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Thursday, May 24, 2012, 09:10 pm PT (12:10 am ET)

Mac Pro petition gains traction as pro users seek information

With Apple's Mac Pro line growing long in the tooth after not having received an update for almost two years, a Facebook petition calling for information from the Mac maker on the fate of its professional-level desktops is steadily gaining traction.

The "We Want a New Macpro" group page on the social networking site had garnered over 4,000 likes as of late Thursday and a number of comments from group members calling for either a Mac Pro update or concrete information from Apple about its plans for the high-end machine.

According to the page, the petition was started by Lou Borella, a self-described "professional editor and graphic animator" in the New York City area, earlier in May.

On May 9, Borella posted an open letter to Apple asking for "a little clarity" about the Mac Pro.

"Its been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we're really happy with our new toys," he wrote. "But unfortunately many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living."

The letter went on to say that professional software applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite 6, AVID, Protools and Smoke, require "the most powerful hardware available." In addition, creative professionals need configurable systems for their business.

"The iMac is not the answer for these situations," he said.

Borella is seeking for a "timeframe" for a new Mac Pro update or official confirmation as to whether the line is "dead."

"It's not too much to ask. We cannot wait any longer and it's really not fair to string us along like this," Borella concluded, also signing the letter on behalf of the "Creative Community."

Mac Pro


According to an informal poll posted to the page last week, 267 people are willing to wait until "shortly after" the Worldwide Developers Conference in mid-June, while 47 people said they would wait until the end of this year. 143 respondents said they would wait until the Mac Pro was "officially discontinued" before taking the next step.

A second poll found that 197 people are willing to wait because their "current computer still works fine." 131 others said they would build a "Hackintosh," a custom-built computer running an unauthorized copy of OS X. Finally, 47 people said they would switch back to Microsoft Windows.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both the petition and its plans for the Mac Pro.

AppleInsider reported last year that, according to people familiar with the matter, Apple's management had been undecided about the long-term future of the Mac Pro. Sales executives reportedly believed that the machine's days are numbered because sales of the workstations have dwindled in recent years.

Apple's neglect of the Mac Pro was especially felt last year as all of the other Mac models received upgrades adding Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors. Some have even suggested that Thunderbolt is Apple's alternative to high-end workstations.

Customers have reported repeated delays of build-to-order models of the Mac Pro recently. Late last month, an AppleInsider reader reporter that his order from March had yet to ship and was still in processing.

The Mac Pro's important to Apple's bottom line has diminished as the company's profits have increasingly skewed toward mobile devices and the iPhone has come to account for the bulk of its revenue. Apple sold 1.2 million desktops in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 2.82 million notebooks during the period. Mac revenue for the quarter amounted to $5.1 billion, much less than the $22.7 billion in revenue from the iPhone and related products.

Though Apple has in the past been known as a niche hardware and software maker catering to creative professionals, the company has shown a willingness to adapt to better serve its mainstream customers. For instance, it announced plans to discontinue its Xserve server in 2010. Though the company redirected customers to its Mac Pro as a Mac-based server alternative, it has curiously not updated the Mac Pro since July 2010.

The Cupertino, Calif., company upset a number of professional video editors last year with the release of Final Cut Pro X. Power users complained that the new release more closely resembled iMovie, Apple's entry-level video editing software, than previous versions of Final Cut Pro. AppleInsider exclusively reported in May 2010 that Apple was planning to make Final Cut more of a "prosumer" product, but the company promised at the time that its pro customers would "love" it.