Why Apple’s promise of a new ‘modular’ Mac Pro matters so much

“By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Apple is working on a new, redesigned Mac Pro,” David Gewirtz writes for ZDnet. “The importance of this news cannot be overstated.”

“Let’s not beat around the bush. The continued existence of the entire Mac ecosystem has been in question,” Gewirtz writes. “Yes, Apple has said it cares about the Mac, but its actions haven’t reflected that in ways that matter to the folks who need to make some tough decisions.”

“Apple has behaved, in its events and promotional activities, exactly like one would expect, showcasing the iPhone as the star and the Mac as … not so much,” Gewirtz writes. “The poster child of this problem has been the Mac Pro… After 39 months without an upgrade, the situation has become problematic for many professional users.”

“There’s the entire world of completely customizable, boiling hot desktop PCs out there,” Gewirtz writes. “No, it’s not a market the size of the iPhone. But for a pro who needs to transcode 4K video in realtime, or a scientist who would like to get calculations done this century, it’s been getting increasingly hard to remain loyal to the Mac platform.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re not entirely sold, yet, that a “modular” Mac Pro replacement coming sometime in the nebulous “next year or later” fully assuages the concerns of many Mac-using professionals.

Satisfying the upper-end of Mac-using professionals is vastly more important that the revenue that can be generated from the market. These are the vocal opinion-makers. Trifle with them at your own risk.

As we wrote back in January, before this week’s news that Apple would be getting back into the Apple-branded display market after an utterly foolish dalliance with trying to sell Mac users on plastic, incorrectly-shielded, UltraUgly LG crap:

For the same reason – mindshare – Apple should make their own Apple displays, even to the point of taking a loss of each and every one, so that other companies’ logos on frankly ugly products that do not match Apple design sensibilities are not in users’ faces all day long. That’s not a difficult concept to grasp; even an inveterate beancounter might be able to get it.

Apple’s cheese grater Mac Pro was flexible, expandable, and powerful – imagine that – April 6, 2017
More about Apple’s Mac Pro – April 6, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
Who has taken over at Apple? – April 5, 2017
Apple’s embarrassing Mac Pro mea culpa – April 4, 2017
Who’s going to buy a Mac Pro now? – April 4, 2017
Mac Pro: Why did it take Apple so long to wake up? – April 4, 2017
Apple sorry for what happened with the Mac Pro over the last 3+ years – namely, nothing – April 4, 2017
Apple to unveil ‘iMac Pro’ later this year; rethought, modular Mac Pro and Apple pro displays in the pipeline – April 4, 2017
Apple’s apparent antipathy towards the Mac prompts calls for macOS licensing – March 27, 2017
Why Apple’s new Mac Pro might never arrive – March 10, 2017
Dare we hold out hope for the Mac Pro? – March 1, 2017
Apple CEO Cook pledges support to pro users, says ‘we don’t like politics’ at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting – February 28, 2017
Yes, I just bought a ‘new’ Mac Pro (released on December 19, 2013 and never updated) – January 4, 2017
Attention, Tim Cook! Apple isn’t firing on all cylinders and you need to fix it – January 4, 2017
No, Apple, do not simplify, get better – December 23, 2016
Rare video shows Steve Jobs warning Apple to focus less on profits and more on great products – December 23, 2016
Marco Arment: Apple’s Mac Pro is ‘very likely dead’ – December 20, 2016
How Tim Cook’s Apple alienated Mac loyalists – December 20, 2016
Apple’s not very good, really quite poor 2016 – December 19, 2016
Apple’s software has been anything but ‘magical’ lately – December 19, 2016
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016
Rush Limbaugh: Is Apple losing their edge? – December 9, 2016
AirPods: MIA for the holidays; delayed product damages Apple’s credibility, stokes customer frustration – December 9, 2016
Apple may have finally gotten too big for its unusual corporate structure – November 28, 2016
Apple has no idea what they’re doing in the TV space, and it’s embarrassing – November 3, 2016
Apple’s disgracefully outdated, utterly mismanaged Mac lineup is killing sales – October 13, 2016
Apple takes its eye off the ball: Why users are complaining about Apple’s software – February 9, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. Everyone’s forgot about the halo effect, including Apple.

    The Mac platform is a wondrous asset. With the iPhone and iPad drawing so much attention, if Apple ever got serious about pushing the Mac to the iPhone’s enterprise customers and mainstream consumers, the Mac could one day be as big a business as the iPhone.

    I know that sounds crazy these days, but people are still buying computers. There’s plenty of market to gobble up if Apple wanted it. And I don’t think it would take much work.

    Keep working on the Apple car. Keep pushing the watch platform forward. Move into television in a proper way (please!). But don’t forget about the Mac. It could be a good business one day : )

    1. What the nitwits at Apple fail to realize is the best days of the Mac are far from behind it and it can be as future great as long as the vision to move it forwards is there. Why would you think for one second of not how to diminish a moneymaker but think of ways instead of moving it to even loftier cash cow heights in business, consumer & professional uses? And start advertising it!

      Anyone not thinking that way at Apple now needs to be shit-canned, tarred & feathered and run out of Cupertino on a rail.

        1. I think what was stated was some pretty obvious business objectives Apple should be taking with the Mac. Opinions don’t require the experience of running of a large corporation or nobody here could say a thing, including you. (In many ways Tim Cook seems to be dropping basic business sense and this recent Mac Pro debacle underlines it.) Next time YOU dare to state an opinion that seemingly requires prior CEO experience I’ll be sure to make a similarly snide and ill-thought out remark.

          1. I agree with P71, if you go to McDonalds you can say “the tables are not clean” without having had run a billion dollar fast food chain .

            Apple made a big fat mistake.
            it’s trying to correct it. Like others I think the one year from now timeline is very slow but I’m glad they’ve not dropped Pros altogether.

            I was in agony thinking I might have to go to Windows eventually.

            Just installed and successfully booted up a 980 ti in a Cheese Grater with sierra (for some tasks triple the GPU power of the high end D700 cylinders )– total cost just over $1000, need more drives and RAM though — so I’m happy as it’ll tide me over the long wait for the new macs. (typing this on another upgraded Cheese Grater).

            1. It’s important to remember that Apple is staggeringly huge business. And also keep in mind the Mac Pro’s strategic value is far higher than it’s revenue. We’re talking about a product that isn’t even a rounding error within the Mac line (and the Mac is a much smaller business than the iPhone by far).

              Tim and Co. are operating at the highest level. Perhaps they could do better, but I don’t believe there’s a team that could perform better than we’re seeing from them.

              We’re watching an F-1 driver operating at the top of his game, and we’re all saying “why don’t you just push a little harder on the accelerator!!” Guess what, it’s just not that easy. They’re driving with the pedal to the metal.

            2. sure I admit Cook and Team are doing some amazing stuff on phones etc.

              But should we then excuse:
              this Mac problem AND
              stuff like the Apple TV REMOTE. Did that F-1 driver EVEN USE the REMOTE before pushing it.
              What about pushing the LG monitor which had shielding issues?

              the thing is I do NOT think the F1 driver is at the top, the elite team is just CRUISING on too many products (MDN has listed all the issues and it takes like a page).

              Apple only makes a tiny HANDFUL of stuff. Even Ive said all their hardware products could fit on a single table.

              Most of the complainers are like me who have followed Apple for a long time and the focus of Jobs seems to be lost. Yeah, there were issues with Jobs stuff as well but they were fixed very quickly and most of the early days Jobs was limited by resources. And Jobs went hard on failing managers.

              Also I think Apple today has to get back to Jobs laser focus on products. for the money issue Note when iPod was making the most money at Apple and pundits were saying Apple should drop Macs etc and become a ‘music’ company Jobs doubled down on Macs and other products.

              Jobs Laser Focus. Jobs didn’t want Apple to do too much social work or charities (although he did it privately with his wife), Apple only matching staffers contributions. That is so that managers did not have to THINK about what charities to contribute too, he only wanted laser focus on PRODUCTS.

              Jobs did not even want to celebrate Apple’s 30th anniversary when staffers suggested a big bash with celebrities. He gave a short one line note dismissing it. Jobs and SVPs didn’t have to spend much time on the celebrations organizations, flunkies could have set it up but he knew IT WOULD SEND THE WRONG MESSAGE to everyone working at Apple. To him Apple cannot rest, to him Apple had to laser focus on products and future.

              (Today we got SVPs making furniture, Christmas trees, Coffee Table books, Apple sponsoring fashion shows like the Met Gala (where Apple products are NOT front and centre) , constantly making speeches at NON TECH events , parties, and millions on weird stuff like Planet of the Apps etc etc )

              I’ve followed Apple for over two decades, an aapl investor and personally I have Mac Pros, 12.9 iPad Pro , MBP and 7 plus phone.

              I want Apple to win.

    2. The mac will never as big of a business as the iPhone. It simply isn’t possible given the market size and demographics of each market. Have you missed the numbers of the last five years reflecting declines in every segment (professional and consumer) of the desktop market? How the growth in enterprise purchases of mobile devices? Do you think the market segment of creative professional can get Apple to where you say they can go? I don’t think it is a question of enterprise picking Mac OS over other systems. It simply isn’t there to take. Even if the Mac captured double the market share they have now or even triple it isn’t going to happen.

      1. “Even if the Mac captured double the market share they have now or even triple it isn’t going to happen”

        did you even glance at Apple’s financials?
        Macs make more money at Apple than other hardware product at Apple except iPhone.

        It made 7 billion vs 5 billion iPad.
        It made near TWICE the revenue of the ‘other products’ category which includes Watch, Apple TV, iPods, Beats, Airpods and other accessories…

        so if you cancel Mac due to low sales you might as well dump iPad, Apple TV, Watch , iPod, Beats, Airpods etc.
        (no flamers I’m not advocating this, by all means push new stuff and other stuff but Mac is important. Note also that iPad sales have fallen to NEAR HALF peak sales a few years ago while Mac has remained nearly steady in spite of neglect and practically no advertising).

        shoot, iPhones make more money than any other product in the world. By itself it makes more than Google and all the cars of Ford. if we have the criteria of ‘give up’ because it makes less than iPhone, all the companies in the world can fold shop.

        Tim Cook spent about 100 Billion (that’s with a B) on buybacks etc to boost the stock. The Number One reason the stock is so low, about half the valuation ( P.E ) of Google, Microsoft (i.e if they had their valuation aapl would be 300 now instead of 100+ ) is that big investors say Apple is a dangerous ONE PRODUCT iPhone company. DIVERSIFYING it’s product line with high earning Macs seems a great solution when you think about the billions in cost for stock buybacks.

        I can go on on why Macs including desktops are important but I’ll stop here for length.

      2. I believe a relatively small investment in their Mac business could conceivably double their sales, and they would still have only a small percentage of the total PC market.

        It seems like a good place to invest. If Apple is less dependant than ever on Mac revenue, it’s a good place to experiment.

        What could the Mac platform be if Apple didn’t have to protect their margins like they have traditionally? What would the Mac look like if it didn’t have to come as a slab of Aluminium?

        Apple has treated the Mac platform like a chess player treats it’s king. Functionally it’s still the centre of my universe, but financially Apple can afford to take chances with it. Put the Mac on the front lines. Get creative with it.

  2. Another report out today says that development of the “modular” Mac Pro has just started in the last few weeks, and it may not appear until 2019.

    If that’s true, they shouldn’t even bother.

    1. The time-frame Apple seems to be shooting for lines up with the “DDR5/10nm/large capacity optane” release dates. But who knows, it is be probably something stupid like what to name it. They have decided it should be called “big honking X” but are having trouble agreeing on what animal or body part X should refer to.

    2. I’ve wondered why Apple could not, as a stopgap, resurrect the cheese grate Mac Pro, fill it will the latest, high performance stuff and sell it. It might sell well. Waiting till 2018 or 2019 is asking too much of many users.

      1. Now that Apple’s attention is once again focused on the Mac pro they’ll want time to overthink and deliver another clever but self-defeating iteration that might be as equally questionable as current offerings (or droppings). Do you trust them to truly deliver is the question?

        I have waited long enough and seeing how Apple doesn’t seem interested in using Nvidia video cards I am forced to move on. It’s becoming more a Premiere Pro (& other Adobe apps) world out there and Nvidia is the playmate it runs with.

        Looking forward to picking and choosing to my heart’s content what I want in a PC Workstation. No one takes choice away from you there.

        1. Yeah, the Nvidia thing is huge. Like it or not, they have become a standard. I am not a fan of where Tim Cook has chosen to put Apple’s emphasis over the last few years. They have endless resources, no department should be floundering like this.

          While they are at it, please stop making bluetooth the only connectivity option, guys and gals. It is not the mature and all-encompassing solution you seem to think it is. The shrinking of *everything* is becoming a bit tiresome, too.

  3. I’m not holding my breath on new machines in this decade. The trash can took forever to get in the pipeline and the wait was painful and embarrassing as they kept rolling back the ship date. Then they over priced it and ignored it! Based on this whole PR stunt, they just woke up, will stumble to get something half ready out the door, have a press conference where they pat them selves on the back, and look foolish in doing it!

  4. Apple needs to remember that pro Mac users aren’t Mac users they’re Adobe users for the most part.

    Switching for them is as simple as the next company refresh.

      1. okok.. so about 0.5% of the single digit % of mac pro users are finalcut/logic users..


        seriously, who actually uses logic? i think I know one person, and he won’t upgrade past 9 because X sucks.

        1. Get your head out your arse dude.
          I use logic Pro been making music as my only career since 1988 before Apple bought Emagic
          I know most Pros logic Pro.
          It has competition now with Abletion 9 but Logic is still the go to Pro music making App
          We need better Mac Pros also!

  5. Hurt the MacPro and it’s users, and all the iDevice ecosystem -on which some are resting their “lucky” asses- will be down ! And to plagiarize MDN: “even an inveterate beancounter might be able to [f$^*g] get it.”

  6. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they created something like the iMac, iMac Advanced, and iMac Pro. The “Pro” being the Xeon based desktop with AMD pro video and the advanced iMac being a high performance gaming type machine, and the iMac being just a standard iMac?

    I wonder which would sell fastest. 😉

  7. Stacking the current MacPros on top of each other would be modularization. No longer demeaning it with the “trash can” label,” it could then be known as a phallus, a scientific name. Now that society is producing masculinized women and feminized men – pollution promotes the creation of estrogen in men and so does the consumption of soy products – women could then make sexist remarks about the stacked MacPro, “My, look how he’s stacked,” thus reversing traditional sexist roles.

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