Apple 'Questioning' the Future of its Mac Pro Line?
Late last week, we noted that with pricing information on Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge E Xeon processors surfacing, Apple's options for a potential "Early 2012" Mac Pro have begun to clear up. The Mac Pro has not been updated since mid-2010, and delays in Intel's new chips have pushed their availability out from late this year to early next year.
But despite the new processors now being in sight, AppleInsider reports that Apple is reportedly "questioning" the future of the Mac Pro line and whether it will even release updated models.
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.
The report's source indicates that with Intel's new Thunderbolt connectivity standard making its way across all of Apple's Mac products, those products now have enhanced flexibility to assume some of the tasks that have historically been handled the Mac Pro. Combined with a continuing shift towards notebooks that has seen the desktop share of Apple's Mac business fall from 70% ten years ago to under 30% today, the increasing power of Apple's other Macs has resulted in the Mac Pro becoming only a minor portion of Apple's product lineup.
Speculation in the report suggests that Apple could elect to offer higher-end versions of its iMac or Mac mini models in an attempt to appease those buyers looking for the power of a Mac Pro. Those smaller form factor machines are, however, unable to match a number of the Mac Pro's other features, although Apple apparently believes that Thunderbolt could serve as a means to bring some of that expandability from the Mac Pro to other Macs.