How Apple’s promised modular Mac Pro could go terribly, terribly wrong

“On some level, the wait for Apple’s promised new Mac Pro is ludicrous. In fact, the idea that we’re even talking about a two-years-ago promised pro machine is ridiculous. Windows extreme pros can just go buy whatever full-throttle configurations they want. No wait. No fuss,” David Gewirtz writes for ZDNet. “But not the Mac. Oh, no. And not Apple. With Apple, it has to be special. It has to be design-y. It has to be infused with the soul of Jony Ive and powered by unicorn laughter. And, apparently, we’ve waited two years so Apple can invent ‘modular.'”

“Once upon a time, Apple understood extreme pro users. From about 2006 to about 2012, Apple sold what is fondly referred to as the ‘cheese grater’ Mac Pro, so named because the holes on the side of the unit were reminiscent of a cheese grater,” Gewirtz writes. “This was a beautiful machine.”

MacDailyNews Take: Why, yes, it was, even if only some could recognize that fact at its debut.

“If Apple is going to announce an all-new Mac Pro in 2019, WWDC is the time to do it,” Gewirtz writes. “That means it’s time to worry… It’s entirely possible the new Mac Pro could go horribly wrong.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And Gerwirtz does plenty of worrying about things like: Proprietary modules and module interfaces, limited module selection, lack of user maintainability and some kind of unexpected lock-in, lack of – or minimal – upgradeability, form over functional heat management, and pricing that limits purchases to high-end enterprises only, all of which are, unfortunately, given the current Trash Can Mac Pro, valid concerns. Hopefully, Apple can manage to avoid all of them!


  1. You have to wonder how it takes over 2 years to make a chassis that can hold a motherboard, with space for all possible cards.
    Apple may have been waiting for Intel to add in new I/O capabilities but in reality they could have gone with what is currently available.
    Personally would like a full size chassis for the professionals and a medium sized one for those who like to enhance their machines over time. I’m not holding my breath on either of those and definitely not the latter.

    1. Apple is no longer in the computer hardware business. Just wait till you see the price of this Mac Pro. If the iMac pro is high, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Of course Apple will expect us to accept the high price is due to trade tariffs.

      Apple is no longer in the computer software business. They are using AWS for services, man! This is just too sad, as those of us with a limit vocabulary often say.

      Many of you middle managers are starting to get it though, if your company is using India for software services why and who do you manage? Makes it easy to elimate your position hey. As the continuing example here, when has Apple put any major effort into iMoive or Pages or Numbers. How about a complete recoding of the OS in swift?

  2. MDN is right on this one there was so much criticism of the Cheesegrater until it was no longer with us (or perhaps about a year later) when miraculously it is akin to nirvana. I guess a lot of that was down to Apple’s frustrating ability to never quite make it as good as it could have been or even update it as often as they should especially considering they had far less restrictions thrust upon it by the enclosure of the iMac for example or size and thermal limitations of the Power/MacBook models or the Mac mini. But as and when the new modular Mac is launched it will similarly take some time to waft through the eccentricities of Mc critiques to appreciate its true values … lets hope its possible before it goes out of production.

  3. The fact that it has taken Apple so long to come up with a new MacPro leads me to believe they are once again overthinking the solution, and creating unnecessary problems for the consumer.
    A MacPro desktop should actually be the easiest of all Macs to create because you don’t have to worry about size, weight or power consumption. And it doesn’t need to made out of adamantium mined by dwarves and hand-lathed by elves to the width of a razor blade.

    What you should worry about is:

    —User upgradable RAM
    —User upgradable HDs (at least two bays with both HD & SSD options)
    —User upgradable GPUs
    —possibly a user swappable power supply

    Would love to see a Mac Pro which was designed from the get-go to fit into a standard 19″ rack if necessary.

      1. I take it you invested in Microsoft instead of Apple? A $20,000 investment in MSFT in May of 2007 is worth roughly $110,000 today. The same investment in AAPL in May of 2007 is worth about $307,000 today. I put a lot more than 20K into AAPL in 2007 and before that as well.

        1. rory said 5 years. you changed the goalposts and made a 12 year comparison. Got intellectual honesty????

          Sorry but Apple is a weak imitation of the decisive innovator it was 12 years ago. Cookie is good at collecting easy app sales cuts, but that’s about it.

  4. Will the 2 year and waiting Mac Pro become the Air Pad? Tim Cook’s regime is slow to react and this will eventually catch up with Apple. Look no further than the valuation of Apple. Netflix purchase instead of Beats looked like a no brainer but not for Tim and Co. The Supreme Court ruling on the App Store will affect Apple in the future. Apple should have also diversified manufacturing out of China long ago.

  5. Apparently Apple spent a lot of time listening and watching how pros work. That it has taken this much time portends a groundbreaking design that avoids the pigeon holing of the current trash can design.

    By its nature, pro users are a small subset so the devices/cards/etc made for pro users will have a much smaller volume and thereby, less incentive for manufacturers to come up with unique designs for custom enclosures.

    Of course, to make a high powered unit quiet, run cool without burning your leg, and also be upgradeable, recyclable, and environmentally friendly takes a lot of engineering effort.

    1. Watching CURRENT pros work. They haven’t been watching the ones still using cheese graters work, I think that’s the important thing to note. They’ve folks like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro users to their campus. These people are primarily interested in getting a solid working system and leaving it that way for years. At which time, they will buy another solid working system. Modular works with them because they buy as much computer as they feel will suit them and they NEVER consider upgrading as every change could cause hours or days of downtime and missed contracts.

      There’s no current pro that’s using a system with a vast number of slots or broad internal upgrade options. That makes me think that those two things are likely not in the cards for any of the future systems.

        1. And, of course, that’s the whole point. 🙂 Apple has been driving away users they don’t want to support anymore. They released the slotless wonder, and left it out there to dry, driving everyone that needs slots to Linux and Windows. The only ones left are the ones that want the kind of professional machine that Apple is interested in making.

          This all started under Steve Jobs with Final Cut Pro.

    2. In a word (or really acronym): BS!

      If Apple spent time watching how high end pros work it never would have released the Trashcan Mac. The day it was previewed it was a beast. A year later it was an also ran. Two years later it was a joke, and only those high end professionals that are either a) die hard Mac fans or b) have too great an investment in Mac to switch kept buying them after 2015.

      I’ll reserve final judgment on the next Mac Pro until after it starts shipping. I really don’t care to much about the special preview announcements that only give highlights of what’s best about it. (Kind of like the movie trailers that show all the best parts of a movie then when you see the full movie everything but what was in the trailer is extremely disappointing.)

      Yes, high end pro users are a small subset of Apple’s total Mac consumer base. However, the margins on high end pro machines is significantly larger than the iMac or MacBook to make up for that. Further, one of the enticing things for businesses needing high end Mac Pros for their professionals is being able to buy machines over multiple years and be able to configure them similarly. The similarity of the base units lowers maintenance costs too. It is never necessary to come out with a completely new Mac Pro every year or even every other year. Update the guts to the latest variants, but leave the skeleton alone!

      It does not take well over two years (remember that back in early 2017 Apple said they were already working on the new designs and add in the likelihood that the next Mac Pro will only ship in very limited quantities this calendar year) to deal with the issues you mentioned.

      And, what’s with the “run cool without burning your leg”? Since when does a high end professional (or any professional for that matter) have a Mac Pro sitting on their leg?

  6. Unfortunately Apple has boxed itself into a corner. Unless the new Mac Pro makes and DELIVERS your morning coffee ☕️, the popular opinion is going to be, “It took Apple 5 years to deliver THIS?!? My (insert your child’s age) could have done better and in less time.”

    Unfortunately the fault here really does lie at Apple’s Management feet. I just pray the new Mac Pro really does meet the business needs of professionals.

    1. Honestly, it could make and deliver your morning coffee, eggs to order and meat of your choice and the popular opinion will be “NO NAPKINS???!?!?”. Because the “popular” opinion around a machine few people care about and fewer people will ever own will be controlled by loud negative voices. 🙂 It’s true for pretty much everything.

      In the real world, the pros making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year will go to Apple’s website, click on a configuration they want and hum as they wait for the package in the mail. Popular opinion is far less important to them than allllllll the money they’re going to make with it.

  7. Its interesting that the media always focuses on the negative.. Course it doesn’t help when Apple seems to perpetually shoot itself in the foot by trying to make the Mac look “cool’ and sacrifices functionality.. With some tech, its function over Form and Apple just doesn’t seem to figure that out..

  8. Tim and Co. are ” All your Apples in one Basket”. Apple is all iPhone so pay no attention to your Pro customers who are the only reason Apple is still around. The only ones who stayed loyal to Apple in the 1990’s.Let laptops and iPads stagnate. Move at a glacier pace into streaming, music and news. No branded monitors. Apple under Tim and Co = All iPhone plus 30% App Store tax plus most if not all supply chain in China. Tim Co leaves the company very vulnerable. If technology trends change Tim and Co are making the glue far less sticky Especially if people cut back on monthly purchases.

  9. Drop Intel move on, 32″ or 36″ iMac, a Rack-able Mac, a desktop Mac, a server Mac, in house Apple monitors to 42″ size, Apple in house router’s very simple and low hanging…..All with Apple A-Series CPU’S…

    1. What you advocate is suicide to the Mac. Stop your incessant ARM wet dream already. ARM is a licensed architecture which currently doesn’t offer workstation performance and would inflict enormous changeover costs to Apple and its Mac user base. There is zero upside for taking such an ill-advised leap now.

      For an investment that amounts to a tiny fraction of Cook’s latest stock award, Apple could have launched all the things you list with Intel and/or AMD processors and the latest GPU options. Unfortunately, Timmy limits himself to iPad capability ….. and based on your incessant “ditch Intel” opinionation, apparently you think that’s okay for future Mac users too. I think Apple’s remaining Mac users deserve a lot better than watered down Marzipan apps from a monopoly app store…

    2. The Mac is low hanging fruit, iPad sales came back because Apple designed a better useful product that people wanted to buy….The Mac is in the same position…..

      1. How would you know if iPad sales are back? Apple doesn’t release that information anymore. Remember, Apple had to lower the prices on its old iPads in order to keep the product line alive.

        Considering what a confusing mess the iPad lineup is, one could just as easily project that the only sales Apple has for iPads are for corporate clients using them as cheap clerking tools, plus some incremental replacement sales for people who dropped their old iPads and are so enamored with the walled garden iOS that they are willing to buy another thin client .

        Apple would be wise to update its hardware regularly and serve a wider range of customers — not alienate the few hardcore Mac users it has left.

  10. Maybe the issue is about Intel being very late in delivering on promises made to Apple, delaying a new Mac Pro.

    And maybe if Intel takes too much longer the next Mac Pro will come with a 12 core A14 processor as the entry level, with upgrades available.

    Jobs was right when he said he wanted to own the technology. Problems with processor suppliers for a long time and I can see Apple looking forward to the day that their own chips can be put into Macs. My bet is that Apple has been working in their labs with the newest A 13 chips in Alpha testing Macs, and that future A Series chips will have design influences from that testing, just like it has happened for a couple of years.

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