Rumor: Could Apple shut down the Mac Pro?

Apple's Mac line of computers continues to sell well overall, but a new rumor claims that Apple is reconsidering the future of its Mac Pro workstation line. Apple Insider reports via unnamed sources that the company is debating whether or not to continue selling the Mac Pro products beyond the end of 2011.

Apple admitted in its recent financial results that its Mac notebooks take up 74 percent of its entire Mac product division. The iMac desktop line also sells well for the company, compared to the Mac Pro range. Perhaps it's due to the company discontinuing the Final Cut Pro software?

Demand for the Mac Pro workstation has declined over the years. The article points out that only a few of Apple's authorized retailers currently sell the Mac Pro, and that those units are sold as special orders. It's possible that Apple could quietly discontinue the Mac Pro but at the same time release new versions of its iMac or its Mac mini desktops that have improved processor speeds that come close to the performance of the Mac Pro.

With the server and high end desktop business dominated by companies such as HP and Dell, it would not be a shock to learn that Apple would decide to close the book on the Mac Pro. We are sure that some Mac fans and film makers would protest such a move but in the end it's all about the business of making money and Apple might soon have to make a choice that's based on profits.

 

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lots of studios use mac pros.... big budget studios... lots of djs use them too! they are really good for video editing. why they would shun this I dunno.....

Most pro video editors use Avid Media Composer which is available on Windows too. Apple will ditch the Mac Pro and encourage pros to buy MacBook Pros with a Thunder Bolt connected Cinema Screen. Mac Pro's have been dead for years.

remixedcat said,
lots of studios use mac pros.... big budget studios... lots of djs use them too! they are really good for video editing. why they would shun this I dunno.....

Speaking as a DJ, no, most DJs actually use windows for their shows. DJ tools are centered around a windows user base.

Speaking as an audio engineer, it's Mac or bust. If you're not using mac for audio production, you're not serious about your audio production.

Speaking as a computer tech, I can build a system down to the exact specs of any Mac Pro for a little under half of the cost of the Mac Pro. (Including high quality server motherboard, the exact same Xeon processor, more (FASTER) RAM, better video card, choice of hard drive (moot point), etc...

To those who are thinking this may happen, keep this in mind:
One of the largest groups of Mac Pro customers is the Pro Tools HD user base. Mac Pro is the ONLY current Apple platform compatible with Pro Tools HD. (Requires PCI or PCI-X or PCI-Ex slot) If Apple were to scrap the Mac Pro without providing another solution for Pro Tools HD users, they would be abandoning one of their largest groups of consumers. This won't happen.

My iPhone taught me one thing: That I will NEVER buy another Apple product. I hate it so very much, and view it as the single worst tech buying decision I've made in the past 20 years. It was the foot in the door Apple had to win me away from open platforms, and it failed miserably.

Which is to say I'm not a fan boy. If anything, I'm very much a hater. But I can be neutral when looking at this from a purely business analysis perspective.

I understand the niche of the Mac Pro towers, and even if the division loses money, they would be foolish to discontinue it. It would be a case of the accountants looking at a line item without seeing the larger picture.

Mac Pros drive a lot of sales, indirectly. Every major architecture firm, graphic arts studio, many major movie and animation studios, use the Mac Pro, because for those industries, it truly is the class of the field - in terms of the hardware and software ecosystem that surround them. This drives a lot of secondary sales to the professionals who use the platform at the office, and buy an MBP for on the road, and/or an iMac for the home.

In turn, these people are key influencers - driving sales of Mac laptops and desktops to a wider circle of people who view the creative professionals who use the equipment for a living as an aspirational demographic - people who want to look like creative professionals, buy the equipment they know those people use.

Removing the Mac Pro from that equation will have a ripple effect, Architecture offices, design studios, and other creative houses will find the power systems their industries demand elsewhere. The people who work there will buy home systems that are compatible with the systems at work, and the "glamour" advantage will be lost.

It's something Jobs wouldn't have allowed, because he's smart enough to see the big picture. But with him gone, and the bean counters left to rule the roost (as often happens with this type of succession), there might not be the vision and intestinal fortitude within the organization to see the larger impact of a niche product.

Grelmar said,
My iPhone taught me one thing: That I will NEVER buy another Apple product. I hate it so very much, and view it as the single worst tech buying decision I've made in the past 20 years. It was the foot in the door Apple had to win me away from open platforms, and it failed miserably.

Wow, a statement being paraded as fact with absolutely nothing to back up the said statement - if that isn't trolling I don't know what is.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Wow, a statement being paraded as fact with absolutely nothing to back up the said statement - if that isn't trolling I don't know what is.

And if you bothered to read the rest of what I wrote, you would be able to understand that it was a contextualization point, not the main argument. But hey, that would involve critical thinking at a level higher than the third grade. My bad.

Why do these threads always end up in one dude slagging another dude? It's just technology man. Chillax...

Lets talk about beer and chicks! OH YEAH!

Grelmar said,

And if you bothered to read the rest of what I wrote, you would be able to understand that it was a contextualization point, not the main argument. But hey, that would involve critical thinking at a level higher than the third grade. My bad.

As expensive as they are, they sure are solid. The Dell PowerEdge 7500n can't compare... and that's roughly the same price point if configured spec-for-spec to a MacPro5,1.

Enron said,
Well of course, we're in the "post-PC era," right? They'll probably replace it with a 30" tablet.

Yep. Saved a boatload of cash and have better proformance.

Apple doesn't release sales numbers unless they're using them for advertising. It's entirely possible the sales of Pros have dwindled to the point that they're not worth producing in low volume.

I do like the case even though it's a rehashed G5.

Considering that many Recording Studios and Animation Studios use the Mac Pro, discontinuing the Mac Pro would be a very dumb move indeed, the mini and the MBP just don't have the specs required for these things. Studios would be forced to get custom built dells/hp's and replace all their software with PC software at significant cost. Would be a terrible move!

I'm not a Mac fanboy by any means, but I don't think this would be a wise move for them at all...

I think Apple are betting on Thunderbolt taking up the slack. So instead of having that $1K+ studio grade sound card in your Mac Pro you'll have it stuck in an external enclosure hooked up via Thunderbolt. Which will be hooked up to an external power source (as Thunderbolt doesn't provide enough power to run it standalone).

Remember that old iMac ad showing how simple the iMac was compared to the PC of the day and it's myriad of cables? Well it's time to go all 180 on that.

And if you don't remember, here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz0F5cLlazk

CrimsonBetrayal said,
Considering that many Recording Studios and Animation Studios use the Mac Pro, discontinuing the Mac Pro would be a very dumb move indeed, the mini and the MBP just don't have the specs required for these things. Studios would be forced to get custom built dells/hp's and replace all their software with PC software at significant cost. Would be a terrible move!

I'm not a Mac fanboy by any means, but I don't think this would be a wise move for them at all...

Mac mini and MacBook Pro don't have the specs - have you heard of this thing called an iMac?

CrimsonBetrayal said,
Considering that many Recording Studios and Animation Studios use the Mac Pro, discontinuing the Mac Pro would be a very dumb move indeed, the mini and the MBP just don't have the specs required for these things. Studios would be forced to get custom built dells/hp's and replace all their software with PC software at significant cost. Would be a terrible move!

I'm not a Mac fanboy by any means, but I don't think this would be a wise move for them at all...

I have a 8 core 2.8Ghz Mac Pro. I can run 40 channels at 24bit/48k (mono) with plugins (ssl, Ozone, Omnisphere, Kontakt) and it doesnt crack a sweat over 15% in Protools. I use alot of outboard processing which doesnt impact the plugins. I run latency @ 5ms. By comparison, My Windows 7 "bitza" with 16gb i7 960 didnt come close and it had SSD disks (which isnt the point). I have protools configured to only take 6 cores. yeah I could go an build the same spec machine from clone bits and it wouldnt be much cheaper. but.. it'd pay the difference for the convenience of focusing on my workflow rather than driver issues or what ever.

rwoodhams said,
I have a 8 core 2.8Ghz Mac Pro. I can run 40 channels at 24bit/48k (mono) with plugins (ssl, Ozone, Omnisphere, Kontakt) and it doesnt crack a sweat over 15% in Protools. I use alot of outboard processing which doesnt impact the plugins. I run latency @ 5ms. By comparison, My Windows 7 "bitza" with 16gb i7 960 didnt come close and it had SSD disks (which isnt the point). I have protools configured to only take 6 cores. yeah I could go an build the same spec machine from clone bits and it wouldnt be much cheaper. but.. it'd pay the difference for the convenience of focusing on my workflow rather than driver issues or what ever.

And this is exactly my point, imagine if you had to move to an iMac, or a Mac Mini because they didn't want to do Mac Pro's any longer. I really can't see anything good coming out of this. I'm not in any way saying there aren't alternatives. I just can't see and recording facility (myself and rwoodhams included), wanting to spend a heap upgrading our equipment to now work on Thunderbolt and iMacs...

Seems a little unlikely, but then I would have said the same about killing the Xserve and that happened.

If they do kill the Mac Pro without introducing a NEW Mac to replace it, it'll definitely renew the viewpoint of Apple having more interest in it's gadgets that it's computers.

Maybe they'll ultimately drop the computer hardware side altogether and box up OS X for generic hardware.

Would personally love to own one of those, but could never afford it. (When I was making more money I could, but got an iMac instead). After owning an iMac, I would say that given the heat this thing puts off, and the overall lack of 'user upgrades' that are available for this, it does put a huge damper on things especially if I were to want to upgrade the video card, or add an extra one in.

I can certainly see a huge rise of osx86 type of projects being made to replace the Mac Pro if this occurs. Build an identical system to spec, maybe save a few extra bucks (Never priced a build like this), and then load osx86 on it. Or maybe Pystar will rebrand itself and make a system capable of running like one but sell it preloaded with Linux to keep Apple away, but give the option to users to install osx86 on it by using their own resources. (Sending the user to certain websites that tell how to do it).

Either way, maybe some day in the next 10 years, I will maybe own a used Mac Pro.

I'd actually probably consider buying one to replace my Windows PC after being so impressed with my MBP, but It'd have to be at least half the price of what they are selling for at the moment, they are significantly over priced compared to the rest of their range.

danielsmith89 said,
I'd actually probably consider buying one to replace my Windows PC after being so impressed with my MBP, but It'd have to be at least half the price of what they are selling for at the moment, they are significantly over priced compared to the rest of their range.

They aren't meant for your home. They are meant for design studios and other such companies to have in their offices.

Konstanov said,
They aren't meant for your home. They are meant for design studios and other such companies to have in their offices.

But even then compare it back when they had the G4 PowerMac range where it was actually possible to purchase a PowerMac which was only slightly more expensive than the top of the line iMac - sure it was a single processor model but it was within the grasp of pretty much anyone with a few extra hundred dollars to spend. With that being said the G5 introduced a bigger gap between the iMac and PowerMac rage which was re-enforced with the movement to Intel which leaves me to conclude that Apple wants most people to purchase an iMac with only the super high end professionals going for the Mac Pro.

I seriously doubt they'll discontinue it, they'd become very unpopular if they do. Maybe if they made a (possibly smaller?) cheaper version...

You can get similar performance from a maxed out MBP. Less RAM and slightly less processor. With Thunderbolt, multiple high res displays and other high bandwidth peripherals are possible, circumventing the need for a stationary tower.

I'm sorry but you are completely wrong. You can NOT get similar performance on ANY laptop to a MacPro or similar level workstation. Nice try though.

It depends on what you're doing. For general computer use they would seem very similar. When you open up whatever video rendering tools you have then the difference is obvious.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

Apples Thunderbolt displayers providing docking support already.

Thunderbolt isn't included with any current Mac Pro models.

Snakehn said,
maybe if they didnt charge an arm and a leg for that model, then it would sell more.

*Only* one arm and a leg?

I can get/build a better specced Windows 7 machine for the price of this overpriced thing + LCD monitor and get spare change for a huge plasma TV and a laptop computer.

Ricardo Dawkins said,
I can get/build a better specced Windows 7 machine for the price of this overpriced thing + LCD monitor and get spare change for a huge plasma TV and a laptop computer.
With a workstation grade motherboard and xeon processor?

Rudy said,
With a workstation grade motherboard and xeon processor?

I tried it once, was a bit cheaper but not as much as i thought it would be. I'll give it a go tomorrow again and post back. lol

Rudy said,
With a workstation grade motherboard and xeon processor?

They could simply remix it (with a Z68-based motherboard and an i7-K), which is what they SHOULD have done in the first place. The Mac Pro is (today) a niche product - what is really lacking in today's Apple market is her equivalent to the Performa - the Mac Pro is a Quadra. You can remix the Mac Pro based around lots of parts already in Apple's bins toward a smaller price tag; call it the Performa II (the original Performa was one of the first Macs Steve Jobs launched when he came back to Apple the first time). Z68 chipset, i5-K, 8 MB DDR3, case of the Mac Pro, lower price tag (since its meant to come in under the existing Mac Pro). Apple can't do this *why*?

Nope. But do you really need a xeon processor or server grade motherboard for anything that the Mac Pro does? Nope, nope, and nope. Any decent motherboard is capable of running full throttle for years without fail.

Rudy said,
With a workstation grade motherboard and xeon processor?

Yes, and a MUCH faster GPU, in fact a multiple GPUs, that Windows 7 can equally use beyond the onboard crossfire technologies, which OS X cannot do.

Also with Windows, the base performance would be higher, as it not only doesn't have the 'lock' issues that OS X does on multi-core/cpu systems, but has a lighter overhead for SMP, able to handle up to 16 cores/cpus without a drop for overhead, and tiny drop in performance even when getting to 32 and 64 CPU systems. (Something OS X and Linux start hitting overhead issues that outweigh the added cpus/cores when you get even into the 12 cpu/core range.)

Rudy said,
With a workstation grade motherboard and xeon processor?

I just pulled numbers, and for the cost of the 4 CPU Mac Pro, you could build a 24 CPU based system running Windows 7 Pro/Ultimate.

Don't worry, I'm sure that when Apple officially announce that they are screwing the creative professional faithful that have carried Apple through the highs and the lows, they will assure them that the Mac Mini is more than powerful enough compared to their old 12-core Xeons.

I hope Apple doesn't kill the MacPro, it's the best designed tower out there, both outside and inside. Just a dream to work with. I'd kill for one

Ryoken said,
I hope Apple doesn't kill the MacPro, it's the best designed tower out there, both outside and inside. Just a dream to work with. I'd kill for one

Are you kidding me? Its the best Apple Tower, It's not the best designed tower at all. Come on guys, you aren't brain dead.

Ryoken said,
I hope Apple doesn't kill the MacPro, it's the best designed tower out there, both outside and inside. Just a dream to work with. I'd kill for one

No. It's just a standard PC motherboard (usually made by Tyan) in an Apple custom tower case.

Apple will probably dump this machine as they've shown they don't care about the professional or corporate markets. They make their money on consumers, specifically middle class consumers with extra money to burn.

excalpius said,
No. It's just a standard PC motherboard (usually made by Tyan) in an Apple custom tower case.

Apple will probably dump this machine as they've shown they don't care about the professional or corporate markets. They make their money on consumers, specifically middle class consumers with extra money to burn.

Worse than that - they're a tower computer with none of the benefits of having a tower; yeah, you can upgrade your video card but only with special Mac specific versions that provide the necessary EFI compatible firmware and drivers. Then there is the 'hit and miss' with the PCI cards and the pretty much meaningless 'internal storage expansion' that has been pretty much made useless with the introduction of Thunderbolt and external RAID devices.

Mac Pro's had a place a few years ago but the combination of work habits changing and improvements in connectors to external devices (Thunderbolt) have made Mac Pro pretty much impossible to justify the price tag. I mean honestly, check out the top of the line iMac, upgrade the GPU to a the BTO along with the CPU, buy a external thunderbolt RAID and you get everything you need to hit the ground running.

Ryoken said,
I hope Apple doesn't kill the MacPro, it's the best designed tower out there, both outside and inside. Just a dream to work with. I'd kill for one

Seriously? Why?

Is it the 2 year old GPU with 1gb of VRAM (the same as my two year old laptop)?
*...and on OS X, VRAM is locked, the OS can't virtualize or share VRAM like Windows 7 can.

Or is it the 4,8,12 core systems, that when OS X is running, often hit SMP queue resolve issues, shifting all processing to one or two cores/cpus until the 'lock' is resolved. (Even with the 10.6 new SMP APIs, other applications and the OS itself create queue (funnel) locks, halting even the new API based multi-threading applications.)

So with OS X, you are often using 2 cores a large percentage of the time - reducing the hardware power down to a dual-core system. *Reference: Go look up stories on demanding 'threaded' applications like MySQL that when put on multi-core (even dual core originally) systems would perform worse than running on a single core system.

(When Apple modified the XNU/Darwin kernel to squeeze better multi-tasking performance on a single CPU, they did get better multi-tasking out of the microkernel constructs, but at the expense of SMP performance, which is now hurting OS X, and even has carry over limitations for iOS.