For whatever the reason, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had a cube fetish (can you say NeXT cube?), even though the Cube wasn’t really a cube (it was taller than width or depth) it was unique, and I bought into the design hype of what arguably was one of Apple’s most beautiful Macs.
Today, we have the Mac Pro. It’s Apple’s new Power Mac G4 Cube.
Like the Mac Cube, the Mac Pro is a beautiful design, and like the Cube, it’s less functional than it is beautiful. The Cube was clear acrylic glass, the Mac Pro an aluminum cylinder. The Cube wasn’t easily upgradable, but could have plenty of peripheral connections. Just like Mac Pro.
The similarities don’t stop there, either.
The Cube didn’t come with a display, although Apple had a beautiful acrylic display that could be attached. The Mac Pro doesn’t come with a display, either, but even now Apple does not have a display to match. The Cube was more expensive than a more powerful Power Mac G4. The Mac Pro circa 2016 is more expensive than the most expensive iMac– with a 27-inch Retina 5k display, and quad-core Intel i7 CPU inside– and though it’s more powerful, the beauty gets lost with the clutter of cables and peripherals to make it work.
The Cube, at least, was upgraded thanks to slow sales. Apple stuffed a CD-RW drive into the 500MHz model, offered a more powerful Nvidia graphics card, tried to fix the cracked corners in the acrylic case, and finally gave up altogether and discontinued the model in 2001, barely a year after it launched.
Apple’s Cube was not a powerhouse device. The Mac Pro is a powerhouse. Or, rather, it could be if Apple made it more affordable, made it easier to upgrade (and provided something to upgrade to rather than just the Build To Order options), and even paid attention to it with something simple like an Apple branded 5k display.
The Future Is Calling
Maybe Apple’s expectations for Mac Pro never materialized and the world moved faster to mobile devices than anyone expected. I cannot say for sure what motivates Apple’s executives to introduce a new and exciting Mac model and then let it languish for years without an upgrade.
How does that even make sense?
There is no doubting the Mac Pro’s power, though. BTO faster Intel CPUs and RAM, and it will chew through 4k video like a knife through warm butter. You know, just like a less expensive iMac can do with video. Or, just like an iPad can do with video.
Therein lies what probably is the Mac Pro’s biggest problem. There are easier and less expensive ways to do the same thing as once required a faster than fast Mac Pro, so the market has changed.
Steve Jobs in 2010:
I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.
Agreed. It’s a changing world. But there must be some uneasiness among some of Apple’s designers, engineers, and executives because two of the most beautiful products the company makes– Mac Pro and iPad Pro– are not exactly selling in ever greater numbers. If they were, Apple would pay more attention to the Mac Pro but it hasn’t been upgraded since launching nearly three years ago.
As trucks go, Mac Pro is Apple’s top of the line, capable of heavy duty work. Maybe no one needs a device that does what Mac Pro does.