Apple upgrades Mac Pro, says ‘sorry’ to pro users (Updated)

And 'something great' is right around the corner...

Apple, Mac, Mac Pro, macOS, iMac, Phil Schiller

Announcing an upgraded Mac Pro, key Mac executives met with journalists to talk about the problems and future plans it has for the high-end Mac sector – and once again stress the importance of the Mac and their desire to regain the trust of pro users.

‘We’re sorry’

In a much-needed moment of transparency, the execs tried to explain why professionals using Macs just haven’t felt the love in recent years.

“If we’ve had a pause in upgrades and updates, we’re sorry for that -- what happened with the Mac Pro, and we’re going to come out with something great to replace it,” Apple VP Marketing, Phil Schiller told reporters, according to TechCrunch.

It may be too little too late – many pro users have already migrated to other platforms, but the company has surely begun a charm offensive to woo those pro users back.  

Within this Schiller seemed to promise more transparency in how Apple speaks to pro users.

Communication shake down

Not only has he apologized for the poor communication of recent years, but he’s admitted the problems and taken pains to say the company understands what pro users need.

“We wanna figure out how to better communicate with pros,” he said. “We understand their jobs rely on this stuff, they make important decisions about this stuff.”

This extends to being a little more open about the product road map, though couched in Apple’s usual need to protect its secrets from its imitative competitors.

“We want to be as transparent as we can, for our pro users, and help them as they make their buying decisions,” said Schiller as reported by TechCrunch.

What happened?

When Apple introduced the Mac Pro it couldn’t resist declaring it as a statement of innovation. Since then, nothing. What happened?

Apple hit a bunch of problems improving Mac Pro and is rethinking the whole machine, Schiller said.Apple has also changed its mind and will now build its own external Mac displays.

That’s the good news, the bad news is that the real Mac Pro replacement won’t ship until 2018, Schiller said.

Another take away seems to be that Apple’s execs now recognize that the Mac Pro appliance just wasn’t sufficiently flexible to meet the many different needs of professional users across all the different markets in which the platform gets used.

The company is now developing a modular system that can be more easily personalized for these different needs. “I think we designed ourselves into a thermal corner,” Apple said.

Some of these problems included:

  • Lack of modular extendibility
  • Thermal capacity limited potential GPU improvements

I know a more modular system will be incredibly popular among pro users – just look at the results of this recent poll.

Better news for iMacs – Apple plans to introduce new versions of these “later this year” and thinks they’ll appeal to pro users too.

Schiller took pains to once again stress the importance of the Mac to the company. (It ships 80 Apple notebooks for every 20 desktops, he added).

What’s the new model?

To tide pro users over for another year, Apple has introduced a new Mac Pro configuration.

It costs $2,999 and features a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. You can also purchase an 8-core Mac Pro for $3,999, equipped with dual D700 GPUs.

UPDATE: The new Mac Pros are available to purchase now. Well, sort of, the exception being that the high end model is still unavailable, for some reason.

Mac matters

Schiller took real pains to stress the importance of the Mac to Apple.

He also promised that the next edition Mac Pro would be “something great” – that’s a wonderful promise, but there’s little doubt pro users will be wondering how we ended up in this cul-de-sac.

We’ve seen it coming -- even when Apple launched the current Mac Pro design in 2013 it did so after a three-year gap, and the company promised jam tomorrow even then.

Within this context is it any surprise that pro users feel poorly served? I fear that shifting this perception will require Apple really delivers on its promised transparency, even if doing so fans the flames of competitive innovation. A customer kept is always more loyal than one that is lost.

All the same, Apple’s apology and promised transparency may signify interesting and positive shifts in how it speaks to its customers in the more connected age it helped build. Authenticity beats enigma within this info-overload.

This story was updated with Mac Pro availability information.

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