Mac Pro on the Chopping Block?
If you read Apple Insider you've heard the rumor, the next product to be jettisoned by Apple will be the Mac Pro. The main culprit, as was the case with the Xserve, is slow sales. Which all makes perfect sense but doesn't address the deeper question of why sales are slow for the Mac Pro. After all, who has ever lusted after a slower Mac?
The quick answer is that the Mac Pro just doesn't make financial sense for many folks anymore. To get a good feel of what that means we have to step back in time, to the mid nineties.
If you were a graphic designer in 1995 and a heavy Photoshop user you were familiar with the wait. For younger readers the following will seem crazy but here's the way it worked in olden times: You'd apply a filter to your image and then Photoshop (or some other program) would go about the business of actually transforming your image. This could take some time and "some time" could range anywhere from 15 minutes to weekend for a really complicated change.
There are some jealous designers out there right now. They are thinking "Ma, if my compy would take 4 or 5 hours to apply an effect I'd have plenty of free time for the internet, games and paying my bills online! It would be a dream come true!" Sadly, you're mistaken. In the olden days Mac couldn't multitask very well if at all so while your Mac was chugging away you were locked out of it.
In those days, if you were being held up by your Mac, it made a lot of sense to run right out and buy a new Mac when the processor speed doubled. You'd get close to twice as much work done. You could charge less, have happier clients and make more money.
These days even heavy duty graphic designers don't find themselves held up much by their Macs. Photoshop times are measured in seconds instead of hours so the time and money savings aren't nearly as great as the used to be. The trend isn't new, in the days of Classic Mac OS the gap between the entry level Mac and the high end Mac easily justified the price difference. For example, a $10,000 Mac IIfx was more than 10 times as fast as the $1,000 Mac Classic.
Which brings up the value question. Is the Mac Pro a good value? You get easy expansion and a top of the line Mac but it comes with a hefty premium. But this isn't the olden days where your top of the line wasn't surpassed in performance for two or three years and when the Mac you dropped big dough on it was surpassed by the next top of the line Mac. With modern Macs the Mac Pro will be the fastest Mac around until the next iMac comes out. The price for premium performance is just too high.
Expect some wailing and gnashing of teeth when Apple does pull the pull the plug on the Mac Pro but don't expect a ton of people to really care. Take the grand or two you save buy buying an iMac and get some Apple stock instead. You won't regret it.