The state of Apple’s professional line

Brook Willard

Today, 512 days after the last update, Apple introduced the new lineup of speed-bumped Mac Pros and further established their abandonment of the professional community.

Now, I don’t say this to be inflammatory – far from it. As a professional user in the truest sense, I eat, sleep and breathe things like this. I work in an industry that simply requires the use of a Mac… no ifs, ands or buts. No Windows, no Linux, no hackintoshes, no excuses. To the millions that love their Macs, it’s an enviable position to be in. But to those who have walked this path before, it’s a lonely existence. The reason for this is simple:

With the 2010 Mac Pro update, Apple has literally created a machine for nobody.

Let me explain. In order to get a true understanding of the current Mac Pro lineup, we have to go on a trip down memory lane.

Ever since the discontinuation of the Power Macintosh 9600 in 1997 [and Workgroup Server 9650 in early 1998], Apple’s professional desktop lineup has filled a space immediately above their consumer machines. While many still look back on the immense expansion [six PCI slots!] of the pre-G3-era computers with fondness, what they often forget is that those machines tipped the scale at $4,700 [and $6,900 for the server!] when they first shipped. They were extreme performance machines with fitting prices.

But since Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the professional line rapidly shifted from the stratosphere to the attainable. For years, there were three price points to Apple’s professional desktop lineup: $1,999, $2,499 and $2,999. The low-end model was a logical step over the highest-end consumer machine [the iMac] and each price point got you a logical increase in performance. read more...

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