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A Challenging Time for the Mac Pro

The Mac Pro debate has intensified in recent weeks. The We Want a New Mac Pro Facebook page popped up earlier in the month to give disgruntled pro Mac users a place to vent their frustrations about the lack of an updated Mac Pro. Final Cut Pro trainer Larry Jordan is asking Does the Mac Pro have a future? on his blog. Even Forbes has picked up on the story that "Apple Fans Want a Product the Company Won't Make." This all makes good sense, as we've now gone somewhere over 666 (according to the all knowing Twitter) days since the last Mac Pro update. With that, the Mac Pro Challenge was born!

The Mac Pro Challenge isn't anything official. It actually started as nothing more than a fun bet between two post-production pros about the future of a device so many of us depend on. I was at the dinner where this friendly wager had its genesis, but I didn't know it would develop into what might be an actual IRL event where people could meet, talk about Mac Pros and win some goodies.

Up to this point, the Mac Pro debate has been one of considerable consternation. Many people say they still need one, while many others readily admit there is no need for a big tower anymore. Technology like Thunderbolt is making the need for lots of PCI slots less of a necessity. Still, a lot of people have a lot of money invested in a lot of technology that won't work without a Mac Pro. Of course, the flip side of the argument is that external PCI chassis will make all this stuff work just fine with an iMac or MacBook Pro. But depending on who you talk to, that may or may not be the case, especially in the case of the GPU. I'm always amazed at how many folks seem to be actively rooting for Apple to discontiune the Mac Pro. That just seems silly to me. 

For some, the issue comes down to being able to connect specific external displays and not be forced into a iMac enclosure. I doubt very seriously that Al Gore is going to be connecting those three 30-inch Apple Cinema Displays onto a MacBook Pro! Isn't Al Gore still on Apple's board of directors? Come on Al, get that new Mac Pro out into the market. Acutally, this photo below from a Time magazine photo essay was taken back in 2007 … which seems about the last time the Mac Pro was updated.

The "Use a Mac Mini—it has Thunderbolt!" argument seems plausible, until you factor in its limited GPUs and RAM and an enclosure that doesn't allow for the convenience of multiple internal drives. The fact remains that no other machine allows for the across-the-board customization and expandability that the Mac Pro offers. No one really knows how much money Apple is making (or isn't making) on the Mac Pro, but it's hard to believe that it is not profitable. 

As Steve Jobs famously said, "PCs are going to be like trucks" and it's true that far fewer people want to drive trucks these days. But consider what all those trucks in the world are doing: the heavy lifting and long hauling that we still need to move goods and supply food and stuff to the world. Stuff like Apple products and gadgets. I don't know if the world can edit much of the video, develop most of the iPhone and iPad apps and mix a lot of our music on just iMacs and laptops. These guys putting together the recent Roger Waters tour sure seem to need some Mac Pros. It looks like they're hoarding them!

Thankfully Mac Pros still show up on Apple's website and they are still available from the Apple Store. Until they're gone from there I guess they aren't officially dead. What are your thoughts on the future of the Mac Pro? Tell me here, then cast your vote over at the Mac Pro Challenge and maybe by August 1 we'll know the ol' tower's fate. Or not.

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