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Steve Jobs reportedly mulled axing Apple's pro products

post #1 of 130
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In a blog post on Friday, former Apple ad consultant Ken Segall reveals Steve Jobs once considered killing off the company's professional product offerings, including the Mac Pro and software like Final Cut Pro.

Mac Pro
Apple's forthcoming Mac Pro. | Source: Apple


Apple has long been known as one of the few computer makers to cater to both consumers and professional users, but Segall says that at one point, Jobs had reservations about continuing the company's pro lineup.

"His rationale was as you might expect: consumer products have an unlimited upside, while pro products are aimed at a niche market that eats up major resources," Segall says.

Jobs weighed the options before airing his idea at an ad agency meeting. This was apparently during a time when Apple's iMac had just become a global bestseller.

"Obviously, the pro market has value for Apple, even if its numbers are relatively small," Segall notes. "Pros are opinion leaders, influencers and evangelists. Their love of Apple shows up in the purchase decisions of friends, family and colleagues."

In the end, Jobs obviously decided to stick with the program, though Segall suggests Apple's philosophy on what it considers "pro" may have changed over the years. For example, the latest Final Cut X has been streamlined with an easy-to-use interface moving toward the look of iMovie. Professional users were vocal about the changes Apple made to the vaunted program, but the decisions, as well as the lower price of entry, brought in a wider audience.

A similar change is coming in hardware as the Mac Pro finally gets a redesign after years of being passed over. The new sleek black cylinder boasts a user-friendly design with easy expansion via six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Unlike the previous Mac Pro, the next-generation model has little to upgrade internally, but it does offer a consumer-minded design. Some professional users may be turned off by the changes, but the tweaks could bring renewed consumer interest in standalone towers, a segment of the industry moving toward extinction.

Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

"Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"

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post #2 of 130
Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

Why is that news to anyone?
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post #3 of 130

could be argued either way if you look at the technology that came out of the NeXT acquisition.

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post #4 of 130
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post
Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

Why is that news to anyone?

 

Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.

post #5 of 130
i'm gonna go out on a limb here and submit for debate that steve often considered many things.
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post #6 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.

 

Just don't underestimate the "Pro" that actually need a classic desktop in order to create and produce. I'm not seeing the need for classic work stations for essential things, such as software development going away any time soon. My guess is we'll still see them around long after 2020, just perhaps not in households that much but at workplaces. Certainly they will also cost a premium by then.

post #7 of 130
If they bring back the 17" MacBook pro with a retina display, I'll forgo my overseas trip next year. I want on of those baby's so bad
post #8 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In a blog post on Friday, former Apple ad consultant Ken Segall reveals Steve Jobs once considered killing off the company's professional product offerings, including the Mac Pro and software like Final Cut Pro.
[...]
Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

"Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"

If the screens were better they would.

 

That's the same logic that people use when they ask for 5" iPhones (a few people want them), and we know how apple considers that modality..

 

And the math for a 17" Retina display would be around 3456x2160, which would be pretty computationally heavy.

 

Sounds like someone loved his 17" at one time.

post #9 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist.

For example, I always felt that dropping Pippin and Newton was a mistake, but they had to focus.
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post #10 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.

 

If Uncle Fester is still heading up MS there will be dinosaurs around, even if MS is the only company making them. 

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post #11 of 130
The return of the 17" MacBook Pro would be great. 4k screen, 16x10 aspect ratio, and the ability to have 2 PCI-e disks. If they can get 12 hours of runtime out of it, even better. I hope they are working on it. My current 2009 17" needs to last until they release something that can replace it.
post #12 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.

 

For some time Alex Lindsay (owner of PixelCorps and a huge Apple fan) has theorized that Jobs' ultimate goal was to replace Windows after their iOS products were widely used and they were less dependent on desktop and laptop computer hardware for revenue. He guessed that Apple would release OSX as either open source or license it to run on Windows boxes.

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post #13 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiraniumbra View Post

If they bring back the 17" MacBook pro with a retina display, I'll forgo my overseas trip next year. I want on of those baby's so bad

It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! :)

post #14 of 130

Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 

 

Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.

post #15 of 130
Sure he did. It has been consistently shown that Jobs always enjoyed a good "thought experiment", and entertained them regularly. They are good for business.
post #16 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 

 

Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.

So-called "pros" ? I assume you are a So-called "fanboy" and you think you can do everything on your iPad or mac mini. 

 

People are entitled to opinions, just as you are. Having a pro devision is like engine, brake, tire, oil manufactures participating in F1 racing. It is R&D and the technology moved forward in the pro devision trickles down to those toys you love using. 

post #17 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! 1smile.gif
, true, but it wouldn't be moved that much, just occasionally. I just like the screen size. Not so big as my wife's Qosimo, not so small as my old compaq
post #18 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta 
Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

Why is that news to anyone?

Quite a few people condemn Tim Cook whenever something happens they don't like and follow it up with "Steve understood our needs". This shows that Steve had no such affection towards people who perceive themselves as having seen Apple through its darkest days. The unfortunate truth is that those high-end machines led to Apple's darkest days because they were very expensive, had a very small market and weren't unique enough from beige PC boxes, which were significantly cheaper. The iMac was the revolution that brought Apple back from the brink:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/01/14/apple_chalks_up_123_million/

Based on that success, Steve could have canned the high-end line years before the G5 arrived and the iPod + iPhone + iMac + iBook + iPad would have still driven them to the success they've had.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Unlike the previous Mac Pro, the next-generation model has little to upgrade internally, but it does offer a consumer-minded design. Some professional users may be turned off by the changes, but the tweaks could bring renewed consumer interest in standalone towers, a segment of the industry moving toward extinction.

It's not just about mainstream appeal, Apple has to design machines around the technology and where it's going. A $2k+ computer will never be mass-market. The Mac Pro is designed for raw power so only power components need to go inside. They are committed to Thunderbolt and those devices go outside but people buying for peripherals make up a fraction of the MP userbase. They are effectively redesigning it better for the largest proportion of Mac Pro buyers and should offer better performance-per-dollar, it's not for a new consumer audience at all although I'm sure it will get some new buyers.

Compute power will become so inexpensive in the next few years that the form factor doesn't matter any more and it's why laptops now make up 75%+ of all computer sales.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

"Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"

A 17" display is still a small display for working with all the time and the 15" now has the same resolution. The 17" is typically described as a desktop replacement whereas the 15" isn't but when they are next to each other, there's very little practical difference:



A 17" display isn't a replacement for a 22-27" desktop display. Every 17" display they made was a TN panel so not good at all for any kind of professional image/video work. With the high-res IPS 15", there's certainly far less need now to offer a physically larger model and they tend to prefer having as few model variations as possible so they can manage inventory more easily.
post #19 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 

 

Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.

 

You've said something I've been tempted to say for a long time, but always just held my tongue. It's pretty disgusting how even with how innovative the next Pro is, pretty much every forum comment I've seen is negative, and bashing it, because people can't think outside the fucking box and want a variation of something they've always had, even when the changes would overall be a massive longterm improvement for both users and the industry. The new Mac Pro form factor has so many advantages, as well as incredible flexibility, yet all the haters can do is think of uncommon "what if" scenarios, to conclude that the machine is useless. Being able to hook up external thunderbolt 2 devices, at nearly the same speeds as PCIe, gives so much more flexibility and expansion options. 

 

And yeah, it doesn't shock me that SJ considered cancelling the Pro line. Then again, Apple is an incredible company because it constantly reconsiders and reasseses everything- even the unthinkable. It's the only way you can be sure that you're not following pre-conceived notions about something, and re-evaluating tends to lead to new insights, questions, ideas, and conclusions. I'm sure Apple also considered making a 20" iPad- doesn't mean they will do it, but considering something seriously forces you to make a list of pros and cons, thus clarifying exactly why something may or may not be useful or feasible. 

post #20 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

It's like carrying around your own tombstone. {17" MBP} Apple was right to kill it! 1smile.gif

I disagree. I have a 2006 17" MBP and it's not unreasonably large. I assume that a newer one would be much thinner and lighter so it would be even less of a problem.

It was apparently dropped due to lack of demand rather than due to its large size, per se.
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post #21 of 130

I guess he decided the pros outweighed the cons.

post #22 of 130

Just revisited the Mac Pro preview on Apple's website, that thing is seriously amazing. If you've ever built your own PC, you'll know how many heat sinks and cooling fans there could be in a PC, its not unusual even for casual (not complete beginner casual) to replace the stock heat sink and fan of the CPU with a better after market cooler, and you might put a fan or two on the case to help cool the GPU and in general. So for the Mac Pro to fit everything to that single heat sink with one fan, its absolutely out of this world.

 

You cannot buy components that fit like that in the consumer PC components market, so what you end up with when you build a beast of a computer is to make it HUGE, huge enclosure with great cooling features, lots of expansion possibility, everything more or less must be inside, what's outside is usually just the external storage. And consumer GPUs are huge also, each with its own cooling attached and this class of GPU will probably need extra power, you need two to match the Mac Pro. There is no way to build a PC like that with similar performance, and at that size on your own, size won't even be close really. And the the Mac Pro enclosure is aluminum too, without a seam, how did they do that??

post #23 of 130

Apple kill off the 17" Macbook Pro? Unless someone can prove to me Apple said such a thing then the 17" Pro still lives!!

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post #24 of 130
And this conversation is verifiable?
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post #25 of 130

I could see Apple re-releasing the 17 inch MacBook Pro, if the bezels are reduced in the next model.

 

Honestly I don't know why the bezel is so big around the MacBook line. With the iPad's bezel getting trimmed I could see the same happening with the MacBooks.

 

A 17 inch could end up the same size as the current 15 inch and all other sizes would shrink comparably.

post #26 of 130

This is one of the areas where Steve was wrong. What are Mac professionals supposed to use? Windows? Did he really want to send 5% of his customers over to Windows? He said he didn't care about market share.

 

I mean, seriously. Are you actually going to turn your pro customers over to the competition?

post #27 of 130

Yes please gives us audio pros a 17 " retina with ALL the state of the art hardware available. I know a lot of guys in LA who would buy one or two NOW! 

post #28 of 130
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post
And this conversation is verifiable?

 

As verifiable as Eddy Cue's claim that Steve considered a smaller iPad.

post #29 of 130

I think some questions need to be asked about what was going on at Apple during the last year or two of Steve Jobs's life.  Certainly not software development, as the long wait for Aperture 4 and iWork 2011, er, 2012, er, 2013 demonstrates.  And by the sounds of it, a fair bit of indecision regarding the higher-end Apple products that lure people into the Apple ecosystem even if they don't necessarily generate a lot of sales.

 

My sense is that the company is back on track, though we won't know for sure for about another year as there are a lot of pent up product introductions.

post #30 of 130

YES!!! REDEMPTION!!!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by kiraniumbra View Post

If they bring back the 17" MacBook pro with a retina display, I'll forgo my overseas trip next year. I want on of those baby's so bad

 

I'd sell my CAR if I could get a 17" version with modern quad, fast busses and USB3, Retina or not.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

Sounds like someone loved his 17" at one time.

 

He's not alone. I haven't purchased a new Mac for myself since it was discontinued. (I got a non-retina Pro for my wife and a mini for the living room, but nothing for ME.)

 

I'd take a 19" if they made it!

 

A few people have noted that you can now cram more onto a 15" screen than I can on my old 17", but it's all really SMALL. The precision required to put the cursor on a bezier curve handle that's about the size of a pin head is more than my clumsy hands can muster. Sure, a 22" monitor would be even better than a 17" display, but until they make one that runs on batteries and folds into a computer so I can carry it around...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eng12 View Post

My current 2009 17" needs to last until they release something that can replace it.

 

Mine, too. Of course, we will now be mocked and ridiculed by those who don't have to manipulate tiny little handles in Illustrator or view more of a waveform on a timeline without scrolling or try to fit thirty-eleven floating tool palettes on the screen at once. Because THEY have no such need, WE are foolish for working that way.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! :)

 

I don't mind it, actually. Once you've got a laptop in your backpack it doesn't really matter whether it's 15" or 17". It's like carrying bags of groceries. Do you really notice a significant difference carrying five bags instead of four?

 

Again though, just because YOU don't wan... oh never mind.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred

 

What are you talking about? The only people I knew who HAD Macs in the 80's WERE "Pros," most of them working on document design, or as it was known then, "desktop publishing." In the 90's I saw Macs in studios but very, very few in homes.

 

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the Mac even really make inroads into the "average user" "home computer" market until the mid-to-late 90's, and didn't begin to outnumber the pro users until the 21st century.

 

So, no, pro users obviously do not automatically hate everything Apple does. In fact, it might be argued that there wouldn't BE any Apple computers if it wasn't for Pro users.

 

By all means, feel free to express your own preferences, but don't deride those who use their computers for more demanding tasks just because the factors that influence their decisions don't affect you. Remember that there are lots of situations in human existence in which a small minority play an important role in creating opportunities for the majority.

 

Oh, and by the way, saying I wish they hadn't discontinued the 17" is not Apple hate, it's Apple love. I can get a 17" laptop from Asus or Lenovo, but I don't because I want an APPLE.

post #31 of 130

But Apple did kill the Xserve and let the Mac Pro languish for years, with the recently disclosed Mac Pro re-design hardly being a high-end product*... except for FCPX users.

 

*e.g., the new Mac Pro is only single processor, has only 4 DIMM slots and no expansion options.

post #32 of 130
I'm sure Jobs has mulled over a LOT of things during his tenure at Apple, but that's got nothing to do with anything. What they make is what counts.
post #33 of 130
Meh. There's still a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. They added a retina display version. They still sell Logic Pro, FCP, Motion. Still offer FireWire. Not sure what the fuss is about.

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post #34 of 130

As long as apps are written in C++ or Object C the traditional mouse and keyboard will be necessary. Once we get to the new paradigm where we program with synaptic-like parallel thought generated code then we can move beyond the linear nature of line by line code.

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post #35 of 130

NOW, when is Apple bringing back the 17" MBP, so I can upgrade my 2011!?  *grumble*

post #36 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! :)

 

I loved mine and wish I could get another.

People who dislike the 17" MBPs just don't understand that it's not really a laptop. It's a portable full featured desktop with a big display. If you needed to get serious work done and also needed the ability to relocate at will, it was a great solution. The 15" MBPs will always feel a bit confining to me.

post #37 of 130
Count me in the Pro 17" camp.

I had a 17" (techinally still have) and was forced into a 15" retina. The resolution on retina is astounding but I can't help but miss the physical real estate of the 17". It's the perfect laptop screen size.

I thought they didn't update the 17" due to the newness of retina displays and had to wait for the price to come down. The 17" version would be expensive at the time.

But now, there will likely be 27" iMac retina displays. So a 27" MacBook Pro screen is seemingly feasible again.

I'd definitely buy one. Day one.

The Mac Pro too is something I can't wait to grab. It's a beast.

I don't think the "pro" crowd is shrinking at all.

But the consumer products are obviously going to overshadow everything since they focus on consuming that which is created.

But you need machines to do the creating. No need to leave that to the windows gang.
post #38 of 130
Steve would have been a crappy CEO if he didn't consider it. Thank goodness he was a great CEO and kept them and figured out they had to have a little more mainstream appeal. Can't wait to get my MacPro.
post #39 of 130
You know, if there's a slight shift in the pro markets to bring in more consumers/prosumers, the sales could increase and the price tag could come down a bit for us pros. Ah who am I kidding...
post #40 of 130
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

Why is that news to anyone?

...They're also proud of the products they didn't release.
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