Will Apple Release a New MacPro?

Posted on by Larry

One of the web mailing lists I that I read regularly is IMUG – a great resource for anyone involved in media production or post.

This morning, Paul Isbicki asked “…do any video pros REALLY believe that APPLE will make a turnaround move and release a new Mac Pro that will justify the inordinately long wait?”

I’ve gotten this a lot from my newsletter readers and wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on this.


I’ve written three blogs about the MacPro.

The issue of the life or death of the MacPro gained traction in April and May of 2012, when Lou Borella posted a Facebook page called “We Want a New MacPro.”

In it, Lou asked Apple for clarity on whether the MacPro was dead. In a response Tim Cook stated that a new MacPro was in the works for 2013. However, his wording was a bit squishy and, not surprisingly, a great debate ensued about “what Tim Cook really meant.”

Shortly thereafter, Apple PR clarified that Tim’s comments were correct, that a new MacPro was slated for release in “early 2013.” This was reported by David Pogue, Technology Editor for the New York Times. Read David’s entire post here. (I confirmed this with David in a series of private emails after his column.)

In early June, 2012, I then wrote in one of my blogs:

Here’s my guess on what’s going on. I think that Apple decided a couple of years ago not to update the MacPro – that was the word I was hearing on the street. Then, less than a year ago, they changed their minds and decided to update the machine. However, hardware update cycles are lengthy and it takes time to create all the parts, which is why the system won’t be available, according to Pogue, until next year.


That’s the background. What about now?

For me, the answer is absolutely yes, Apple will release a MacPro, sometime in the first half of this year. (My guess is WWDC, but that’s just a guess.)

I have four reasons for this:


I haven’t been privy to Apple’s hardware plans since Steve Jobs returned to the company. So, I am speaking theoretically, I do not have any inside knowledge of Apple’s hardware plans.


Tim Cook, CEO of Apple and someone I have never met, has a reputation for honesty and straight-talk. On June 2012, he issued an email in reference to the MacPro that “Apple was working on something great for 2013.”

That this comment was specifically related to the MacPro was confirmed by Apple PR to the New York Times, Forbes and MacWorld and reported in Ars Technica.

While I don’t have any experience with Mr. Cook, I have a LOT of experience with Apple PR. They don’t confirm ANYTHING about future Apple products. For Apple PR to confirm the relevance of Mr. Cook’s statements tells me that Mr. Cook’s statements were officially approved.

When Tim Cook made his comments in mid-2012, the professional media world was still in chaos after the launch of Final Cut Pro X. While Mr. Cook spoke almost nine months after the launch, feelings were still running very high.

It could be argued that it was in Apple’s best interest to calm their most important developers and professional users. But, promising new hardware is much harder and longer to implement than offering discounts on training, services, software — in other words, Apple could have chosen an easier way out.

But they didn’t. They promised a MacPro.


At first glance, there is no significant financial benefit for Apple to update the MacPro. In their world of $50 billion quarters, the revenue a MacPro brings in amounts to a few hundred million dollars. While, personally, I would not look askance at a product that generated a hundred million dollars, Apple uses different metrics.

Yet, when given an opportunity to kill off the MacPro – because the professional world was already angst-ridden and depressed – they didn’t. They promised something better.

Again, Apple did not take the easy way out. This, also, reassures me that a new MacPro is coming.


In spite of the fact that the world is moving “post-PC,” and that consumers are flocking to tablets and smart-phones to consume content, someone still needs to create this stuff.

For developers and media creators, speed, power, flexibility, interconnectivity are still critical. While it is nice to create a home movie on an iPad, I would certainly not want to create Avatar on one.

As I’ve written, the new iMacs are fast and well-suited for most computer tasks. But not everything.

If Apple cedes the high-ground of computing power to Windows/Linux systems, they lose the ability to control what developers develop or media creators create. If a developer is creating media on a Windows system, they will naturally tend to want to make sure that content plays first on Windows devices. Same thing for Android.

It seems obvious to me that Apple’s long-term health requires it to provide developers and media creators with high-performance hardware tools that keeps them on Apple hardware.

As Paul Isbicki wrote in his posting: “What will the future bring for editing, Grfx, 3D, Photoshop, Illustrator, animation? How ’bout CAD and CNC, architecture, design, a thousand apps relying [on the power of a professional system.]?”


On the other hand, I had a long series of emails with Tim Kolb last year about this very point. Tim argues that high-end Mac systems have not kept up with Windows systems since about 2005.

Tim summarizes comments I’ve heard from many others, pointing to the death of the XSERVE, XRAID, the huge performance issues of ProRes on Windows, the callous death of Final Cut Pro 7 — all pointing to Apple’s abandonment of the professional market in favor of becoming a consumer company. In this view, Apple is willing to relinquish the high-end in hopes that the size of their consumer market compels continued development and support for the platform.

Apple itself has provided a lot of arguments that it is not deeply interested in the professional market.

UPDATE – Jan. 27, 2013

I woke up this morning with an insight. Apple is no longer focused on the professional market; the staggering numbers surrounding the iOS market makes that statement abundantly true. However, Apple does not need to focus on the professional market in order to create products for the professional market. It has thousands of staff engineers that need high-end power tools to create the magic that is in all Apple products. Apple knows what’s needed in a high-end product.

I think Apple has been constrained – first, internally, by deciding whether or not to continue developing the MacPro ; then, second, once the decision was made to go forward, with the availability of the right chips – in advancing the MacPro.


No one doubts that Apple is working on new hardware. That’s what Apple does for a living. The key question is who is the target market for that hardware and what will it do?

I also don’t doubt that Apple will release a new MacPro. However, when ever Apple releases the new MacPro, it won’t look like a Windows system. It won’t use off-the-shelf components that you can buy at Fry’s. It definitely won’t be ugly and it won’t be like the MacPro we have now.

But it will be designed to maximize speed, power, and flexibility. It will heavily feature Thunderbolt for connectivity. And it may not even be called the “MacPro.”

Tim Cook said that “something really great” is coming from Apple in 2013. I tend to believe him.

As always, let me know your comments.


43 Responses to Will Apple Release a New MacPro?

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  1. Tim Kolb says:

    I think it’s a matter of priority…it’s not that Apple can’t make “iStuff” and “StuffPro”…it’s a matter of what they envision as the future of this “Pro” work (who would have seen FCPX coming?), and what segments of it Apple decides to optimize for.

    Also…I think many of us picture “Pro” work as what we do specifically, whereas there are many, many different types of video editing work that people get paid for. There are plenty of professionals that do very well using tools that another professional might dismiss (I’ve been a PPro user for over a decade, so I’ve… um…heard about such things…)

    So…even if whatever Apple comes out with isn’t the MacPro many are hoping for…it may still be quite powerful and usable for professional use, even if it ends up not meeting the needs of every conceivable professional use, which I think parallels FCPX in some ways.

  2. Good points & I too stand corrected. 🙂

  3. Butch says:

    Another important issue is that since the CS6 suite is essentially what FCS was it puts Adobe in the driver’s seat as being the company that exceeded customers expectations where Apple is just beginning to meet some customers expectations and only with editing. So the conversation is moving towards FCPX versus a great editor and a suite of complimentary apps that specialists will be attracted to, because they work as advertised with the editor and because the same company develops all of the apps.

    Before FCS died colorists were beginning to look at Color as a main grading/timing tool, because FCS was relatively cheap. Color worked well even if it had a quirky UI and people were reasonably sure that it would continue to work well with FCP which was an industry standard. I tend to believe FCS with Color was why Black Magic Design dropped the price of Davinci so radically. There weren’t that many “affordable” color grading options available, but Color was bundled with the industry standard editor.

    The same thing could be said about Soundtrack and Compressor and DVDStudio pro…the same thing could have probably been said about an Apple BluRay authoring app if Apple had ever developed one.

    The Ecosystem around FCP was just beginning to come into it’s own with specialized professionals and now that kind of complete Ecosystem solution is developing around the Premiere CS6 suite…so it’s an issue of whether people want to live in a workaround laden mindset using FCPX or whether they want to get in on the ground level of the Premiere suite which will probably occupy the same space/reputation FCS had in a couple of years.

  4. William Hohauser says:

    Regarding pro work, many pros now use iMacs for design, video and development. Yes I want a new MacPro for my cinema work but we can do lots of high quality work with the level of sophistication that consumer computers have reached.

  5. Butch says:

    I don’t like being backed into a corner and most, if not all, other people don’t either. I’ve resolved more problems more quickly by swapping out or upgrading hardware than by taking a computer I own that’s acting up to a repair shop. With Apple attempting to push everyone into a closed and sealed console type system solution for everything that’s the situation people will be in. I’m not intersted in Apple’s version of a beefed up XBox running Mac OS X.

    Had I not been forced to to use FCPX on an iMac and watched it stuttering and choking with clips of at or slightly over 6-7 minutes I probably would be a little more open minded (gullible) about it. I hope I’m wrong and I hope the next MacPro has the expandability, durability and longevity that a lot of people expect for the price Apple charges for it’s pro hardware, but like I said I’m not that optimistic about it.

  6. Don says:

    @Marcus: I’d love to think of Apple as a computer company, but the numbers won’t let me. Desktop sales are declining throughout the industry. Everyone’s running to smartphones, tablets and apps. Apple didn’t ‘spin’ into mobile; it understands the future and is leading the way. They even coined the term, ‘post PC’ — which is not true at all if you’ve ever tried doing any real work on an iPad — to rally the masses behind them. Very few people need powerful desktop systems — gamers and video mainly, tiny niches at best. As far as development on the Mac platform, do you mean content or iOS app development? The latter can be done just fine on an Air. The former — well, what does Apple care if the video you rent was made on a Mac or something else? They just care that you watch it on an iDevice and rent it through iTunes.

    I think something that Larry said in another post captures the truth, “We all want to keep using Macs and Mac software. We want to continue believing in the company.” It’s hard to understand anything when we really want to believe something else. The numbers tell the story. The future for Apple is mobile. Meanwhile, the future for video is products like the Black Magic Cinema Camera and workflows like 12 bit RAW. My fingers are crossed for a new Mac Pro. But I’m prepared to build a killer PC if necessary.

  7. Marcus Moore says:

    @Butch. I don’t know what iMac you were working on, or how it was configured, but that has ABSOLUTELY NOT been my experience with performance on my 2011 iMac. So I don’t think you can make generalization about the performance possible in the form factor itself.

    I want the machine you want, and plan to buy the new MacPro for those same reasons. But this iMac has been a VERY capable intermediary. Much to my own surprise.

  8. Butch says:

    The other thing to consider, from an industry standpoint, is with all of the people making excuses for Apple that have this idea that FCPX’s success is in the future with “online only” distribution what happens when Google acquires Adobe and integrates a FCPX like drag and drop Premiere editor into Youtube that’s available for free and with expanded features for a small monthly fee? When Apple stops making Pro editing products because of this will you still be as happy with your decision to just go with the flow now? My suspicion is that if that happens the price of professional standalone edition applications/suites is going to jump back pre-90’s Avid level pricing or you’ll have to edit on the internet.

  9. Leo Hans says:

    I remember Steve explaining why iPhone was a success. He said Apple is not a hardware company but software one that design its own hardware to be in perfect match with software.

    I think new MacPros are going to be what Apple software need to have, FCPX and Logic included.

  10. Craig says:

    Leo I think you’re right.

    I think it’ll be interesting how Apple handles the GPU in the MacPro replacement.

    My connect the dots…
    Multicam had Ganging but that isn’t there in the new Dual Viewer. Apple did add the ability to have separate scopes under each. If Apple implements Gang the way I think they want to, they’re going to want to have both scopes play live and maintain their high resolution. This is something they can’t do yet. The issue is the high GPU demands. Possibly for the same reason Resolve users want GPU power.

    The next MacPro will provide those GPU resources. It’ll be at that point you’ll get the ability to see multiple scopes in real time. It certainly won’t be absent from FCPX on other Macs but they’ll have a somewhat reduced resolution when live.

    Obviously just a theory but it’s one reason why I imagine they didn’t add gang to the dual viewer yet did add the ability to show a scopes for each viewer.

    Even if one is skeptical about those specifics, generally FCPX is going to make greater system demands as it goes along and Apple is hoping it’ll be a motivator for purchase of the MacPro replacement.

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