Originally Posted by Lemon Bon Bon.
I looked on the Mac Pro thread at Macrumors discussing the future of Mac Pro's thread. Some really good arguments.
I think you're right Dave. Apple doesn't 'care.' If we cross our fingers we may just get another Mac Pro update. (Which will last for another 3 years-ish.) By then maybe the iMac will be ready with 8 core 16 hyper threaded cores to succeed the throne? And Thunderbolt will augment whatever's missing.
You keep falling back on iMac benchmarks which is really asinine in a discussion about the Mac Pro. It is pretty much a given that single processor desktop chips will out perform the cores in Xeon chips. It has been that way for years, the only difference is that Apple is now equipping the iMac with much higher performance chips than in the past. The problem with your perspective is that almost nobody buys a Pro based on single core performance.
Mac Mini and iMac as 'specialised' machines? I don't see that at all. They're the perfect consumer/prosumer desktops for the mainstream.
They aren't bad machines but their is nothing perfect about them. The problem is that if you try to implement them in business they are only implementable in limited cases thus special purpose machines.
Like it or not, at work the iT department standardizes around one Dell chassis. This allows them to have a cheap platform for the desktop, and a configurable platform for the plant. They see it as being economical, though at times I disagree. In any event Apple has no play at all for organizations with this mindset. Apple simply doesn't have an economical all purpose chassis that can take on a large number of roles in an organization.
Perhaps the laptops are the new desktop and with portability. 'Specialised.' Isn't the Mac Pro?
Exactly, the Mac Pro is a specialized computer with very limited appeal. An appeal that is even more constrained by the high price. Thus my statement that Apple really doesn't have a desktop play.
Even more so? Isn't that it's problem? it's so specialised and marginalised by that because the iMac has more than sufficient power for probably 99% of creators. The iMac is gradually eating it's lunch.
If that was the case the iMac would be showing really strong growth. It isn't so I'm not convinced that it is the machine for creators. in fact I'm pretty much convinced that it isn't as it appears that most iMac sales are not going to professionals of any sort. If anything I really see Apple loosing sales to creators or professional users with its desktop line up.
Heck, the laptop is eating the iMac's lunch. Just as SGi had their specialised workstations eaten by cheaper Wintel boxes, so the Mac Pro is having it's market erroded by ever more capable consumer/prosumer machines which are democratising power into the mainstream. Ironic that the Mac is eating the Wintel PC market in growth. (Fussy Wintel machines typified by the 'classic' tower, a mass of wires and the clumsy windows. iMacs and Apple laptops just outclass the competition. Now it's PC makers that can't compete with Apple on price eg Macbook Air.)
Ironic, I don't think so as it is more or less expected of an industry that spent all of its engineering resources on lowering costs and standardized functionality. Even then the big issue on the PC front is Windows not the hardware. In a sense Apple is beating up on the PC world with the same hardware that is available to the PC world. So again it is an issue of engineering orientation and poor software as demonstrated by Windows.
Just look at Final Cut Pro. Powerful prosumer software and powerful prosumer machines. Apple's moving where the mainstream is. They have been since they removed 'computer' from their name.
Well we could pull this thread off track significantly by discussing Final Cut Pro. However I don't see it as a "Prosumer" play at all. Rather it is a start on a thoroughly modern professional environment for video editing.
It is rather indicative of the PC mind set of many video professionals in that they can't see beyond the past. Final Cut Pro is a lot like the first AIR, which was a great concept that came up short in a number of ways. Given reasonable time the AIR has turned into an impressive little machine. Likewise Final Cut is a platform that will grow and morph into something that really has no competition.
The Mac Pro sold about 100k units about 5-7 years ago...back when Apple still did break downs of each model sales wise.
They could be very well be at one tenth that now. I have a very hard time believeing that the Pro is selling well at all these days.
I wonder how many it sells now? If it's less than that...40-60k in sales...that's not much more than the Cube when it got 'put on ice.'
Exactly!!! This is why I shake my head when people say the Pro will not be killed. One of the best choices Apple has is to roll the Pro and Mini into a box that covers a wide range of capability. The goal being to leverage as many common parts as possible into a platform that will generate sales based upon current Mini and Pro users but also new users not currently interested in these platforms. XMac is the term used to describe these machines, but the key here is a family of devices that serve the needs of many different users.
It's entry model is £1250 overpriced compared to 'most' towers. To get a very below average machine that is stale as old bread. Apple. Have they ever done towers right? The G3 blue and whites were ok. But the G4 and G5 heading up the food chain was an artificial. Not surprisingly, many creators find £2045 to get an entry tower off putting. Compounded by a World Economy in the toilet? How many people want to pay £3000+ just to get a monitor and an old 'has been' tower spec with laughably old parts...vs a fully loaded iMac for the same price.
To be honest here I really don't think you get the Pro and the limited markets it serves. The price means nothing to the people that really need the platform for its capabilities. It is not unlike the server world where 1U servers make up the bulk of the business yet 5U servers still have a market. The Mac Pro is a lot like the 5U server world where if you need it you buy it. The problem in Apples case is the limited number of compelling reasons to buy a Mac Pro.
Barefeats has benches of the 3.4 i7 iMac all over the 6 core Mac Pro in Photoshop, Aftereffects...etc. Traditional areas of supremacy. But no longer.
Yeah yeah yeah, you keep bringing up benchmarks favorable to the iMac which means absolutely nothing! There are plenty of other benches where the Pro will trounce the iMac.
At least not for the entry to mid level Pro. And there's the rub. Just add a Thunderbolt external/Raid/HDs for the knockout blow. The top end iMac power is only going to move downwards..!
As iMac power increases so does the Mac Pros. The knock out blow simply isn't there as they aren't even playing in the same ring.
Sure. People who like towers are never going to like the iMac. But it's clear that the power in the iMac and the Macbook Pro have converted many creators and consumers over from the quintessential 'Windows' and 'Tower' = PC.
Windows no more equals tower PC than Mac OS equals laptop. I still maintain that Apples success with laptops has a lot to do with the fact that no body wants to buy their desktop hardware because for the most part the offerings are pathetic. It has been multiple years now since Apple has put in anything significant engineering wise in the desktop arena. I'd be willing to guess that each laptop rev gets more engineering time than all of the desktops put together.
This can be seen in the hardware for the various be desktops apple sells. The engineering is serviceable but hardly inspiring.
Not being 'tower' is exactly how Apple differentiated the Mac from PC. Iconically different in terms of the iMac. Thin vs Fat in Laptops. Leaving old tech' behind. Old approaches behind. How many consecutive quarters has the Mac smashed the PC in growth?
Where is the vast majority of that growth coming from? It is the laptop line up with desktop sales marginal at best.
As to differentiation that is a function of Mac OS more than anything. When it comes right down to it Apples laptops are not all that different than the laptops in the PC world. you can argue all you want about design but that really has nothing to do with it, it is all about software.
Well, what they sell in their stores are iMacs and Minis. People are buying them. Buying wayyyy more laptops though. That's the way it is. It's working for Apple. With record Mac sales. But not record Pro sales? The drive of the Mac growth is laptops...under the shiny halo of iOS devices and the 'Class of their Own' Apple Stores.
This is the problem laptop sales are booming while desktop sales in many cases are shrinking. However you fail to ask why. I answer that simply, the desktop lineup for the most part is pathetic. There has been zero innovation on the desktop in over six years now.
So maybe they do get it? Other's may be in 'denial' about it. But the days of Apple tower sales of 250k-500k a quarter are over. The last time I checked it had just over 100k in sales.
Sadly I don't think the Pro sales are even close to 100k anymore.
That was a lifetime ago...and prices have gone up since then, especially on the entry to mid range. If they made the mini Tower Dave wants and priced it from £795 to £1495 and split the margins between it and the Apple display...then, sure, it might have a chance to stave off the inevitable. If you could grid those 'mini cube towers' together...you could add extra cpu/storage in a modular way over time. But are Apple showing any signs they'll do that?
Interestingly they did have a patent granted a year or two ago for a new computer chassis. Sadly it looked like they did nothing but to shrink the box. So no I don't see any signs of rethink as far as the desktop lineup goes.
By the way when talking about the XMac I dont see it as a tower from the past, rather I see it as a platform for the future. As such I would expect plenty of innovation like is seen in the laptops.
Any?! (Nobody wants a mini-tower/Cube more than me. But they didn't get it right the last time. They can't help themselves with pricing. However, the pricing of Air suggests hope. The pricing of iPad suggests hope. But the form factor of the 'tower' doesn't. Why haven't they changed the form factor of the Mac Pro into a mini-tower before now? Is it worth the investment? Is it Apple? Is it distinct enough? *looks.
Well the tower for the Pro is easy to understand, why get into mechanical design if your sales are too thin to pay off that design.
Back when Apple 'only' offered beige towers with the odd pizza box they were never outstandingly popular despite good machines like the 604e chip. They barely sold 1 million a quarter. It wasn't until the iMac came to Apple's rescue that things began to change.
Well it is pretty easy to understand the sales issues with those old Macs, the price was often too high. I was one of the original Mac Plus owners back in the day, it was very hard to justify that purchase back then. I used that machine until it was unbearably slow and then switched to PC hardware mostly running Linux. The problem was pretty clear the hardware costs where unacceptable to stay with a Mac, not to mention that the operating system was getting long in the tooth back then.
Now Apple has a highly mixed line up. Some of the laptops can be seen as bargains, the iMac isn't too bad either. But the Mini and Pro are far different machines and basically over priced. It isn't as bad as in the post Mac Plus days but you still have a lack of choice on the desktop.
Apple's business is now a portable business. Tower buyers may not like that. But Apple are smashing HP ((who have huge volume of PCs but comparatively slender margins and poor diversification or Eco system compared to Apple)), Dell, ((Same problem with Dell...who are now stewing in their own gravy after the race to the bottom which they helped in...)) (..etc and the usual suspects...), M$ and Google in terms of profitability because Apple knows where the puck is headed. And that may mean the tower gets left behind.
That may well be the case but that doesn't mean the need for an XMac (which may or may not be a tower) goes away. In fact if the market is indeed heading away from the desktop then it only makes more sense to rationalize the desktop lineup for that future.
It's still a substantial market...but it got overtaken good and proper by laptops. Netbooks looked like the new kid on the block until the iPad kicked it's arse out the ring. The rate of miniaturisation of power is outstripping traditional computing markets. Who wants to pull their hair out surfing on a windows tower when you can sit on the sofa with an iPad? No competition.
An interesting point as I sit at my desk with iPad in hand. It is notable that even though I'm 3G connected this iPad is a better net access machine than most of the computers I've ever owned. However that does not make it a Mac OS device replacement.
Like wise, by the time Apple gets its sh*t together with the ATV, the 'home hub server' will be an iMac or a Mini (a mere hair breadth away with i7s about to consolidate on the line and the Integrated '4000' imminent) or laptop or an iPad. It won't be a clunky tower (the 'under the desk desktop...')
I don't see the need for a home hub ever going away. The problem is Apple doesn't have a really good hub machine. It simply doesn't have a machine with easy access to disk drive bays which are critical for a hub device as storage and back up are a critical part of a hubs functionality.
If it isn't profitable...(how many will buy the Pro at that price?) Apple aren't going to make it. It's not the consumer/prosumer flagship anymore. The iMac is it. But even that is eclipsed by the Tsunami...the sea shift towards portability...and ultra portability.
The interesting thing here is that I'm not sure my next Mac will be a laptop. Why? Well because of those ultra portable iOS devices. If iOS and the associated hardware evolves in the right direction I might not need a laptop and the associated compromises that come with a laptop in the future.
This I can see a shift back to desktops and the enhanced functionality they have.
Apple gets it.
Not sure their competition does...
Lemon Bon Bon.
I'm not sure Apple gets it. I see iOS devices driving a change in the computing landscape that maybe even Apple doesn't fully grasp. For example my iPhone 3G was nice but the move to iPhone 4 was very enlightening. It is a far better platform for mobile needs than the old 3G, a rather surprising improvement for two years. I have some time before I purchase my next Mac or iPhone but I can see the possibility of iPhone and iPad eliminating my Mac needs. It really depends upon enhanced functionality in both the hardware and software.
So if iOS does get to the point where I really don't need the laptop why would I buy one in the future? Especially when I can implement a desktop without the limitations of a laptop. That is a larger screen and significant storage space.
I'm really interested in seeing what happens in two years after iPad3 and the next iPhone are released. Will Apple continue the strong laptop sales? Will desktops suddenly strengthen? You see I'm certain Apple has a vision but the user community tends to go its own way to some extent. I can see the day when no body looks at laptops first for their portable needs. Apple is so darn close with the iPad now it almost hurts.