Apple Talk: Mac Pro's future under scrutiny...
There's widespread talk of the demise of Apple's Mac Pro workstation. But reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, says Seb Janacek.
Apple is quietly considering the future of the Mac Pro, according to reports circulating online. Some may be forgiven for wondering what the Mac Pro actually is. It's a massively powerful beast of a machine lurking at the rear of the Apple Store.
If, heaven forbid, you could find a dusty corner in an Apple Store, the Mac Pro would be there. Sleek aluminium, massive price tag, awesome power - and cobwebs.
Apple CEO Tim Cook once mentioned that the company's whole product range could fit on a single table. If he were so inclined to slash the Mac Pro from the range, he could downsize to a far smaller table. This is a beast of a machine.
In many ways it's the antithesis of everything iOS devices are. By extension, given the iOS devices are far more central to Apple's marketing focus, the Mac Pro is drifting dangerously close the event horizon of Apple's brand.
The Mac Pro is everything iOS is not. It's all about raw power defined through gigahertz, expandability, openness, power and a large case that allows the powerful and hot components inside to operate without melting a hole in the Earth's crust.
The Pro is highly configurable. If you go to the Apple website and max out the computer with all the bells and whistles and throw in a couple of 27-inch monitors, you get to a final price of £16,225 - and a machine that could probably rival the processing power of Deep Thought, the computer which determined the meaning of life in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker novels.
If you play this game, it is absolutely imperative you leave your credit cards in a separate room, especially if you have opened a bottle of wine.
Time for a quick history lesson. When Jobs returned to Apple, one of the first things he did was simplify the company's bewildering product range. He focused on four product sectors: two notebooks, two desktops. One each for consumers and professionals.
As product strategies go, it was simple, elegant and easy to understand and to sell. The Mac Pro, or Power Mac, occupied the sector for creative professionals who needed a workhorse and expansion options. These were the video editors and graphics professionals who needed the extra grunt for working with video compression and massive, multi-layered Photoshop files.
They are the Mac's traditional customer base, the one that kept the company ticking over for the darkest days of Apple's history.
'History' may prove the key word. These professionals are no longer...