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Should Apple bother updating the Mac Pro?

Mark Hattersley | Feb. 22, 2013
What does a £2,000 internally upgradable Apple Mac Pro have to offer? We're not completely sure, to be honest, which bodes ill for the future of Apple workstations.

Way back in 2009 we ran an article titled What if Apple never updates the iMac? It had been over two years since Apple had updated the iMac and the market was clearly moving towards a mobile future.

The artice pondered whether in an increasingly mobile world, Apple would be "one of the first major computer manufacturers to eject the idea of the desktop computer. At least in the consumer space."

Well here were are again. It's been two and a half years since Apple last really updated its Mac Pro (July 2010, when it introduced SSD and 12 core options).

We won't say again, 'what if Apple never updates the Mac Pro. We're sure that Apple is going to introduce a new type of Mac Pro, and it'll probably do so in June 2013 at the WWDC (Tim Cook, Apple CEO all but confirmed this in an email exchange).

The question now, is, should Apple bother? And beyond that what kind of high-end computer makes sense in today's world. The honest answer is that we're not really sure.

Mac Pro

One thing to understand is that the Mac Pro isn't really a high-powered consumer computer, or even a business computer used in a design setting. It's a workstation, and workstations operate to different rules than desktop computers.

A workstation is a high-end computer designed to be used by a single person who requires serious computing power. The typical market for workstations is 3D mechanical design, engineering simluation, animation studios, and video production houses - most of which don't lack for serious alternatives that are cheaper, updated more frequently and have similar - or even better - levels of software support. It may well be that Apple has simply lost this market, as it did the server market with the Xserve, either because it wasn't competitive enough or dedicated enough.

News today that Apple now has 20 per cent of all consumer tech revenues in the US, and that's not just computer revenue but all revenue suggests that - commercially at least - Apple is doing the right thing.

We spoke to some Apple resellers, one told us: "The Mac Pro removal is not really going to be that huge of a problem, it was a very small seller in the APR channel so much so that it was removed along with the Mac mini off the stores display."

The fact is that most consumers and even professionals switched over to the iMac a long time ago. As our reseller said "Most customers have been waiting for a serious upgrade on the Mac Pro the iMac is still a better all round machine and still has great upgradableoptions on it."


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