AppleInsider podcast talks about the history of the professional Mac, and Apple's pro soft...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 9
This week on a special live edition of the AppleInsider podcast, Dan and Victor talk about the history of the professional Mac hardware, the history of pro software, and what happens next, all recorded from a gathering of professional users at Adorama in New York City.




AppleInsider editors Daniel Eran Dilger and Victor Marks discuss the Apple pro user, followed by a Q&A session and discussion on the company's current pro-tier offerings.

Listen to the embedded SoundCloud feed below:



We offer insight into key Apple's existing professional product platforms, as well as a potential blurring of segment lines with upcoming products like the rumored "pro" iMac.

Also considered is Apple's forthcoming Mac Pro and accompanying "pro" display. In an uncharacteristic move, Apple in April announced plans to launch a modular Mac Pro sometime in 2018. Dubbed a complete "rethinking the Mac Pro," the upcoming desktop is being designed to meet the needs of the most demanding professional users.

The event concluded with a Q&A, with several of the attendees expressing concern over how little attention they think Apple gives to the professional Mac user. A video of the event is also available, embedded below:



The show is available on iTunes and your favorite podcast apps by searching for "AppleInsider." Click here to listen, subscribe, and don't forget to rate our show.




Follow our hosts on Twitter: @danieleran and @vmarks.

Feedback and comments are always appreciated. Please contact the AppleInsider podcast at news@appleinsider.com and follow us on Twitter @appleinsider, plus Facebook and Instagram.

Those interested in sponsoring the show can reach out to us at advertising@appleinsider.com.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    you should edit the podcast after recording, because this was bad. A so crappy recording should never have been released to the public.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 625member
    Do we really need to be told about the YEARS of neglect of the Mac "Pro" line?
  • Reply 3 of 10
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    you should edit the podcast after recording, because this was bad. A so crappy recording should never have been released to the public.
    The audio was off the board at the event. It was then cleaned up in Izotope rx5 to de-noise it a bit. Would you have preferred we cut the question and answers?
  • Reply 4 of 10
    v4filmv4film Posts: 2member
    As usual, you guys don't understand the pro market!  Our work on Hollywood film production used to be all Mac.  In fact, we used our Macs everyday to do essential work.  Not just for editing, but content creation and animation, writing, controlling lighting boards, interface with digital cameras, watching dailies as well as monitoring the video on set (video Assist), etc.  The list is endless.  Visual Effects Technicians on set used to use Mac Laptops, but today they used HP workstation type laptops (32GB Ram is a minimum).  The new MacBook Pro is a joke, underpowered, lacking essential ram and expensive.  Our 2013 MacBooks are better for our work!

    My Macs are getting old.  We have used ever product Apple has made.  But the time is coming when we will be forced to leave the platform.  Our creative teams prefer Mac OS.  But we will have to make a transition to different hardware.  Promises of a redesigned Pro Mac are not enough.  We've seen Apple's past attempts! (the ashcan Mac Pro comes to mind)  We've seen Apple destroy careers by dropping products.  Over the last 15 years I've spent over $10-million on Mac hardware & software.  And I had reliable hardware and software.  The iPad & iPhone have made contributions as well.  But I have to say there are reliable alternatives to all of Apple's current product line.  And if we change platforms we will change them all.  Apple's continued lack of listening to customers and responding to the customer's needs is appalling.  Steve Jobs didn't listen to either, but could also deliver the next "big thing."  He was the ultimate consumer and demanded the best.  Apple can't replace that.  I'm quickly buying my last Apple products before they change so that I'm not caught in a stupid transition to all USB C (not ready for prime time) or another loss of features and more dongle madness.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    v4film said:
    As usual, you guys don't understand the pro market!  Our work on Hollywood film production used to be all Mac.  In fact, we used our Macs everyday to do essential work.  Not just for editing, but content creation and animation, writing, controlling lighting boards, interface with digital cameras, watching dailies as well as monitoring the video on set (video Assist), etc.  The list is endless.  Visual Effects Technicians on set used to use Mac Laptops, but today they used HP workstation type laptops (32GB Ram is a minimum).  The new MacBook Pro is a joke, underpowered, lacking essential ram and expensive.  Our 2013 MacBooks are better for our work!

    My Macs are getting old.  We have used ever product Apple has made.  But the time is coming when we will be forced to leave the platform.  Our creative teams prefer Mac OS.  But we will have to make a transition to different hardware.  Promises of a redesigned Pro Mac are not enough.  We've seen Apple's past attempts! (the ashcan Mac Pro comes to mind)  We've seen Apple destroy careers by dropping products.  Over the last 15 years I've spent over $10-million on Mac hardware & software.  And I had reliable hardware and software.  The iPad & iPhone have made contributions as well.  But I have to say there are reliable alternatives to all of Apple's current product line.  And if we change platforms we will change them all.  Apple's continued lack of listening to customers and responding to the customer's needs is appalling.  Steve Jobs didn't listen to either, but could also deliver the next "big thing."  He was the ultimate consumer and demanded the best.  Apple can't replace that.  I'm quickly buying my last Apple products before they change so that I'm not caught in a stupid transition to all USB C (not ready for prime time) or another loss of features and more dongle madness.
    At the event, I said specifically that users like yourself would like more RAM, more cores, in the same enclosures. I was referring to the Mac Pro, but we've discussed at length in the past how that's what pro users wanted out of an updated MacBook Pro - no one asked for a TouchBar, you wanted more RAM. 

    And next years' MacBook Pro probably gets there for you. What we know is that the Kaby Lake processor used in MacBook Pro this last go 'round wasn't available in a mobile form that could address 32GB of RAM. HP gets around this by using the desktop version, which has tradeoffs of worse power conservation, more heat, and more weight overall. As you say, you traded out laptops for desktop replacements that aren't the same things.

    As for the trashcan, we know that they're not going to make another one in that case. It's going to be modular, they promise. Whether that means it's a tower or something else, we'll see. 

    USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 is a dumpster fire, but for different reasons than you think. The dongle problem is a temporary problem, just as USB in 1998 went through a short period of transition with adapters (USB to serial, USB to parallel, etc.). The real issue here is some things work with USB, some with Thunderbolt 3, there are two cables that look identical, but one costs a lot more, and the consumer is bound to buy the affordable one - so things won't work and it won't be obvious why. 
  • Reply 6 of 10
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    v4film said:
    ... Our creative teams prefer Mac OS.  But we will have to make a transition to different hardware.  ...  But I have to say there are reliable alternatives to all of Apple's current product line.  And if we change platforms we will change them all.  
    I'm sorry, but I have to respond again to something specifically you wrote.

    Your teams prefer MacOS. You say there are reliable alternatives, just after acknowledging that, for your teams, there is no alternative, they know what they prefer.
    And you follow that up with, when you force that change, you're going to force that change on all of your teams.

    All of this is something you wrote in the context of, "Apple's first job is to make the pro user happy, give them what they want, and they aren't doing it" - and you're preparing to make your teams unhappy by intentionally depriving them of what they want. How's this going to go well again? What's the difficulty on waiting for the next product release so that Intel catches up on the RAM front, and you get the RAM you want again, that you would want to impose this upheaval on your teams?
  • Reply 7 of 10
    On V4Film's comment, it's full of holes. Also, likely not in a position to dictate what software the "creative teams" are using, despite posturing. There's a real tendency on these forums to forget (or to not know in the first place) how important software is in the Pro universe. And whatever visual-effects software those HP units are running, it obviously fits into the MacOS workflow.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    RFBrostRFBrost Posts: 1member

    To add my voice on the "Software is important too" comment.  Apple has w/o apology dropped support for Aperture which will leave photography pros no choice but Lightroom and Adobe's new found preference for subscription software which already infects the CAD marketplace.  How much cost is there to maintain a mature product?  If Apple can throw the Photographers under the bus, can we believe them that Final Cut Pro and Logic will endure? 

    If Apple routinely prioritizes "all-in-one" non-upgradeable hardware which is thin and sexy, can they be taken seriously when they say that they are serious about the "Pro" marketplace?  I thought Steve Jobs matrix had two axes: Consumer / Pro and Desktop / Portable.  But presently we don't have useful products in either a Pro Desktop nor Portable.  If HP cheated and put a Desktop chip in their portable, maybe that is the correct choice.  Add liquid cooling to the thing if you need to, but not having a 64KB RAM capability is inexcusable.  Not to mention the stupidity of their "thermally constrained" all-in-one non-upgradable so-called Mac Pro.  I thought it absurd that companies made "trash can holders" to try to fit Mac Pros into 19" racks.  Apple used to have a server product which they let die on the vine.  They had a server operating system which got no maintenance and lost features on every release.  What a joke. Linux running on White Box hardware keeps looking better and better. With the world moving to the cloud, how can Apple argue that there is no market for server hardware?  The market is there, but Apple does not know how to market to the enterprise nor the OEM.  

    It is their own myopia which leads them to their current conundrum of being the world's largest company that is essentially a "one trick pony".  The stock market gives Apple half the PE ratio of companies like Amazon and Google because it worries that any given year, Apple will fail to pull another rabbit out of its hat and make an adequately compelling replacement for the iPhone #N.  Had they pursued the server market and the pro market with any determination at all, they could have greatly increased their customer base and de-risked their business. 

    If my business depends on my computer, I don't give a rats ass what it looks like.  I care about reliability, expandability, upgradeability, and most important, don't stop supporting software that I depend on!  Give me those things and I'll keep buying the hardware, year after year, even if I have to pay a 10% hardware price penalty for the Apple logo. And, if the usability of Apple software is actually as superior as IBM's recent deployments suggest, I might even pay a 25% penalty on the hardware cost.  It's not rocket science!

  • Reply 9 of 10
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,105administrator
    v4film said:
    As usual, you guys don't understand the pro market!  ...  
    Apple's continued lack of listening to customers and responding to the customer's needs is appalling. 
    We do completely understand the pro market, actually. We understand it so much, and have done this kind of thing for so long, that we're able to realize that what one pro needs is not precisely what another needs.

    I get that you're let down -- but different aspects of the pro market need a focus on different aspects. I'm let down too. I want a PCI-E mac with socketed processors, but as I've said before, I'm a realist.

    Also, the pro Mac market is five percent of 10 percent of Apple's business and has been five percent of the company's Mac business for more than a decade -- nobody likes to hear that including me, but it's the truth.

    Apple is listening to consumers and responding to customer's needs -- just not yours or mine.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 10 of 10
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,436moderator
    RFBrost said:

    To add my voice on the "Software is important too" comment.  Apple has w/o apology dropped support for Aperture which will leave photography pros no choice but Lightroom and Adobe's new found preference for subscription software which already infects the CAD marketplace.  How much cost is there to maintain a mature product?  If Apple can throw the Photographers under the bus, can we believe them that Final Cut Pro and Logic will endure?

    Apple doesn't put a recurring revenue model into their software so eventually people stop buying because there's a limited market for it (2% of Apple's Mac customers) and then they see that as a lack of demand and they cut support. Randy Ubillos who was the main person behind FCP left Apple a couple of years ago. When this happens, Apple software usually tails off after a few years. I reckon they'll support it for a while yet but the long-term future of any product or company is never clear. We don't know what will happen with Apple when Tim Cook has left in maybe 10 years.

    If Apple routinely prioritizes "all-in-one" non-upgradeable hardware which is thin and sexy, can they be taken seriously when they say that they are serious about the "Pro" marketplace?  I thought Steve Jobs matrix had two axes: Consumer / Pro and Desktop / Portable.  But presently we don't have useful products in either a Pro Desktop nor Portable.  If HP cheated and put a Desktop chip in their portable, maybe that is the correct choice.  Add liquid cooling to the thing if you need to, but not having a 64KB RAM capability is inexcusable.  Not to mention the stupidity of their "thermally constrained" all-in-one non-upgradable so-called Mac Pro.  I thought it absurd that companies made "trash can holders" to try to fit Mac Pros into 19" racks.  Apple used to have a server product which they let die on the vine.  They had a server operating system which got no maintenance and lost features on every release.  What a joke. Linux running on White Box hardware keeps looking better and better. With the world moving to the cloud, how can Apple argue that there is no market for server hardware?  The market is there, but Apple does not know how to market to the enterprise nor the OEM.  
    It is their own myopia which leads them to their current conundrum of being the world's largest company that is essentially a "one trick pony".  The stock market gives Apple half the PE ratio of companies like Amazon and Google because it worries that any given year, Apple will fail to pull another rabbit out of its hat and make an adequately compelling replacement for the iPhone #NHad they pursued the server market and the pro market with any determination at all, they could have greatly increased their customer base and de-risked their business. 

    The state of the server market can be seen from other vendors:

    https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS42335617

    It's around 2.55m units per quarter (just under 10m per year), revenue was $14.6b per quarter so ASP is ~$5700 (a lot of this goes to Intel who made $17b from server chips in 2016), company gross margins are about 30%. The following says Dell's server margins were about 20% and they made higher margins on networking and storage:

    http://allthingsd.com/20130603/inside-dells-scorched-earth-pc-and-server-price-war-plan/

    HP has 25% marketshare, Dell has 18%. It's not likely that Apple would make the top 5 but lets say they managed to rival Lenovo at 6.5%. This is 165k units per quarter at $5700 = $940m. Apple makes about $5-6b on Macs.

    But this isn't selling to consumers as you point out, it's selling to businesses and institutions (universities, server hosting companies, VFX companies):

    http://h17007.www1.hpe.com/tw/en/enterprise/servers/case-studies/index.aspx

    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/05/14/whos-got-the-most-web-servers/

    Some of the people who buy the servers are competing with Apple in services, which is another point. If Apple sold the same tech they used themselves (database efficiency etc), their service competitors would gain an advantage. If they didn't, their potential customers would be inclined to go elsewhere. The biggest companies are building their own servers so they'd have to go round all the hosting companies with a few tens of thousands of servers each.

    What could Apple offer that HP/Dell/IBM/Lenovo can't? Maybe a better OS interface but it's unix all the same. When you run raw processes, it's more about stability and efficiency. Companies are best to buy the whole solution packages too so it means Apple doing enterprise storage again and maybe selling networking equipment, routers, firewalls etc. otherwise the buyer has to deal with multiple suppliers and support services. If Apple doesn't do all the equipment then they can't offer discounts so the buyer has to pay full margins on the supporting hardware and the servers.

    When companies buying tens of thousands of servers have to run their businesses efficiently and be competitive, they don't want to pay extra. That's where the Others come in (grey line that includes Chinese companies):

    IDC_Q4cy2016_server_vendor_revenue_share_chart

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/02/server_market_shrinks/

    These are the even lower margin manufacturers. Apple uses some of these companies in their own data centres: ZT, Inspur, Teradata, SuperMicro (not any more). Apple knows they'd have to compete with them and if they knew they could, they would do it and they'd use it themselves.

    Although cloud demand is growing, that doesn't translate into a more lucrative server market. Computers get more efficient with fewer machines and fewer storage drives handling more customers and competition drives prices/margins down.

    The potential gains for Apple at best would be about $3-4b per year and <0.5m customers per year. Not bad but they made $215b last year and have over 200m yearly customers so the idea that this would diversify their earnings just isn't the case and it comes with a lot of headaches as well as the fact that the hardware side isn't growing, it's just going to get worse for high margin companies going forward. Apple has shown that it can better leverage low margin hardware from 3rd parties and focus on services.

    The only way they can really do something worthwhile in servers is with their own CPUs because they could undercut everyone in price, even the Chinese companies.

    At this point in time, the workstation and server market can't make a significant impact on their business. Their iPad+Mac business is an order of magnitude larger in revenue and two orders of magnitude in volume. Apple employs people to work this stuff out, it's not like they are oblivious to the potential sales they can get. They've tackled the market already over a long period of time.

    If my business depends on my computer, I don't give a rats ass what it looks like.  I care about reliability, expandability, upgradeability, and most important, don't stop supporting software that I depend on!  Give me those things and I'll keep buying the hardware, year after year, even if I have to pay a 10% hardware price penalty for the Apple logo. And, if the usability of Apple software is actually as superior as IBM's recent deployments suggest, I might even pay a 25% penalty on the hardware cost.  It's not rocket science!
    People say this all the time but it doesn't happen. When people need reliability and upgradeability, it's because they don't want to be buying new hardware every year or even every 5 years. There are people who are using 2009 Mac Pros and say the same things, if Apple just provides the right hardware they'll jump right on it. Maybe once after 8 years but then they'll just hold onto it for another 8 years.

    Most people buying workstations buy at the lower price points. Apple is still competitive here. They now have a 6-core with 4TFLOP GPU at $3k. HP has exactly the same on offer and Apple didn't need to update anything after 3+ years. However, HP offers quad i7 with a much faster NVidia 1080 for 30% less.

    Apple isn't able to offer things like dual Titan X (22TFLOP combined, 250W each) but that was never the case. They could resolve this with something that is like multiple cylinders side by side e.g have a base cylinder with a weak GPU maybe dual CPU option but single CPUs go to 24-core or more anyway. Then have notches down the side and you slot a GPU cylinder with its own fan and PSU on it. They can blend where they meet to make a nicer shape. Some have suggested a rectangular stack but it needs cooling so vertical offers a better footprint, even if it was box shaped.



    It might have to be a bit taller to support full length GPUs, it depends on if they want to allow PCIe cards but the base unit can actually be smaller with a smaller PSU (and cheaper) because it's not having to support two decent GPUs by default and it can have room for storage so you can put 4TB SATA SSDs in it. This works better for musicians and photographers. For heavier processing like video editing, someone can buy a single high-end GPU and stick it on the side. For video effects and computation, someone can buy two. In total they'd have 3 GPUs, the internal for running the display.

    It does mean up to 3 power supplies and cables but it's easy to upgrade the GPUs as Apple can sell the cylinders separate and people can resell their old GPUs to people who have none when they upgrade to new ones. Apple would bundle an AMD GPU and they can offer 4 external GPU options, 2 each from AMD and NVidia: 8GB 1080 ($799) and 12GB Titan X ($1499), 8GB RX 480 ($499), 12GB Vega ($999). If they made them as TB3 eGPUs, they could be sold to every Mac user but notches down the side saves extra cabling on the MP and allows faster connection.

    This saves dealing with power supply problems and people trying to use unsupported GPUs, it avoids compromising the form factor of the base unit (which a box would) for the majority of customers - it improves it by lowering the price, size and adding storage space, it allows easily reselling GPUs and upgrading them and Apple can offer GPU upgrades as soon as they are ready, even if some need a bigger/smaller power supply, they design around the GPU, people can also upgrade the CPU but keep an old GPU or vice versa. Most of Apple's customers would be buying the single base unit MP just as before but it could start at $2500 for 6-core. iMac/MBP/Mini and current MP users could buy a cylinder and hook it up over TB, a lot quieter than other eGPUs with a custom heatsink.
Sign In or Register to comment.