Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
6/1/2012
12:59 PM
Kurt Marko
Kurt Marko
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers

Apple has alienated some of its most committed, long-term users by orphaning its high-end hardware.

Creative professionals and media producers, those quirky non-conformists that were some of the earliest adopters of the original Macintosh, have long been the bedrock upon which Apple built what limited success it's had in battling Windows' hegemony in the enterprise. These customers, who are more concerned with simple elegance than Microsoft compatibility, and have always valued the Mac's clean, consistent interface, reliable OS and, until recently, malware-free security, have made Macs a staple with photographers graphics artists, and video editors.

Many of these folks, dealing as they do with large graphics files and sophisticated, CPU-crushing software, favor Apple's high-end workstation, the Mac Pro, over more mainstream iMacs or MacBooks. Its boxy, utilitarian design is light years from those sleek and sexy all-in-one products and the very antithesis of Apple design guru Jony Ive's svelte iPhone and iPad creations.

Still, the Mac Pro serves a certain, arguably influential if not numerous, niche. Customers love the machine's expandability. Sporting four drive bays, dual processors with up to 12 cores, 8 memory slots maxing out at 64 GB of RAM and two double-wide PCIx slots for dual high-end graphics cards capable of driving 6 displays, the Mac Pro is indeed a workhorse.

Sadly, Apple has let the Mac Pro languish. Last updated almost two years ago (several generations in iPhone time), the machines, while still powerful, are saddled with dated hardware and showing their age. Mac Pro customers have been patient, realizing that based as they are on Intel's Xeon server platform, there was little point to an update until the chip giant migrated its latest Sandy Bridge architecture to the Xeon line. Well, that day happened in March yet there's still no word on when, or even if, the Mac Pro will see a refresh.

A Pro update seemed like a no-brainer after Apple nixed its rack-mountable Xserve line (pdf) a couple years ago, a move that stoked rumors that the next iteration would be a switch hitter: a design equally suited as a desk-side workstation or data center server … a logical concept indeed. While Apple will never compete in the plain vanilla server market, those using multiple Mac systems as rendering engines or remote desktops would love the rack 'em stack 'em option.

Well, some customers, if not mad as hell, certainly aren't going to take Apple's silence anymore. The fuse was lit by a video authoring and design professional named Lou Borella who finally had enough and took to the 21st Century version of the town square, Facebook, to share his grievances. Making the case on the We Want a New Macpro Facebook page, Borella recounts a litany of Apple purchases: Macs, iPhones, iPods, and software packages that clearly establish his bona fides as one of its best customers.

Borella articulates an obviously widely held frustration; his page has over 16,000 "Likes" as of this writing, adding them at three per minute. At over 4,000 per day, that could double by the time you read this. "I'm looking for a little clarity. Can you please let me and the other people on in this group know what is going on with the MacPro? It's been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we're really happy with our new toys. But unfortunately, many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living."

Yet Apple is more focused on mobile and TV than workstations and business. Although the upcoming Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) is expected to include a MacBook refresh, Apple CEO Tim Cook's latest public interview had nary a mention of desktops.

Although the numbers clearly favor the mobile, consumer market already dominated by iPhone, iPad, and iTunes, Apple shouldn't ignore its traditional base of graphics-oriented creative professionals. Sure, they provide little revenue in comparison to the iOS-based Goliaths, but they are a loyal and influential constituency. Designing new Mac Pro hardware that creatives long for is just incremental overhead for a company like Apple and, who knows, a bit of that engineering, pushing the workstation envelope to meet Mac standards, could eventually migrate down to the next generation iMac, MacBook, or even, who knows, iTV.

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference brings together industry thought leaders to explore the latest innovations in enterprise social software, analytics, and big data tools and technologies. Learn how your business can harness these tools to improve internal business processes and create operational efficiencies. It happens in Boston, June 18-21. Register today!

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
tlandry800
50%
50%
tlandry800,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2012 | 2:03:23 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
ah, but you'd give up too much quality if Apple allowed OSX on other hardware... so what would be the point? The Mac Pro is extremely well engineered, it has no cables, everything just slides in... so I doubt anyone would want to deal with generic PCs if they want the most advanced OS... OSX.
tlandry800
50%
50%
tlandry800,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2012 | 1:57:03 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
Yes, nice philosophy, and I generally agree... but you are missing the point that Apple has the burden of pushing technology & society forward. The Mac Pro is a remnant of the past, and while I think Apple is making a strategic mistake of not advancing a "full port" massively expandable machine... moore's law marches on and Apple's Mac mini can do 70% of what a Mac Pro can do for 50% the price.
-
Someday you'll move back up to the Apple realm, so let your bitterness subside.
moarsauce123
50%
50%
moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/7/2012 | 11:29:18 AM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
It makes more money for Apple to sell consumer products at high-end prices. Given how much dough Apple makes with iPads and iPhones there is little incentive to put any effort into a product line that sells a few thousand.
Apple should change the approach and just sell OS X. Everyone can then put together high-end hardware as they please. It will be much cheaper for everyone compared to buying small volume overpriced Apple hardware that is more and more off the shelf stuff anyway.
Aden11
50%
50%
Aden11,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/6/2012 | 6:25:51 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
Cheer up Kurt, new Mac Pro is coming next week.
kbuchs559
50%
50%
kbuchs559,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/6/2012 | 5:12:35 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
This article has caused me to wonder, just what does Apple put in their corporate and customer data centers?
ps2os2
50%
50%
ps2os2,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/4/2012 | 6:49:02 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
I am a "happy" Mac Pro owner. I have had mine for say 5 years. Yes it's showing its age, I can only run 10.4.11 but its fine with me. I have not seen a single new OS X feature that I "must have" I will continue to use it until Apple comes up with a must have feature. Sorry Apple your OS X is no longer interesting.
alanbcohen
50%
50%
alanbcohen,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2012 | 3:49:01 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
What is so surprising? Apple intentionally ignored the installed base of Apple ][ and ][+ users when the ///, the ][e and ][GL models came out. They have a tradition of ignoring current customers; extending to rebuffing the customer attempts to contact the company. That is why I discontinued purchasing Apple-brand merchandise in thirty years ago. BTW, my Apple ][ serial number is <20,000.
MBELANGER941
50%
50%
MBELANGER941,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2012 | 7:47:06 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
Apple wants to be a consumer electronics company and is not interested in supporting business users, but then again, they never really have. All you need to understand the future of Apple is to look at how they're morphing OS X to behave like IOS.
ANON1252035144238
50%
50%
ANON1252035144238,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2012 | 3:42:06 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
The blogger is being too presumptuous as if he knows what is going on at Apple,

Does it mean that when Apple refresh the Mac Pro all those quirky ones will going out and buy them by the millions.

Anyway words are cheap and sometimes the person is much cheaper and shallower.
Mary-Anne
50%
50%
Mary-Anne,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2012 | 3:24:24 PM
re: Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers
If Apple is not interested in making OS X work on more powerful hardware, maybe they should encourage people to run OS X on commodity hardware. I mean, they already do

http://www.hackintosh.com/
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.