What makes a computing device a professional device, circa 2018? Speed? Storage? Screen? Applications? The answer should be clear that, 1) it depends, 2) it’s not always hardware, 3) it’s not always software.
Alright. So what really makes a Mac a professional machine? It depends on what the Mac does, and that’s a combination of hardware and software and a mixture of our objective and requirements. Apple sells millions of professional computing devices each year, but let me focus on the Mac.
Mac And/Or Pro
Nobody likes to be pigeonholed into a category, but suffice it to say that a professional user has a need that, 1) makes money, or, 2) makes output that could make money but it doesn’t matter. For example, I don’t have to be a professional videographer to edit video with Final Cut Pro on my Mac. But a professional caliber machine is a requirement.
That’s much like I don’t need to be a professional photographer to want a $5,000 Canon or Nikon DSLR. I don’t need Microsoft Word to be a professional writer. See how that works? What makes a professional Mac is how it will be used, so, ipso facto and alakazam– a MacBook Pro is a professional device, and certainly as much as a Mac Pro or iMac Pro but also as much as an entry-level MacBook for a Mac user who writes for a living and can get by with bare essentials.
Assume there is no argumentation to conflict with those thoughts. Then, why did parts of the Mac community go ballistic on Apple when it neglected that segment of the community for four years, then announce a new iMac Pro, and announce an upcoming modular Mac Pro, yet keep the current canister Mac Pro around?
First, certain segments of the Mac community of customers are very vocal, especially videographers, photographers, designers, editors, scientists, programmers, and others who need powerful hardware that Apple wasn’t making. Second, Apple’s executives may have been short sighted regarding the Mac and how vocal parts of the community could be, but they’re not stupid, hence the Mac Pro stayed, the desktop iMac Pro arrived, and there is still hope for a future modular Mac.
Apple knows that a professional customer covers a wide gamut of the user base, hence, MacBook Pro. The 15-inch model remains particularly attractive to videographers, Photoshop users, and others because it is, 1) small but fast, 2) dependable with a wide array of applications, and, 3) still competitive with Windows PC hardware.
A good example of that is Mark Coppock’s list of The Best Laptops For Video Editing. For Windows users, Coppock picked the Dell XPS 15. For Mac users, he picked the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
From a hardware perspective the Mac is comparable to the the Dell machine, but he also pegs the Microsoft Surface Book 2 which also has a 15-inch model with better specifications. Are these professional machines? If you want them to be, yes, and the premium Mac notebooks remain professional class (though, to be fair, not for all of the professional class).
What has happened since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died should be apparent. Apple has become more of a consumer company with a billion customers that need to be satisfied with a wide array of products. For whatever the reasons, the Mac has been ignored by Apple’s executives, and while much of the future of personal computing belongs to mobile devices in the mobile era, there is no such thing as a post-PC era. Apple’s executives may have thought the PC would die sooner than it has and so ignored the Mac accordingly.
That was a mistake. The Mac needs a broader line of products including a more powerful notebook. The iMac Pro is a step towards calming the noisier factions of the Mac community, but more is needed, including more professional products and more entry-level products.