Will a Decline in Apple Sales Motivate the Creation of a More Responsive MacPro?

The MacPro has been the desktop computer used by design and print professionals for years, but purchases slowed when the old metal “towers” were discontinued and the more expensive “cylinders” entered the market. According to a recent Bloomberg Business report, Apple sales fell for the first time in more than a decade, mostly due to declining iPhone sales.
With $18.4 billion in net income on sales of $75.9 billion in the December, Apple is not going out of business. However, this could shift some of the new product development attention from the consumer products back to the professional products, especially the MacPro.
Over the last few years, the explosive growth of the consumer products prompted some experts and publications to question the continued production of the Macintosh computer products. The best known is the Wall Street Journal article entitled, Why Apple Should Kill Off the Mac. Discontinuing the Mac would be a significant blow to the design and print production professionals who depend on it, but some could argue that the lack of new product development is leading the MacPro in that direction.
In an article last year on this site entitled Is the New Mac Pro Destined to be Like Apple Lisa?, we talked about how the high price tag of the MacPro resulted in lagging sales. For years I have heard designers, commercial print service providers, and in-plant printing companies talk about their reluctance to buy the new MacPro because of the price tag, lack of internal hard disk storage, and inability to upgrade video cards. These are the requirements for professional users.
Instead, most professional users have decided to either hang on to old machines and upgrade them, buy less expensive iMacs or buy Windows based machines. Professional users are upgrading their old MacPro Towers with solid-state drives, larger hard disks, and USB 3 connectivity. Others no longer buy the MacPro and instead buy a “jacked up” iMac with a solid state or hybrid drive.
Another concern is that Apple is losing the vision that made them great. Years ago Steve Jobs would make presentations at MacWorld and the Seybold show and point to the innovations within the Macintosh and call them “insanely great.”
Unfortunately today, moderately faster CPUs and higher resolution monitors are no longer “insanely great.” I would love to see the decline in consumer products motivate a renaissance in new product development. I would like to see Apple return to its computer-maker roots, focus more attention to the professional side of the business, and build a new MacPro that is responsive to the needs of professionals.

Howie Fenton is the Vice President of Consulting Services for IMG. For 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance for enterprise, in-plant and commercial printers. For more info, e-mail hfenton@imgresults.com.

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