Originally Posted by v5v
I just don't know how a guy like me makes Apple aware of the trigger issues for "stale buyers."
I didn't even submit a capital request for a new tower at work this year even though we really need one because there wasn't enough advantage over what we have now to justify the cost. To Apple, that just looks like "the Pro isn't selling very well," as opposed to "we really need to improve this thing to make it attractive to buyers."
There are a lot of factors that Apple has to weigh up. They have all the data for buying trends. A few people have pointed out that Apple would sell more if they just sold the right options but again, you have to think about the decisions from their point of view.
If you sold a tower for $2500 and you had an iMac at $2000 and a buyer comes up to you and says 'I'll buy from you if you make a tower for $1500'. Right from the start, you know the maximum sale price is below what you offer. The threat being made by the consumer is they won't buy at all unless that option exists. However you know that you will drop the average selling price and therefore the profits and to more than just that one customer. So what you'd have to weigh up is will the volume of customers buying the cheaper option increase enough to offset the lower profit. If not, your only option is to say to the customer, 'sorry, we don't swing that way'.
The same applies for the expensive models e.g 'I'll buy if you make a 17" or if you make a great value Mac Pro'. Apple has to decide to source materials, develop the manufacturing line, design marketing material, train staff to support it and so on. The 15" form factor is the most popular size:
The ratios won't be quite the same for Apple as they don't have the in-between sizes and the ratios will have changed since then because of netbooks failing but it's about 5:1 in favour of the 15" vs 17". Assuming that this isn't based solely on price, Apple appeals to a wider audience with a 15" so a 15" at the 17" price point has a wider appeal and the same or higher profit margin. They may well lose out on the sale to 17" buyers but they make the sale to 15" buyers and some of the previous 17" buyers move to 15". The decision as a seller is to get the best return.
On the Mac Pro side, the audience has pretty much flat-lined at 1 million units per quarter and this has been the case for years. It clearly hasn't followed the growth trends that the rest of the PC industry has seen as many buyers have migrated down and now the majority of the industry is on laptops (70% laptops, 28% desktops, 2% workstations). This small audience is willing to spend a lot initially, which generates a lot of profit. However, this audience doesn't spend frequently because work machines should be stable and you can't just be changing operating system versions every year. This inevitably slows down the buying. On top of that, the owners can upgrade almost everything inside it and they do (off-the-shelf CPUs, GPUs etc).
Apple knows this, they have the internet too and they can see people doing upgrades and they will have data from some partner suppliers, possibly NVidia. From what they see happening, they make decisions about what they should sell to get the best return. It doesn't really matter if someone is making a scientific discovery on a Mac or not if Apple doesn't know about it and the public doesn't know about it. All Apple knows is that person has paid the same as anyone else.
It's more likely that people who spend more on computers do so because they need it and that leads to the conclusion that this is an important group of buyers. Pixar, ILM etc are important buyers too and they have all HP and Dell. They are important in their own right though, their importance to Apple is how much they'd be willing to spend on Apple products. The celebrity factor doesn't work when it comes to workstations. Chris Rock owning a Mac is more influential than somebody making a scientific discovery on a tower hidden under a desk:
"Chris Rock told People in April that he was an avid Mac user. "If they had water, I would drink the Mac water,""
Some people who own Mac Pros think they are the most important people just like people who have the nicest cars or the biggest house or the CEO position at a company. It's not the labels or the products that make the people important but what they do. A Mac Pro or a 17" laptop won't be the most suitable machine for a very important and highly paid job. In no way does that make the job or the person doing it less important or less professional than people/jobs for whom a 17" MBP or MP are more suitable.
Apple's decisions are always presented as being 'suitable or unsuitable' for certain types of work. In every case these days, it's 'more suitable or less suitable'. An iMac is less suitable for animation work than a Mac Pro but an iMac with cloud rendering can be more suitable than a Mac Pro because it can end up cheaper as people have demonstrated and you don't have to source your own display. A Macbook Pro is less suitable for audio work than a Mac Pro for performance but more suitable if you need to take the machine with you. Buyers make compromises, sellers make compromises and sometimes sellers' compromises won't match the buyers' but they both make the decisions purposefully for the best return and you can't assume as a buyer that your compromises give Apple a better return, even beyond financial.
Originally Posted by Jim W
35%, 50%,90% gains are very substantial when you are doing projects that bill in the thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars. Feature films in the millions.
On the render farm side a 90% increase would be beneficial but individuals can't do what you are describing. The videos I posted earlier are people who do this. The visual effects guy was sitting with Robert Zemeckis at Skywalker Ranch and he wanted a change done to a 900 frame sequence for the movie Flight ASAP. A single workstation can't do that regardless if it is a top of the line Mac Pro because even a Mac Pro would take at least 30 minutes per frame so about 19 days. They used cloud rendering and scaled up to 100 nodes to get it done in time using a laptop (they use Macbook Pros). They did the changes on the 'workstation' (MBP/iMac) in Maya and Nuke and shoved the processing to the render nodes. The other freelancer guy needed to do a 100 machine hour render in 2 days; Mac Pro or not, you can't do that with one machine by definition because you don't have enough hours in the day.
Some computer has to sit in the cloud for these jobs but it's not towers any more, it's server blades, which Apple doesn't make. Someone could of course build their own Mac Pro farm but it's too expensive because it's >$6000 per 12-core unit. It's actually more cost-effective just now to use Mac Minis. The visual effects guy mentioned that it would cost them around $2m to scale up to the capacity they'd need. Even the huge animation companies have talked about outsourcing their render farms because it's not cost-effective to maintain them.
There's no question the Mac Pro is faster and that's better, it's just not the difference between getting a job done or not and I don't understand the opposition to doing these things on say a Macbook Pro. Isn't it good that we now have inexpensive machines that sit in our laps that can churn through high-end jobs? I think it's great you can now buy a laptop and get a similar experience to a Mac Pro.
Originally Posted by Jim W
What if a factory manager was told he could get a 90% gain in productivity
90% performance gain doesn't mean a 90% gain in productivity unless the machine is only doing raw processing, which means it's not being used as a workstation but a render node. That's not to say the productivity gains you do get aren't valuable but the gains get less the more that machines improve.
Originally Posted by Jim W
Pros are making their decisions based on what comes from Apple by the end of this year. Hopefully Apple comes through.
People said that last year though and the year before. We know that no one can force them to do what they don't want to do. They have to be convinced that it's worthwhile. They need market projections, design requirements etc. Just saying 'I know a few important people who will buy one' can't possibly convince a company to roll out a new production line.
They've made the decision to make a new Pro so there's not much uncertainty over them making one but we'll know better what their future plans are when we see what they've done with it. The 17" MBP decision will be clearer once the prices shift on the Retina models. It's to be expected now though that these machines aren't growth models and even yearly upgrade cycles aren't really essential. Intel takes some responsibility for this - Apple can only offer what they sell.