Betteridge’s Law of Headlines notwithstanding, there are times we can conclude a question with an answer other than no. What worries me about the state of Mac professional machines is that Apple may know the customer base better than professionals.
Remember Xserve G4? That’s was Apple’s first 21st century venture into the server market and it was mostly a failure which died about eight years ago. Steve Jobs killed it. Is iMac Pro about to face a similar trek into a similar niche in Apple history?
What Price Power?
I’m willing to ask the question because only Apple knows the number sold of each Mac. The MacBook Air remains because someone is buying it. Ditto for Mac mini. Even the Mac Pro, which languished for years as the most powerful Mac is still in the lineup. Meanwhile, about 80-percent of all Macs sold are Mac notebooks.
Why did Apple kill the Xserve? Steve Jobs:
Hardly anyone was buying them.
That was back in late 2010, about eight years after Apple launched the Xserve, which, as did all Macs early in the century, managed a smooth transition to Intel Inside.
What about the iMac Pro?
Never has there been a more powerful Mac, and even the scary $4,999 started price compares favorably with Window 10 PC iron when comparably equipped? Yet, here we are, barely two months after release, and already the iMac Pro is on sale.
The first discount occurred early in January. $250 off, but that was an open box sale price from Best Buy. That’s not much of a discount for a nearly $5,000 machine, but elsewhere Micro Center has iMac Pro for a $1,000 discount– $3,999 for the entry-level model.
What’s going on?
Is the iMac Pro of 2018 the Xserve of 2010? Again, only Apple knows. Friends who work at a few of the Apple Stores where I work in Manhattan say the entry-level model does not sell as well as the BTO models– built to order. Why? It’s likely that professionals want configurations that go beyond the basics, especially with storage and memory.
For what it’s worth, those same Apple associates in the know also say the Mac Pro cylinder trash can model suffered a similar fate. The entry-level model was not the big seller because professionals needed as much storage and RAM as they could get. In this scenario, with heavy discounts on the entry-level iMac Pro, it’s likely that Apple stocked up on the iMac Pro for the launch in December, but now needs to move that inventory, hence the Micro Center discounts.
The base model iMac Pro at $4,999 on the Apple Store has immediate shipping options, while the $13,199 model with 18 core Intel Xeon Inside and maxed out RAM and SSD storage will ship in mid-February. In between, the 10-core model with more RAM and storage is available to be shipped or picked up in store near the end of January.
How many iMac Pro models are being shipped? Only Apple knows, but the entry-level model may not be the crowded pleaser that an aging MacBook Air is. The $1,000 discount on the entry-level $4,999 model should tell us that Apple’s margins are sufficient to keep the profits rolling in, even if iMac Pro doesn’t sell in great numbers. It’s just too early to tell if iMac Pro is the next Xserve.