The Mac Pro is the most PC-like Mac, but it serves niches that other Macs and PCs can’t.
Apple quietly updated its Mac Pro line last week. The update was an important move even though the actual changes were so minor as to be barely noteworthy. The minor refresh gave high computing customers a sense of confidence that Apple wasn’t going to abandon the Mac Pro line anytime soon. That sense of confidence got a boost from New York Times columnist David Pogue, who was assured more substantive Mac Pro upgrades were in the works for 2013.
The Mac Pro is something of a relic when it comes to Apple’s current strategy. It’s the only Mac that features significant expansion options using industry standard hardware – a point made by Lifehacker columnist Adam Dachis, who compared the Mac Pro’s specs and costs to three hackintosh options. Looking at the Mac Pro as simply a series of specs, performance, and cost is appropriate for most users – but not for some important niche markets.
Inside the Mac Pro, Apple's most powerful and configurable Mac
There have been concerns about the fate of the Mac Pro ever since Apple killed off the Xserve a year and a half ago. Although Apple didn’t say the Mac Pro was on the chopping block, the company did let it go without an update for quite some time. Although the Mac Pro didn’t get featured in today’s WWDC keynote like the MacBook lineup, which includes the new MacBook Pro, it did receive a long-needed update.
The biggest reaction to the Mac Pro’s update today is a sense of relief by many creative professionals and Mac-focused IT departments. The update proves that Apple isn’t signing the death warrant for its most powerful and most expandable Mac. That makes the updated specs a symbol of Apple’s commitment to high-end and high-performance systems in addition to being a major product update.
Is this the Xserve replacement Mac IT pros have been hoping for?
Apple’s decision to cancel the Xserve unleashed a range of questions and concerns from Mac IT professionals. The Xserve was the best Mac server option that Apple had ever created and its 1U rackmount design was a perfect fit for any server closet or data center. The Xserve delivered a tremendous amount of power and flexibility including fibre channel connectivity – a key feature for managing Apple’s Xsan storage system.
Apple positioned the Mac Pro and Mac mini Server as alternate server machines, neither of which deliver the same combination of power, expansion flexibility, and standard network rackmount options as the Xserve.
Despite complaints from enterprise customers about the demise of the Xserve, it’s a forgone conclusion at this point that Apple will never revive it. Mac upgrade and peripheral maker Sonnet Technologies, however, may just have created a true Xserve replacement.