Apple tries again to sell professionals an all-in-one Mac

On Thursday, Apple began “sales of its iMac Pro, a more powerful version of iMac aimed a professional users,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “The lowest end ‘standard configuration’ (available now) lists for $4999, while the highest end (available in 6-8 weeks) maxes out at $13,199. Certainly, the pricing is ‘professional,’ but I find myself wondering how many professionals will be drawn to the iMac Pro.”

“There are many professionals who would have no use for the iMac Pro. Most machine-learning researchers would prefer to run their software on an Nvidia (NVDA) Tesla V100, or the new Titan V. These have become the standard platforms for AI development,” Hibben writes. “In short, the iMac Pro is more Prosumer than Professional. It’s more for traditional Mac users who simply want and can afford more power than had been available in the iMac until now. There’s nothing wrong with this, as Mac users have needed more powerful iMacs for some time. But I suspect that the market for the iMac Pro is very limited and that sales will not significantly impact Mac revenue in the quarters to come.”

Apple's all new iMac Pro staring at $4999
Apple’s all new iMac Pro staring at $4999

 
“In light of the ongoing work on the next Mac Pro, the iMac Pro feels like something of a stopgap. But Apple clearly needs more than a stopgap. While the iMac Pro is a nice machine, it suffers from the same inflexibility that doomed the Mac Pro [trashcan],” Hibben writes. “Hopefully, Schiller’s statement about the need for a modular system will mean the return of PCIE to the Mac. PCIE slots would afford Mac Pro users a choice of what type and how many GPUs to include in the system, as well as a wide variety of video capture cards. And hopefully, this time aesthetics will not trump practicality. The PC box may not be exciting to Apple’s designers, but it has probably been the right answer all along.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There is a market for a sealed, very powerful Mac. Most professionals who will purchase the iMac Pro look at it in terms of cost per year. A $6,000 iMac Pro that will be used for the next 36 months and then “upgraded” simply by buying a new one is an expenditure of $2,000 per year or less than the cost of a well-equipped MacBook Pro.

Of course, there is also a viable market for a true, modular, expandable Mac Pro.

Different tools for different users and different jobs.

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

Let’s hope Apple’s brass has now awoken from their years-long stupor — coffee table books, self-aggrandizing headquarters, Christmas trees (!)* and get back to doing some real work so that Mac-using professionals can, too.

*All of which add up to time that could have and obviously should have been spent building a Mac Pro that Mac professionals actually want.MacDailyNews, April 7, 2017

Make the next-gen Mac Pro expandable, extensible, and flexible, Apple, and the Mac professionals will beat a path to your door – but, for Jobs’ sake, do it sooner than later!MacDailyNews, April 11, 2017

Whatever artwork Apple comes up with, as long as it’s properly extensible, professional Mac users will consider it a masterpiece.MacDailyNews, April 14, 2017

Don’t overthink it, Apple. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. Just use modern parts and give Mac-using professionals the extensibility that they require.MacDailyNews, May 1, 2017

Apple should include an apology from Tim Cook and every upper level manager responsible for the last 4+ years of stupefied inaction inside every box. Back in 2013, when Apple said the new Mac Pro was “stunning,” little did anyone know they were referring to themselves.MacDailyNews, May 11, 2017

Here’s hoping Apple’s properly chastened by their painfully obvious mismanagement of the desktop professional Mac and they do actually deliver a user-extensible Mac Pro instead of another dead-end vanity project. If Apple fails here again, it’ll be the last straw for professionals who need powerful, expandable, configurable Macintosh computers.MacDailyNews, May 8, 2017

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s monstrously potent iMac Pro is for these professional computer users – December 14, 2017
How pros are already using Apple’s powerful iMac Pro – December 14, 2017
Apple’s iMac Pro, the most powerful Mac ever made, is now available starting at $4,999 – December 14, 2017

26 Comments

  1. So it’s not perfect for an AI researcher. Hmm. Talk about a limited niche. (We keep lamenting that professional video editing and effects are a small segment!)

    If MacBooks and iMacs are good for 95% of the market, the new iMac Pro will be good for 95% of the remaining 5%.

    This machine will be very well received by a lot of pros in music, video, VR, and a huge pile of demanding professions.

    And yet Apple still needs to wow us with a Mac Pro, by not aiming to wow us. Please lord, don’t let them over-think it. We need a flexible box configuration that can equally sit on a floor, on a desk, or in a rack. It must be form-follows-function. And if it comes in any colour but raw a-loo-minium, they’ve failed.

    1. Dis, I am in Music and I definitely DO NOT want an iMac Pro. I am using a 2012, 12 core, 3.46ghz Mac Pro with all PCI slots used, every drive bay with a 2tb Samsung SSD and a 34″ Dell widescreen monitor plus a 23″ Slate glass console touchscreen.

      What I want is a minimum of 4 PCI slots, 4 drive bays and minimum 128gb RAM. Plus, the newest Thunderbolt and USB. I’ll take a CD/DVD drive or two as well, if they have the space.

      In other words, I want a 2012 Mac Pro circa 2018 and beyond that I can constantly upgrade and infuse with digital goodness.

      When that trash can came out in 2013, I laughed at the design and called it the same term that MDN used… a Vanity piece.
      So, I went to the Apple Store, took a good look at the marvel and told the store manager I’d buy it if he included a 4 slot PCI Express expansion chassis. You know… so that I could house my UAD Octo-cards and 2TB scratch drive.
      That did not go well.
      A pro needs a design that can be upgraded constantly as well as occasionally and does not include a monitor attached.
      I know… I am one.

      1. Exactly. What’s wrong with a box full of slots and drive bays?

        It can be beautiful just by doing it’s job well, like the cheese-graters and x-serves.

        (I suppose to minimize SKUs and streamline inventory and configuration, it doesn’t even have to have upgradable RAM. They could simply assume anyone buying this wants it full, and ship them all that way.)

      2. I’m not going to argue with you about what a ‘Pro’ is because you aren’t actually the typical Mac Pro but that doesn’t take anything away from the point you are making. The cheese grater was the basis of a great design I really don’t understand why Apple wanted to re invent the wheel with the trash can which really didn’t suit my type of Pro or your type for different reasons. Clearly for many, flexibility and expansion is king but that could have been achieved by streamlining that basic cheese grater design or if they preferred a stunning but still flexible alternative. Hey if the time spent on that glossy trash an had instead been spent on a more practical shape that would have been a good start maybe a smaller overall footprint than the CG could have been developed with an innovative modular solution for extra expansion for those who needed it perhaps would have been a far better compromise.

      3. Preach it, Brother.

        Apple is in the process of running off many of the very people that kept the lights on when most of today’s Apple customers were using Windows, riding Big Wheels in the driveway or were not yet born.

        When Apple could not give away a Mac at Circuit City, Comp USA and elsewhere, creatives and other high end customers were buying PowerMacs and PowerBooks plus all the other stuff. Kept the lights on in Cupertino- Steve said as much that the company was months away from bankruptcy on more than one occasion.

        One thing is for sure, most people with tons invested in the Mac will not come back if they are forced to buy a whole new setup- software and hardware because Apple is more interested in the consumer mass market.

        1. I just sold off my MacBook Pro 2015 the last vestige of having anything to do with Mac. I switch from Windows to Mac back around 2007 when Microsoft decided to release an animal from the Microsoft zoo called Vista and Apple to adopted the Intel core processor. Now the pendulum is swinging back. Apple’s 2016 Macbook Pro design as well as 2017 disappointed. I was then thinking, well at least get an iMac Pro, powerful enough for my NLE video production needs and some expandability via ports. Then I took note Apple won’t even allow you to upgrade the memory any longer. I have become burned out with Apple’s business policy of locking everything down and it’s closed walled garden strategy and attitude. It’s a shame because if Apple allowed some degree of freedom for upgradeability and expandability most likely would continue with Apple products. But no. The greed factor. Control everything. Ditto for iToys. Everything through iTunes (piece of crap) and iCloud. Maybe in the future if they show some change of heart and new direction but their current business model, policy and strategy shows no indication that happening anything soon. In fact it might even get worse as they attempt to divorce themselves from Intel dependency. Fortunately, there are alternatives. Just have to relearn tricks.

    2. These sort of writers truly have no idea of what the Mac Pro market truly is. Having Worked 30 years working in hundreds of creative studios I clearly have a far greater understanding than he. Fact is even standard iMacs have long been the workhorse of these studios and even the Pro IMac will be overkill for most of these however will be perfect for the heavy duty aspects that some of these will need. Thus to call it a Prosumer machine just proves the writer is totally out of touch with reality. Seriously the AI researcher is not the prime Apple pro customer though there are equivalent areas that it will undoubtedly be used in. The new MacPro will be the machine for the serious top end stuff where technology is tuned to specific tasks but in truth this has never been a hotbed of Apple computers, though as it becomes more important and a bigger market generally, this is an area that Apple should and will be increasingly aiming at infiltrating with the new Pros and with this and the Mac Pro they cover both ends. So this machine is no stop gap but will serve the existing majority of creative Pro customers who need sheer power while allowing them to move into additional areas as necessary and additionally will show the commitment by Apple to those customers well beyond the actual sales numbers. The importance of this cannot be over estimated. It’s just a shame these writers are so ignorant of the subject they so freely write upon. But then this has been the case for years in all honesty.

  2. MDN you almost got it, they will spend $6,000 or more and replace after 3 years but not at $2,000 a year because they will sell the $6,000 iMac Pro for $2,000 to $3,000 so actually $1,000 per year not bad at all. Now the $5,000 iMac Pro is a complete waste under RAMd and Under GPUd probably won’t sell to many of those to actual Pros, maybe rich net surfers that want a space gray iMac.

    1. They are never going to do anything with liquid metal. Never. Never never never never never. They’ve had this for a decade now and the only thing they’ve ever made out of it is a SIM card removal tool. I think we can get over liquid metal now and just hope they make an actual pro-level Mac someday.

  3. My original Mac Plus (with SuperDrive, etc) cost maybe 6K (in 2017 dollars). The iMac Pro I’m getting is about 10K, which will drop to 7K after I sell my current iMac. Given the amount of computational work I do, and the time spent using this machine, this iMac Pro can’t get here fast enough.

  4. Typical for Apple to go with a nonstandard & least favorite type of component in a pro box – without options. Frustrating too. It just shows how little they research or care what pros and other professionals want in a pro machine. My finger is getting itchy to buy but still on the fence about which platform it will be, despite the horrors of Windows. I just HATE being told what I can or can’t have in a workstation by some latte & tea sipping clueless types in Cupertino. This isn’t the consumer market Apple, never was. Get that under your thick skull.

  5. “look at it in terms of cost per year. A $6,000 iMac Pro that will be used for the next 36 months and then “upgraded” simply by buying a new one is an expenditure of $2,000 per year or less than the cost of a well-equipped MacBook Pro.”
    Huh? The resale value of Macs is very high. Gotta factor that in, in TCO.

    Even a 6yr old Mac Mini, 2011, costs over $300, which has to be close to 50% of its original price.

    1. Because, unlike the current units, you can actually upgrade the RAM and drives on that and the more popular late 2012 model.

      My Mac Mini was a 2012 Server, quad core i7, with 4 GB RAM and 2 1TB hard drives. Now (after paying for third party parts) it has been upgraded to 16 GB RAM with a 1 TB SSD primary drive and a 1 TB hdd carbon copy backup. This can be done with the older Mini’s, but not the new (dual core only) ones.
      Apple wants to charge you $560+ extra (over the default drive) for a 1 TB SSD drive, and I picked up SATA 850 EVO 1TB drive for $309 over a year ago.
      Apple wants to charge you $188 extra to upgrade from 8 GB to 16 GB. I bought Crucial RAM that was $139 for the full 16 GB, only $74 over the 8 GB price.

      Also upgraded the iMac from 4GB to 32 GB for ~far~ cheaper, but I cannot remember the prices. Hundreds of dollars.

      I know Apple is about margins, but really… Don’t rip us off.

  6. “There are many professionals who would have no use for the iMac Pro.”

    Nothing truer has ever been said. My garbage man is a professional and I doubt he has any need for an iMac Pro, for example. We could easily add lawyers, politicians, soldiers, and many other “professionals” to this list. Just because “many” professionals have no use for an iMac Pro doesn’t mean there isn’t a sizable group of professionals that do.

    I’m not going to cry that “of course there is a big market for these things — look at me, I bought one.” OTOH, the reverse argument doesn’t work as well, that is “there is no market for these things because they don’t fit my use case” is not a valid argument.

    1. A lot of these comments illustrate solipsism. They are solely concerned with their own use case. Nobody else’s needs matter, because nobody else is special enough to matter.

  7. There are many kinds of Pro in that end of the market, but most do not want to throw out a computer every couple of years- regardless of depreciation.

    The needs of an Architect are very different than a Music Composer or a Film Editor or a Photographer or a Graphic Designer or any number of Engineer types. The Scientific market loves Macs because of the UNIX base but also many times requires workstation form factors for their equipment. Radiologists and other Medical Pros need the beastly power of a Workstation unless they buy a Thin Client with the special graphics cards necessary.

    Just to put it into perspective, some of the Pro Graphics cards used in Medicine run as much as the new iMac Pro- just for the Graphics card.

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