Full disclosure. I do not need a Mac Pro. In fact, I don’t even want a Mac Pro, even if Apple decides to rethink the design and comes up with the absolutely positively best Mac Pro ever; a configurable device that turns Windows gamers into hard-core Mac users.
My new MacBook Pro is fine, and the desktop iMac I use in the office (27-inch Retina 5K display, Quad-core i7 CPU, 32GB RAM, fast GPU) is more than adequate; it’s overkill. That said, I have owned my share of Mac Pro models from yesteryear, including the last of the cheese grater aluminum crate Mac Pros from a few years ago. Apple needs to rethink the Mac Pro.
Power vs. Configuration
Apple CEO Tim Cook stepped up to the public microphone and declared Apple will “do more in the pro area.” Why? “The pro area is very important to us.” What are we talking about here, Tim? “The creative area is very important to us in particular.” Those broad statements come after months of creative professionals howling that Apple’s efforts in the professional area are anemic and lame; and with some high profile creatives moving from the Mac to Windows because the hardware selections are better (what’s new about that?).
Simply put, Apple needs to rethink the Mac Pro.
The cheese grater aluminum crate Mac Pro from a few years ago is a classic example of function over form. That Mac Pro was heavy and ugly, but highly configurable; particularly so because of its internal design. Drop the side door and everything could be swapped out, upgraded, or replaced with ease. Oh, did I mention it was powerful with instantly upgradeable RAM, GPUs, CPUs, and easily replaced motherboard, power supply, and other components.
Did I mention it was heavy and ugly?
Compare that classic Mac Pro with the new model that arrived in 2013; smaller, lighter, and with an array of port connectors, almost infinitely expandable so long as you didn’t mind the clutter of cables and external add-on devices. Internally, the options were fewer; limited to RAM and SSD storage. Otherwise, the Mac Pro circa 2013 was a powerful appliance that looked good in standalone mode but frustrated professional level Mac users thanks to limited internal expandability and the dependency upon attached devices.
Then, for whatever the reason, Apple decided the Mac Pro was not worthy of advancement, so it remains unchanged for four years, a lifetime in technology, even for a company slow to upgrade non-iPhone devices. That means the same design, internal and external, same port connectors, same hardware options, same specifications. For four years.
Change Something, Please
That something needs to change with the Mac Pro is obvious. But what? Apple may find itself caught between a technology rock and a marketing hard spot. Professionals want two things in their Macs. Power and configurability with design a distant third place. The Mac Pro circa 2013 does neither. At least, not now. Most of today’s Mac customers are not of the professional power user of yesteryear. Today the world revolves and mobility; hence most Mac sales are MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and even the MacBook Air hangs around.
Apple knows that many of the so-called Mac professional level customers have moved on to the MacBook Pro or the high end iMac, so the Mac user who demands power and configurability remains a diminishing minority; a tiny percentage of the Mac customer base, a vocal group, yes, but not one that really makes much money for Apple. After all, Final Cut Pro and Photoshop run fine on high end iMacs and MacBook Pro models.
In other words, there’s just not enough money in the Mac Pro for Apple to care, and if it were not for their prolific noise in the public space, Apple might be glad to see them move quietly– no noise, no comments, no tweets, no forum posts, just quiet– to Windows. It’s likely Apple would never notice the defection from a financial perspective.
Throw Us A Bone
Allow me to assume for a moment that Apple truly cares about the so-called professional user and plans to throw us a bone. The somewhat anemic MacBook Pro, circa late 2016, was a bone designed to fill the gap between an aging MacBook Pro line and what’s coming later in 2017– MacBook Pro Pro models with faster CPUs and GPUs, more RAM, blah and blah. What of the Mac Pro?
It’s just as likely that Apple realized that all the hoopla and clever design tossed into the Mac Pro circa 2013 was far more sizzle than steak, all hat and no cattle, but because the company is beholden to Intel for what’s Inside, decided to reconfigure the whole mess with something new, but had to sell down the old inventory that was piling up in the Austin warehouse first. I don’t have an inside scoop but I doubt I’m far off the mark and neither is this Mac Pro concept design from Pascal Eggert.
The Mac Pro bone needs to marry power and configurability, while the former is dependent upon Intel, and the latter is mistaken for connector ports and external devices– Mac Pro owners want options to configure what’s inside the device, cables be damned. It’s that simple. The design concept above shows exactly how a new Mac Pro could or should look. It’s loaded with a classy design aesthetic, an array of connector ports for infinite optional add-ons, and plenty of room for internal configurations– all of which so-called Mac professionals want, need, and love.
Was that so hard, Apple?