Apple & the Mac Pro. Oh Please. Stun and Stagger Us

| Particle Debris

Mac Pro concept by Peter Zigich


There are varying perspectives on what the next Mac Pro should be like. But everyone seems to agree that it should look beautiful, be insanely fast, have stupendus graphics power, be customer upgradeable to ridiculous amounts of RAM, boot from an SSD and be cooled by liquid helium if necessary in order to run rings around any everyday iMac. A WWDC announcement would stun and stagger us.

Well, the liquid helium is an exaggeration. Maybe.

We've come to suspect that an expansion chassis is in order thanks to the power of Thunderbolt. And Thunderbolt 2 is on the way. That way, one can go to warp 1 with just the base Mac Pro, and then work one's way up to higher warp factors with the expansion chassis as funds permit. BYOD. Bring Your Own Display. Or two. Or three. One cool idea was develped by Peter Zigich awhile back, and I liked it a lot. Even so, I suspect we'll see the fabulous hand of Jonathan Ive. It actually won't be a cheese grater. It'll be something from the engineering deck of the Enterprise. The Abrams Enterprise.

All we know is that we want a no holds barred flagship Mac. Something to drool over. Here's some of the latest thinking and discussion.

As the music goes from the movie Chicago, Apple, please. Stun and stagger us.


Tech News Debris from the Week of June 3

When all you have is a desktop OS, in principle, the whole world looks like a notebook computer. Even if it's an 8-inch tablet. Here's the sad tale: "Microsoft and its OEMs stick to an outdated tablet strategy." The story also reminds me of the definition of insanity.

Federal court in Manhattan. A high priced, superb defense attorney takes a star prosecution witness apart, bit by bit, and destroys his credibility. Is it Harvey Specter of USA Network's Suits ? Nope. It's Apple attorney Orin Snyder. This is better than TV: "Google helps DOJ make first big mistake in Apple ebook trial." First class reporting by Greg Sandoval.

You buy your favorite movie on Blu-Ray. Inside is also a DVD and un-Apple-like instructions on how to enter a code and transfer the content from the DVD to iTunes. Not so elegant. Now, Disney has, maybe, a better way. "Disney Takes Digital Copy to the Web." Nice for some, but bad for those who want the DVD in their hands.

One of the things we've heard from other sources is that mobile is great and mobile video is awesome. But this report from Experian Marketing Services suggests that mobile video isn't all it's cracked up to be. Their data looks compelling, and makes one wonder about the hype we've seen before. "Study: Smartphone Users Aren’t Watching Much Video."

I love charts that tell a story and clarify a competitive situation. Here's the press release NPD sent me, with a chart. "According to The NPD Group, a global information company, growth in watching television programming is driving subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) viewership, and Netflix continues to clearly dominate the category. According to NPD’s VideoWatch VOD report, in the first quarter (Q1) of 2013 the number of viewers watching television shows using SVOD services increased 34 percent, compared to the same quarter year-ago. NPD’s VideoWatch Digital tracking shows Netflix dominating the sector, with a 90 percent share of video-streaming units during Q1 2013, which was 4 percentage points lower than last year."

While Netflix slipped slightly, they are still the top dog. Way up there. Maybe this is why Hulu has been put up for sale.

L-R: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime (Data via NPD)

The culture in the U.S. says that it's best to be original and creative. However, some others, especially in Asia, revel in copying and making an art of it. For your amusement: "In China, an Empire Built by Aping Apple."

There are those who are concerned about Apple's commitment to Macs and OS X. The argument is that, so long as you ship a product, and so long as you are Apple, celebrated for making the best, there is no excuse for a let down or disinterest or reallocation of resources.

Regrettably, this next article by Pierre Igot is a severe indictment of Apple's attention to detail in OS X. It made me sad to read it. In Apple's defense, I note that there are some things that just can't be fixed in software. So you ship new hardware and move on. But that only applies to a few things here: "OS X 10.8.4: Yet another big disappointment."

Here's a tidbit of an article, but full of interesting facts for anyone with iPads and kids. "The State of Childhood E-Reading So Far." If you doubt that today's kids are a whole lot different than the previous generation, you need only reel back in horror from this awesome tale: "My Teenage Son Does Not Know How To Mail A Letter, And I Blame Technology."

Finally, I have mentioned previously that I think Google Glass is a long-term technology. It has staying power. The technology will grow and develop. It's just too good an idea to pass up. And yet, we shouldn't jump to conclusions too soon about, just because the early technology seems a little creepy.

In time, Google Glass will become just a small piece of thin plastic that everyone applies to their prescription lenses or sunglasses. Or both. With that in mind, as an exercise for all you brilliant Particle Debris fans, I direct you to this, for your analysis: "Why Google Glass Will Crater." Of course it will. Then it will be reborn. Technology marches on.

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Thanks for the interesting collection of diverse subjects.

I was particularly struck by the article regarding the state of OS X from the perspective of Pierre Igot.  While I am not a systems expert, and tend to use my computer as a tool and not get too wrapped up in the OS as the purpose of my existence, his article is a damning indictment of Apples failure to properly manage the system.  Further, his comments regarding Apples lack of commitment to their customers by providing feedback to their reports of issues only adds fuel to the fire.

This failure to properly resolve issues in the OS affects ALL Mac users, not just those using the Mac Pro.  Most disconcerting.  We can only hope that someone at Apple is paying attention.


I hate to say it, but at this point the only likely stunning and staggering announcement would be the Mac Pro’s discontinuation.

Apple’s pro users have become what the Apple II users were a generation ago: a loyal group with specific needs, who WERE Apple’s base at one point, but are being left behind as Apple moves on to bigger audiences.  And are rightfully feeling betrayed as such.

I’ll go even further and say the only reason any Mac exists today is because it’s the only platform capable of creating iOS apps.  If OS X is a little buggy or half baked, meh.  The developers can handle it (and yes I’m being sarcastic).

Hopefully I’m dead wrong on all of this, and there’s room in Apple future for the pro markets and even the Mac itself.  But actions speak, and lately they’ve been speaking rather loudly.


“The Abrams Enterprise engineering deck.”

You want it to look like a Budweiser brewery? smile


John Martellaro

Of course!  If my Mac Pro made beer, that would be a serious plus. I’d buy two!


I wish there was some video of Snyder v. Turvey. What a hoot!


My oldest, who is a college sophomore, mailed his first unassisted USPS letter, stamps and all, two months ago.  I had to talk through the whole process with him over long distance before he embarked on his journey to the post office.  Hilarious!


If Apple does kill off the Mac Pro line, then I’ll be building more Hackintoshes.

I do want the ability to add lots of RAM, to add/replace/upgrade a HDD if needed. The ability to burn a DVD, and scads of USB ports, either built in, or added via a PCI-E card (as I have done on my Early ‘09 Quad 2.66 Mac Pro)

If Apple does do a new Mac Pro the thing I hope Apple gets right this time is the placement of the BlueTooth Antenna. I had no end of trouble with BlueTooth until I came across a blog that described how to replace the internal antenna with an external one attached to a PCI port cover.



I remain intrigued by your musings over the future of the Mac Pro, and wish it well, although I’ve personally long moved on from desktop solutions, given my peripatetic work habits. Still, there is a market for this, although as mobile platforms, in which I include laptops, become ever more powerful, I see that market dedicated but dwindling. BTW: I agree, liquid helium is out; liquid nitrogen is cheaper.

Greg Keiser’s piece on MS and the outdated tablet strategy is an object lesson, indeed practically an industry morality tale about flexible and adaptable business strategies, and the fate that befalls dogmatic and uncritical adherence to the familiar. The Surface is a laptop that you can disassemble and tap, but otherwise does what a laptop does, only not quite as well, and fails to do most of what tablets do, rather dismally, if for no other reason than it lacks the apps. There is, no doubt, a market for this (even poor sales are sales), but I should think it is a substantially different market than that for the iPad.

The appeal of the iPad, at least for many active professionals with whom I interact, is that it can do many of the tasks around connectivity that travelling professionals require, while doing other things for which traditional computers were never intended (GPS-based applications, realtime communication while on the move, longterm functionality between charges, and a host of apps that will never see life on desktop platform). Unless and until the Surface can attract these developers, which weak sales militates against, that platform hasn’t a prayer of acquiring that robust tablet functionality, even more so if that isn’t even the strategic thinking behind its design.

As for Google Glass, I suggest that critics who lambast its current form and all of its limitations, fail to recognise the technology it represents. Google Glass may indeed die on the vine, but the technology it represents will not only survive but thrive. There is too much invested interest for this to simply whither into oblivion. Whatever form factor evolves into viable production, by whichever manufacturer, the key issue, I suggest, is the development of regulations around its usage that protect both user and non-user alike, not to mention key industry sectors and issues around IP (if you’ve ever been to a movie premier in a cinema in Asia, you know exactly what I mean). The economic implications are profound.

The Aping Apple bit also has globally regional relevance, and as I have argued here before, I see Samsung in exactly this mould.


Well John, I don’t know about you, but I was both stunned and staggered this afternoon. The Pro promises to be a killer machine. For once, I was glad no one came close to predicting what the design would look like.

PS ~ It was odd that I had a pretty good live stream of WWDC from Apple on my iPad mini (which has been WiFi hit & miss), but I couldn’t get any stream at all on Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.

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