The state of Apple’s professional line

Today, 512 days after the last update, Apple introduced the new lineup of speed-bumped Mac Pros and further established their abandonment of the professional community.

Now, I don’t say this to be inflammatory – far from it.  As a professional user in the truest sense, I eat, sleep and breathe things like this.  I work in an industry that simply requires the use of a Mac… no ifs, ands or buts.  No Windows, no Linux, no hackintoshes, no excuses.  To the millions that love their Macs, it’s an enviable position to be in.  But to those who have walked this path before, it’s a lonely existence.  The reason for this is simple:

With the 2010 Mac Pro update, Apple has literally created a machine for nobody.

Let me explain.  In order to get a true understanding of the current Mac Pro lineup, we have to go on a trip down memory lane.

Ever since the discontinuation of the Power Macintosh 9600 in 1997  [and Workgroup Server 9650 in early 1998], Apple’s professional desktop lineup has filled a space immediately above their consumer machines.  While many still look back on the immense expansion [six PCI slots!] of the pre-G3-era computers with fondness, what they often forget is that those machines tipped the scale at $4,700 [and $6,900 for the server!] when they first shipped.  They were extreme performance machines with fitting prices.

But since Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the professional line rapidly shifted from the stratosphere to the attainable.  For years, there were three price points to Apple’s professional desktop lineup: $1,999, $2,499 and $2,999.  The low-end model was a logical step over the highest-end consumer machine [the iMac] and each price point got you a logical increase in performance.

After the introduction of the Power Mac G3, performance increased rapidly until it hit a clock speed road block in 1999.  For MacWorld after MacWorld, we stood by and watched countless Photoshop bake-offs between a 500MHz Mac and an umpteen GHz PC.  It was in this curious era until they broke down the barrier in 2001 that Apple [almost begrudgingly] changed their strategy from speed increase to feature increase.  As new generations of processors [still trapped at <500MHz speeds] surfaced, the Power Mac would grow with faster graphics, faster system controllers, faster networking, faster system busses and improved I/O.  While these machines never reached the expandability of the Power Macintosh line, they grew in performance and usefulness while maintaining their position one notch above the iMac.

Apple again hit a similar roadblock with the G5, never reaching the 3.0GHz that Motorola promised Apple [and us!] in 2003.  With that said, the immense performance increase that the G5 afforded was worth it – at least in the early days.  A minor $300 price bump to the professional lineup in this era was offset by the killer performance you’d gain… 3.0GHz or not.

In the Intel era, the concept of clock speeds are almost lost.  It’s 2010 and we’ve still barely cracked the 3.0GHz barrier.  It turns out that the snake oil some thought we were being sold in the 500MHz roadblock era was actually true!  It’s architecture that trumps clock speed.

Since the Intel transition, Apple has usually positioned themselves as the star child of Intel’s processor lineup.  Every time Intel had something new to show, Apple would be the first to have it, contractually blocking others out for weeks or months before the processors were widely available.

Now before I go any further, I want to draw a selfish distinction.  For the sake of argument, there are two types of users of Apple’s professional lineup.

First, there are the users that I will shamelessly lump into “Group A”.  These users – call them prosumers, high-end consumers, casual professionals or rich people – demand more from their machines than they can get out of the consumer models.  The reasons are plentiful.  Maybe they wanted a bigger screen on their laptop than they could get in the consumer lineup.  Maybe they needed some expandability.  Maybe they knock around in Photoshop every now and again and needed better I/O and storage options.  Hell, maybe they just like aluminum.  Whatever the reason, this group of users fit into the slot directly above the iMac [and iBook/MacBook] perfectly.  Jumping from a $1,500 iMac to a $2,000+ PowerMac was attainable and justifiable.

Then, there are the rest of us.  We demand the most from our machines.  We make a living off of our machines and the work that they help us accomplish.  We stuff our Macs to the brim with PCI cards, RAM and storage.  We move hundreds of terabytes of data, render for hours and know what it really means to push a machine to the limit.  Maybe it’s video, maybe it’s photography, maybe it’s server administration… hell, maybe it’s something i’ve never heard of.  Either way, it’s about the performance and there is no second place.  Group B.

The thing that frightens me about Apple’s professional lineup is that over the past few years, they’ve seemingly abandoned Group B.  Just take a look at Apple’s current offerings.

The MacBook Pro briefly glimmered as an awesome professional laptop when it peaked in 2008.  It had a user-replaceable battery, user-replaceable hard drive, an ExpressCard slot and a matte screen.  Apple had finally answered our calls that they’d seemingly been ignoring since the ’90s.

Take a look at the same lineup today.  Apple dropped the replaceable battery, dropped the user-upgradeable hard drive, started charging for matte screens and replaced the immensely useful ExpressCard slot with a consumer-oriented SD card slot.  Hell, the entry-level MacBook Pro dropped below $2,000 to make it appeal to consumers more.

The reasons for Apple’s decision are obvious – many consumers want a bigger screen and don’t need all of the performance.  I’m sure that most of the MacBook Pros Apple was selling were going directly to owners who don’t even understand what an ExpressCard slot is or why they’d need it.  But their point-and-shoot camera [and their entry-level DSLR] has an SD card and boy it’d be convenient to just stick it in the computer.  Since most people don’t take their laptops beyond the kitchen table or the local Starbucks, saving weight on an internal battery makes sense.  Replaceable hard drives?  It’s not even on their radar.

To save the professional users, Apple kept the ExpressCard slot in the 17″ model.  Unfortunately, the 17″ model has the same graphics performance as the 15″ model, but it’s driving more pixels resulting in lower per-pixel performance.  The system architecture is still based around one USB 2.0 bus and one FireWire bus, resulting in limited I/O performance.  One hopes that Apple will upgrade the ExpressCard slot to the 2.0 specification later this year, but with only one machine sporting the slot, I’m not holding my breath.

With these decisions, Apple has turned the MacBook Pro lineup into a high-end consumer line… the perfect computer for Group A users.

Before turning the spotlight back on the Mac Pro, I want to look at a few other professional Apple products… perhaps the most important being QuickTime.  When Apple introduced Mac OS X 10.6, they cleaned up a lot of things.  Perhaps the most useful change to professionals [other than the generally increased performance, naturally] was the system-wide change from 1.8 gamma to 2.2 gamma.  Rather than commenting on how overdue this change was, I’ll simply nod and accept it.

But look at what happened to QuickTime in the process.  With a rewrite of the Mac OS as a whole, I expected Apple to clean up all the messes that QuickTime had been creating over the past seven versions.  QuickTime is indispensable, yes, but it’s also been plagued with prevalent gamma issues and inconsistencies for years.  Those in the professional video community have found workarounds, but it was only logical that Apple clean up this mess while they were cleaning up the rest of the OS.

Unfortunately, Apple introduced QuickTime X – a disappointing step backwards from QuickTime 7.  Gone are the features of QuickTime Pro, gone is codec support for so many video formats, gone are dozens of useful display options and gone is the ability to overcome the limitations of QuickTime’s gamma issues.  Apple didn’t fix the gamma issue, they simply removed the ability to work around it.  The only positive feature I can find in the application is the inclusion of fullscreen playback in the free player.

Naturally, one can still find QuickTime 7 in their utilities folder, much in the way that Apple had to keep iMovie HD around after iMovie ’08 removed most of its useful features.

Take a look at Apple’s other professional offerings.  FInal Cut Pro hasn’t seen an update in just over a year and lacks basic functionality like 64-bit optimization and true multiprocessor support.  Unfortunately – at its most basic level – Final Cut Pro is still a single-processor application.

Apple’s Logic Pro has seen similarly limited support over the past few years.  It wasn’t until January of this year that Apple updated Logic Pro to support 64-bit.  Even with this update, the program still feels trapped in an era between PowerPC and Intel processors.

Looking back at the Mac Pro, Apple has found themselves in a market that they are seemingly unwilling or unable to support.

When the Nehalem Mac Pro was introduced in early 2009, Apple was the first major computer manufacturer to have access to the new processors.  Even after other companies picked up the processors, Apple had created a genuinely competitive machine.  You could price out an identical system from almost any other PC manufacturer and end up with a similar [or higher!] price than Apple’s lineup.  Credit where credit is due, this is a habit that Apple has stuck to with the Mac Pro lineup for several generations.

The problem is that Apple is no longer in their own sandbox.  When Apple switched over to using Intel processors, they opened themselves up to direct and undeniable competition.  When Apple was on their 6-month product update cycle back in the PowerPC days, there was no competition.  Sure, the PC world would’ve updated a few times since Apple’s last offering… but Apple’s last offering was still the fastest PowerPC system you could get.

Since Apple had moved into the x86 wild, their price/performance superiority with new product launches would dwindle quickly.  While the 2009 Mac Pro may have been a terrific value on the day of its introduction, the PC world would drop prices and add performance consistently month after month for the entire life of the tower.  When a six-month product update cycle felt lengthy, a 14+ month product cycle is an eternity.  As of yesterday, Apple’s top-of-the-line Mac Pro still cost the same that it did at the time of its introduction… when an identically configured PC was available for pennies.

In this new world, Apple hasn’t reacted by updating their professional products more aggressively or striving to increase performance or drop prices – they’ve seemingly done the opposite.  Leaving your most competitive performance systems to rot for almost a year and a half is an insult to those that rely on them.

Even accepting that, Apple’s current product introduction is already four months behind the curve.  Instead of leading the way by being the first to use a new processor from Intel, Apple missed the target and is introducing machines that are essentially already outdated from a price/performance perspective.

With all of that in mind, why is the 2010 Mac Pro a machine for nobody?

The reason is simple – it’s why we went on that trip through history.

When Apple switched from the Power Macintosh 9600 to the PowerMac G3, they dropped a lot of things.  They halved the number of PCI slots and limited the upgradability of the machine, but they dropped a huge amount off the price to justify it.  Existing in that $2,000 – $3,000 range was what made the PowerMac work.  It may not have had all of the features that professional users had come to expect, but the price/performance ratio was vastly increased.

If you look at today’s lineup, Apple has introduced a machine priced like the Power Macintosh 9600 but outfitted like the PowerMac G3.  It is priced out of the range of Group A, but lacks the performance and upgradability required by Group B.  In many ways, it goes against everything Apple taught us during those countless Photoshop bake-offs and system controller comparisons.  Apple has done what they always told us was bad – they’ve bolted a crazy fast processor to a system that’s just not up to the task.  It’s a twin-turbo V12 Yugo.

Like the ExpressCard 34 slot in the MacBook Pro, I’m sure Apple would tell you that only an infinitesimal percentage of users ever take advantage of all the Mac Pro has to offer.  I’m sure very few users fill up their PCI slots, max out their RAM and run their towers into the ground.  If the machines were priced like the MacBook Pro, it’s a valid argument.  But at $5,000, the machine is no longer in the price range of a Group A user.  In my mind, that argument just doesn’t apply here.

Furthermore, as the computing world moves forward to newer and faster standards, even a mid-range professional users has requirements that stress the lower-end [and more reasonably priced] Mac Pro models.

The Mac Pro only has one FireWire bus, but inexplicably sports 4 ports.  Adding another bus will fill up a PCI slot.  The Mac Pro has no eSATA support [and the extra SATA ports on the motherboard are presumably still not hot-swappable], so that fills up another PCI slot.  USB 3.0 may still be in its infancy, but adding it to the machine when it’s ready is going to fill up another slot.

So the simple act of bringing the motherboard’s I/O up to what is normal in 2010 fills the system’s PCI slots.

But what about the more advanced users?  If one needs to add a SAS card or RAID card, they’re out of space.  If they need to add industry- or application-specific PCI cards [think HD-SDI input/output, video professionals], they’re out of space.  What if that user wants to mount their professional system in a rack mount to fit with the rest of their gear?  No such luck, unfortunately – at least not unless they want to saw off the handles to make the computer fit.

In short, the system architecture of the Mac Pro just isn’t up to what true professional users need in 2010.  It may have the bleeding-edge processors [introduced several months ago] but it lacks the back-end support to make it all useful.  We’re still limited to 40 PCI lanes across 4 slots.  There’s still no SAS backplane.  There is still one FireWire bus.  There is no USB 3.0.  There is no BluRay.  The machine will not fit in a rack mount.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I don’t mean to be inflammatory.  I’m just crestfallen – like I’ve been abandoned by the company that used to love me and my brethren.

For years, Apple was the best at this sort of thing.  If you worked in graphics, you used a Mac.  If you worked in video or film, you used a Mac.  If you worked in music, you used a Mac.  It was the way of the creative professional.

As a consumer entering the Apple Store, you knew that Apple had both ends of the spectrum covered.  They made the easiest computers for consumers to use but they also made the fastest and most powerful computers for creative professionals.  Even if you were there to buy an iBook, it sure was nice to look through to the next section of the store and see the computer that composted Lord of The Rings using Apple’s own Shake!  It was the halo effect, even in the days before the iPod.

Apple’s consumer offerings have been spectacular over the past few years.  They’ve introduced such fantastic products that most people can find themselves right at home on one of Apple’s computers.  But in this shift towards the consumer, Apple has left the professional behind.

If you look at the dollars and cents, I’m sure it’s the logical decision.  As with the deletion of the ExpressCard slot from the MacBook Pro, Apple has shifted their efforts towards the greater volume and louder customer base.  Why sell one Mac Pro when you can sell 5 iMacs and 30 iPhones?  It makes sense on paper.

But that’s the wrong way to look at the professional line.  It shouldn’t be a line of computers that your mother might buy.  It’s the line of computers that creative professionals buy.  We shoot your movies, we make your music, we edit your TV shows and print your magazines.  It’s about creation, not consumption.

Ask Subaru to put their figures on the table and I guarantee you that their World Rally Championship involvement doesn’t make them a cent.  But when a 16-year-old kid sees a $300,000 WRX rip through the dirt sideways at 100MPH, he knows what car he’s going to save for.

Ask Ford or Chevy the same of NASCAR and you’ll get a similar answer.  Or ask Audi about Le Mans.  To the companies that sign the checks, it’s not about the money that they spend, it’s about the loyalty and excitement it creates.  If Apple has decided to price the Mac Pro out of the reach of the consumer, they need to give it the beans that their own racing team requires.

So when the machines ship in August, will I buy them?  Of course.  Because I have to.  I do this for a living and if my machines aren’t up to the task, someone else’s are.  But for every $5,000 Mac Pro I buy I’m going to spend another few thousand on a PCI expansion chassis and a few thousand after that on SATA cards, SAS cards, FireWire cards, USB 3.0 cards and BluRay burners.  Somehow this will all get wedged into 40 PCI lanes.  And every time there’s a software update, I’ll have to shake the whole machine down again to keep driver incompatibility from ruining stability.  It’s the nature of the beast.

As far as I can tell, Apple still hasn’t made a decision.  They haven’t figured out whether to abandon their professional users or support them.  The 2010 Mac Pro is a middle ground machine… it’s caught in the ether.

I can only hope that Apple hears the cries of their professional users and builds systems to support the industry that they created.  They have to make a decision one way or the other, because right now they have nothing.  I just hope that they don’t make their decision based on sales figures… because I can already tell you how they’re going to look.

They’ve reset the clock with this introduction, but they haven’t solved the problem.  I just hope we don’t have to wait another 512 days to see what’s next.

~Brook Willard


129 Responses to “The state of Apple’s professional line”

  1. July 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Well said … I don’t know if I should laugh at this new Mac Pro or cry. Maybe both.

  2. July 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Great post, thank you for writing this. I will pass it along to others!

  3. July 28, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Great post! Very interesting to hear this from a professional’s perspective.

  4. July 28, 2010 at 2:26 am

    So true, I’m still in shock that the update was this lame.

  5. July 28, 2010 at 3:47 am

    You nailed it. Very well written post with shades of things to come.

  6. July 28, 2010 at 4:04 am

    Awesome! I hope Apple will listen to it’s “core” audience.. 🙂

  7. July 28, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Excellent post, well thought out and articulated. Thank you.

  8. 9 Dawn
    July 28, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Excellent port! Hope someone can read it out loud to Steve …

  9. July 28, 2010 at 4:37 am

    The more everybody posts it, the more that people will read it. Throw it on your facebook, blogs, twitter, sites, you name it. Maybe Steve will see it…

    The Digg link is here: http://digg.com/d31YC9m

    Thanks for the kind words, guys. I hope the right people read it.

    • 11 Keith
      July 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      I’m emailing it to Steve right now.

      • July 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

        I did the same – forward it to Steve after reading this post on my e-mail list.

        It makes me mad when i need to choose 17 inch macbookpro for the field video assist. And i hope that Steve will put something like the LightPeak technology in the next generetion mbp&MP. But it was really surprised to me when i read about next generation FW… I didn’t even heard about….

  10. July 28, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Agreed – I was aghast that Blu-ray is still not included, bummed that USB 3.0 wasn’t included (what other systems, say from HP/Dell/etc) include USB 3.0 on the motherboard? I was under the impression that the spec was only recently finalized. But remember when Apple used to be a leader, not a follower? Remember when they were first not last?

    Yeah. Macs overall only account for about 1/4th of Apple’s income. And the Pro line, as in towers? I’d guess MAYBE 5% of Apple’s gross income at best. And the high end towers? Less than 1% of Apple’s overall income.

    They don’t care about us. Much. Because they don’t have to.

    Apple, at this point, is a Me-Too manufacturer. Jumping to Intel was a mixed blessing – we got faster processors, but we got whatever everybody else got. And we got Intel pricing – the fact that this is a $5000 box isn’t Apple’s fault, it is Intel’s. List price for 1000 2.93GHz 6 core CPUs is $1440. Even if Apple were paying $1000-$1250 a pop for the bulk they are buying, that would still be $2000-$2500 of hard cost of the Mac is Intel CPUs. Not motherboards, hard drives, GPUs, enclosures, RAM, nothing else – just a couple of tiny chips. THAT is why they are so expensive these days. Given that, it is impossible for Apple to make a top-end system for $3000 anymore.

    I am bummed that we waited four extra months for….nothing. Not Blu-ray, not USB 3.0, not eSATA, nada.

  11. July 28, 2010 at 5:02 am

    thinking more on the ports:

    USB 3.0 – too new, couldn’t be assimilated fast enough. Or Apple wasn’t willing to push/lead the market. Either way, we lose.

    Blu-ray – no defense other than the Steve factor – I think Apple thinks downloads are the future, but is FORCING the issue by refusing to even offer Blu-ray as an option. Dick move. CS4 shipped how many years ago? FCP 7 shipped last year, with the ability to burn a Blu-ray straight from the app? And we STILL don’t have it, even as a BTO option? That should be included with the 12 core, no doubt!

    eSATA port or ports – great for us pro users, but would confuse your Group A prosumers – you can only connect a single drive/device to it. Yeah, that device can be a 5 bay hotswap, but they don’t see it that way. But YES – the motherboard should have been upgraded so that you could route to the outside of the box with a simple slot cover. But prosumers would be confused, so they are skipping it.

    I bet they are waiting to introduce USB 3.0 on motherboards next year. Are there motherboards that support 12 core processors with USB 3.0 built in? And FW800, with hopefully more than one bus? Now that single drives can EASILY swamp FW800’s capabilities, a single bus is no longer an acceptable solution.


    • 16 Rick
      July 28, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      I was just reading the latest Maximum PC where they built their version of “The Perfect PC”. It costs over $13k to build but it rocks. The mobo is an EVGA Classified SR-2. Some of the features it has is 12 Core, up to 48GB of RAM, 2 USB 3.0/2.0’s and 10 USB 2.0’s, 2 SATA III’s, 6 SATA II’s, and the ability to put in 4 way SLI. And for that guy who said that Intel reported they wouldn’t touch USB 3.0 until 2011, it is an Intel Chipset. So, I guess they got ahead of the game a bit eh?

      If you want to see the mobo, you can find it here: http://www.evga.com/articles/00537/

      BTW, the final product did include BluRay capability. Unfortunately, it did not offer eSATA.

  12. 18 douwe
    July 28, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Let us all just hope iOS will never replace OSX, and that there will never be a closed app store for OSX, because hat would mean we’d slowly lose our computers’ admin rights…

  13. 19 kurren
    July 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

    “I work in an industry that simply requires the use of a Mac…”

    What industry is that, the ‘buy whatever expensive white design-ish s~~it comes from Cupertino?

    I know it’s hard to digest, but Apple really is now, and it’s been quite a long while, only a mass market gadget marketer. Not even producer, as hardware is made by 3rd parties. Deal with it.

    • 20 EShy
      July 28, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      That statement just shows he hasn’t looked at other options and he acts like another Apple slave. Why would Apple do what he wants if he’s just going to buy their product anyway?

      Stating that windows/linux won’t do is funny when PC computers are cheaper and are always upgradable without spending another 5K$. Apple is still more expensive for the same hardware. All the software (other than FCP) is available for windows as well.
      I used to believe the same thing, I though I have to use a Mac for video post production. That was around that 500MHZ time, and that’s when I switched to a PC and never looked back.
      My Avid and After work great on it.

  14. July 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Spot on, unfortunately.

    Perhaps this is an interim speed boost and we’ll see the updated ports etc next year?

    I don’t think so somehow.

  15. July 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Spot on, unfortunately.

    Perhaps this is just a speed boost update and we’ll see an ‘actually’ updated machine with new ports etc early next year?

    Sincerely doubt it somehow.

  16. 23 mism
    July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Excellent piece.

  17. July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Word to ya mama! It was like reading my own thougts, brilliant article! My first feeling after reading the specs on the new macpro was huge dissapointment. I can live without USB3 and FW1600 but atleast give us a rack mountable chassis with space for 8 disks and something like 7 PCI-e 2.0 slots. You have said all there is to said, let’s hope this was a release apple made to calm the mases while they work on a new redesigned macpro. Personally I think Apple don’t have any interest what so ever in the Pro-market anylonger.

  18. July 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I hear you, man. But I have a slightly different outlook.

    I would definitely be one of your Group B users. I create motion graphics, render in high-end 3D packages, edit & composite HD video. Fittingly, my clients include Ford. Since 2007 I have shot Ford Championship Weekend, Ford’s biggest NASCAR event.

    I don’t have a problem with Apple’s Mac Pro offerings. I don’t even have a problem with how frequently the systems are updated. I bill top-dollar to my clients and I couldn’t purchase a new Mac Pro every year. Maybe I could work at a larger agency, or go back to work in network TV where system upgrades seemed to come more frequently, but I wouldn’t actually need a new system every year.

    My biggest issue isn’t hardware, it’s software. How long did it take Adobe to release Intel versions of After Effects and Photoshop? How long did it take them to create 64 but versions to use the extra RAM a six year old Mac Pro could install? It’s true that FCP needs a rewrite. But if you’re truly professional you use Avid or Smoke. It’s more important that Compressor and Color need major overhauls. Shake died on the vine, but Nuke owns the high-end compositing space and we’re better off for it. Cinema4D and Maya work great.

    When it comes to truly high-end creative work software makes the Mac. And NASCAR? Ford threatens to drop out of the sport every year. Apple wouldn’t do that because, unlike NASCAR, Apple makes money on Mac Pros.

  19. 26 Zak Ray
    July 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Great post, Brook. Email this to Steve!

  20. July 28, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Unfortunately the limitations that are built in by Apple have caused many professional users to find alternatives like Hackintosh. I agree with you on many points in your article. In the past I have contacted Apple with no avail. It’s like they completely ignore bus speed and several other bottle-neck situations. FCP has also taken a beating and is slowly morphing into iMovie.

    The consumer is the answer. Buying is voting. With the iPhone fervor Apple has become head strong thinking everyone will love anything they produce.

    Good article. Good luck out there.


  21. 28 emma
    July 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    just wondering what you do that absolutely requires you use a mac? i use a mac for work and it is really nice to have a lot of integrated developer features and it makes a lot of things easier to do but if i had to run windows, i would probably survive.

    just curious…

    • July 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

      Brook like myself is a Digital Imaging Technician in the Digital Cinema Production industry, almost all of the industry tools that we require for work are Mac based. Therefore we have no real options to change to PC for 99% of jobs. If we decided to only run PC systems we could not earn enough to survive so we are locked into the whims of Apple for our hardware.
      Hackintoshes are not an option for us as we are dealing with tens of thousands of dollars worth of footage everyday and cannot under any circumstances have that compromised by a system failing.

  22. July 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing your work health

  23. 31 Doc Chevalier
    July 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Excellent piece Brook, well thought out and well articulated. I choose Macintosh and concur with your points about the next gen Mac Pros as I am out of slots for everything in my current Mac Pro (memory, disk and expansion) I wish specifically that eSATA ports and multiple FW and USB buses had been added as I already hit the performance wall and reliability issues with long USB and FW chains. I would hope that Apple would listen but history has not said that they do.



  24. July 28, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    “It’s about creation, not consumption.”

    Well written post, it echos a lot of my own sentiment about Apple’s professional line. I hope it’s not prophetic in its statement as Apple seems more focused on the consumer market these days. The iPad is a device that’s all about consumption, and I’d hate to think I’ll be developing on a PC in the future to make content for it.

  25. July 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Not surprised at all. I’ve been feeling abandoned by Apple for the last two years. It’s like a friend at Zynga told me. “All the video game companies were always trying to figure out how to appeal to the masses of people, not just teenage boys. Well, casual gaming on Facebook is now filling that void.” For Apple, the iPhone is the same thing. I’m sure Steve Jobs says, “Hey, if pros can get cheaper computers that do more elsewhere, then they should. Let’s make some money on the rest of the people.”

  26. 34 Overviper
    July 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I love this post…finally someone who stands up to the cult. I have used both Macs and PCs for many years, and IMHO you just get more bang for the buck with a PC. Windows 7 is 64 bit optimized, Adobe Premiere/After FX/Photoshop are 64 bit optimized (CS5)…you get enough IO to choke a horse if you want, USB 3, Firewire 3200 if you want…you get to configure the system the exact way it will work best for what you do. Yes, it’s somewhat more complicated…but lately I’ve been becoming annoyed at the way Apple OS seems to be designed so that you can only do things in the way that Steve has deemed you should do them…fewer and fewer work-arounds, so I find that a little complexity is more helpful to me.
    I was planning to buy one of the new one’s in august, but I guess I’ll just wait for the next rev now…

  27. July 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    “…Take a look at the same lineup today. Apple dropped the replaceable battery, dropped the user-upgradeable hard drive, started charging for matte screens and replaced the immensely useful ExpressCard slot with a consumer-oriented SD card slot. Hell, the entry-level MacBook Pro dropped below $2,000 to make it appeal to consumers more….”

    The battery last so long these days, I don’t miss the replaceable battery. I upgraded the hard drive in my MacBook Pro first thing. It took less time to do the upgrade than any previous model. I’ve only ever seen anyone use the ExpressCard slot once, and mine in my 17″ MacBook pro remains empty. Maybe you should take another look.

    “…The Mac Pro only has one FireWire bus, but inexplicably sports 4 ports. Adding another bus will fill up a PCI slot. The Mac Pro has no eSATA support [and the extra SATA ports on the motherboard are presumably still not hot-swappable], so that fills up another PCI slot. USB 3.0 may still be in its infancy, but adding it to the machine when it’s ready is going to fill up another slot….”

    I’m lost on your issue here as well. I find any number of ways to increase storage beyond the wildest imagination of the most demanding animators. Perhaps you might want to hire a consultant to assist you with your tech needs. I think you’re a bit disjointed in your view of things.

    Though I completely agree with you about QuickTime. Not sure what the heck Apple was thinking there.

  28. 36 wilson
    July 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    It reminds me of back in the mid-90’s when we almost lost Apple due to poor sales and bad management. I was kind of stressed out and sad that my favorite computer company might be going belly up. My PC/Windows buddies were teasing me saying that it was time for me to embrace the dark lord Gates. Then Steve came back and saved the day with his bright and colorful iMacs. It was a salvation of the company, but the irony is that it was a foreshadowing of the end of the professional line. You see, the “i” line of products pulled the company out of the red and put them on the road to great consumer success, but it also began the diversion from the professional market. As Apple sales grew from the “i” line of products, they have diverted more resources to that sector. The iPod/iTunes brand was the jab and right hook to the professional line… the iPhone and iPad is the knock out punch. Now, like the olden days of the 90’s, we are faced with losing our company again. Why…because consumer products is where their long term success is. People DON’T camp out over-night for professional products. I predicted the demise of the professional line 6 months ago when I noticed the cobwebs growing. Now with the most recent update, I am even more convinced.

    Apple has been known to produce machines that create content. The irony is that they are now known for producing machines that view the content instead. I wonder which industry is going to come along and take the reins from Apple for the professionals? I hope we don’t have to embrace the newest dark lord Ballmer.

  29. July 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I think they have been spending SO much time with the iPad and newest iPhone 4 that they are neglecting the rest of their products. As a professional user for many years I’ve always been glad to see the various updates to the machines, especially the Mac Pro line when it first came out. But the recent updates have sucked, as mentioned by so many now since yesterday’s press release. I’m pretty disappointed by the lack of USB 3.0 and many of the other items mentioned above. Maybe Apple can get out of their ‘consumer wireless device’ mode and actually work on getting these more professional use computers (including the Macbook Pro!!!) to actually be higher end/professional use computers. There’s a reason Apple has been able to sustain all of these years…now they are losing many users with the iPhone 4 problems now as well as many users that won’t find it an advantage to upgrade from the last Mac Pro, etc.
    Wake up Steve.

  30. July 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    The network where I work just bought a 15″ MacBook Pro laptop for our international team to edit while on the run. We ordered it maxed out in memory and features, including Final Cut Pro 7. I shoot with PDW-355, 700 and EX-3 XDCAMs, as well as HVX-200 and 2000 P2 cameras and the Aaton XTR in Super-16. I agree with the author that the “Big” problem is the lack of peripheral ports and the deliberate removal of the ExpressCard slot. What the HECK was Apple thinking by replacing a slot that can run multiple peripherals with an SD card slot that my 10-year old would use!? That is STUPID TO THE MAX. If my Engineers would allow me to buy an Alienware laptop, maxed out the way a laptop SHOULD be maxed out for performance and peripherals, and they could get Final Cut Pro to run on it, I’d switch in a heartbeat. The other option is to edit with Sony Vegas or the new improved Adobe Premier. If Apple doesn’t cater to it’s professionals, I submit someone else will lead them away with better “professional” products…hardware and software. APPLE…You have been warned.

  31. 39 tim
    July 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I sent the link to my brother who works at apple in austin, he agrees completely. Hope things will change soon…

  32. 40 Rick
    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    You hit it pretty closely I thought Brook. I own a MacBook Pro 15.4″. What they call the early 2008 model since I still have an express port. I was able to just barely get it because they had just come out with the new ones with the SD slots. Here are a few items I have always thought needed some adjustments.

    I think they should offer a 15.4″ model that has an express port just like you mentioned. I also think they should put a wee bit more space in between the ports they have so that fatter items can fit easier and it isn’t so cramped. How about this, move the kensington lock to the rear of the superdrive? When I go to put a disk in I have to raise the Mac or the cable just to get the disk in. And last, but not least. What about the Superdrive? It seems to me it hasn’t been updated at all in several years.

    Anyways, great post,

  33. 41 Thomas
    July 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Brilliantly written, entertaining, & informative!

    Thanks for the post!

    I Use my Mac Pro 2X2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon with 16GB RAM(OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.4) with a ATI Radeon HD 4870 & a daisy chained string of FW400 external (0-RAID) LACIE HD set-up… It gives me what I want for now when I’m editing with Apples FCS 2 bundle & any PhotoShop CS3 work, but I’m saving up for a PCI HD/SD Capture Card, more RAM(Before they stop making it for my Mac-Pro… Again LOL, & a LACIE (0-RAID 8TB to 10TB) external Drive setup with the recommend Esata card. And then I’ll continue research/search for a truly fast Video Card. In the long run, I’m looking at spending almost the same as I payed for Mac Pro tower & LG Monitor!!!

    So I couldn’t agree with all you’ve written above more! 🙂



    – Thomas

    P.S.: Does anyone know a good “Bench Testing” site for performance, pricing, etc… When it comes to video cards & the Like for the Mac Pro’s?

  34. 42 Hugh Betcha
    July 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Spot on review! These systems are way overdue and way overpriced. Apple has screwed the professional user for some time now. Adobe has made the transition to Cocoa/64 bit but Apple’s Final Cut Studio has not. Let’s at least see a new version of Final Cut Studio that can fully utilize these “day late, dollar short” systems!

  35. 43 Edwin Cruz
    July 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Are all of you people only using ONE computer for your work??

    I’d rather get several mid-range workstations instead of one or two uber-workstations that will become replaced faster than you can blink with something even more advanced.

    I don’t use the onboard firewire 400/800 ports on my systems, because with the amount of drives I get from clients on a daily basis, those ports get burned out sooner than later. So all my stations have firewire 400/800 cards, so when they burn out, they just get replaced. So no USB 3.0 isn’t a problem, I rather have it on a card. I still don’t know where USB 3 will be in the scheme of things.

    I break up my stations based on what I want to be doing. FCP is editing exclusively on one station. I rather not be tying up my editing station with other stuff.

    Compositing and 3D gets the faster stations, those require the most muscle. In fact most 3D is done on a fast Windows box because 3D is just more advanced on Windows.

    I have some Linux in-house for custom stuff, because not everything you want is off the shelf.

    The strength of the Mac is OS X, not the hardware, torename 25,000 DPX frames isn’t easy in any GUI, so it’s nice to have a command line UNIX terminal to handle scripts for things like that.

    While most of Final Cut Studio isn’t multi-processor aware, Compressor is depending on the codec you’re using. The more modern codecs support multi-processors, not the legacy ones.

    I don’t know any professional environment that isn’t multi-platform these days. As much as I prefer OS X, it’s not like you can stay exclusive if you want to compete in a global market.

    Sure RED may be Mac centric, but that doesn’t mean the best apps are on the Mac, like Scratch.

    I see this as a good time to get some good hardware at a discount.

    I can’t see why Hackintoshes aren’t useable. Some of the biggest post houses work on the bleeding edge and have lots of custom built hardware/software. Not everything has to be polished even in the high pressure world of post.

    • 44 Robert Niessner
      July 29, 2010 at 10:56 am


      regarding renaming 25.000 dpx files – you might have a look on Directory Opus – an Explorer replacement with many, many useful features including a GUI for easy doing file renaming tasks including a preview what it will look like and which files are affected. Plus it is very fast in that.

  36. 45 CBrew
    July 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Apple has made the move to a consumer company. They’ve neglected the pro market, and (frankly) their OS improvements remain incremental. Still no folder merging available in Finder!

    Everyone needs to send a message to Steve Jobs: Give us true professional hardware.

  37. July 29, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Everyone needs to send a message to Steve Jobs: Give us true professional hardware!!

  38. 47 people_complain_about_diamonds_being_too_shiny
    July 29, 2010 at 2:22 am

    For the last 2 days I have been reading everyone’s take on the new Mac Pro and how Apple ‘is abandoning professionals’.

    I am a pro user and depend on Mac Pros running my studio with the fastest 8core Mac Pros, SAS RAIDs, and huge amounts of RAM. The computers have been running 24/7 for 2 years.

    Here is the bottom line:

    PRICE THE SYSTEMS – Xeons and ECC RAM – it’s never going to be more than 10% cheaper. If it is, then buy it! It’s your decision. Stop blabbing away, buy a PC or Mac, and get your work done (or don’t!).

    The truth is that everyone wanted a 12-core Mac Pro for $3K-$4K. I know I did. And I have BOXX Technologies calling me every week trying to get me to buy their workstations instead of Mac Pros. I am going to buy four 12core Mac Pros, and here is what I have found in my research:

    Apple Store:

    Mac Pro 12core bare Mac Pro minimum (baseline minimum config)
    Two Intel Xeon 2.66Ghz X5670 Six Core “Westmere”
    ATI HD 5870 video card
    1TB Drive
    4GB RAM
    $5300 (without tax)


    Two Intel Xeon X5670 Six Core “Westmere” NVIDIA
    Quadro FX 3800 1GB
    1TB Drive
    4GB RAM
    $6,267.00 (without tax)

    Dell Precision T7500 Workstation
    Dual Six Core Intel® Xeon® Processor X5650 2.66GHz
    4GB DDR3 RDIMM Memory,1333MHz ECC
    1.0GB NVIDIA® Quadro® FX 3800
    1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 7200 RPM Hard Drive

    $6,055.00 (without tax)

    So run the numbers, and you guys tell me what you find, because it looks like Apple is exceptionally well priced for the 12cores. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • July 29, 2010 at 5:13 am

      While you make good points – the price isn’t far out of line – the feature set is. Those machines come with 6 PCI slots, support for 48GB of RAM, 5-6 internal drive bays, some have SAS backplanes, etcetera. It’s not that Apple has overcharged for their machines, it’s that Apple has under-built the rest of what makes the processor speed useful in the modern computing era.

  39. July 29, 2010 at 3:00 am

    I agree with you the mac pro is a bit to little, too late, but what I don’t understand is why someone in your situation just doesn’t get custom pcs built? Isn’t that what your so called group B does?

    • July 29, 2010 at 5:16 am

      Some can, but the area of television and film that I work in relies directly on hardware and software support that is simply not available on the PC side. Couple that with usability and stability requirements and anything *but* the Mac OS on Apple hardware is just not an option.

  40. July 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Very, very well said. Please be sure to email this directly to Steve Jobs.


  41. July 29, 2010 at 5:14 am


    Excellent analysis that reflects the views of countless of creative professionals who have been avid Apple users for years. Sad days indeed.

  42. 53 people_complain_about_diamonds_being_too_shiny
    July 29, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Brooke, I understand what you are saying. You want to use a red rocket card, dual lane video card, and more pcie cards. We shoot with our RED daily- why would you not have a PC also then if you need 6 slots? I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be using other machines?

    The prices I put for each configuration DID NOT contain ‘a SAS backplane or et cetera’ because I wanted a fair comparison, and you are implying I am being misleading. I have never heard of a SAS controller even called a ‘backplane’, backplanes are the name of drive controllers/CPUs built into a drive cases themselves.

    You said
    “Some can, but the area of television and film that I work in relies directly on hardware and software support that is simply not available on the PC side. Couple that with usability and stability requirements and anything *but* the Mac OS on Apple hardware is just not an option.”

    Do you live and work in another industry other than the film and tv industry I work?

    It sounds like a waste of money in your situation to buy a Mac pro, HATE IT, and then spend $1000s more to use your cards…

    • July 29, 2010 at 6:03 am

      You may be right on the SAS support now that I’m rechecking my research, but I think that the point remains. That sort of thing isn’t a selectable option, it’s built into the motherboard.

      The things that I need in the system unfortunately go beyond what you’ve listed and land in NDA territory [which seems like a copout, but I promise it’s not], but it needs to be a Mac and needs additional slots.

      I don’t want it to seem like it all comes down to slots – I think that the issue goes much greater than a 40-lane motherboard versus an 80-lane motherboard. That’s more a symptom of a greater problem in my eyes.

    • July 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

      I think I can probably speak about some of the things Brook cant as said below.
      Many post houses have custom Mac only software used for cataloging shots and footage, others have custom security software for playback on-set. Others have custom transmission software for dailies back to the main facility.

      I know one company that has custom transmission hardware that requires another PCIe slot.

      All of these things are written for Mac only and are required in order to work for some facilities.

      At this stage it would be less stressful for me to go PC, but we can’t its not an option if we want to keep working.

      • August 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

        I was unaware of the proprietary hardware for transmitting footage back to the studio or post house, but I shouldn’t be surprised by that. I’m simply not at that level, and frankly shouldn’t be considering where I’m located geographically and the markets in which I work. So I can appreciate feeling trapped by the bunt Apple laid down, it affects you guys a lot more than me, but I’m also not bringing in the cabbage like you guys do, and can’t understand why not just buy two machines? I would imagine that with the caliber and consistency of west-coast, IA600 episodic and feature work (such as that in Brook’s IMDB page), a stinging purchase of a $5000 new-yet-outdated MacPro gets paid off pretty quickly, yes?

        I for one, all potential gremlins aside, am SERIOUSLY considering building a Hackintosh for my on-set work doing video assist and to a lesser extent data management, and dumping my MacPro onto eBay. As others have said, OSX is the real reason to stay with Macs over everything else in my world. Whether it is possible remains to be seen.

        The lack of rack mount-ability and limited I/O are exactly the real problems with the MacPros. This is spot on and coupled with the fact I don’t deal with the kind of high-stakes productions you guys live with make the Hackintosh so appealing. 40 lanes and 4 slots is painful. Red Rocket, System Graphics, eSata HBA, and you’re left with one slot. Formerly using an ioHD takes up the bandwidth of the ENTIRE Firewire bus, so forget the often necessary connection of fast card readers or cheap-o drives the production buys. Changing to a KONA card or an ioExpress still means I have no slots left. So if I need fast(er) bandwidth storage, I’m stuck with an internal software RAID 0. WHEN that fails I’ll be in a world of hurt, so I don’t see how a well-built Hackintosh with all the necesary I/O is really that much of a gamble. At least for me, cause there’s no WAY I could afford another tower, not to mention a new vehicle in which to haul it all around.

        But as most everybody knows, all you need to handle RED data management on set is a PA with a MacBookPro, and a couple of Lacie bus-powered drives, right?

  43. 57 xbjllb
    July 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

    From your mouth to Steve Job’s ear. And if he doesn’t listen, to someone who WILL listen and knock him out of the way if that’s what it takes. Apple will NOT survive as an overpriced cheap fad toymaker. If Amiga had treated its pro base the way Apple treats theirs, they would have gone belly up a full decade before they did. Of course, Amiga never had a bubble in their bottom line from fad portable toy items either. Jobs needs to wake up fast, or he needs to be demoted to head of the toy division.

  44. July 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Very well written article, and very much to the point, but I can’t help but think that if you’re still going to buy the machines, then they don’t really need to change anything about what they are doing.

    I mean, if Apple ignores your needs and puts out a machine that doesn’t fit you, but you are still willing to plunk down the enormous amount of cash for it, and for all the gear to make it into what you want it to be, what exactly are they doing wrong? They haven’t lost a sale.

    When they make changes to the lineup that result in your not upgrading for that cycle, or if possible, your switching to a Windows or Linux machine, then they will have failed. For now, it makes no difference to them, because you’re still locked into a pattern where you have to buy from them.

  45. July 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    So true… damn, so true. And it really sucks having to drop $5K on a system or two that just don’t give us what we need.

  46. July 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Great post, Brook. I couldn’t agree more and have also questioned the pricing of the new Mac Pro here:


    However, I think it’s also interesting that this is the first Mac Pro (or Power Mac G5, for that matter) to not include nVidia graphics cards as an option. Considering Adobe’s CS5 utilizes nVidia cards to blow Final Cut Studio out of the water, I find this to be more than a coincidence:


    Again, great post. I think I’m going hackintosh.

  47. 61 Manuel López
    July 29, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Brook, the dark side of the Force awaits you …

  48. 62 Peter Breis
    July 29, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you Brook for so clearly and evenly saying what I have been saying for yonks but getting my head kicked in by the “No It Isn’t! Chorus” that always leaps to Apple’s defence unasked.

    Sadly there is another whole area of consumer oriented screens and muddled software with gapping flaws to address.

    Don’t even get me started on the disaster that is ColorSync!

  49. July 30, 2010 at 12:59 am

    man so true !!!! thx for your thoughts…

    truth is i’m still running a 2006 MacPro Dual 2.66 GHz … and you know why … well so far “newer” macpro’s didn’t gave me more “real” power … so why should i update? i won’t get more PCI-E slots… or more Firewire power… ore that much of a RAM boost… so there you go ( kinda sad … ins’t it … a almost 4 year old machine …

    on the other hand … it still rocks … can’t imagine to be on a windows thingy working in premiere pro… (just saying)

    greetings from germany!

  50. July 30, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I like this blog, it is very informative…. interesting

  51. 65 sam winkler
    July 31, 2010 at 12:02 am

    i guess i still don’t understand why you have to have a mac to be a creative professional. i bought a PC from iBuyPower (based near Pasadena) for 1300 bucks last summer. the equivelent mac would have been 3 grand. i am 64-bit, and can run the full adobe suite, maya, nuke…pretty much everything i need to make a movie, website, poster, whatever. a lot of my “clients” are on mac and i haven’t had any compatibility issues that i couldn’t solve easily.

    brook, you obviously know more about computers than about 99% of the creative people i know (and i work in vfx, so that’s pretty impressive), but i still feel like most creatives work on macs because they see other people doing it and they automatically assume its what they have to do. i ask them why mac, and they don’t really have an answer beyond that.

    i like having the choice and savings that owning a pc affords me, and i can’t think of one sacrifice i’ve made becuase of it.

  52. 66 Nook Kim
    July 31, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Great blog, Brook. I have been waiting to upgarde skipping the 2009 line-up for the exact reasons you mentioned.

    I don’t really need USB 3.0, but I am desperate to have more PCI-e slots with better speed, 64-bit support, etc. And just like you, I need to stay on OS X for stability.

    I don’t care very much for the price/performance factor as I make more revenue than my competitors that are on much more expensive machines. I want to stay in the Subaru division in Apple. Please Apple, remember the days when you were promoting your products by having Walter Murch and Cold Mountain.

  53. July 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I totally agree. I’m in the same field noticing the same things.

    Has someone emailed this brilliant post to Mr. Jobs yet?

  54. July 31, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I suspect I fall somewhere between group a and group b. I’m definitely not a techie, but I am a documentary producer and editor who does almost all of my post-production work on an apple using Mac software. I’ve also been a user of apple products since the mid-80s. And in the past 10 years I have grown from the consumer products into the professional lines.

    At the moment, the bulk of my editing happens on my MacBook pro (2009) and my MacPro (2006). I’m a user of Final Cut Pro, and recently Logic Pro (gosh, that programme has a lot of problems!) and have, until last year, been quite happy and proud of my relationship with Macs. But I’ve been having problems. I have never bought AppleCare, essentially because I never had to. I have enough confidence to sort through small problems, and never had a major catastrophe. But this new Macbook Pro is worrisome. I’ve had it for slightly longer than a year, and the battery is almost caput… it lasts a maximum of 30 minutes now. Then I no longer get a warning when the battery power is about to run out – the computer simply cuts off. My screen flicks to black ever-so-often, and no matter how often I run the disk utility, there is always something that needs fixing. My DVD drive also ‘died’ without warning for several months. If I’d been able to afford to fix the problem (some $400), I would have. But since I couldn’t, I discovered to my delight, 3 months later, that my firmware needed updating and hey-presto my drive leapt back into action. Right now, I trust my 2006 machine more.

    I used to feel, quite justifiably so, that apples were the rolls royces of computers. You get viruses on your PC, ha, I never have to worry about that with my Mac! And so on… But something’s definitely gone awry in Cupertino. I simply would never have expected to be having these kinds of problems with a machine that’s just a year old. And yes, given that my MacPro now has a terrabyte of hard drive space on it, I don’t mind paying more to make sure all my gbs of video material don’t get lost… Somehow, Apple seems to have lost the plot a bit… allowed their arrogance to take over. For all my years of loyalty to the brand, I gotta say, I’m feeling a bit used and abused these days.

  55. August 3, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Great article, like many I feel trapped because on one hand I would love to make the jump to Dell or HP but at the same time I’m not sure I want to throw away established workflows found in applications such as FCP.

    Similarly to Quark, Apple may find itself regretting turning their back on their loyal customers but only time will tell.

  56. 70 Andrew Richards
    August 3, 2010 at 3:28 am

    The only real reason anyone NEEDS a Mac in the TV/Film space is FCP. Every other tool of consequence is available for or exclusive to another platform. And if you are building an FCP workstation, I can’t imagine the real-world FCP workflow that requires USB 3.0, eSATA, AND multiple 1394 busses, on top of industry-specific cards like a Red Rocket and Kona3.

    What is the USB 3.0 device you can’t live without that compels you to spend a slot on a card? Why do you need two 1394 busses AND eSATA? Want a big-boy video workstation? You don’t edit off a bunch of mickey-mouse drives on busses like USB and FireWire. eSATA/SAS sure, but one good HBA of that ilk will handle a great deal of direct-attached storage in just one slot. Complaining that Apple has driven the hardware into too “prosumer” a space and then bitching that you don’t have enough FireWire busses to support your storage requirements is cognitive dissonance. FireWire is not pro storage.

    Three PCIe slots are plenty for an FCP workstation; one for the I/O (Kona3 or similar), one for the storage HBA (eSATA/SAS or FibreChannel), and one extra for whatever third thing you think you need beyond those two. What am I missing?

  57. 71 Ryan
    August 11, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Well said Brook. It’s a really weird line up hardware wise this time from Apple, almost as if they aren’t even trying. I’d like to know who is manufacturing/designing their motherboards for the pros (Foxconn, Gigabyte maybe?). Are Apple engineers doing the design work for the motherboards (Intel?), or are they using an off the shelf design? Forgive my ignorance, but I’m primarily a Windows/Linux guy in the professional world. Right now, there are plenty of Intel chip-set designs that would meet everyone’s needs and they aren’t using them. Doesn’t make much sense to me. I know it’s hard in the corporate workplace, but seriously save some money…buy your own parts (including a compatible mobo), slap it together and use Kakewalk if you can swing it. That’s what I’d do at this point anyway. Not as sexy looking out of the box sure, but way more bang for your dollar.

  58. August 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    nice article. very helpful

    Thanks !

  59. 73 Andy
    August 17, 2010 at 4:18 am

    A very truthful account of what was and what has come to be. Did we see it coming, way back when, while we were sitting in that store? Maybe. It’s no less surprising though.

  60. 74 james ford
    August 29, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Great article thanks,
    I’m over Apple as a company and I’m looking back to the PC and Premiere market again, I’ve just sold my 2008 Mac Pro after having to fork out $1500 for a new motherboard (on a machine that was only lightly used). Apple was only prepared to chip in $150 toward the repair and took two months to make up their mind to do so. I feel taken for granted and duped by their marketing. The original ipod and the wireless keyboard that I also bought in 2008 both broke inside of two weeks and needed replacing under the warranty. So the whole idea that Apple is justified in charging more for a superior product is specious marketing and lacks integrity. Apple is riding high at the moment but pride comes before a fall, I predict now would be a good time to be selling your Apple stocks.

  61. August 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I agree with the main thrust of the article, but on one point you’re quite off :

    “The MacBook Pro briefly glimmered as an awesome professional laptop when it peaked in 2008. It had a user-replaceable battery, user-replaceable hard drive, an ExpressCard slot and a matte screen. Apple had finally answered our calls that they’d seemingly been ignoring since the ’90s.

    Take a look at the same lineup today. Apple dropped the replaceable battery, dropped the user-upgradeable hard drive, started charging for matte screens and replaced the immensely useful ExpressCard slot with a consumer-oriented SD card slot. Hell, the entry-level MacBook Pro dropped below $2,000 to make it appeal to consumers more.”

    The 2008 Macbook Pro (and prior models) did NOT have a user replaceable Hard Drive (of course you can do it, but it’s a PITA). The newer unibody models are actually MUCH easier to replace the hard drive.

    You’re bang on on the other points though, and I’ve had the same issues as you expressed with apple dumbing down their pro line up.

  62. September 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Don’t forget the “Product Red” iPod Nano! THATS pretty cool!! [sarcasm]

  63. 77 Chaz
    September 15, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Just discovered this…great article and I totally agree with it. I’m working for a visual effects company and we’re moving more and more away from OSX as we find our needs better served by Linux. OSX development just isn’t happening at a rapid enough rate and we’re finding more and more that our 3D performance is badly lagging with its slow OpenGL drivers even on the hyper-expensive workstation GPUs offered by Apple. The latest slap in the face? The Foundry’s Mari is a new high end 3D painting program developed for Avatar by Weta. Doesn’t run on OSX because Apple’s OpenGL is stuck at version 2.0. The worst part is: Apple seemingly doesn’t care to fix they problem as long as it continues to sell boatloads of iPhones.

  64. 78 barneycouch
    October 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    All of this is so true in reflection of today’s new 10.7 announcements – I wonder how Adobe are going to like the licensing situation introduced, where one copy of the app can be used on as many of “your” machines as you want?

  65. 79 Charles Taylor
    December 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Amen, Brook.

    But I’d still like to see the machine that “composted” Lord of the Rings…

  66. December 16, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I returned it shortly thereafter. The biggest annoyance: an
    imperfect bluetooth connection and oddly responsive

  67. February 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

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  68. 82 Anand
    April 4, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Thank you! Thank you for a clear and cogent expression of what so many are feeling! And to add to what you articulate, I’m seriously looking at PC’s…after more than 20 years. I will not buy an iPhone because of the limitations, I might buy an iPad but when comes time to replace my desktop and laptop systems, I will seriously look at PC’s as opposed to automatically buying replacement Macs. It saddens me because I genuinely enjoy the MacOS user-experience though truthfully, I enjoyed it more before the “consumerisation.” Oddly, most of the people that I know who buy Mac hardware run Windows on them— exclusively but they complain about the lack of up-to-date drivers from Apple and have to hack Boot Camp .

    Perhaps the time has come to face it, Apple is no longer the company of creatives…they are iApple, the company of status-seeking teens and they are wearing the fading clothes of diminishing glory. The products that they will sell in the future will be designed on other operating systems and hardware. In time, those will become cooler and more desireable. Look at what has happened with Sony.

  69. June 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    OHGods… Marry me! Sorry, but I see it’s not just Me!

    Brook, thank you for your sharp and spot on analysis!

    I’m a graphic Designer, and the field has grown much wider and more technological since the advent of “Desktop Publishing” … which Apple essentially INVENTED with the Mac SE, Mac II, IIfx… Pagemaker, Postscript and the Laserwriter II. And in those days you really needed the heavy metal to run that stuff. It sure wasn’t MacWrite or HyperCard. And Windows machines just couldn’t DO it at ALL.

    Fast Forward. When the 2010 Mac Pros were released, the Creative Community responded with a resounding “meh.” Myself included: http://www.fantastic-realities.com/studio_blog/2010/08/mac-pros-mac-users/

    When my next forced upgrade comes along, I am very likely looking at a high-end iMac, currently (june 2011) the fastest machine Apple sells. (Ouch!) Design is not as lucrative as it was in the 90’s and I’ve a college bound kid. Apple is pushing the 27′ iMac – shiny display and all, as “the Mac Pro for the rest of us.” – certainly a “Group A” class machine. But I’m still considering doing without the storage and expandability I’d like to have to save some scratch to pay for the not-trivial Adobe CS5 (or whatever) upgrade. I am hanging in there with a still perfectly functional G5 tower. But I can hear the clock ticking out there for when either I get a file that I can’t open in the current Adobe suite apps, or when ALL support comes out of the Mac App Store, and I’ll be forced to upgrade my kit to run Lion or better. But yes, I’m a Creative Pro, I spent 85% of my working day in an Adobe design application, and hardly ever open an iLife item beyond iTunes. iPhoto? As they say in Brooklyn, “nigga, PLEEEZZZEEEE!”

    The Mac Pro is still pretty heavy metal, and priced to match, but they’re not AWESOME any more. As you pointed out, you can get roughly equivalent machines from Sony, Levono, HP, Acer (wow)… even *gasp*… Dell. – at similar, or better, price points. The Mac Pro – mostly at Steve’s insistence, is missing many desired features, eSATA, USB 3, more slots, and legendarily, (“bag of hurt”) Blu-Ray. Without superior price/performance or differentiation features beyond still superior industrial design and build quality, they are losing their appeal. The elimination of enterprise products from Apple’s line also puts the Pro line’s ultimate future in doubt. And Steve and Co. has resolutely ignored requests for a Mid Range tower that would serve the Design Community. We pretty much fall in the lower tier of Pro Group B.

    I do appreciate Apple’s success in the consumer marketplace. But it comes at our marginalization. While I do think that the iPad is a very appealing little slab of electric crack, I don’t see myself doing pre-press, serious photo retouching or building web sites on an iPad (yet), but to do my work I need a proper working machine.

    I But I’ve felt dismissed and ignored by Apple for some time now. The recent eruption of rage in the professional Edit community over Final Cut Pro X reveals that Apple’s headlong push for the mass consumer market doesn’t always fit well with pro needs and expectation. And I think not only did Apple mishandle this, they may not care all that much.

    But considering that many Video Editors already have Adobe Production Premium to get a good deal on Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc… they may already HAVE Premire Pro installed…. Good day for Adobe.

    • July 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      In the past Apple have enjoyed a brand loyalty that other companies would die for . .
      Early adopters and pro users would never think of looking else where

      How things have changed in such a short time

      I personally will not be investing time or money in apple – I’ve already been screwed

      I am investing in adobe and avid as I now have no choice and will not allow myself to get screwed again

  70. January 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

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