Can Apple still make pro hardware?

“For many years, Apple was at the top of the creative pro hardware world,” Alexander Fox writes for Apple Gazette. “Digital artists, animators, 3D modelers, photographers, game designers and developers all seemed to prefer Apple devices, reinforcing the brand’s prominence as the fancy creative brand. Some of the best creative software ran on Macs only, and there was a broad ecosystem of hardware and software tools to help professionals that required significant computing power.”

“But as time wore on, Apple lost some of its gleam in the eyes of creative professionals. Hardware has aged badly,” Fox writes. “Updates have been slow in coming. The product line has become twisted and confusing. Can Apple return to their former glory and make great pro hardware again?”

“Some signs are troubling,” Fox writes. “When announcing that the Mac Pro would be delayed until 2019, Apple also announced that it had convened a professional workflow team to examine the requirements of professional users and build a machine uniquely suited to them… While asking for feedback from customers shouldn’t be interpreted as a bad sign, what happened to the confident Apple of yore? Where is the Apple that knew what users wanted before they wanted it?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course Apple can still make pro hardware. All Apple needs is willing leadership.

Aren’t Apple themselves professional Mac users doing everything from industrial design to film/video production to architecture and more? Does Apple really need a “Pro Workflow Team” or is it just more bullshit meant to paper over the indefensible mismanagement of the Mac Pro?MacDailyNews, April 6, 2018

Apple's job on the Mac under Cook is not great. At all. Apple's current CEO seems to have swallowed his company's marketing hook, line, and sinker that the iPad is the future of personal computing (which it actually is – eventually, not in its current state), so seems bound and determined to force the issue via the type of disinterest in the Mac that only a former Compaq parts-orderer could muster. In the hands of a more aggressive CEO, as opposed to just a caretaker CEO who’s proven repeatedly that he cannot take care of all of Apple’s product lines concurrently, the Macintosh would have much greater unit sales, market share, and profitability.MacDailyNews, April 14, 2018

SEE ALSO:
Why is it taking Apple so long to update the Mac Pro? – April 10, 2018
Apple needs to stop promising new products and start delivering them – April 6, 2018
Apple: No new Mac Pro until 2019 – April 5, 2018
Apple reiterates they’re working on an all-new modular, upgradeable Mac Pro and a high-end pro display – December 14, 2017
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

41 Comments

  1. You know since my Mac Pro expectations have not only been crushed but not regularly updated (a supreme joke of loss of time and revenue to Apple, not to mention customers switching to PC’s out of sheer frustration) and going in the completely wrong direction of video and VFX pros. They really had to be told that pros don’t like sealed boxes with limited growth and upgrade potential? How clueless is that?

    Their idea of 2013 Mac Pro nirvana was a Mac Pro with a shorter shelf life than products they’ve already released in 2010 & 2012 but just as much or more expensive? (Thunderbolt 2 was never an adequate solution and yet the fastest I/O available on it. ) Even on an older Mac Pro you had to pay more for a restricted list of video cards that could be flashed to work on the Mac while PC users could pop in any card they wished at a much cheaper price. And of course Apple not giving options – AMD or Nvidia? – was the capper.

    I’ve noticed after agonizing it over this past year and finally deciding Apple, modular or not, will never give us what we truly want (they just can’t help themselves – see Aesop’s Scorpion & The Frog fable) so I’m moving over to a hefty PC Workstation with every upgrade available to me. I fail to see at this point how the 2019 Mac Pro will be so compellingly designed (or relatively cost effective) to beat this Swiss Army Knife PC tower form. I am buying a high end machine that costs around $10,000. A sale that won’t go to Apple.

    Since I am doing this I have noticed my feeling toward Apple has taken a hit with their loss of Mac mojo. I’ve been using Macs & Apple devices since 1992 and as my friends will tell you I am, or was, a massive dedicated Apple fan – even in the dark times. Anyway being betrayed with the Mac Pro makes me feel what else will Apple betray us with and a general apathy towards all things Apple now. That feeling surprised me. I don’t think I would ever use anything other than a iPhone, iPad or Watch but this certainly opens the door to it. That feeling that “Apple will take care of us” is gone, along with trust.

    How clueless can a company be tearing down it’s Mac development department instead of building new ones and adding hires to other projects instead? Allowing a neglect malaise culture to persist for years, & not listening to their customers (Mac Mini anyone?)?

    As this point, even though an Apple shareholder, I could care less if the 2019 Mac Pro does well. I hope it doesn’t to teach Apple a hard lesson – ignore your Mac market at your peril and the future unintended consequences for having done so. Who knows how many pros you’ve already lost, maybe forever.

    1. They should have cut the cord on the trash can several years ago, gone back to the G5 design, i.e., smaller than the cheese grater, and given the mac pro user what they wanted, a box they could modify as needed.

      This strategy would have kept customers such as yourself happy and allowed them time to design and build the next generation Mac Pro for 2020. That would have given them four or five years for making the pro user happy, etc.

      They dropped the ball on this one.

      My only explanation… maybe they put E. Cue in charge of the Mac Pro division. (Seriously, someone at Apple should be in trouble, Cook, for sure, but someone else in management.)

      1. “Five Martini Lunch Cue” would be a bad choice – for any division at Apple, unless they were looking to intentionally undermine it. I’m sure behind closed quarters at Apple Eddie is the punchline to many an inside joke defining mediocrity and failure as in “It’s been Cue’d.”

        Clearly though he isn’t the only completely brain dead executive at Apple. Wouldn’t you think the Apple CEO would keep a checklist of every item Apple makes and go over it EVERY DAY. Then light a fire under any lagging dept.?

        They really should offer two Mac Pro’s – sometime compact that works for some and then the tower cheese grater for those who need that upgradeable model. Problem solved, but it’ll never happen. Apple’s hubris in thinking it knows best (it no longer does) will bring it’s own demise head to it on a platter eventually unless it wakes up.

        1. I’ve said it here many times…

          Cook is Sculley 2.0.

          The vast majority of the people that report to Cook are marketing and beancounter types. They have NO idea what makes a great product, let alone a great Mac — or, in the extreme — a Mac Pro. They are interested in the flash and splash. Apple probably spends more time and effort on new wristbands for the Apple Watch than it does on new pro oriented Mac designs.

          I remember under Sculley when the Macs had gross margins of 55% or more when the rest of the industry had margins 20% (or more) less than that. Then Sculley went on a run of making as many models and as many devices as he could (remember the QuickTake camera? The Pippin? The MacTV? The Mac 6600 & the Performa 6600?). High margins and a scattered product set (sound familiar?).

          Then the Dark Days came.

          There currently are several reports that Apple is losing market share on almost all its product lines (though I take 99% of those reports with a grain of salt the size of a refrigerator). But, those reports are extremely unlikely to be ALL wrong. If Sculley (oops, I mean … Cook) does not change his ways, Dark Days 2.0 may be around the corner.

          I remember Jobs famously quoting Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (even though there’s no proof Ford ever said that). The reality under Jobs and several of the team under him was that they had vision — not operations vision (Jobs was famously bad at that); not beancounter vision (Jobs was obsessed with a financially lean company, not using loans to pay people); not public relations vision (Jobs didn’t care about HR rules and would fire people on the spot). Jobs couldn’t invent his way out of a paper bag. Seriously, he couldn’t. But if you showed him something he could, probably better than anyone else in the past 100+ years, tell you if it was the future or not. Yes, he made big mistakes (hockey puck mouse, etc.), but he also made huge right choices for the future: Mac, iMac, iPod, iPhone, etc.

          Cook and his current team can’t do that. They just can’t. Cook and his team are obsessed with high margins and lots of products.

          I’ll say it yet again. Cook is Sculley 2.0.

          1. Cook as Sculley 2.0 is on the right track, but unfortunately, Apple (and especially Cook) will refuse to see that.

            The reason why is the “can’t see the Forest for the Trees” paradigm: when we cite that Scully went on his model proliferation binge, Apple/Cook will point out that they’ve cut proliferation to the bone … (so therefore this can’t be true criticism)

            .. but this is the wrong use of this metric.

            Scully’s problem was poor product portfolio management, as illustrated by him trying to shotgun tons of products to find a hit.

            Cook’s problem is _also_ poor product portfolio management, as is being illustrated by inadequate maintenance of _all_ of its products, as well as just cutting stuff with no path forward for their customers.

            Yes, on this last point of “no path forward”, Apple’s effective solution has become “GO AWAY – JUST BUY OUR COMPETITORS’ PRODUCTS’. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the Mac Pro/mini, or software (Aperture, etc).

            In the meantime, they’re patting themselves on their own back for building themselves an egotistical palace of a grossly overpriced office building – – which took less time to design & build than a new Mac Pro.

      2. I’ve abandoned the Mac ecosystem I once loved. My son, now in college, has never owned a Mac. (He has at least used some of mine, but that was years ago.) They weren’t affordable enough during his younger years, and now that I have the means again, I just can’t justify it. That makes me sad.

        I would love to have a nice Mac again someday. But I am accustomed to tweaking out my own PC box now, and certainly don’t want to pay $5k for a rig that I can build myself for much less. (Yes, that 5k display is beautiful, but I’m a musician, not a photo- or videographer. That part simply doesn’t mean as much to me. And I’m pretty in love with the HDMI connected 42″ TV I have hooked up right now. Just HD, but more than sufficient for my needs.) But more machine with less monitor seems to be impossible with Apple right now. (Mac mini gets mentioned so often! Would be my ideal machine if I could beef up the memory and drive!)

    2. I’m exactly the same type of user. Very much agreed, and to answer the question posited: that Apple died years ago when they decided chasing fads was more important (exhibit A: making social integration system level and now removing it. Exhibit B: making new emoji and snapchat-like functionality major announcements over hardware or software). It’s pretty clear who their engineers are these days and who they are targeting, and it’s a demographic that won’t be kids forever. Meanwhile pros have to do their work *somehow*. I haven’t been genuinely excited about Apple in a good while, and I’ve stopped watching the keynotes. Forget about actually attending in person.

    3. It’s quite telling that a comment on MDN saying you’re switching away from Apple has only received 5-star ratings so far.

      Telling, but not surprising. I and many others have all thought the same thing. I don’t bother defending Apple or even advocating their purchase anymore the way I once did. Not that I’d recommend Windows or Android, I just sit out and not bother recommending anything at all.

      Apple is arrogantly comfortable making their billions the way they want to, against my feedback and expectations, so they can market their products themselves.

      I have a 2012 Macbook Pro for personal use and a 2016 MBP for professional use. I am not sure my next professional machine can be a MBP, and for personal use the current MB and MBPs are not good value at the entry level price because they’re pushing what I don’t want (thinness, no expandability, no/few ports) and not giving what I do want (RAM, storage).

    4. Totally agree with you. I feel a distaste for the head (less) at Apple for the way I feel personally treated.
      As a creative I depend on the fastest most optimised system I can get my hands on so that I’m not watching the wheel of nothing doing, spinning and killing my mojo. I don’t work in the most perfect way so every bit of juice I can get is important to me and I don’t like to freeze or bounce at all as I want everything on the fly and I’m happy to pay for the processing if only apple cared enough to help creative expand their own visions but Apple really don’t give a rats arse about my creativity and how much they have stifled it for years now.
      I wish I could just leap to the pc but it would have to be a Hacintosh as I use Logic Pro and I have invested very heavy in every plugin under the sun and I don’t want to learn everything again on a new product.
      This situation of being locked in makes me feel more than annoyed its almost hateful to a company I once cherished and promoted to everyone. I don’t speak highly of Apple anymore and find myself telling people to try out the Samsung phone if they so desire which is something I used to forcefully voice against but why should I be a supporter of a company that really doesn’t care. its all payday bonuses and self interest, just keep the iPhone cash cow going and who cares about the geeks and artists and scientists they just have to just put up with another garbage can release thats ill thought out and old before its new. Roll on 2019 or 2020 or 2021…

      1. I’m fortunate in that most of the apps I use are on the PC too. In fact I have been occasionally editing on a friend’s PC in Premiere and there’s no problem at all in doing so (in fact I upgraded his PC substantially and he hasn’t had a single problem with it).

        I still have a working 2007 Mac Pro hacked to work with El Capitan (which makes it much more useful as a lot of good current software is still compatible with it) and a 2014 Mac Book Pro for the odd Mac task for the time being. So I will be a mixed shop but the heavy lifting will be done on the PC.

        I agree – if Apple doesn’t care about us and in fact hamstrings us why should we give a sh*t about them?

        I too have gone soft on Apple recommendations and this is one of those “unintended consequences” Apple fails to factor into their incompetence. Cook seems to be fiddling while Apple burns.

          1. supposing you are running a business with say 5 Mac Pros and ten Macbook Pros and you are deciding whether you want to borrow 100,000 from the bank to upgrade with Apple or change to Windows?

            is that grown up for you?

            those who are not high end pros GET OFF THE FORUM, you guys are the ones who are bitching.

            Us high end users want Apple to hear us (Hey they’ve got 100,000 staff, I don’t think ALL of them ignore the few Apple centric pro blogs around and are partying with Eddy Cue or protesting something with Cook or attending fashion shows with Ive… )

            1. We each have our own (& tailored) business needs.

              Some of which can tolerate consumer goods … and some that can not.

              Perhaps Nick can contemplate the data processing needs to support a half million dollars worth of motion capture cameras we’re buying this year, and if these can be done on a laptop that’s got only 16GB RAM…

              …okay, okay: the bid came in a little lower: its only $480K worth of cameras. But we also want to buy a new scissors lift to help with their installation in our ‘Holodeck’ space.

              For next year, Phase II is currently estimated at $790K; Apple’s Mac Pro products won’t be in a position to compete on that one either, since we’re finalizing the budget this quarter.

              Real products ship.

          2. Only a kid would consider a grown-up, well-thought out, rational analysis of what things are going wrong at the company they want to support but can’t, to be “bitching”, and expect an ADHD-appropriate 5-second TL;DR version.

            Not to mention making the mistake of thinking PRO hardware as “CONSUMER GOODS”. Way to out yourself as being unqualified to talk on these matters.

    5. I switched my main workstation last year – when my MacBook Pro (with the balloon battery – thanks for nothing Apple) finally quits I’m replacing it with a Dell. The only thing I’ll really miss is messages. The new Apple laptops with the stupid touch bar and crappy keyboards aren’t interesting to me. And I gave up on the Mac Pro.

      See you later, Apple. It was fun while it lasted.

  2. Easy.

    Strip out the guts from one or two HP workstations, design a red colored circular barrel around the HP internals, attach a HomePod for the smart speaker and they’re good to go.

    Spend 6-12 months on a new naming convention.

    Something like, Red Rocket Pro! Home Boy Pro! Red Rover Pro! etc.

    or…

    they are waiting on the A13/14, plus the OS rewrite.

    1. “or…
      they are waiting on the A13/14, plus the OS rewrite.”

      Has to be that. I’ve wondered about it for some time now. But why? I get that they need time to develop those things to a “Pro” level, but shouldn’t they be doing something with what they have (ALL known quantities) to make sure pro users still care?!

  3. With PRO Macs, Apple is slow to update, yet with software ios and OSX, Apple is rushing for a deadline release and the bugs that go with it. It be nice if Apple did the reverse, pay attention to Mac PRO with decent updates and refine a good working OSX / iOS without changing it so much, or just leave it alone like it does with PRO Macs

    1. As I’ve pointed out previously, Apple could be pushing out a Pro server level Mac mini any time they like. But they don’t. That’s a management problem.

      As for the next Mac Pro, we may well be waiting a full YEAR from today or longer until we can get our hands on one. That’s also a management problem.

  4. NO!

    Apple does not use an apple server or servers for it’s on cloud needs.

    Go get a PC, run windows and Linux and be happy AMD is making competive processors. For less than 2000 you can have a 16 core 32 threads.

    Apple does not know how to innovative without providing a slow machines

    1. That would be a pretty basic machine. A $2,000 PC is pretty inadequate for many (including me) though adequate for some. I’ve priced these things all over the place. When you add in RAM, GPU, power supply and other factors it can travel north in price quickly.

      The Ryzen processors, including the 1950X, I’ve seen conflicting information about how well they and the i7 or i9 work with Premiere Pro for example. Also reports are in that sales and interest in Ryzen Threadripper have cooled. But you might be right it would be great for some. Everything is dictated by component need though and obviously a $2,000 box is not enough for all.

    2. “Betteridge’s law of headlines. Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist, although the principle is much older.”

  5. Wow. Not one non 5 star vote on ANY post in this MDN post. That’s very telling how far Apple has fallen in the eyes of the faithful. I feel it myself. I’m a long time Apple customer. My first computer was the Apple IIe. I’ve owned Macs since the Classic. I can’t believe how far Apple has let the Mac product line decay. I feel personally insulted at the neglect. It was the Mac that made Apple what it is today. Without the Mac, there is no iPhone, no iPad, no Apple Watch. Hell you can’t develop for those on anything but a Mac.

    Tim Cook has been an utterly horrible CEO. A short team success, but it’s a Pyrrhic victory. My next computer will not have an Apple logo on it, just like my next phone will not either.

  6. Apple does not give a shit about computers anymore. Pro computers, consumer computers, desktops, laptops. Apple is now just “mailing it in”. No attempt to even give the appearance of giving a shit. The new motto is THINK FASHIONABLE, THINK SUPERFICIAL.

  7. The company with the most cash on hand in the whole wide world can’t update neither their most expensive nor their most inexpensive core product…

    But watch bands in pretty colors are updated with the season 🌈

  8. One thing I will say is that Pro users are a good bit more knowledgable and know their specific needs far more than your average user. Their needs are often dictated by other hardware and software which is why in great part the Present Mac Pro in trying to show them what they need is different to what they think they need, didn’t work. So I think that this new flexibility by Apple is probably a good, if very belated sign, in theory at least expect I ally as what pros need is much more varied than it used to be. Doesn’t hide the fact that they truly have been both woefully sluggish to make decisions and woefully incompetent in the decisions they gave made regarding the pro market.

    1. Apple’s mea culpa is not heartfelt, only reluctantly reassembling the MacPro team with unenthusiastic engineers because all Apple employees know, according to a report, that Mac engineers have the lowest status while iPhone engineers have the highest.

      A quote from the Verge article:
      “If it’s not perfectly obvious, Apple’s efforts with its new Macs are to wean its old users off their desktop and laptop habits and familiarize them with the new world of touchscreen PCs. What that means for macOS is that it’s fast turning into legacy software: an afterthought on its way to becoming abandonware.

      This may all sound very dramatic, but yesterday’s report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, someone with impeccable connections within Apple’s ranks, agrees with my assessment:

      In another sign that the company has prioritized the iPhone, Apple re-organized its software engineering department so there’s no longer a dedicated Mac operating system team. There is now just one team, and most of the engineers are iOS first, giving the people working on the iPhone and iPad more power.”

      https://www.theverge.com/2016/12/21/14037686/apple-macbook-macos-focus-mobile-features-ios

  9. Apple distractions:

    • The Mothership: Its architectural problems. The move. The bruised employee heads.

    • The iOS market: It’s the usual lazy human attitude, trying to find the Quick and Easy! while ignoring both quality and the future. That’s a poor management problem. It’s an anti-Jobsian problem. Back to Jobs school with you all!

    Please add to the list…

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