posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 31st Oct 2011 23:17 UTC
IconWhile it's just a rumour, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock the past five years, and in all honesty, I'm pretty sure it's actually true. AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is contemplating axing its iconic Mac Pro.

AppleInsider is reporting that as far as back as May 2011, executives within the company have contemplated axing the product line - despite a new revision being ready to go. The cause seems to be the sharp decline in sales of the workstation, making the product line a not particularly profitable endeavour.

This is not surprising. The Mac Pro is an odd beast. It's never been particularly competitive price/performance-wise, but as far as especially internal design goes, it is definitely one of the nicest workstations out there - if not the nicest. However, is the fact that replacing a hard drive is a little bit easier in a Mac Pro than in competing workstations really worth it to pay the massive premium the Mac Pro price tag carries? As it turns out, consumers don't think so - and I don't blame them.

Let's face it. The kind of people who buy Mac Pros have no issues replacing a hard drive in any computer. The gist here seems to be that the Mac Pro's internals might be easy to use, but that its target group simply doesn't give a rat's bum about that particular kind of easy-to-useness, and won't pay more for it. On top of that, Apple's insistence of using Xeons (and thus, EEC memory) is mind-boggling - especially since there's no option to use regular processors with normal memory.

AppleInsider further adds that Apple's executives believe Thunderbolt will allow iMacs and MacBook Pros to assume many of the duties of the Mac Pro, making up for the all-in-one's and laptop's lack of expandability. "Another point reportedly raised during the discussions was that the advent of Apple's Intel's [FTFY, AppleInsider] multi-use, high-speed Thunderbolt technology will ultimately allow other, more popular members of the Mac product family to assume the vast majority of the roles that once required the Mac Pro's and flexibility and architecture," the Apple fansite notes.

While nice in theory, practice doesn't agree with this assessment, as noted by AppleInsider reader Haggar. The bandwidth provided by Thunderbolt in no way covers the bandwidth available in a Mac Pro, it lacks oomph in the bus power department (and thus, leads to loads of external power bricks), and it's running behind in DisplayPort support.

Furthermore, professionals have a desire for matte displays (heck, even casual users like myself prefer matte displays over silly glossy crap), making the iMac a bit of a tough sell.

All over the web, the usual pleas for the infamous xMac flare up again. The xMac is the internet-given codename to the hypothetical headless expandable Mac sitting between the iMac/Mac Mini and the PowerMac Mac Pro. Would Apple sell loads of such an hypothetical xMac? Why, yes, but it would probably cannibalise quite a few iMac and maybe even Mac Mini sales, and it seems unlikely Apple would take such a gamble.

All in all, if this rumour turns out to be true - and I think it will be - then it means the end of one of the most iconic Mac product lines, the first Mac product to use the newly developed PowerPC processor. It started in 1994 with the Power Macintosh 6100 (also available with a 66 MHz 486DX2 daughter card), which was followed by several other PowerPC 60x models.

While several 'grey PowerMacs' (as I call them) shipped with a PowerPC G3 processor, the Blue & White PowerMac G3 is the first one to really turn some heads, with its crazy colour scheme (beautiful!). This same case design - albeit with different, non-crazy colours - was used for the PowerMac G4 (I own a PowerMac dual G4 450Mhz). The PowerMac G4 was eventually replaced by the PowerMac G5 in 2003, whose case design is still in use today.

And lest we forget, the most beautiful computer of all time also carried the PowerMac moniker: the PowerMac G4 Cube. I still can't believe I sold it. Then again, I sold it to a guy who bought it to replace his NeXTcube. I'm not kidding.

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