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

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.

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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

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6 comments
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  • Seriously?

    I have a machine in my room that is as powerful as some Mac Pro boxes but it didn't cost anywhere near their price so, anyone that can afford one isn't going to care if Apple raises the price by $50 to $60.
    slickjim
    • Seriously.

      Maybe as powerful in terms of raw power, but it doesn't run OS X, so it's not very "powerful" in that aspect.
      pnosko
      • Oh no?

        I had OS X on it and it ran well but, Windows 8 is faster and Linux is more powerful under the hood so, why bother?
        slickjim
        • It's a painful slow death....

          I've been a Mac - Pro user for 23 years. Loyal and appreciative to Apple until the steady and painful move to consumer apps. Final Cut Pro... and likely now Logic Pro 9. I've got to agree with "slickjim".. it is getting to scream: "WHY BOTHER?"
          WebDavCrisp
  • Okay, here's a 12-core Windows machine. Cheap?

    Intel Xeon Westmere EP X5680 3.33GHz processors w/6 cores each, 12 cores/24 threads total
    12GB DDR3-1333 ECC Registered RAM
    NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800 graphics card
    146GB 15,000 RPM SAS system drive
    1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drive
    List price: $10,483
    Laraine Anne Barker
  • Upgraded Mac Pro

    I upgraded two 2008 8 core Mac Pro workstations with 5770 cards sold ostensibly for the latest models and as well a USB3.0 and E-SATA cards...the I/O issue is a non issue now and running a speed test comparing this upgraded machine against a 2011 iMac showed it is still a faster and a lot more flexible. It's one failing besides the lack of Thunderbolt is the price of RAM for it..very pricey now. On the other hand I have now a machine that runs graphics software much faster than before these upgrades at a bargain cost..the two workstations will keep going on for another year at least or until and if Apple decides to give us what we are clamouring for..a new Mac Pro workstation.
    nfiertel