MacUser and others reported yesterday that the Mac Pro will no longer be sold in EU countries as of March 1. This is because the unit no longer complies with an EU regulation. Beyond all shadow of doubt, this shows the Mac Pro in its current form is dead. If it wasn’t, Apple wouldn’t abandon sales across Europe—it would update the unit. (Can you imagine Apple saying “we’re no longer selling iMacs in Europe as of March1″? No, neither can I.)
So what does this mean for the future? As per the linked piece, Apple CEO Tim Cook reassured a customer via email that Apple was “working on something really great for later next year” in the pro space, although whether that means the Pro space (as in Mac Pro) remains to be seen. When you look at Apple’s earnings, the Mac is now very much the minority platform compared to iOS. And when Apple breaks down sales of Macs, desktops are the minority share there, outnumbered by MacBooks. Within desktops, iMacs and Mac minis reportedly sell far in excess of Mac Pros. The Mac Pro is a niche within a niche within a niche, in a market—PCs—that also happens to be in decline.
Additionally, when you examine the rest of Apple’s range, the Mac Pro stands out like a sore thumb. It’s big and the units I’ve used and seen have a tendency to be quite noisy. It still looks quite nice, but also resembles the product of a bygone age. Apple’s laptops and desktops increasingly move towards appliance-like form-factors. Bar adding some extra RAM to the high-end iMac, they’re now sealed units, more resembling an iPad in that sense than a Mac of old. It’s therefore hard to see where a Mac Pro fits with today’s Apple and what a Mac Pro successor might be.
Developer Andrew Till responded to me on Twitter about this subject earlier today:
It’s what the Pro represents that’s most important. I use an iMac but I’d really worry about Apple’s direction if Pro died.
But what does the Pro represent? That Apple is still keen to embrace a high-end pro market, but not keen enough that it bothers to update its flagship ‘huge PC’ with any frequency? That it still cares for the top-tier of the pro market, when evidence suggests Apple’s far more interested in the next rung down: those pros who happily use an iMac (albeit, perhaps, one with a ton of RAM) or a Mac laptop to do their work. Perhaps in the same way Apple broke from its past with iOS, it’s time for it to break from its past in computing—from the time of the tinkerer and the Apple II.
Cook doesn’t seem to be the kind of person to lie, and so Apple must be working on something to address a pro market, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s revealed—especially for European pros who can’t or won’t work with other Macs, and who’ll be champing at the bit by that point. But I’d say it’s almost inconceivable that come WWDC, Apple will just unveil another tower, essentially mirroring its predecessor.