Last year, in a move of unprecedented transparency, Apple invited a few journalists and bloggers to their campus to discuss the future of Mac Pro (as well as admit some mistakes in the current iteration’s design).
Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch was recently invited back to be provided with more details, including their targeted year of release (2019). Here are the highlights from his meeting, focusing on how Apple’s new Pro Workflow Team is shaping the future of Mac Pro.
Tom Boger, senior director of Mac Hardware Product Marketing:
“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community, so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product. It’s not something for this year.” In addition to transparency for pro customers, there’s also a larger fiscal reason behind it.
Makes sense. It wouldn’t be cool for organizations to spend tens of thousands of dollars upgrading to iMac Pros, only for a potentially more desirable Mac Pro to be close behind.
On Apple’s ‘Pro Workflow Team’:
Now, it’s a year later and Apple has created a team inside the building that houses its pro products group. It’s called the Pro Workflow Team, and they haven’t talked about it publicly before today. The group is under John Ternus and works closely with the engineering organization.
On how Apple is capturing workflows of professional creatives:
So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full-time, as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple Park toting kit for an on-premise outdoor shoot). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users.
Now this is commitment. This isn’t just a partnership or collaboration. Apple is paying these people for their time — the people who do this type of work for a living. I can only imagine the outcomes will be magnificent for everyone (non-pros included).
On fixing issues discovered during workflow capture:
This kind of workflow analysis has enabled Apple to find and fix problems that won’t be solved by throwing more hardware at them. An in-depth analysis of how workflow is affected by the whole stack of hardware and software has, Ternus says, helped them to really understand the pain points. He stresses that it’s not just Apple’s applications that they’re testing and working to help make better. Third-party relationships on this are very important to them and the workflow team is helping to fix their problems faster too.
On making the new Mac Pro modular by design:
“As we said a year ago, working on modular was inherently a modular system and in looking at our customers and their workflows obviously that’s a real need for our customers and that’s the direction we’re going,” says Boger.
“Well, it’s a need for some of them,” adds Ternus. “I want to be clear that the work that we’re doing as a part of the workflow team is across everything. It’s super relevant for MacBook Pros, it’s super relevant for iMacs and iMac Pros and in the end I think it helps us in dialogue with customers to figure out what are the right systems for you. […]
Translation: all our Macs are great, even if you don’t need modularity.
Matthew’s comments on Apple’s strategy here:
[…] In this case it’s heartening to see that there is a straight line between the pros that Apple has hired, the conversations it’s having with contractors who come in to contribute and proactive action taken on products. The work of the Pro Workflow Team is directly affecting the development of the new Mac Pro. And the iMac Pro, Final Cut Pro and macOS.
[…] As depressing as it has been to see professionals believe that Apple was getting ready to give them up, I find this an interesting and exciting thing to watch. It is very, very hard for a company like Apple — whose reputation is built on myth building — to admit that it was mistaken. And it’s even harder to then change course with billions of dollars’ worth of revenue at stake.[…]
Overall, this sounds like excellent news for professional creatives. As I said above, regular consumers can only stand to benefit from the Pro Workflow Team’s finding as well, as software tweaks may trickle down. As for me, I just can’t wait to see what the thing looks like. Even though Apple is feeding us a lot of details ahead of time (for them anyway), I think this will give the grand reveal even more intrigue. To quote Phil Schiller: “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!”