Despite the coming availability of a new generation of Sandy Bridge desktop CPUs suitable for advancing Apple's Mac Pro line, the company has reportedly been evaluating whether to continue to invest in furthering its full-sized workstation line beyond this year in the face of limited sales.
Although the Mac maker has reportedly developed a revision to the existing Mac Pro that may or may not see the light of day, people familiar with the matter said management as far back as May of 2011 were in limbo over whether to pour any additional resources into the product line.
According to these people, the consensus among sales executives for the Cupertino-based company was that the Mac Pro's days -- at least in its current form -- were inevitably numbered. In particular, internal discussions were said to focus around the fact that sales of the high-end workstations to both consumers and enterprises have dropped off so considerably that the Mac Pro is no longer a particularly profitable operation for Apple.
Another point reportedly raised during the discussions was that the advent of Apple's multi-use, high-speed Thunderbolt technology will ultimately allow other, more popular members of the Mac product family to assume the vast majority of the roles that once required the Mac Pro's and flexibility and architecture.
As it stands, notebooks currently make up a 74 percent share of the Apple's computer sales, according to sales figures and comments made by chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer in the company's latest quarterly earnings conference call this month.
Quarterly Mac sales just set an all time record of 4.89 million units; the company noted that while desktops are an increasingly small proportion of overall sales, there were still record sales of desktops, represented primarily by the iMac.
At the same time, Apple made no comment of the sales or future of its Mac Pro line of full sized desktop systems, the only machines it continues to sell with internal PCI Express expansion slots. However, over the last year Apple has deployed Thunderbolt to all of its notebooks, iMac and the Mac mini. Thunderbolt provides the same signals as PCI Express slots over a high speed external interconnect.
Armed with Thunderbolt, Apple's notebooks and consumer desktops can accommodate fast external storage, multiple external displays and specialized peripheral devices, even connect to external housings that supply conventional PCI Express slots for expansion cards, negating one of the primary unique features of the Mac Pro.
After review, maybe just more workstations for studios. A full line of desktops is no longer wanted from this company by the general public. The laptops they put out are generaly way more than enough for modern computing. (facebook, music, syncing with Itunes, converting home movies, and general media use)
apple doesn't want niche markets. they are a mass market company they also do poorly supporting professional applications, hence the whole crashing of the xserve.
Those high end professionals can be just as well served with a mac book pro and an external display.
Personally this sounds about right. They never bothered making BD standard even though it is the best format for HD content because so few of the systems they have been used to master professional HD content.
Apple sheds anything that doesn't mean mass market profit. Why waste designers on desktops a few people will use when those same people can be tasked with making better All in one and laptops that millions will buy?
It's long been my belief that Apple are slowly moving out of the computer market and following their success as a consumer electronics company. They started by getting rid of their server products, so to see the high-end desktops disappear would be the next logical step. And so it goes.
The only fly in the ointment is that OS X is required for iOS development. In time they will either port the development tools to other OSs or will start retailing OS X to third parties. In 10 years time Apple computers will be a thing of the past. Remember - you read it here first!