Apple’s Mac Pro ship date quickly slips to February 2014: Smacks of the iMac fiasco of 2012

“Apple today started taking orders for its pricy Mac Pro workstation, but shipping dates almost immediately slipped to February, irritating customers who have been awaiting the ‘dark tower’ desktop computer,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld.

“On Wednesday, Apple said it would kick off orders of the Mac Pro today after teasing customers since June with images and descriptions of the radically redesigned machine,” Keizer reports. “When Apple’s online store re-opened early today, ship dates were posted as Dec. 30. Within hours, the dates slipped to February, even for the two stock configurations, which start at $2,999 for a quad-core system with 12GB of memory, dual AMD FirePro graphics processors and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage.”

“The Mac Pro situation smelled a bit like the iMac debacle in late 2012, when Apple announced the redesigned desktop, but then took weeks to deliver orders,” Keizer reports. “[Apple CEO] Cook ended up regretting the hasty iMac introduction, which was a major cause of a 22% decline in Mac revenue in 2012’s fourth quarter compared to the same period the year before. ‘If we could run it over frankly, I would have announced the iMac after the turn of the year, because we felt our customers had to wait too long for that specific product,’ Cook said during a January 2013 conference call with Wall Street.”

Read more in the full article here.

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Hands on with the all-new Mac Pro, Apple’s miniature powerhouse – December 19, 2013
Fully maxed-out Apple Mac Pro just $9,600 – December 19, 2013
All new Mac Pro available on December 19 starting at $2999 – December 18, 2013

69 Comments

  1. It just may be that Apple woefully underestimated the built up pro-demand after everyone has been kicking Apple over the last year or so on lack of attention to the pro market.

      1. Hannah, I normally agree with your take, but this time I think the headline is not overblown.

        I did expect the Mac Pro to get sold out on day one. I did expect the Mac Pro to have shipping times slipping to January within the first couple days (by close of business Friday was my early guess). I did NOT expect the ship times to slip to February within just a few hours of it being available.

        I, as well as many, many others were frustrated with the iMac fiasco a year ago:
        1) announcing weeks before you could even place an order
        2) when orders were taken lead times of several weeks were the norm
        3) supply not catching up with demand for over four months (and over five months for some models)

        The first two already match. Now, I will not be surprised if the third matches too.

        I don’t think the new Mac Pro is overpriced, e.g., the UHDTV monitor is offered for several hundred dollars less than Sharp’s list price and the upcharge for the CPUs is not excessive compared to the upcharge by Intel (it’s more, but not excessively so).

        However, over a year ago Tim said a machine of this nature was coming in 2014. Many of us thought this meant the first half of 2014.

        Six months ago they gave a few general details and said “this fall”. Many of us thought this meant “shipping in quantity by mid December”.

        A few weeks ago they gave many more details and said “December”. Many of us thought this meant shipping in quantity with minimal backlog in December.

        Now it turns out that if you’re not one of the first few, you’ll get it as a Valentine’s Day gift — IF you’re lucky.

        Placing an order through your IT department and getting a response of “shipping in 60 days ” makes it a tough sell to IT. It’s just one more reason for IT departments to push users over to WinTel boxes. Hell, I’ve read a half dozen places on the ‘net in the last day about how you can upgrade a standard HP or Dell or ASUS box with cheap after market components to be just as good or better for less money. These articles/comments are wrong, but why give those naysayers one more excuse to try to refuse you the system that is optimal for your needs?

        1. You always explain yourself very well. I don’t. I am not an apologist or part of a popular uprising united by a common enemy and agreed-upon strategy. There is no territory to defend, no national pride. The thing to oppose is treachery in all its forms, for it poisons the souls of all involved.

          Today’s treachery is this headline, which exploits long-standing anxieties by conflating two different scenarios to cast suspicion on the efficacy of trusting and investing in a company exhibiting apparent disregard for the purchase order practices of assorted firms, and implying a worrisome behaviour pattern borrowed from social psychology but inapplicable to firms facing multiple undisclosed constraints.

          Not to detract from your points in any way. 🙂

          1. I think a lot of people are looking past Tim’s tweet about production beginning in Austin two days ago. I take this to mean that the first real production run had just fired up, and so there was no buildup of stock prior to availability. Orders were taken with no more than one day of production under the belt.

            My personal Pro will arrive Jan 3. The one for my lab at work will arrive in February. Apple usually beats projected ship dates handily.

          2. Agreed, HJS. You are eloquent in espousing your opinion, as usual. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, especially when this forum descends into political diatribes (which I try to avoid), but the image your posts paint is an intelligent, educated, and thoughtful person.

          3. The thing to oppose is treachery in all its forms, for it poisons the souls of all involved.

            Yes.

            Self-destructive human behavior continues to flummox me. I both feel sorry for these people and have my hatchet ready in an attempt to stop them imposing their self-destructive behavior upon others. I soooo hope I don’t have to live yet-another lifetime to figure out this fundamental human problem. <-Me being woo-woo Buddhist.

            1. Together, we’ll figure this thing out, Derek. We have the help of the whole human community, the collective experience of this hybrid species bred by impersonal evolutionary forces; or destiny, if you’re otherwise inclined. We just need to sort out their advice from the cacophony.

            2. A wonderful perspective. I’d enjoy your assistance and company.

              I’m not into destiny. I’m into human choice and its consequences mixed in with the ‘impersonal evolutionary forces’ mixed in with the marvelous coincidences that I find too incredible and personal to just be random, aka synchronicity. The last affecting force is my constant, best teacher, always most effective while I’m mingling with ‘the whole human community.’ Big smiles from me admiring your mind, caring and sharing. 😀

              Enjoy the solstice holidays! Every One!

          4. I asked “Serena” (a British English voice) to read your second paragraph to me (I have a sense you’re from the commonwealth?!).

            She ran out of breath and gasped just before the “social psychology” phrase.

            I got her a sip of water and all is better now.

            🙂

          5. To explain yourself better, try using simple plain language. A 57-word sentence does not demonstrate how smart you are, but rather the opposite. I’m a social psychologist, and I had no idea whT you were actually saying in this post.

            1. Thank you for your comment. Did I not state, explicitly, that I do not explain myself? I prefer to display. Still, I expect you were annoyed at my reference to social psychology without really understanding your profession. Sorry, it must have been the eggnog. The word count was unnecessary in any event, but in your place I’d have cited data too, and I do understand.

        2. Shadowself,

          Hmmm, more “I want what I want instantly” comments??
          ““The Mac Pro situation smelled a bit like the iMac debacle in late 2012,” I say fowl. (spelling intended LOL)

          We do not know the amount of orders that came in. Apple built the Mac Pro for pros and priced it as such. Plus its the holidays and Apple does not tend to run 100% overtime over the holidays.

          I would strongly suspect that Apple has a number of start up issues trying to build a supply stream that will match ongoing orders……. not over build and then lay off 50% of its work force. PS,, how would that sound in the press……”Mac Pro failing and taking Apple down with it as work force is cut back 50% after initial orders.” !!!!!!

          So, Tim gets things going, and shortly in 2014, production will match demand and everyone will be happy. Just saying.

      2. Headlines must convey reality. The one you suggested is from a pro-Apple POV (cheerleading). I actually agree with the headline because it reflects reality. Thin Tim supply side genuis unfortunately is becoming a myth when you consider iMac, 5S iPhone and MacPro units at times were in short supply. It is what it is …

      3. I concur. It is in no way unusual for Apple to fall short on The initial delivery dates of new product lines. I have never been convinced that this isn’t actually done on purpose while market analysts completely misinterpret the intentions of Apple, which is simply not to overstock their new product lines.

        But, “lust for Mammon”?!

    1. Until we know how many “Pro’s” are being ordered we don’t know anything.

      The writers of this article should know and acknowledge that in the headline and the body.

      1. Yes, often the case 3I3c7ro. But leave it to those affected to figure it out, unless you’re cruising’ for a bruising’. Meanwhile, there are some incredibly wonderful people down south. I miss the down home common sense folks I knew in central Florida. No one enjoys the humid heat down there.

      2. Wow. What a hyprocite you are for all to read. You preach speech tolerance and gentle good manners and then go off on a bigoted tirade stereotyping U.S. southerners. Obvious you have ZERO tolerance for viewpoints other than your own. Well, Mr. Master Speech Control Central — control this — STFU!

        1. When you read my posting, you have to read ALL THE WORDS before you jump to conclusions:

          “and in most tropical climates” means exactly what it says. Not every single person living in tropical climates is lethargic but on the average, many have no motivation to ‘get out of the cold’ because it isn’t cold. In the numerically higher latitudes, we have to work hard to get food, keep warm and survive.

  2. In all fairness, it was practically impossible to determine the demand for the MP. This is a very specialised machine, and customers may or may not have been migrating to iMacs or other solutions, so there was very little solid information to judge how much to manufacture.

    Also, it is quite possible that after the initial (massive) spike, the demand would drop significantly, and Apple simply can’t afford to hold of on the release and run up the inventory and production line that high, just so that they can have enough to meet that initial spike.

    1. I have several clients who’ve been holding out for this new Pro. I’m sure demand is through the ceiling. If you’ve already have been waiting since it was announced, another month of waiting isn’t the end of the world.

      Who knows, Apple probably only has one shift running a day? If the demand far exceeds projected sales, then they may need to go 24/7 until they get caught up. This will mean more jobs and more computers Made In America.

      Tim Cook may have overdid it a bit though, he likes to keep inventory lean. He overplayed it this time, not anticipating such a huge demand. Nobody wants to pull a Ballmer and be stuck writing off $900,000,000 in unsold stock. Doesn’t look like Apple will have that problem. How other companies wish they had Apple’s problems.

    1. They must have underestimated the number of hypnotised Apple fans with money to burn on a status symbol that doubles as Darth Vader’s helmet and whose peripherals can never run as fast as theoretical internal bus speeds.

      1. Now you are starting to sound just like some of the other folks on this forum who casually disparage fellow Mac aficionados with a broad brush.

        Hypnotized, my ass. That is just another version of the tired “Mac lemmings” comments tossed out by Windows and Android fans. If they have the money to buy one, then why not? And who says that they need to add any peripherals that can even utilize 20 Gbps bandwidth, much less anything greater.

        Not good, HJS. Not good.

        1. My heavens, I forgot to include the sarcasm tag. Such an embarrassment! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. The last thing I want to do is encourage the locusts. 🙂

          1. Sorry…very sorry! I should have known better. That did not sound like you.

            I have become too sensitized to the extremist positions on this forum. It is polluted by anonymous posters who love to stir up dissent along with a few close-minded, registered members who love to do the same. I am succumbing to the psychology of the internet, which often leads me to respond much more harshly than warranted and with less consideration and empathy to the people with which I disagree. I have become part of this forum’s downward spiral into a bubbling morass of conflict, most of which has little to do with Apple, Macs, or iOS.

      2. And you thought telling us that, “….peripherals can never run as fast as theoretical internal bus speeds” would what? Impress us? Sorry to burst your bubble, it kind of shows you know jack shit about data flows in a computer system. Internal buses are always faster than I/o to peripherals. That’s why we have caching and fast RAM.

        1. Of course they are. The whole thing was a précis and parody of a violent debate on another tech forum. If it was over your head, that’s on me. I didn’t present it well.

          I must be more careful in the future with this crowd, so precious, so passionate and targeted, yet so naïve in other ways.

          1. Now don’t get condescending! Several people have posted much the same ideas as contained in your wayward jest, and they were serious. In their viewpoint, the Mac Pro was fatally flawed and doomed because it did not conform to their expectation of the traditional configuration of a “pro” workstation.

            The new Mac Pro clearly alienates some members of the pro community. I and many others believe that they are overblowing the negatives and exaggerating the consequences. It is true that the new Mac Pro design may not be ideal for some pros who depend heavily on internal slots and expansion bays. But it just may be that it offers a new computing paradigm that, while somewhat painful in the near term, will yield long term benefits for most, or even nearly all.

            I have never seen a Mac configured for professional use that did not use a number of peripherals. The new Mac Pro leverages high-speed external networking to push a few more of those internal functions outside of the chassis. Truth be told, few people are routinely impacted by bandwidth bottlenecks on a 20 Gbps duplex connection, much less six of them.

            1. As always, a bastion of common sense and an eagle eyed observer of the tech landscape. I get myopic or petulant at times, and I greatly appreciate your making the effort to set me straight.

              As it happens, my working life has been a flight among disparate professions, anchored by nursing but with wild swings to and fro, boring material to any but a career counsellor. Thanks for your solicitude.

          2. Yeah right!

            Only thing is, You say it so ambiguously so that you can jump either way when you are called out for it. In this case you jump to the side of “oh I was only joking”. Didn’t you get my little joke?”. Piss off! And don’t be so condescending….bitch. Oh, just joking…just joking.

        2. Remember, though, that performance is very different from speed. A balanced approach (Apple’s design philosophy) achieves faster performance by ensuring that no part of the system lives out its really fast life waiting for other aspects of the system (the human at the keyboard notwithstanding).

          In the real “pro” markets, nothing else is inside the CPU cabinet. When Boeing Computing Services was running the IT operations for governments around the world at their facility near Seattle, one floor of the building was CPUs, one floor was DASD, one floor was tape drives.

          Hard drives don’t spin faster because they are inside the same enclosure as the CPU. When you’re bringing components “closer” to the CPU what you’re trying to do is reduce or eliminate overhead of connection protocols. Thunderbolt does that exceedingly well and so it is no longer necessary for the storage device to be close to the motherboard.

  3. I can testify that every non-Apple Mac reseller I spoke to three weeks ago already had huge waiting lists. These guys alone could have placed many thousands of orders at the bell.

      1. Maybe, given the new factory, they could not build up a large inventory? Perhaps they expected to get a lot of custom orders with upgrades? Perhaps some of their component supplies are having difficulty providing the high-end components in volume?

        Those suppositions are just as reasonable, actually more so, than assuming that Apple just blindly entered into this major undertaking without bothering to do any homework…

        1. Good ideas. I believe all the early delays were due to Cook & company methodically lining everything up to make the rollout smooth. Bear in mind it’s a new factory; add 15% for shaking out first-time glitches. Also, every new product has to use QA estimates.

          If prosumers were perturbed by last year’s iMac delays, and they were, how steamed would pro users have been if this had been bungled in the same fashion? Very much more so.

          For a long time I believed that Apple had prematurely previewed the new Mac Pro, seeking to placate the murmuring horde; now I think they had it ready but were still tooling up to scale, and it took this long to get it right enough.

          Still and all, Apple can’t have properly estimated the demand at this point without having sampled all its outlets. Had there been any lapse in planning, I’d think this would be it.

          1. Actually, I do believe that Apple prematurely previewed the Mac Pro. And the manner in which they did it with a video of a highly automated factory producing Mac Pro logic boards and chassis made its release appear much more imminent than it was in actuality. That made the impact of the rap idly slipping shipment dates even worse – the expectation was that the factory was ready to churn them out months ago.

            Cook and company knew that the old Mac Pro was long in the tooth. They knew that the pro world was clamor ing for a new machine with Thunderbolt and all of the other goodies. Tim Cook is meticulous in his operations planning, which has been a major factor in the success of the company sinces its revival under Steve Jobs. So, I find it very difficult to buy into the concept that Apple failed to anticipate the demand for this product. Other explanations make much more sense – the ones that you and I have exchanged, or the perfectly logical input by another poster on this forum that the Mac Pro is not a high-volume product. In the absence of a substantial pre-release inventory, it was inevitable that the pent-up demand would result in a temporary shortage. And it would be impractical to design and size this factory for a significant surge capability just to satisfy a one-time, temporary shortage situation. Once the initial pent-up demand is satisfied, everything will be fine.

    1. Back in 1990 I bought the “Wicked Fast” Mac II FX for close to $6K (can’t remember, it might have been more). Look at these specs:
      “The Apple Macintosh IIfx features a 40 MHz 68030 processor, a 68882 FPU, 4 MB of RAM, a 1.44 MB floppy drive or a 1.44 MB floppy drive and a 80 MB or 160 MB hard drive”

      Hard to believe. But with it I was able to produce a 250 page industrial catalog with vector dimensional art (all hand drawn ink on vellum drawings before this) with a beautiful color montage image produced in PS 1 or 2. It was a nice step up from my Mac Plus!
      I’m waiting for Anandtech and others to do some critical testing before spending money on this. But I need a Pro workstation. I’ve been making due with a top of the line iMac, waiting for new Pros, but the iMac just doesn’t cut it. Thought about a Hackintosh or finding a last year’s Mac Pro. Just don’t know. I like much of the thought that’s gone into the new Mac Pro, but like many, would have welcomed a more conventional design with drive bays and card slots for more flexibility and upgradability.

      1. I had a Mac IIfx many years ago. It was quite expensive, but a reasonable performer for its time. It also roughly marked the time at which Apple Macs were clearly in decline relative to Windows PCs. It had been building up for a few years, but when Windows PC prices kept declining, Win 3.1 was released, and Intel CPUs kept improving faster than the stagnating Motorola 68000 series, the continuing high prices of Macs at that time made it difficult to justify their purchase. Piece knew many strong fans of the Mac who ended up going to the dark side at home, not just at work. One of my bosses was very disappointed by the Mac vx thst he purchased for home use. The Mac lineup was messy at that time, and the Mac vx was discontinued a couple of months later.

        The situation today is completely different. The Mac ecosystem is much more competitive and vibrant for the non-pros. The pros do have some legitimate gripes, as I have posted in the past.

  4. The same people that complained that Apple made a Pro Mac that was way-too-expensive for anyone to buy will now be complaining that Apple didn’t make enough of them.

    1. Ordered two. Will order more after the first of the year. It’s just like putting new tires on your big rig if you’re an over the road truck driver. It’s just an expense. Part of business. People who need them will pay whatever they have to. We don’t have time to complain about whether or not it’s too expensive. People who complain about them don’t need them and won’t buy them. It’s a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Indispensable tool I might add. As to the issue of whether Apple tripped like they did last year with the iMac? We don’t know yet. Have to admit it doesn’t look good. Apple had to know that there would be a huge demand for these. It’s not like they are surprised that studios and professionals all over the world have been waiting for these things. And waiting. And waiting. I don’t believe that it was intentional to garner attention from the press either. So at this point I have to say that they simply released them to the public before they had an ample supply. But perhaps there are other issues? I doubt that we will ever really know. I’m just glad that they’re here. At last.

      1. Agree with everything you said. It’s here now, make out a purchase order, and stop bitching about how long it took. It is what it is. I learned that lesson from Microsoft and others over the years. Water cooler talk isn’t going to make a difference in your job or your life. Excuses about delayed product releases won’t cut any ice during your performance evaluation. It’s up to you, and you alone, to keep track of all the things that can contribute to your success. That includes following new hardware and software releases, but it also includes sensing when a vendor is about to go under due to market forces. That’s much harder, but it’s YOUR job that’s at stake. Follow the stock market, learn the signs of failing companies, master the intricate signals sent by traders, and understand that is only YOU who has the power to stop the powers that be from taking you to the cleaners.

  5. It is possible that 2/3 or more of pro demand is front-loaded as this upgrade is a no-brainer. The companies that produce and edit video have had the money budgeted for this machine for over a year in many cases.

  6. We’ll never know the numbers – I’ll bet they won’t tell us if it was a demand or supply issue or both.

    It does make them look bad when they say “available this fall – we mean December – actually December 19th – we mean you can possibly get one by summer, 2014.”

    I’m sure that, as has been said, the automated line can’t upscale to any faster level, and they won’t want to build out higher production capacity if there is only a spike of initial demand. This was one of the advantages of reusing the old Mac Pro box for so many years and versions. By that same token, one would expect that future Mac Pro updates to this model won’t be hampered as much for the same reason, so they’ll only have this problem every 5-10 years or so when they redesign it.

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