Was (is) the Mac Pro a misstep for Apple?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dansmac, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. dansmac macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2011
    Temecula, California
    "Think different”. An understatement for the overwhelming success at Apple.

    In the beginning Steve Jobs wanted to build a computer for the masses outside the small computer world of hobbyist. Apple I and Apple II met those goals and Apple was off to the races.

    On the way confusion set in. Many at Apple wanted to mimic the market success of the IBM PC that meant getting into the business enterprise and the professional market. Jobs saw it different and continued his struggle to stay in, and focus on, the consumer market. You all know the story…Jobs out … Apple failing in the business enterprise market….Jobs back and built the most valuable company on the globe by changing how consumers perceive and use technology everyday. The world is not the same.

    So what happened and way and why a Mac Pro? Back to Jobs…his uncanny ability to develop and produce great products outside the establishment and business norms earns admiration and respect from those who make a living outside the norm … musicians, artists, and filmmakers. It was just “cool” having a Mac run the studio production. It is a mark of morality and character not having any IBM junk in the shop. All kinds of applications for the music and film artist specifically on the Mac are made available. Some directly from Apple and others from third-party application developers.

    Obvious Apple (Jobs) saw the appeal with the “crazy one’s” and continued development of hardware/software platforms for this industry.

    But facts are the facts and Steve wanted to focus on the consumer more then ever in his late stages at Apple.

    A 2009 Fortune Magazine interview Steve says the following to a question on way no Enterprise; “A lot of people can’t get past the fact that we’re not going after the enterprise market. But that’s like saying how can the GAP not be successful not selling suits”.

    So here we are. The Crazy One’s – the Outcasts – but unfortunately the very few. From a pure company financial point-of-view continuing with the Mac Pro makes no sense. But Apple is different by design. Let’s just hope the new leaders at Apple in the post Jobs era see the value of maintaining a close association with the artists and crazies and a continued support for a professional product line.

    My 2 cents!
  2. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Well, if Apple wants to continue being part of the professional content creation market (filmmakers, musicians, etc.), there is still a need for a professional workstation (in this case, Mac Pro) that has a little more to offer than an iMac. So in that light, I hope Apple continues to support the "crazies", too.

    Without real hardware expansion, I'd personally be screwed and would have to look elsewhere (i.e. I'd have no choice but to buy a PC running Windows).

    But in all honestly, I think a lot of this doomsday talk has been stirred up by people that are upset over not seeing a new Mac Pro in over a year, thinking it's the end of an era. And it doesn't help much that Apple is notorious for keeping new product developments under lock and key. Apparently, the absence of proper replacement parts (Intel) isn't a good enough reason for some.

    I really don't think that Apple plans to axe the Mac Pro, at least just yet. With the scalable power they have in FCP X (which will hopefully evolve into a true professional application), there is no good reason to.
  3. Varmann macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2010
    It is very easy to make all sort of, more or less well founded, conclusions in hindsight.....

    You could as well say that it was that core of "creative crazy ones" that actually made Apple survive the crisis in the mid/late 90´s. It was also them that fueled comeback and marketed Apple to "the masses".

    I do not count myself to the "mac-core" but I have owned 5 machines myself and successfully recommended it friends and relatives and directly sold about 12-15 more.

    You can always see things from a different angle :)
  4. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Again, I don't think it has anything to do with financials. If you look at what's going on, the entire Mac line, excluding the Air, seems to be being re-examined. The Macbook Pro, which sells extremely well, also seems like it could be on the cutting block with the 15" Air rumors.

    Look at Apple's executive team. Steve was one of the last Mac people. The remnants are all iOS engineers. I think you're more looking at a team that doesn't really care about the Mac.
  5. tamvly macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2007
    Steve always distinguished between consumer and professional markets. Read the biography.
  6. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Steve himself was a pro user, and he understood Pro users pretty well (see: NeXT). He also was the one who owned a company full of pro users (Pixar).

    That's not really something at Apple any more.
  7. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030


    Jan 10, 2007
    Thank you. I was just about to post this. Those pro video, audio, creative "crazies" were the only thing keeping Apple afloat during its dark days, and that's something Apple seems to be forgetting. (Final Cut X anyone) ?? I hope they don't repeat that same mistake with Logic 10. :rolleyes:

    Maybe now with Tim Cook at the helm he won't be quick to abandon these desktop machines that Jobs described as "trucks". :apple:
  8. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Huh? Jobs didn't mean anything demeaning by "trucks". In fact, in the full quote, he makes the point that truck users will always exist and that they do important work.

    I really think you guys are looking at this wrong. Jobs was probably the biggest Mac user at Apple. He invented the machine after all. And what did he have on his desk?
  9. neko girl macrumors 6502a

    neko girl

    Jan 20, 2011
  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The only misstep in terms of the macpro is pricing it so high that it unaffordable for many people.

    The MacPro's heritage is the powermac, apple has been producing this type of computer for quite some time but since it became the MacPro the cost has increased.
  11. Tutor, Nov 18, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011

    Tutor macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2009
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    Don't you mean the upcoming Logicish product : GarageBand Hemi\Demi\Semi\Sortof ProISH?
  12. dknightd macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2004
    getting rid of the macpro - or similarly capable machine - would be a misstep for apple IMO.
  13. dansmac thread starter macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2011
    Temecula, California
    Say What?

    2006 PowerMac G5 Dual, with a retail price of $2,499 (US), includes:

    • 2.3 GHz Dual-Core PowerPC G5 processor;
    • 512MB of 533 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable up to 16GB;
    • 250GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm;
    • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 with 256MB of GDDR SDRAM
    • three open PCI Express expansion slots: two 4-lane slots and one 8-lane slot;
    • dual Gigabit Ethernet ports;
    • 16x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); and
    • ships with Mighty Mouse and Apple Keyboard

    2010 Mac Pro, with a retail price of $2,499 (US), includes:

    • 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem”;
    • 3GB of DDR3 ECC SDRAM memory expandable up to 64GB;
    • 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive ;
    • ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB GDDR5 SDRAM
    • three open PCI Express expansion slots: two 4-lane slots and one 16-lane slot;
    • dual Gigabit Ethernet ports;
    • 18x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); and
    • ships with Magic Mouse and Apple Keyboard

    Benchmarks out at 10X - 15X the horsepower at the same price in less then five years....
  14. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    There were much cheaper PowerMacs available and the hardware in the 2010 Mac Pro is found in sub $1,500 workstations.
  15. interrobang macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2011
    You're deliberately ignoring the fact that there was a base $1999 Power Mac at that time, and the $2499 model was the midrange.

    Going back one generation further, the 2003 MDD G4 had a $1499 base model. In eight years, the base model tower has gone up $1,000, whereas the base model iMac has come down $100.
  16. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030


    Jan 10, 2007
    The 2008 dual-processor Mac Pros were the last BEST-priced MP's. From 2009 on Apple jacked up the prices.
  17. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Back in 2005 I could get a G5 Powermac for 1999 which is the point I was making. Apple began jacking up the price of their desktop computer
  18. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    G4s were an ever better deal.

    The issue is that the G4/G5 line was competing with the Pentium 4, while the Mac Pro line is competing with other Xeons.

    I wouldn't be too upset if Apple went back to their previous strategy and was competing with other i7 workstations. But I think when Apple did the Mac Pro, they just simply wanted the fastest chips, which meant dual socket Xeons.
  19. damir00 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2011
    I would say that, if nothing else, Apple needed Mac Pros internally to get a handle on what the iMacs two generations down the line would have performance-wise.

    Seems to me where we really are maybe 1-2 generations away from an "iMac" class that is essentially end-of-line for personal computing, with everything requiring really heavy lifting (frankly, for most people, that amounts to absolutely nothing) being moved up to EC2 or wherever. We already see evidence of this, with so many people "downgrading" their daily usage to iPhones and iPads that are woefully underpowered compared to a full blown desktop.

    It's kinda like cars. We're long past the days when the answer to most problems was simply "more horsepower".

    IMO, etc.
  20. R3k macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2011
    Sep 7, 2011
  21. -hh, Nov 19, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011

    -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    Step 1:
    Go back a few more generations ...

    Step 2:
    Ignore the all-too-often lobotimized 'base' models that sometimes used a different motherboard, had lower performance than its prior base model, etc: their hardware is manipulated to hit targeted price points. Instead, look at the "one up from the bottom" model, which has historically been the sweet spot for best product value.

    Step 3:
    See if this topic has ever come up before in MR by searching the archives: here's one of mine from 2.5 years ago; need a volunteer to add the 2009 & 2010 prices (I'm smuged from Jet Lag):

    ... "one up from the bottom" mode ... release price history:

    1997: G3/266: $2399 (Gossamer)
    1999: G3/350: $1999 (B&W)
    1999: G4/400: $2499 (Sawtooth, not Yikes)
    2000: G4/450: $2499 (Gigabit)
    2002: G4/933: $2299 (MDD)
    2003: G4/1.25: $1999 (Firewire800)
    2003: G5/1.8S: $2399
    2005: G5/2.3D: $2499
    2008: Xe/2.8D: $2799

    Add $1 to each of them to get rid of the marketing "99s" and we find that all of these price points are $2K or higher.

    Plus, let's not forget inflation: the $2399 PowerMac from 1997 is now equivalent to over $3100 in today's 2011 dollars.

    2009: Xe/2.9S: $2999 (Nehalem)

    2010: Xe/2.8S: $2499 (Nehalem) was the base; the Xe/3.2D ($3499) is probably more than a +1; looking for the Xe/3.2S (Nehalem)'s MSRP.


    PS: (2005 PowerMacs, from LowEndMac): "Note that the 2.0 GHz model is one of Apple's entry-level G5s, which means it uses 33 MHz PCI slots instead of 100/133 MHz PCI-X, has 4 memory slots instead of 8, and uses a 450W power supply instead of 600W."
  22. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Basically, Apple sold a "barebones" box. [ perhaps with a small cheat to sell last generation system's motherboard in new box. Basically similar to what is done with every other lowest end iMac or selling the 3GS iPhone alongside the 4S . ]

    Note that this is selling to two different groups of people. The primarily price conscious/limited and the other who are return-on-value based (the rest of the non lobotomized line-up).

    Apple has moved away from catering to the "build/tweak my own over extended period of time" crowd. By adding more options and flexibility to the iMac they have peeled off many who needed performance/$ in the sub $2K range.

    What is increasing left in the sub $2K zone are just the "I just don't want to pay over some fixed amount" crowd. The Mac Pro ( and its predecessors ) was never really aimed at them.

    2009 Xe/2.66Q:$2999
    2010 Xe/3.20Q:$2899

    There is a problem with Apple and the $2K "home price zone" for the Mac Pro. Namely, they are drifting out of the bottom end of the range. If they continue to follow the long term trend they could drift so far that the "home price zone" for the Mac Pro could end up in the $3K zone. The Mac Pro has been "giving away" $2K price points to the iMac.

    That's typically how the higher end of the computer system market dies off. Fewer folks buy so prices go up. Prices are higher so fewer folks find value and volume goes up.

    However, what is need to keep the volume up is to continue the trendline started with the 2009-2010 transition. That the "one up from bottom" price move back toward the middle of the $2K range.

    The second problem is a big picture PC market issue. When the average selling price of a "box with slots" PC was in the $1K range then the $2K range was just $1K step up. Now that average selling price of a "box with slots" PC is in the sub $1K the gap is now larger than $1K. The trend of drifting to the top of the $2K zone has worse effects because the overall PC market should be forces the price points to the bottom of the $2K zone.

    This is one of the problems of making the equivalency just CPUs. There have been substantive differences in the other internals over time. The current Mac Pros have a ready-made 4-drive sled RAID set up in the box. Those early models don't.

    The current Mac Pros "scale up" much more than previous generations. If have workflow generates more income if have more power then there is higher value there that pitching to the "lobotomize to hit the lowest price point" crowd.
  23. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    That's an R&D project; not a product. iPad-like devices existed for years inside of Apple before it was downsized at pushed into a phone form factor and then later into the intended form factor.

    wherever could be as close to the other side of your desk (or under the desk if that where the Mac Pro is kept now).

    The key issue is whether the user interaction of the computation is absolutely required to be in the same box as all of the computation. There is long history (e.g., X Windows ability to put display on different box than app. terminals to "big iron" , etc.) this being done in the past. It had value then and still have value now. Everything doesn't have to be done inside of one box.

    Once stripped of the GUI what big value add does Mac OS X based computations have. You have a process that needs to compute some values and return the results. This is why some stuff drifts onto things like EC2. But it could just drift to a box that is much closer too.

    There are some problems where the data and computation are so tightly bound that you cannot distribute them, but they are relatively few.
  24. G4DP macrumors 65816

    Mar 28, 2007
    You miss the point completely. The PowerMac days you could get a top of the range tower for £1,500 now it's £2,000. Value for money is not in the equation.
  25. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010

    The G5s were not so great. They ran too hot. They were unreliable. They couldn't run in a laptop at all. In 2006 Apple came out with the mac pro. The starting mac pro contained 2x 2.66 dual core processors from intel at this price point, so at the time, the cpus necessary to build a $2500 machine retailed for roughly $1380. It used 2x Xeon 5150s.

    Today the machine occupying this price point has been reduced to four slots for ram and a W3530 cpu that retails for $300.

    Overall you can thank Intel for the increase in benchmarks. Apple had little influence there. Even today the starting machine is a nice machine overall, but it's too expensive for what it really offers. The 6 core should actually be just under the $3k mark. There are so many areas it could use just little improvements on drivers, features, etc, but Apple has been kind of sitting on the line for the past couple cycles, and Intel has been slow as hell with rolling out new Xeons.

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