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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.

Indeed, the most high profile HP workstation, the Z1, is designed to look like an iMac and offers performance somewhere between an iMac and a Mac Pro.

In retrospect it's pretty clear what happened for the two years that Apple took to update the iMac. Apple had spent considerable time after the iPhone launch in 2009 directing resources away from the iMac towards other projects, most notably iOS projects including the iPad. It's clearly spent a lot of time lately introducing considerable design refreshes to both the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac. Apple intensely focusses on products, and we think it tends to focus on one thing at a time.

Another reseller we spoke to said: "it just sounds to me, like someone dropped the ball, I mean, as many U.S. companies say it's only Europe (high cost of product, localisation, local regs, WEEE etc)! They'll have a compliant Mac Pro machine later this year and as you say demand must be on the decline being such an old model."

In 2012 Steve Jobs told the D8 conference that the day is coming when only one out of every few people will need a traditional computer: "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms. PCs are going to be like trucks," Jobs said. "They are still going to be around" but only "one out of x people will need them."

It's also worth bearing in mind that the iPad itself has had a tremendous impact on the computer market. Far from being the harbinger of doom, it has reinvigorated the desktop market. People still need the 'truck-like' performance of computers, but they don't necessarily need them to be as portable as laptops now that they have portable iOS devices.

We're pretty sure Apple isn't ready to abandon the higher-end of the desktop market to Dell and HP, but does it really need a workstation? Or to put it bluntly do we need a workstation from Apple? Would Apple be better of building a new kind of professional computer that is a consumer device, but more easily and comprehensively expandable (either internally or externally than its iMac and Mac mini range).

This could take the form of a iMac pro with display, or a Mac mini Pro-esque device that eschews the Mac Pro form factor in favour of a slimmed down design. Or something completely different.

Although as one of our Apple reseller friends pointed out: "It does highlight that Apple is heading into an entirely consumer world and business customers have to compromise if they want to stay Mac. I guess it highlights that as a business group the Mac Pro team generate less profit per head than other areas of their business."


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