Is Apple's on-shore manufacturing pledge good news for the future of the Mac Pro?

Summary:Mac Pro users have long complained about a proper refresh of the Mac Pro line. Some have given up hope. However, the news that Apple might have a small manufacturing operation in the U.S. sounds perfect for the small batch, professional market machine.

In the summer, rumors circulated that there would be a major refresh of the Mac Pro line. Those rumors fizzled. Even the speed-bump announced in June wasn't more than a speed dimple. Lloyd Chambers at the Mac Performance Guide called it a "non-upgrade:"

Not even a stinkin' upgrade to the graphics card. The changes to the Apple Mac Pro seen today are inconsequential. Nothing except a trivial CPU change (well, the sluggish 8-core 2.4 GHz is now a sluggish 12-core, and 3.06 GHz is 0.4 percent faster than 2.93 GHz). Perhaps Apple’s professional customers are also inconsequential to Apple.

The line out of Cupertino was "trust us." At the time, CEO Tim Cook told the We Want a New Mac Pro group not to worry about that "something really great" will come in the new year. This was the line coined by the late Steve Jobs.

Thanks for your email. Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.

And the informal word continues to come out of Apple about professional products. There was a rumor going around last week that Apple was discontinuing work on its professional audio product. A response came from Xander Soren, director of product marketing for music applications at Apple and found its way to MacRumors.

As the lead for our music creation apps, I always want to hear what our users are thinking. I want to assure you the team is still in place and hard at work on the next version of Logic Pro.

Still, a buddy with long experience in the high-performance and professional content-creation markets space said PCs reign supreme.

For the higher-end processing rigs, Windows and Linux workstations will continue to dominate, thanks to Apple not aggressively competing with the Mac Pro and Xserve. Everyone is looking forward to seeing what Apple does with the promised New Mac Pro coming next year, but in the meantime, clusters of compute servers at the highest-end and Windows or Linux workstations for stand-alone systems will continue to dominate.

So, there was considerable excitement from Tim Cook's recent announcement that Apple will return to manufacturing computers in the U.S. It could reinforce his previous statements of big news for the Mac Pro in 2013. The Mac Pro is a high margin machine, with customers who can handle a bit more build cost. These customers often order custom-build machines, which are just the fit for a small manufacturing operation, rather than the consumer machines where Apple wants to lower margins.

For years now, Apple has focused on its consumer platforms while ignoring its professional customers. And that has been good for the company and shareholders. But not so good for a small but loyal group of customers who helped sustain the Mac platform during earlier, tougher years.

There are still worries about the companies commitment and what "something really great" means. But here's an opportunity for Apple to make a statement in the professional performance space with a new, capable Mac Pro. Made in America. And it doesn't even have to change its enclosure. Just kick the performance.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems, Virtualization

About

David Morgenstern has covered the Mac market and other technology segments for 20 years. In the recent past, he founded Ziff-Davis' Storage Supersite, served as news editor for Ziff Davis Internet and held several executive editorial positions at eWEEK. In the 1990s, David was editor of Ziff Davis' award-winning MacWEEK news publication a... Full Bio

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