To many, the Mac desktop family has suffered from neglect in recent years. This neglect has caused many Pro users to migrate to alternative platforms.
In a roundtable with a select group of journalists at Cupertino this week, Apple appears to have admitted this neglect of the family and, with the Mac Pro, poor design decisions. Marketing chief Phil Schiller and software engineering chief Craig Federighi frankly discussed miss-steps with the Mac Pro, and gave some hints on Apple’s plans for new Pro level Mac Desktop product.
The Mac Pro remains a powerful computer, however, it’s been almost 4 years since its release, with no updates until this week’s very minor tweaks to processor options.
This week’s updates are minor in nature, do little to catch up with technology, and leave the current Mac Pro the dead end admitted to by Schiller.
Tim Cook recently assured us ‘great desktops’ are on the way, a statement echoed in this week’s roundtable. The disappointing news, likely not until 2018.
With yet another year’s delay, all one can say is, they had better be not just great, but spectacular.
‘Modular’ Mac Pro on the horizon
It was stated that the 2018 Mac Pro would be ‘modular’ to give greater opportunity for expansion to handle the most demanding of tasks. Just what constitutes ‘modular’ was not spelt out.
Pro Specification iMac
The suggestion at the roundtable, from Federighi, was we can expect ‘Pro’ level iMacs to join the lineup, perhaps later this year. Again, no hint at what might constitute a ’Pro’ iMac.
The current top 5k 27” iMac specs are:
3TB Fusion Drive, or 1TB SSD
M395X mobile Video card
While that is a strong spec, it’s hardly a ‘Pro’ device.
The Current Mac Mini, as discussed in our earlier open letter to Apple is in dire need of a re-think. The impossibility of user upgrades to memory in the current model see late 2012 models commanding great pricing in the second-hand market, and the quad core i7 later 2012 model in extreme demand. When questioned on the Mini, the rather vague statement that the Mini was ‘important’. Not a hint as to what ‘important’ means for the future of the Mini.
Though details are sparse, the announcement Apple would return to the premium display market has been universally welcomed. The LG 5k debacle established the need for Apple class engineering in Pro level displays for Macs.
What the market would like to see.
Let’s be honest, what I would like to see for the future of the Mac Desktop, however from talking to a good number of Mac enthusiasts from home users through to seriously ‘Pro’ users, our views seem to align. Here are our humble suggestions.
Please, Apple, make ‘modular’ user expandable.
Use an industry standard expansion bus, so approved GPU cards and the like can be used.
Use industry standard PCIe hard drive expansion connectors, or if you have a higher performance Apple interface, sell the chips to allow ‘Made For Mac’ third party product.
Allow user installable memory and hard drive expansion.
A ‘Pro’ iMac needs user expandability. No soldered in memory or solid state storage (unless there’s also an expansion connector)
If the Pro iMac is to be something out of our dreams, such as a 32” 5k, curved screen, please also consign the ‘thin’ design to the waste bin. Allow for user expandable memory and storage.
In the previous letter, I stated we need to go back to user expandable memory and storage. While the Mini may be considered by Apple to be the entry-level device, its uses are almost endless. Owners need to be able to upgrade internally as their requirements change, not be stuck with the memory and or storage specified at original purchase.
If Apple is committed to this market, please keep at or near the leading edge. While the old Thunderbolt display was a wondrous device, it had fallen behind the market well before its demise.
Airport Extreme and Time Capsule
While not discussed at this week’s meetings, these devices hold the highest customer satisfaction scores in WiFi routers, despite being behind the curve in latest features.
PLEASE Tim, Craig, Phil, do not kill these amazing devices.
The Airport line of product is by far the easiest to set up in all the industry. Even a novice can get a solid network going, use Airport devices to extend a network, and of course use the Time Capsule for the most pain-free backups in all computerdom.
Dear Apple, like most of the millions of Apple Mac users worldwide, I long to see an Apple committed to all it’s users, from iPod through iPhone, iPad and Mac. While we all recognise Mac generates only a fraction of Apple’s profits, to us Mac products are as essential to our existence as our iPhones and iPads. I use a 12.9” iPad Pro for a growing number of ‘pro’ tasks however, I still rely on my Mac for the real ‘Pro’ work.