Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been taking heat from customers for ignoring its core, professional Mac users. The Mac Pro was last updated in 2013, and even then, its design alienated some. Apple held a rare turntable event with tech journalists to talk about the Mac. The company promises it has heard the complaints and it’s pledging an all new Mac Pro in 2018.
To tide those power users over in the meantime, the company has goosed the specs of the existing model, is cutting some prices and it will introduce a new iMac aimed at pro users later this year.
Senior Apple Execs Talk Mac Plans
Apple brought a handful of tech journalists to its headquarters for a very rare, roundtable meeting with three of its senior executives: Phil Schiller (Senior VP Worldwide Marketing), Craig Federighi (Senior VP Software Engineering) and John Ternus (VP Hardware Engineering).
The reason? To talk about AAPL’s desktop Mac roadmap.
The company updated its MacBook Pro laptops late last year, but desktop Macs have languished with outdated specs sometimes for years. The Mac Pro was last updated in 2013, the iMac in 2015 and the Mac Mini in 2014. In the meantime, Windows PCs have received multiple upgrades and are equipped with processors and graphics cards that leave AAPL’s offering in the dust — despite the Mac premium price tag.
The situation was bad enough that AAPL staged this event to assure everyone that it hasn’t abandoned the Mac or its professional users. It follows on comments from CEO Tim Cook that suggested APPL might be quietly working on a new Mac Pro.
Apple Admits It Missed the Mark with Old Mac Pro
Professionals who need a workstation-class desktop PC need a computer that can be upgraded. The Mac Pro AAPL introduced in 2013 looked cool, but its compact cylinder form factor limited upgrade options.
Quoted by Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff (who was at the routable), Apple’s Federighi had this to say about the current Mac Pro:
“The Mac Pro, the current vintage that we introduced, we wanted to do something bold and different. In retrospect, it didn’t well suit some of the people we wanted to reach … We designed ourselves into a bit of a thermal corner.”
Phil Schiller then went on to say that AAPL engineers are designing an all new Mac Pro that supports upgradability and expansion. The Apple team admitted that this move came later than they would like, but promised that a new Mac Pro in 2018 will win back its professional users. It is also going to release a new Pro display, one made by Apple, not the LG monitor it has been steering customers toward since discontinuing its Thunderbolt Display last year.
In the Meantime, Spec Bumps and a New iMac for Pro Users
A year is a long time to wait for a new computer — especially if you have already been waiting two or three years. But Apple has several solutions in the meantime. After noting that many professional users had been moving to high end iMacs, the company is committing to releasing a new iMac in 2017 that’s aimed at pro users.
It won’t have touch capability — AAPL isn’t trying to replicate that Surface Studio — but expect high end component options for this Pro iMac like more powerful CPUs and graphics cards. And for everyone else, Apple is at least giving the existing Mac Pro lineup spec bumps and price cuts.
Will the new Mac Pro arrive in time to save Apple’s professional desktop PC market? While there have been some Windows switchers, Mac users tend to be stubbornly dedicated to the platform. The effort by Apple to be transparent about its plans, acknowledgment that it has allowed its desktop lineup to fall behind and a promise of a new Mac Pro in 2018 will hold many over.
For those who can’t wait, price cuts and spec bumps take at least some of the sting out of buying a current Mac Pro. And the prospect of a new iMac aimed at the professional market is intriguing.
The Mac business may not count for much in an Apple that is focused on iPhone revenue, but the company is sending the message that it has no intention of abandoning the market.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.