Apple's first Mac Pro update in two years disappoints users hoping for more at Monday's WWDC. But this may not be the end of the line for the Mac Pro.
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Apple quietly updated its long-neglected Mac Pro desktop workstation on Monday, but Mac developers and Apple customers say they're wondering why Apple went to the trouble of releasing such an underwhelming revision.
The new Mac Pro comes with either one 3.2-GHz quad-core Intel Xeon W3565 processor or two 2.4-GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5645 processors, but not Intel's 8-core Xeon E5 chips, announced in March 2012. It also does not support USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, present in the refreshed Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models announced Monday. And its default graphics card, the ATI Radeon 5770, was first released in October 2009.
Developer Marco Arment, who helped build Tumblr and created Instapaper, slammed the update as pathetic.
"I bet this is the last Mac Pro," Arment wrote in a blog post Monday. "If you wanted to kill a product line, an 'update' like today's would be a good way to clear out parts and keep selling to a few desperate buyers for a bit longer without any real investment."
Posting to Twitter, Paul Haddad, Mac developer and creator of Tapbots, called the update "super disappointing" and suggested that Apple "might as well not have bothered."
The disappointment is registering in Apple's support forum too, with one person calling the new Mac Pro "insulting."
The reaction is much the same in comments posted to news articles about the Mac Pro revision, ranging from bewilderment to ridicule. Over at the Facebook group titled We Want a New Macpro, many group members opined in comments that the Mac Pro is dead.
Prior to Monday's announcement, Mac Pro users had been fretting about the fact that Apple had not updated the Mac Pro for two years. Many expressed doubts about Apple's continued commitment to the creative professional community, the graphic designers, filmmakers, and other professional users of computationally intensive applications who remained loyal to Apple during its lean years more than a decade ago.
Apple's unimpressive Mac Pro update appears to have convinced many Apple customers that the company no longer cares about their business.
But Apple may not be done with the Mac Pro yet. Facebook user Stephen Tanner said that he emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook to voice his displeasure with the update and claims to have received a response, which he assumes is a public relations boilerplate, despite being attributed to Cook.
According to Tanner, Cook replied, "Pro customers like you are very important to Apple." The reply goes on to note, "Although the Mac Pro has been selling to a smaller audience (as you noted) , financial projections have never been the filter for determining our product pipeline. So stay tuned. We are planning a new Mac Pro for later next year."
Such openness about future product plans from Apple runs contrary to Apple's tradition of secrecy, so some skepticism is certainly warranted. We've reached out to Tanner via Facebook and to Apple via email to see if we can confirm the authenticity of this message.
However, writing for the New York Times, David Pogue reports that an Apple executive assured him "that new models and new designs [for the iMac and Mac Pro] are under way, probably for release in 2013."
So if you don't like this year's Mac Pro model, check back next year.
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