Apple’s Identity and the New Mac Pro

The Mac Pro was dead, or so many of us thought. Or so Apple thought, apparently, because rumor has it the decision to revive it was made fairly recently.

The implications of the Mac Pro’s presumed death were worrisome and left us with many questions. Did Apple care to serve a higher-needs market? If not, why? What machines were Apple’s own engineers using? What did this mean for the future of macOS and Macs in general?

Apple, being Apple, naturally sought to regain control of its narrative and did so with unprecedented transparency and humility. But I can’t help but wonder whether Apple itself fully realizes the implications of its decision to double down on pro hardware. This wasn’t just a product decision, with effects on staffing, component sourcing, and profit margins. It was a decision about the company’s identity. What is our core mission? Who is our audience? Answering those questions (and making sure every employee knows the answer to those questions) is like Running a Company 101. And yet Apple seemed to be confused.

Depending on when the initial decision to sunset the Mac Pro was made, it seems like a lot of this could have been avoided if Apple had utilized its own mission statement. Up until early June 2015, the company still ended every press release with “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world…” Now filter “Should we kill our high end personal computer?” through that and the answer is an emphatic “Nope.”

Setting all of that aside, I hope Apple realizes that new hardware should only be the beginning. After all, for the most part, pros seem to want a Big Boring Box of Raw Power—a flexible cheese grater of the future. I’m sure Apple will find a way to make it look a little sexier than that, but what remains is that software needs to be the differentiater between the new Mac Pro and a suped up Windows machine. 

In other words, renewing a commitment to professionals involves more than just designing the perfect computer for professionals. It means designing an OS and a software ecosystem for professionals. For example, it’s not enough for Adobe to do cool stuff with the Touch Bar, or for the iPad Pro to act as a Wacom-like tablet input for the Mac. Adobe’s (and other high end software-makers’) products need to integrate with macOS in a way that makes them better and easier to use on a Mac than Windows. It’s Apple’s job to make that possible and to provide incentive for companies to put resources into it. 

So, Apple. Expand your Mac software teams. Fix the Mac App Store. Make sure some of that Workflow love makes it to the Mac. Focus on improving iCloud’s stability and features, because collaboration and remote work are the future and because RAW photographs aren’t getting any smaller (and your storage tiers are not friendly to even amateur photographers). 

Look, you may not be Apple Computer anymore but you have reaffirmed that you are Apple, a company that makes personal computers (among other things), and that your audience is everybody, and that you want to be the best. So do that. 

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