customers have been patient, realizing that based as they are on Intel’s Xeon server platform, there was little point to an update until the chip giant migrated its latest Sandy Bridge architecture to the Xeon line. Well, that day happened in March yet there’s still no word on when, or even if, the Mac Pro will see a refresh.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Let’s wait nine days before we say Apple’s ignoring anybody.

Related articles:
Analyst: Apple preps several new Macs; powerful iOS photo sharing and unmatched 3D Maps for WWDC – June 1, 2012
Dalrymple says there’s no chance that Apple will kill off Mac Pro – May 31, 2012
Apple announces WWDC Keynote for June 11th – May 29, 2012

42 Comments

  1. This assessment is unfair. Apple always APPARENTLY ignores such public displays, but they quietly take notice. They are not a company known for saying “How High” when we say “Jump,” but if enough people say “Jump” they will finally look down to see if there’s a fire down there or something.

    I can find many reasons why there might not be a new MacPro, or at least a MacPro of the sort we’re accustomed to, including the fact that it wouldn’t take much to deliver the same performance from an iMac (especially considering Thunderbolt). However those who have inside knowledge of Apple are saying, we shouldn’t fret, there will be a new Mac Pro.

    1. Thelonious,

      I rarely am diametrically opposed to your position, but this time you are just flat out wrong.

      All, literally all, of the components necessary to build the top of the line, next generation Mac Pro have been shipping for months — yes months. Apple had access to the design specifications on all those components months earlier than that.

      It is not a matter of jumping. Apple could have stumbled and fallen into shipping a top of the line Mac Pro before now.

      Also, there are many things that an iMac — even with Thunderbold — will never be able to do. Some of this is because of thermodynamics. You simply cannot put two top of the line Sandy Bridge XEON processors into an iMac and not have something melt down. There is no realistic way to get the heat out even with exotic heat pipes or liquid cooling.

      Additionally, Thunderbolt, as great as it is, does not have the bandwidth to replace multiple high end cards for use in computationally intensive environments.

      Yet even more… you cannot use Thunderbolt to support multiple 6 Gbps Solid State Drives (which the next generation Mac Pro really should, as a real no brainer, be able to do — at least as a BTO).

      Oh and don’t be so naive as to believe that you can seriously run 4 or more 27 or 30 inch monitors off of an iMac. It’s not happening in any variant of an iMac I’ve ever heard of even postulated by the people I know that work for Apple. (Though maybe you could hack a system together where dual Thunderbolt cables ran to an external box supporting two high end video cards then have those external cards run the external monitors. — even then I doubt that OS X will support that configuration directly in an iMac thus requiring custom drivers.)

      Yes, I’ve heard *rumors* from people within Apple that there will be at least one more generation of Mac Pro. But I’ve heard no official word — and no one else has either. Such an announcement is LONG over due.

      1. Shadowself?

        Thelonius is saying that Apple isn’t forgetting the MacPro line and something interesting will come in the future. What is wrong with that? For those who can’t wait, iMac is a very capable and stupid affordable computer especially with Thunderbolt. In some cases, it has been shown to be faster then a loaded MacPro.

        1. Gee… A top of the line iMac with a Sandy Bridge processor is shown for a few select functions to be faster than a prior generation chip based Mac Pro? Who’d have thought? (Well anyone with half a brain, actually.)

          The point is NOT that an iMac can serve as a stop gap measure for **SOME** functions. The point is that an iMac is NOT a Mac Pro replacement for those of us who use a Mac Pro to the fullest.

          Additionally, Apple has had months to get that machine out. Apple is doing a disservice to those who use the high end. There is no way to say that any differently?

          Just name ONE technology that is critical to the Mac Pro that has caused Apple to wait on shipping thes machines. You can’t. No one can.

          1. Sandy Bridge XEONs only started shipping in quantity a little less than 2 1/2 months ago. Prior to this, Apple was waiting on Intel.

            I expect we’ll see new Mac Pros very soon.

            Seems silly to be complaining right now – if after WWDC there is still no news, then that might make a little more sense.

            Yes, it has been a little while since the last refresh, but blame Intel more than Apple for that. Let’s see how long the Ivy Bridge XEONs that were “launched” last month take to actually begin shipping… Intel looks like they will handle this about as well as they did the Sandy Bridge ones.

            Let me guess – the minute Apple ships Sandy Bridge XEON Mac Pros, everyone will start complaining that they don’t have Ivy Bridge since Intel has “released” them.

  2. They could have at least pulled the mac pro off the site, signaling something, so they wouldn’t have to deal with last minute buyers remorse.

    if ya think about it, it’s pitiful, ya have thousands of people outside your store waving money wanting to buy a product, but they continue to say we don’t have anything for you. I’d open the door a crack and say come back in 2 weeks and see what we have. Rather then let these people walk across the street to walmart and buy a shit computer.

  3. I agree with MDN. Mr. Marko should have waited before he wrote an article like this. He may be red faced when WWDC starts. We don’t know what Apple has planned for the Mac Pro – but I DO hope they update it sooner rather then later.

  4. the pro graphics community was one of the key corner stones that kept Apple alive during the dark days. We plugged away on our LCs, Quadras, Apple laser printers etc. when many others were jumping on the PC bandwagon (apple PC market share dropped from around 30% to 2% ).

    Apple should support the pro community, besides the history of pros loyalty, the arts community is quite influential as they run the advertising , communications and entertainment companies – they are influences and trensetters who have a bigger impact than numbers suggest.

    Also having high end machines will help keep Apple’s premier status (just like car companies like having a high end sports car line).

    a new mac pro though might look radically different (now with thunderbolt technology) . Just don’t abandon pros completely apple!

    (I’m a aapl investor and have a significant portion of my savings in aapl and I understand the economics of scale, market share, profits etc. Still if at all possible Apple should make some sort of mac pro)

    1. It is not just the graphics or video community. It is also the computationally intensive community. Believe it or not, for many years a couple of the sites that were the biggest buyers of the top end Mac were Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory — yep, the guys who do simulations and computations for nuclear weapons. That’s not light weight computing.

      As I’ve posted here before, there is no excuse for no Mac Pro announcement yet. Hopefully, we will see them in the next month. Hopefully, they won’t have last generation hardware (which, with the exception of the CPUs does sometimes happen).

      1. Yes..SCIENCE!!!

        Scientists..especially geneticists and neuroscientists LOVE the Mac Pro..that is..they did two years ago. I’ve seen very highend labs (think genome project) go PC due to the lack of refreshed highend Macs.

        I use an iMac, but would have bought a Mac Pro with dual 30 inch monitors if the hardware wasn’t out of spec. I opted for a 27 inch iMac to save money..and wait for an updated pro.

        I’m impressed by the iMac, but it’s been a long wait. I’m a pro..I’d like my workstation to match my needs.

  5. The product landscape had changed a lot. We have have many options for macs. Those who bought desktops 10 years ago did so because the iMac was not powerful enough. Now the iMac is a superb machine with very powerful processor, graphics and displays. The mini serves those who need a general and cheap machine. Laptops have also improved in performance and versatility.
    So those same set of users who were limited to desktops are now split into using iMacs, Minis, laptops and also MacPros. So much so that apple sell ~100k macpros or less a quarter. That’s 30 times less than laptops.
    If we want apple to continue to grow and succeed they have to make smart business decisions. That involves only updating macpro every 2 years or so.

    1. Sure, portables have greatly improved their performance, but in the meantime, our needs haven’t remained utterly static either. It isn’t a 640×480 JPG from an Apple Quicktake camera, but a stack of 20 megapixel 32 bit RAW files to create an HDR … which are then batched into a group of five to fifty of those for stitching into a panorama that could be as large as a Gigapixel.

      And while it is certainly a good business decision to not have to update the “trucks” in one’s fleet too frequently, it does behoove everyone involved to be assured that there are still going to be trucks for doing heavy hauling.

      -hh

  6. Oldest trick in the book. Complain that Apple should do something just before they to it, and then sit back and take the credit for guiding Apple into doing the right thing.

  7. Oh, for crying out loud. I remember exactly the same kind of bitching just before Apple announced the G5s.

    Apple doesn’t comment on unannounced products, and they don’t announce products until they’re either ready to ship, or they know exactly how long it’s going to take.

    -jcr

    1. First, the problem with the “doesn’t comment on unannounced products” mantra is that Apple has broken that rule…repeatedly.

      Second, since you mentioned the G5, the 2003 WWDC was in May, and tidbits of Apple’s adoption 970 were out in Feb/March.

      Third, Thunderbolt is a high end interface, it would have made sense to do a minor refresh of the Mac Pro as the first Mac to get it, not the last … back in 2011.

      Fourth, Apple has had Grand Central Dispatch kicking around in the background now for years … and it is still going to be ignored in software updates for as long as the Mac Pro is ignored. Does FCX use it? Who knows!

      -hh

  8. I won’t consider the MacPro back in the mix until there are daily rumors with leaked photos of the next version, giving weight, size and power usages-or until an Apple engineer leaves a proposed MP in a bar somewhere.

  9. I blame IBM, er, Intel, yes Intel, that’s the ticket.

    In the race for lower power using chips, Intel has failed to provide the chips for the powerful MacPro workhorses.

    Once again, Apple is at the mercy of their chip providers.

    1. Maybe that is why the rumors of moving to ARM keep popping up?
      (I am doubtful it would ever happen)

      Anyways along those lines Dell is pushing out ARM servers. No reason to think that Apple wouldn’t be able to figure something out.

  10. I’ve been waiting for a mini-tower since the late 1990’s.

    I would purchase a MacPro, but this machine is outside my price threshold and is far too powerful for my needs. The Mac mini is within my price range, but is less powerful than an iMac. Both the Mac mini and iMac have few user upgradeable components. The iMac is the only optimal choice for me.

  11. I hate to say it, but I do believe Apple could very well be phasing out all desktop computers and focus on what’s selling best, their low level consumer products. They have to really impress me this June otherwise I’m jumping ship which is probably what they’ll just tell the professionals anyways.

    1. When notebooks with 1 TB drives and the performance of workstations are readily available I would think the era of the desktop is over. It ain’t happening this year.

  12. Bwaaaa ha ha ha

    You poor Mac Pro users. I  seriously hope the Mac Pro is discontinued.  Apple has always been knowned to be secretive about their product releases.  If Apple is foolish enough to change their secretive nature to appease these folks just for the Mac Pro they might as well consign themselfs to take the same approach with all their future and present products.  

    It’s not just content creation users that are behind this petition.  Avid, an software an hardware company that create’s products for the recording and video industry is behind it. 

    Earlier this year the company launched their Pro Tools HDX DSP  audio interface which they developed on the now outdated PCIe technology. The company could have easily port Pro Tools HDX over to the Thunderbolt interface but had chosen not to do so.   Why? Because they wanted to milk their customers as much as possible to recoupe the investment that went into the development of Pro Tools HDX on the outdated PCIe interface after realizing that they should not have secretly bet against thunderbolt.

    Avid and a lot of other companies whom are currently dreaming of prolonging development of products based on the PCIe interface knewed full well what Apples plans were upon the announcement and launch of Apple products with thunderbolt. 

     It’s either due to financial reasons why they could not wait to launch Pro Tools HDX with an Thunderbolt interface or extreme incompetence within the management staff.  The company is currently selling PCIe based Pro Tools HDX products that would take a sharp drop in sales if Apple were to discontinue  the Mac Pro or significantly redesign the Mac Pro in such a way that it would limit the installation of HDX cards within the Mac Pro chassie.

    In consideration of all this one can carely see why they want the Mac Pro to stick around.

    1. So let me get this straight.

      A company like Avid which has probably their entire customer base using Mac Pros with PCIe should have launched Pro Tools HDX DSP with Thunderbolt which currently the Mac Pro does not support and should have said to their customer base “If you want the new version you need to downgrade to an iMac” ???

      How is supporting PCIe a bet against thunderbolt?

      It seems to me they chose not to support Thunderbolt because the vast majority of their customers likely do not have a thunderbolt port on their machines.

      Your post makes no sense to me.

    2. So my video capture cards, SDI cards, etc. and my friends’ pro audio cards, and other such professional bits of equipment have to either be binned and replaced with products that don’t exist, or have to be plugged into an external PCIe box plugged into a consumer computer.

      Why?

      How is PCIe outdated btw, can you explain how you think Thunderbolt works in relation to PCIe and why it’s bandwidth is apparently unlimited?

      Besides, if the Mac Pro goes first the only logical conclusion is the entire Mac range is at risk (by the same logic that they don’t sell as many as they do iOS devices).

    3. I can “carely” see that like most trolls you either can’t spell or are to lazy to use spell check, checking your post for mistakes is highly recommended peter breath, Bwaaaa ha ha ha to you, you frigtard, or as the Brits say up yours.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.