Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has taken heat recently over what some see as an abandonment of its core, “pro” customers. With its focus seemingly on the iPhone and Apple Watch, AAPL’s Mac computers were being left to fall behind. Especially those aimed at the creative professional market.
Apple CEO Tim Cook answered questions at a shareholder meeting yesterday and offered up comments that give hope those Macs will soon be getting attention. Cook’s words even raised the hope that a new Mac Pro could eventually be released.
Apple’s Professional Mac Lineup Has Fallen Behind
Over the last several years, AAPL has fallen seriously behind in updating many of its Mac computers. Creative professionals and prosumers — considered Apple’s core customers for Macs — have been especially hard hit.
There has been no new Mac Pro in nearly 1,200 days. That’s an incredible length of time to go without updating a workstation class computer that commands a starting price of $2,999. Prior to the current model, professionals who needed AAPL’s most powerful PC for rendering, editing video and other tasks only waited one to two years between new Mac Pro releases. Apple released new versions every year between 2006 and 2010, then in 2012 and launched the current Mac Pro in 2013.
The iMac, which has been a favorite of creative professionals as well as being popular with consumers, hasn’t seen a refresh in over 500 days. A new iMac is long overdue.
There have been many excuses, including finger pointing at Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) over the availability of new CPUs. Regardless of the real reason, the perception is that Apple has relegated the Mac lineup to the back burner, while it focuses on the incredibly profitable iPhone and launches new consumer products like the Apple Watch.
In the meantime, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been going after AAPL’s creative professional demographic. The company has expanded from tablets into PCs and last year, it launched the Surface Studio — an innovative all-in-one PC that has many longtime Mac users thinking hard about switching to Windows.
Tim Cook Claims AAPL Is Still Focused on Professional Customers
At an Apple shareholder meeting yesterday, CEO Time Cook fielded investor questions. He dismissed speculation of the Mac and iPad line-ups converging, making the point that a tablet could never be a Mac replacement. He then spoke about AAPL’s focus on its professional customers. Quoted in MacRumors, Cook’s comments included:
“You will see us do more in the pro area … The pro area is very important to us. The creative area is very important to us in particular.”
When asked if the apparent lack of new releases aimed at creative professionals means Apple has become too consumer focused, he replied:
“Don’t think something we’ve done or something that we’re doing that isn’t visible yet is a signal that our priorities are elsewhere.”
He didn’t say specifically that a new Mac Pro or a new iMac are coming, but his comments give hope that these might be in the pipeline.
What Apple Has Done for Its Creative Professionals
While the lack of a new Mac Pro and new iMac are hurting Apple’s reputation for being the go-to platform for creative professionals, the company has taken several steps to address the issue.
It released the iPad Pro in 2015 and has since expanded its lineup of tablets aimed at creative professionals and prosumers. And last fall, it released an all-new MacBook Pro — a favorite laptop among that demographic. The MacBook Pro launch didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but did send the message that AAPL hasn’t abandoned its core users. They may just have to get used to waiting a little longer between new models.
With the iPad Pro established and the new MacBook Pro on store shelves, next on the wish list for many Apple fans are a new iMac and a new Mac Pro. The latter in particular seemed in danger of being discontinued altogether, but Tim Cook’s comments have helped give hope that it could still be on AAPL’s “to do” list.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.