You probably won’t be buying a Mac Pro this year

Apple's top-end Mac is expected to ship this fall. But with a starting price of $5,999, it's not for everyone.

Apple, Mac, Mac Pro, macOS, iOS, iMac, Mac OS, OS X, professional
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Apple’s end-to-end product vision extends from content consumption all the way to content creation and distribution, and its hardware line-up ranges from entry-level laptops to the pricey Mac Pro.

Apple has designed the Mac Pro to go places no other Mac has ever reached – but one place it won't go is into the mass market.

Apple’s best ever Mac

With a $5,999 starting price, the Mac Pro is a highly sophisticated supercomputer that’s going to sell in the thousands at the highest end of the industry (and to the world’s wealthiest Apple fans).

The people who purchase these Macs will be high-end professionals, users who aren’t always at the cutting edge of hardware or software upgrades. These are the kind of people who like to maximize the value they get out of their existing kit. Many may be avoiding upgrading to macOS Catalina because they still rely on 32-bit plug-ins. Some may use pre-subscription versions of key creative apps because they want to make money, not spend it.

These are users who may eventually invest in new hardware and software – and may need to do so, given the many years since Apple introduced a significant high-end Mac upgrade. But don’t expect them to rush into a purchase quickly.

Some of the larger graphics, music and movie production and photography set-ups may invest in one or two of these high-end Macs for testing and review, but they won’t want to migrate their entire workflows over immediately.

They'll wait until doing so makes business sense.

Made in the U.S., by robots

Business is what these machines are all about.

We know they will be assembled in the U.S., and while the final shipping price of these machines may rise as the burden of additional taxes is passed on to customers, Apple will work to keep costs manageable through production line automation.

That’s business sense.

The company has promised to ship the Mac Pro this fall, which has led to some speculation of an Apple special event. No such event has yet been announced, fall is here and the next big dates on the Apple calendar are the launch of Apple TV+ on Nov. 1 and its financial call on October 30.

(The company typically goes relatively quiet before earnings announcements, particularly its annual earnings. It has generated $196.1 billion in revenue so far in FY 2019, so all eyes will be on Q4).

It isn’t unusual for the company to make new hardware available just before it makes a big announcement. I’ve kind of lost track of the number of new Macs that get introduced just before an iPhone launch, keynote or fiscal call.

But when the Mac Pro launches doesn’t matter, because most people won’t need one. And, to reiterate, those who do need one are making business decisions, not emotional impulse buys.

Power to the (pro) people

You see, the Mac Pro isn’t the computer for the rest of us. The majority of Apple’s Mac customers won’t need the power and won’t be able to justify the investment in these new computers.

The people who do need such power will pay for it, but I don’t imagine most of them will be picking these things up as holiday gifts. Having waited so long for a pro Mac, they’ll wait a little longer, unless they have already switched to another platform.

(Or get one of those Dune Pro PC cases).

The pro users who need a Mac Pro will want to read the reviews, do their software upgrade calculations and figure out how to migrate their workflows to new hardware. (Though I imagine we’ll see throngs of pro users putting the demo units in retail stores through their paces while considering investing in these machines in the next tax year.)

Most people don’t need trucks. Those that do, do business – and part of doing business is to put purchasing decisions through rigorous review.

Up next…

Apple’s challenge will be to create a business case that stimulates demand in these high-end creative machines. For after desktop publishing, graphic design and video production software, the company knows that there is a relationship between evolving new creative markets and Mac/PC sales. 

This gives rise to a question: When it comes to the next big thing to help drive Mac sales in order to create content for new experiences, we have to ask just what that might that be?

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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