Big (big) news in the computer world is that a trio of Apple execs led by Phil Schiller, the world's highest-paid CMO, held a highly unusual and atypical gathering, with, in Schiller's words, "no black cloth that’s going to come off something right now." An interim, between-product-announcements update press meeting. The context, according to a long but interesting article by Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch, "is that Apple’s dedication to the Mac has taken a bit of a philosophical beating lately among its core professional customers." And the upshot is: a) yes, Apple still cares about the Mac and its many users; and, b) they're sorry(!) they haven't updated the Mac Pro like they should have.
(Er, Apple's apologizing. You got that.)
Phil Schiller said they would "talk about what’s going on and frankly be a little more transparent with some of the things we’re doing, some of the places we’re going, because our pro users desire that and we care deeply about them and we’re dedicated to communicating well with them and helping them understand what we’re doing and what we’re up to."
(Apple is concerned about transparency(!!). You picked that up too.)
The specific news is that Apple is going to rethink the Mac Pro completely, but it won't be ready this year. (Note that that is not the same as saying it will be ready next year.) This is believed to be the first official confirmation that the Mac Pro will be updated and continued.
Along the way, Apple provided some interesting figures about Macs. The Mac user base is approaching 100 million; Mac sales have a $25 billion run rate and almost qualifies as a Fortune 100 company all by itself; the current percentage of laptop/desktop sales is 80/20; and MacBook Pro sales are up 20% for the first quarter year-over-year.
You can see from those numbers both a) why they don't want to blow it, and b) why they might have been complacent.
The meeting happened yesterday in Apple's Product Realization Lab at its Cupertino office campus. There were four people from Apple there: Schiller, whose title is Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing; John Ternus, who's in charge of Mac hardware; Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi; and, to moderate and watch the clock (the meeting ran for 90 minutes), Bill Evans of Apple PR. There were only five writers at the table: John Gruber of Daring Fireball; Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch; Lance Ulanoff from Mashable; Ina Fried of Axios; and John Paczkowski from BuzzFeed.
So that chorus of critiques we were referencing and linking to a few weeks ago was being listened to. Check out the articles if you're interested.
(Thanks to Gordon Lewis and others)
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Featured Comments from:
Gordon Lewis: "I find it hard to believe that Apple has suddenly become infected with humility and transparency. It's more like embarrassment. They haven't upgraded the Mac Pro since 2013. That's a long time to sit still in the IT world. Expecting their pro customers to wait another year or more for an upgrade or other new pro-market products is asking a lot, to say the least. My concern is that by this point, whatever they eventually come out with will be too little, too late."
Jim in Denver: "It's too late. I'm going to buy two PCs in the next week or so. It's been 18 years since I've had a PC, but the Mac product is just not getting things done anymore. Hopefully they hit the ball out of the park and give me a reason to buy another Mac in a couple years."
PaddyC: "It's very good news. And as [John] Gruber reported, they also mentioned they have new iMacs (including a pro-ish one) coming up. I mention the iMacs because I do have some concern over the price of the new Mac Pros whenever they arrive.
"All around great news for this late 2010 Mac Pro user."
Speed: "A competitor has surfaced."
faberryman: "So they will do something sometime unless they change their mind."
psu: "I sort of object to the framing of your headline...the Mac was never dead. Far from it. People were just unhappy that the one they thought they wanted updated was not living a fuller life."
Mike replies: Remember that I'm not a subject-matter expert in this area, I'm just reporting. Or, in this case, not even reporting, just linking to the five articles written by the writers who were at the meeting. The longer version of the quote in my first paragraph, written by Matthew Panzarino, is as follows:
"The context, of course, is that Apple’s dedication to the Mac has taken a bit of a philosophical beating lately among its core professional customers. The narrative is that Apple has not put the resources needed into making the Mac work for pros, has neglected updates and could even be working toward a future where there are no Macs, just iOS devices. That’s the picture you’d get from the think pieces, anyway."
"A future where there are no Macs, just iOS devices" is a future in which the Mac would be dead, right? Maybe I should have used the full quote in order to support the headline.
Michael Perini: "It is interesting and a little sad to note that in Phil Shiller's description of pro users, photographers never enter his mind: 'There’s [sic] music creators, there’s video editors, there’s graphic designers—a really great segment with the Mac. There’s scientists, engineers, architects, software programmers....'"