As someone who primarily makes their living supporting businesses that use the Mac platform, I’ve been watching the tea leaves as close as most of my peers re: when this thing is going to actually hit the proverbial streets.
After all, the Mac Pro is a staple of the platform – or at least it’s historically filled that role. The new Mac Pro has been referred to as akin to a halo car by better writers who are in greater possession of greater creative gifts than those sandwiched between my ungainly ears, and they’re right; it’s the biggest, baddest, fastest consumer computer that you can buy and has a price tag to match. It’ll be amazing and lionized – but it won’t be ubiquitous.
Now, I may be biased because I’m typing this on an early 2009 Mac Pro that I assembled from a box of scraps in a cave a la Tony Stark, but this isn’t the first Mac Pro I’ve owned. Back in the late 00’s I had a couple of early cheesegrater/classic Mac Pros because they were relatively affordable and phenomenally expandable, and then later on I bought a 2013 trashcan Mac Pro because I needed a desktop that wasn’t an iMac and Apple had decided to let the Mac mini languish to the point of irrelevance. If you put together everything that I spent on those three computers you’d have a sum sufficient for me to roll around at the lower entry point of the new machine.
And really, that’s okay. Would I like Apple to offer a lower-spec, expandable entry-level Mac Pro? Yes. Yes I would. There’s a healthy market of folks who do professional work who need something with expandability and a decent amount of grunt to do heavy lifting, and that’s why prior to 2013 you’d find a Mac Pro under every desk at every design firm or architect office. But the use-case scenario has shifted – mostly, I suspect, as a matter of circumstance. Apple whiffed on the 2013 Mac Pro, let it languish, and the audience for that product hung onto their old gear until it became untenable to support it any more and then winced, shut their eyes, and ordered iMacs to replace them.
Timeliness is the key. If Apple had had a better grasp on what their customers wanted and – possibly – updated, upgraded and improved the 2013 Mac Pro in line with that then they might not have put themselves into a position where the product is boxed into a corner, where a great number of potential users are already invested into other products. More plainly; if the 2013 Mac Pro had kept pace with the new technologies that other products introduced and embraced (USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, the T2) then chances are that the new machine wouldn’t be priced to start at about $6k and pitched toward a small handful of highly specialized use cases who are probably going to be the only ones who’ll find any real value in that kind of outlay.
Which is kind of a shame. The new Mac Pro is imminent (any day now – supposedly by the end of the month with a quiet release, and there are already support documents floating around for the thing) and it’s a remarkable piece of design and engineering that demonstrate that Apple hasn’t missed a beat in those departments. It’s sad that I suspect that we won’t be seeing many under desks for a long, long time.