Mac Pro tower of power, return of Apple-branded displays promise Mac resurgence

“There isn’t anything flashy about computer towers,” Bob Skelley writes for Computerworld. “And their lack of style made it easy for Apple to abandon them.”

“But do we really prefer Apple produces more iMacs and unconventionally shaped Mac Pros? What if instead they decide to return to their most durable, albeit boring desktop hardware design?” Skelley writes. “Returning to the tower designs of yesteryear could potentially be a big win for Apple not to mention its customers. iMac and Mac Pro hardware designs feature stylish good looks over the ability to easily upgrade.”

Skelley writes, “A return to a tower design of some kind would not be the equivalent of Apple conceding it no longer can design innovatively; to the contrary it would be an admission that it is better late than never to recognize past triumphs in design by creating modernized versions.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Please, let it be so.

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. — MacDailyNews, April 6, 2017

As we wrote back in January, before last month’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.

Why Apple’s promise of a new ‘modular’ Mac Pro matters so much – April 6, 2017
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. This would be a welcome sea change in Apple’s priorities. However, style, power, functionality, usability – they are not mutually exclusive. I can’t believe Apple isn’t up to the challenge if Apple is willing to accept it.

    1. I have faith that they will do exactly that, now that they have awakened from their self-induced coma.

      Sales of Macs crested in a declining PC market for years, kept afloat by the iPhone halo effect.

      But now, with the smartphone market nearing saturation, Apple recognises the need for active measures, such as goosing iPhone sales by targeting Android-to-iOS switchers with adverts, and bringing out newer, industry-leading Macs for researchers and creative professionals, in a reversal of the fading halo effect.

      1. I agree, but why can’t there be more than one halo?

        I think that at this point, Apple is looking at its product matrix as only consumer or pro, with nothing in the middle. Those two groups have very different needs. Prosumer customers need more than consumers who pull an ipad mini out of a purse to check the weather, but neither do they need the raw graphix power of a 2x GTX 1080 in SLI either. It needs to be either / or for these groups. Pro-sumers need more than consumer level gear, but not as much as the pros.

        In fact, if Apple were to produce more best-in-class devices in all of its product catagories, we could see a return to increased demand of all Apple products. Not just the one or two product catagories keeping Apple afloat, but several hard-to-keep-in-stock items that people would be clamoring for. Products that ‘Thrill & Delight’ across all product catagories would generate several halos.

        No need to be stingy with only one. Share the love. Make great products in all catagories, Apple!

        1. Well said. Tim Cook harped upon the principles of simplicity and focus, and bragged that their entire product line would fit on a table, as if that were the defining image of Apple.

          But Apple removed too many useful tools from that table, ostensibly to make room for newer things, but that was a blunder and they know it. In 2017 the company is so rich, and so diverse in its research interests, that there no longer exists a shred of an excuse to stick to the simplicity/focus mantra at the expense of their premium customers—another principle they conveniently forgot about.

        2. “In 2017 the company is so rich, and so diverse in its research interests, that there no longer exists a shred of an excuse to stick to the simplicity/focus mantra at the expense of their premium customers—another principle they conveniently forgot about.”

          You nailed the ethos of a company rediscovering itself.

          BRING. IT. ON …

    2. When a Windows PC manufacturer falls behind it’s not a big deal since there are many who would take it’s place with offerings up to speed. But with Apple, the only official Mac supplier, it is attendant on them to do their very best every waking minute to make sure their Mac offerings are up to speed and what customers want. Apple is saddled by it’s own exclusive policies to BE the only supplier, so please pay frikkin’ attention Cupertino!! And try harder, MUCH harder. Many livelihoods depend on it.

  2. The way they could meet their idea of having a flexible expandable computer in a way where the large R&D costs don’t have to be repeated every year would be to create an AppleFrame that allows almost complete configuration and, as such, they don’t have to modify it every year. They sell it at a decent price with all Apple components to start with AND if you want support for it. If you don’t want support, you buy the AFrame (with Apple Motherboard) and put in whatever you want to.

    Because they aren’t forced to make any large changes every year (and, real Pro’s don’t update every year anyway) they could spend a good amount of R&D on the initial release, and they can expect to make their money back on AppleCare and their normal upcharge on Apple approved components. Then they no longer have to deal with folks expecting Pro upgrades every year. For those that DO want to see cosmetic changes regularly, this will be the final straw that moves them off to other company’s systems.

      1. I have said for a long time, that a stackable modular Mac Pro design should be made by Apple.

        Want a low end MacPro? OK, one box with the standard iMac-ish components (upgradeable CPU/RAM/SSD) and a video card.

        Want extra power with added cards, drives, network, NAS and such, then buy the plug-on-top add-ons.

        Of course a giant “Pro Box” with 6 expansion slots can do it, but given Apple’s ‘Trash Can’, they know that a majority of MacPro users don’t use the expansion slots. So should a new MacPro have 6 PCIe expansion slots to start with or should you pay to buy an add-on box?

        1. Yes but what about the connectivity of those boxes? Will they be a compromise resulting in slower bottlenecked systems than a system all contained in one tower? That’s what worries me about modular stackable boxes that will still have no capacity for an internal RAID, will cost more in the end and deliver fewer options that the venerable tower design.

          PLEASE JUST GIVE US A GODDAMN BIG-ASSED TOWER APPLE! (And a mini-tower for prosumers while you’re at it.)

        2. I think most Prosumer’s are happily using iMacs and MBP’s. OR they’ve moved to other platforms. Either way, Apple has shown they have limited interest in Pro’s, so I think if they do anything, you’re not going to get nice gradual tiers to fulfill a “prosumer” price point. I wouldn’t be surprised if they START at $9,999.

          And really, anyone that is a prosumer and wants to spend 10k, I doubt Apple’s gonna stop them. So there ya go. Both a pro and prosumer system all in one.

        3. Fesarius, right, we need the data interconnects to be “solid” between the add-ons, if it were done. Modern fast interconnects can offer the data speed. Intel just said it is offering on-chip Thunderbolt 3 in future generations of CPUs.

          Wrong Again had a very valid point on the iMacs and MBPs. Take a look at the ‘speed’ enhancement of the MBPs over the last 5 years and they have advanced big time. From 2010 to 2016 I’ve seen read/write tests improve 10/1 on MacBook Pros. 10/1 is nothing to sneeze about.

          I think I will stick with the MBPro. The ONLY exception is if I have to start running mold flow & other FEA programs. I have sat drumming my fingers for an hour waiting for a run to complete on a laptop.

      2. One of the design techniques being used in modern aircraft and spacecraft avionics is the “slice” design. A slice could contain a processor board, for instance. If you wanted four or eight processor boards, then you would stack four or eight slices in your computer configuration. The slices include bus/backplane connectivity. Slices could host graphics cards, internal storage, i/o ports, etc. There would be a practical limit to the number of slices depending on the bandwidth of the internal data buses, but it would offer a lot of flexibility, both in your initial purchase and subsequent expansion and customization.

        Nothing is free. In this case, I would guess that thermal control can be an issue. Apple has long prided itself on elegant and quiet thermal control techniques with multiple, small, variable speed fans or, in the ideal case, completely passive cooling. That is the type of thinking that led to the trashcan Mac Pro – it was built around a cooling tower concept – that failed to address real-world user expectations.

        Anyway, a slice or modular computer is an interesting idea. Is it truly practical in the real world? You tell me.

  3. or… mr. apple can rightfully come to the conclusion that despite the passage of time, they actually came up with a timeless design in the cheese grater Mac Pro tower.

    one that does not need stylistic improvement, just the capability of swapping in the most up to date components when the previous most up to date components become out of date and need swapping out.

    another words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    1. There are Pro’s (Audio for example) where having an amazingly powerful computer that’s also amazingly quiet is worth whatever extra they’d spend.

        1. Machine rooms are an irritating necessity because some equipment is too noisy to have in the studio or control room. Ideally you choose to place equipment solely for operational reasons and should not have to compromise because of issues like noise. Studios are ridiculously expensive to build and getting rid of a machine room would release a lot of valuable space.

          There is no disadvantage to having a quiet computer so long as it has been designed in such a way that the thermal performance is still excellent. Noisy fans are a crude fix for a problem that can be addressed in other ways.

          Apple has a long history of incorporating more sophisticated cooling designs that their rivals with a special emphasis on silence. I remember the iMac G4 ( the articulated desk lamp design ) had an impressively quiet fan which was essential due to the CPU being on the desk right in front of you and if I remember right, the original iMac didn’t have a fan at all, relying convection to keep the air moving. Today’s trash can Mac pro has a shape largely governed by the need to work with massive, vertical heat sink, maximising the natural convection and being less reliant on a fan.

    1. Look at any busy road. The vast majority of vehicles don’t have more than two occupied seats.

      We might like the ability to carry six people, two dogs and a ton of camping equipment while towing a trailer over a mountain track, but most of our journeys are likely to be just the driver driving locally for a few miles.

      Apple provides a very versatile range of solutions. You can use an iPhone our iPad for many ( or for some people- most ) tasks
      and use a MacBook, iMac or Mac pro for the heavy duty work. The cost of buying that iPad is a tiny fraction of what you will have paid for a Mac pro and with HandOff, you can simply choose the right device to suit your needs at that moment and carry on working seamlessly.

      With Apple, we have the option to own a heavy duty truck and still afford that two seater sports car. However the respective costs are different. The truck is expensive while the two seater is cheap.

      1. > Look at any busy road. The vast majority of vehicles don’t have more than two occupied seats.

        True, but the analogy has its limits, particularly as soon as we’re trying to dodge our 2-seater sports car around all of the big 18 wheeler trucks.

        > With Apple, we have the option to own a heavy duty truck…

        The “Cheese Grater” Mac Pro was the analogy to the 18-wheeler … and it no longer is a current product.

        Because Apple no longer sells a “Big Old Box Truck”, they’re trying to convince us that an SUV hauling a U-Haul trailer and a bike rack in front and a roof rack on top … all cobbled-together … is just as good.

        It simply isn’t. As per my cost estimates, the current Apple Klunge costs 35% more, is less reliable, and less robust. Needless to say, this customer is *far* from delighted.

        …oh, and the prospects of MAYBE finally having a suitable Mac Pro replacement sometime before the end of 2018 – – is a **Life Cycle Management** failure: whoever the Project Manager is should have his PMP Certification revoked.

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