back to article Mac Pro update: Apple promises another pricey thing it will no doubt abandon after a year

Promising today that a new Mac Pro is being developed, Apple SVP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller admitted the tech giant rather disappointed the workstation world by making its "most radical Mac ever" insufficiently expandable. Schiller – along with SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi, VP of hardware engineering …

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Trollface

Am I blue yet

I'm glad we passed on this one, I'm not holding my breath on that one either... I'll believe it when I see it. I don't see this helping the APPL bottom line.

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Re: Am I blue yet

The Mac Pro line doesn't have much direct impact upon Apple's bottom line. In fact the price of the machine suggested that Apple must have had massive discounts on AMD's GPUs in order to make a profit. The benefit to AMD is that a few major OSX devs switched from CUDA to OpenCL. The benefit to Apple is not being tied to one GPU supplier.

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Placing an order for Linux box now

I was wondering if there'd be a good desktop Mac coming this year. Trash Can Mac is like delivering a sporty roadster with a trailer hitch to professionals asking for a truck.

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Re: Placing an order for Linux box now

I like the sports car analogy. MacP is an Alfa Romeo 4c. Beautiful to look at, makes wonderful noises, and tightly rounds the bends; but never seems to have enough power ... and oh yea, it has a boot, you'll need OEM luggage though, because your Gucci duffle won't fit.

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Trollface

Re: Placing an order for Linux box now

I hear the Mini makes a perfectly competent desktop, and if you need more power, just buy a real computer.

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Re: Placing an order for Linux box now

I'll have your sporty roadster with trailer hitch if you don't want it... The only problem I have with mine here is that the storage can't be upgraded other than shoving a Thunderbolt drive on. The fact I can upgrade this to 32/64/128GB for a while longer is very useful. The processors will just have to work harder.

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Wrong about the speed update

There was no speed update today just the price lowered of the mid spec to entry level. Probably because the slower components were no longer being manufactured.

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Apple, so disappointing now.

Once upon a time, you couldn't get a PC of equivalent spec as a Mac Pro for the price of a Mac Pro.

Once upon a time, you couldn't get a 1u server with the power of the Xserve, well, at all.

Once upon a time, you could buy a pre-configured 24 node bioinformatics hardware/software HPC bundle running UNIX, plug and play, from a single vendor, including rack.

Once upon a time, you could buy a nonlinear editing system, music composition system, CGI workstation, or digital compositing powerhouse as a 15" laptop.

Once upon a time, Apple gave a shit about the professional market.

Once upon a time, Apple broke new ground, created new opportunities for creatives, scientists, creative scientists, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

"Once upon a time, you couldn't get a PC of equivalent spec as a Mac Pro"

It was the time of the original MacIntosh. A long, long time ago...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

I'm not sure it's all as "over" as you suggest, nor do I agree with El Reg's headline of "another pricey thing it will no doubt abandon after a year".

We have Apple publicly accepting it called this one wrong. I think it's a bit harsh to pummel them for being for a rare change open about the fact that they called a market wrong and that they are about to address it. The delay I see as a sign that they want to ensure they put a decent product out there that CAN address the needs as the trashcan has failed to do, and that will include the ability to keep it running for a few years, because that's what professionals do. It would have been very easy to promise an upgrade for the end of the year, but I reckon they didn't have quite the focus on the problem until now (probably wasted that on the touch stripey thing which is IMHO not quite the innovation I was looking for).

Now they've normalised on USB3 and all it can deliver, it also becomes much easier to create a range of kit that interconnects - before that you'd have to choose between USB3, Firewire and all the other diverse crap, and don't get me started on the vast range of power supplies.

So yes, bad Apple for taking its time to get real, but good that they have. That's progress, provided they do indeed produce something better and I think they do have a good track record there (not sterling, good).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

"We have Apple publicly accepting it called this one wrong"

Any reference for that statement?

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Re: "Once upon a time, you couldn't get a PC of equivalent spec as a Mac Pro"

In 2013 the trash can was good value, you couldn't buy a machine with that CPU/GPU's/RAM/PCIeSSD etc for the price, even a DIY machine would cost far more.

Yes that was way back in 2013 and the world has moved on. I guess for the most part people didn't need expensive Xeon CPU's as they didn't work in music/video production, they just wanted an 'iMac Pro' with a modern i7 and decent GPU in to play games on.

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Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

You can do all that on a phone now using your finger.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

Once upon a time, Apple broke new ground, created new opportunities for creatives, scientists, creative scientists, etc.

In the meantime we just have to wait for the grand opening of the Pet Sematary Apple Park this month to see if they really can summon Steve Jobs using the Rite of AshkEnte, or just two cc of mouse blood ..

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Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

How do you get two cc of mouse blood as Apple only breed tailless mice now?

Anyway, yes, I agree it is unfair to call fat lady singing at Apple on the Prosumer ranges. I just wanted to point out that Apple really, really cut its own in that field once upon a time, and I'd love to see them back, but

1) what do they mean by pro now? Do they have a target audience? Is it just media creatives?

2) you snooze, you lose. They are losing ground heavily to competing platforms, and once there's a foot in the door, it's hard to reverse investments. Apple know this; it's how come they still are major league players in the media field, but ground once lost can be hard to regain.

The old wind tunnel case was actually pretty darned good. Weighed a lot, true, but it had solid build quality written all over it. The 30" Cinema Display was de facto standard for video editing a few years ago. The inclusion of IEE1394 made connecting video cameras an absolute doddle. They really need to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this.

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Pint

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

Once upon a time Hercules graphics brought MAC type graphics to the PC. Downline we managed to establish a company in the UK that produced high end audio/video realtime editing PCs and did pretty well at it.

Ah! Those were the days in the early 90s. 1152 x something in 24 (32) bit colour ON A PC. You know who you were guys. PP

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

Any reference for that statement?

You did read the article, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

"You did read the article, right?"

Yes I did, and it describes the opposite of a public statement.

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Re: Apple, so disappointing now.

Pedigree-Pete wrote:

Ah! Those were the days in the early 90s. 1152 x something in 24 (32) bit colour ON A PC.
1152x896, although not sure why it wasn't 1152x864 for 4:3 ratio. Thinking back, it might be because 1152x896 is the most pixels you could fit in before crossing a MB boundary.

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Anonymous Coward

We've let you down...

Apple - We've let you down.

Best to resort to a Gigabyte Motherboard based Hachintosh for 18 months. Not Pretty, but a lot cheaper and more powerful than any Apple trashcan. You might not get iMessages, but just buy a cheap iPad for that.

It would be nice if Apple just licensed MacOS during this Gap at least, allowing a legal Hackintosh. MacOS with a monthly subscription to iMessage, and maybe even a fancy barebones case from Apple.

Easy to implement and easy revenue for Apple.

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Re: We've let you down...

Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've let you down...

They have sold mainstream non upgradeable macbooks to nearly everyone that wants one/afford one (except a new generation coming through). They could restrict it to an older version i.e. El Capitan. The profit margin on a bare bones Apple Branded case alone, could make them a decent profit.

It would be a different market. Apple's biggest competition in terms of buying a new macbook at the moment is actually second hand Apple iMacs and macbooks.

Apple could market it like the App Store, but for Hardware. Hardware could be certified, Apple receive a fee for each part purchased via a hardware store.

Apple now have a gap for 18 months in new high end customisable Mac Hardware. It's daft. Gigabyte and the rest could provide the compatible platforms within 6 months. macOS needs to go 'open' for Pro Hardware.

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Re: We've let you down... @s2bu

"Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?"

At the time Apple was solely dependent on their computer business. Now their main income is from phones and tablets, music sales and App Store transactions.

Licensing OSX could make some money, but at the cost of their own hardware business. Many OSX inclined users would just flock for the cheaper Hackintosh PCs in the end - most people can live very well with a slighly heavier/thicker laptop without Thunderbolt - and with extra USB & A/V ports.

And if the Mac business dried out then Apple would pour even less resources to OSX, and one day they'd just silently end support for it. Like they never announced end of support for Quicktime or Safari on Windows, they just withered away when Apple unplugged them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've let you down...

Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?

Because they now have multiple revenue streams like iTunes and app sales? Their income is not just from hardware anymore.

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Re: We've let you down...

I still have my quad-processor Daystar Genesis 466 box out in the garage. Absolutely smoked the PMac 9600 (Apple's top-shelf kit at the time) in the few multi-processor supported apps available then; it otherwise ran slower than my PMac 6500.

Aside from that, it's wise that the company is realizing its mistake in abandoning the pro/creative community, which (aside from education) is what kept the company afloat during the dark days of the 90's. I personally haven't bought a new "pro" Mac since 2004, when I laid down $3k for a PMac G5 DP 2.0. I do still use my older wind-tunnel G4 (maxed out) for Photoshop and Final Cut duty, where it's still perky enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've let you down... @s2bu

>Many OSX inclined users would just flock for the cheaper Hackintosh PCs in the end

There are already more Hackintoshes out there than Mac Pros - they're often more expensive too. It's often about better not cheaper...

.......there's huge potential for buyers opting for MacOS over Windows 10 if given the choice at retail. Consumers who would never consider Mac hardware because of the price, but who already have Apple mobile devices.

Windows fatigue amongst average consumers is tangible - Apple could take a 1/3 to 1/2 of the desktop/notebook market in a year to 18 months. Even if they licensed to manufacture at $10 a unit that's a brand new $1 Billion revenue stream out of thin air - before app store revenue is factored in.

>And if the Mac business dried out then Apple would pour even less resources to OSX, and one day they'd just silently end support for it.

They can walk away from the hardware but not the operating system. Without MacOS and Xcode there would be no iOS/tvOS/watchOS apps - even those developers who eschew Xcode are instead using tools developed with it.

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Re: We've let you down...

Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?"

It's about market segmentation. While it makes no sense to allow low cost hackintosh clones, it would make a lot of sense to sell OS licenses to the professional crowd, that prefers to have their hardware build to spec and doesn't care so much about the price, if they can get what they want.

Some licensing model based on CPU cores, together with a nice service contract can be very profitable. It would open a high profit market segment that Apple cannot reach with their current strategy. Investment would be minimal. Kind of win-win for everyone.

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Re: Why would they go down that same road again?

They could release only OS X server for 3rd party hardware.

They could give it a big price tag, and a caveat that it was used either in supported VMs or certified hardware, if you want support.

That wouldn't hit their main market, and price would not be a problem for the target market.

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Re: We've let you down...

>Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?

I can't see them ever licensing OSX. That would be a bad plan as it would tarnish the image. Far better just to turn a blind eye to the enthusiast hackintosh arena (those people are not your customers anyway).

However, they do need to lift their game. I don't mind proprietary as long as it is appreciably better. The touch-bar ain't it!

How about...

Chasses where components are accessible from the outside? Memory, disks, graphics cards etc. Graphics cards don't have to be hot-plug but how about a format which allows them to be exchanged without opening the box?

Some hot plug components would be good - especially disks/ssd's. It isn't that hard!

Drobo-style storage arrays? How many SSD's can you fit in a mini-tower? Would water-cooling help to give you a smaller form-factor?

10G Ethernet - dual ports. Seriously people, given the price of this kit, that isn't an unreasonable request. Any non-laptop is going to be wired, so wire it seriously. Include a couple of 1G ports as well if you want.

Optical Thunderbolt? I've pretty much given up on expecting this, but it would be a nice surprise.

How about hotplug CPUs? I"d like a lower power CPU for email and browsing on the big screen, but I don't really need a couple of Xeons for that.

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Re: We've let you down...

I've been thinking about this too. With Windows 10 growth tanking in spectacular fashion since their forced giveaway and many users (self included) determined to avoid it to the bitter end, there's an opportunity for Apple to get into the PC software market like never before.

Users like me have avoided Apple because (at least in part) of the closed nature of the ecosystem; I want to be able to build and upgrade my PCs as I see fit, and the Apple hardware that's the only official way of getting iOS/MacOS has never really supported that. If they made MacOS (though I guess it might have to be re-renamed if it's not just for Macs) available for purchase to Windows PC users, that particular limitation of the Mac platform would evaporate overnight. Apple could very easily steal Microsoft's thunder and the headlines about innovation too.

With MacOS market share dipping below that of Windows XP (netmarketshare.com), it could really use a boost, and giving millions of PC owners who want to get off the MS failure train but who are not ready to go to Linux (or whose mission-critical programs are available in Mac format as well as Windows) a lifeline would cause a noticeable surge in MacOS market share. That could spur more interest by devs, in turn, in a way that the fragmented (and even lower than Mac market share on the desktop) Linux desktop so far has not. Otherwise, it looks like Microsoft is in a death pact to kill its Windows division and bring the entire PC market with it.

How much would it impact Apple's hardware sales? I don't know... Apple hardware is already perceived by a lot of people as being top-notch and uniquely stylish (though as this article points out, the latter sometimes overwhelms the former), and there are already people who buy Apple hardware in order to run Windows on it, strange as it sounds-- which indicates that at least some percentage of Apple purchasers do it for the hardware and not just because it's the only way to get MacOS. With Macs stagnating and dropping in share, it doesn't seem like there would be much to lose here. Apple would still hold the edge on the perception of their products as high quality or being works of art that also function, but they'd be competing much more directly with garden-variety PCs if both Macs and PCs were able to run both MacOS and Windows. People who buy Macs now probably still would buy Apple hardware, I think, but they'd also have a huge influx of new revenue and market share from the PC people.

It boggles my mind that I'm hoping for this (though I know it probably won't come to pass), given the loathing I've had for Apple ever since the Apple II days. Their closed systems, overpriced hardware, and snobbish cultist fans have always been a massive turn-off... but now in the "Windows as a Service" days, a desktop OS that doesn't try to be anything BUT a desktop OS seems really appealing, and it has become clear that MS has no interest in that market any more. I'm prepared to go to Linux, but I know a lot of people aren't, and if they don't move in significant numbers, developers won't follow. MacOS could become a credible gaming platform more easily than Linux, I think, as it doesn't have the "the users want stuff for free and never want to pay for anything" reputation that Linux does, and it's not fragmented beyond belief. Real gamers use PC hardware, not Apple-branded Macs (that actually are PCs), but if those same users could dual-boot MacOS and Windows (or triple boot it with Linux), we could very well see a migration away from Microsoft.

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Re: We've let you down...

Clones pretty much almost killed Apple last time. Why would they go down that same road again?

When you look at revenue, Apple make the same from services as from Mac sales (~$7Bn in Q1 '17).

Anything Mac related is dwarfed by iOS sales.

Offering macOS as a license on approved or generic hardware would cater not just to pros but also to semi-power users like me who want the macOS/BSD environment but are seriously considering moving back to Windows because the hardware is better. I'm not buying a USB-C macbook pro, I'm not buying a trashcan Pro. I might buy a refurb macbook that has some ports, or I'd consider an OEM laptop onto which I could install macOS as a supported OS and get drivers for!

Yes, it would damage their hardware business, but they'd sell a bunch of licenses and software to people who would otherwise be licensing software for Windows...

And if they sold hardware at sensible, comparable prices, they'd sell a bunch of that as well - because it looks pretty and people like the build quality (even if you can't upgrade it).

The problem they face is that they're selling a premium product into a market where even a Chromebook looks relatively svelte - once upon a time you could identify a macbook from across a room because it wasn't an ugly hulking block of grey or black plastic. Nowadays everyone is doing nice product design and uni-body cases. The USP that Jonny Ive brought to Apple is dead and gone.

Okay, I say premium - how long did the Airs struggle on with a 1366x768 screen when laptops half the price had gone to HD? For a product aimed at "creative people", they weren't valuing the bit you looked at very much...

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Re: We've let you down...

MacOS/OSX has less market share than Windows XP at present (from netmarketshare.com). They have nowhere to go but up.

The main reason people seem to give when they talk about why they bought a Mac was that it "just works." Well, the reason it "just works," if in fact that was ever real, is because Apple is both the hardware and software manufacturer, and they can tailor it very closely to the needs of the machines it sells, and they can test every possible combination of Mac hardware thoroughly to identify issues before it ships.

Windows, of course, runs on everything, since MS is mainly a software company (unlike Apple), and they cannot test on even a small fraction of the combinations of hardware that are in use out there in the real world. Ideally, the OEM would do this testing, but they'd still be at a disadvantage compared to a company that knows the ins and outs of the OS (and has the source code). In practice, PCs tend to be seen as commodity items, purchased on specs alone, so things that lead to stability like quality components (PSUs!) and adequate testing tend to be ignored.

Windows acquired a terrible reputation for crashiness, and a good bit of it is not Microsoft's fault, per se. If a Windows PC crashes, they blame Windows... after all, it's Windows that delivered the error and stopped working. In most cases, though, it's not faulty MS coding that causes the blue-screen, but faulty hardware or drivers.

That was particularly true in the Win 95 days, which were the early days of PnP (Plug 'n' Play), which we used to call "Plug 'n' Pray" at the time. The ISA bus was still in most new PCs, but it was never meant to be self-configuring, and the workarounds meant to make it self-configuring were kludges at best. In addition, a lot of the PnP ISA hardware that appeared was of abysmal quality, and so were the drivers.

This tended to make hardware/driver issues nearly universal in the commoditized PC market, but it was MS that got the blame.

Apple would have to play this carefully; they would want to preserve the idea that to get "just works" performance, it has to be a real Mac, while simultaneously selling MacOS on the idea that it works better on PCs than Windows does. I think it could be done, though.

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Re: We've let you down...

Nope, the licensing should be based not on cores but a flat license.

That way, cheap machines get a relatively high license cost, while expensive ones get a relatively low cost license.

Also, if you charge lets say 200$ for the inicial license, and then extra for updates.. that would also shift them into expensive machines.

That would no be complete without mandatory TPM modules.. and most hackintosh computers are less secure than a MacBook.. so that is also a tradeoff.

If I were them, I would license it only for computers with no internal battery of more than 500mAh.. and that means servers and workstations. There, sorted.

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Re: We've let you down...

MacOs and Macs in general are the milk and bread sections of the shop for Apple. They dont make the money from those sections, but if you remove them, the clients will stop coming.

So they need to do something.

I would make hackintosh legal, not just tolerated, and focus on desktops/servers/workstations.. but with limited support, and stringent testing.

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Re: We've let you down...

Yeah, Apple tend to forget the Daystar Genesis when referring to clones, probably because it beat the cr*p out of any competition.

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Re: We've let you down...(4 Updraft102)

I know of no-one who would contemplate paying the Apple Tax to get off Windows. Them that can't simply say "Windows 10 takes some getting used to but is really not that bad" and those that can will build out a Linux based answer. People who belive that there is an audience waiting to fork over 3 grand for a computer for home use either are barking or work for Apple.

As for buying a Mac to run Windows, that is the gaming crowd. For much as people hate to hear it, y' can't get "all the good games" on all platforms.

Apple continuously fail to properly identify the target audience for their high-end kit, and use the same idiotic form-over-function calculus to make design choices. If Apple were not so obsessed with the pretty they might pause and consider what they could do if the owner did not want to look at the blood thing while he/she worked.

Not that I'm in the market. I cracked my brother-in-law's G3 once as a favor and was appalled by what I found inside the case.

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Re: Apple continuously fail to properly identify the target audience for their high-end kit,

Agree with that bit.

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people are long-winded here

Don't license the OS. Have ASUS make an official Mainboard with a limited production run and have them support it. Done. Mic drop...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We've let you down...(4 Updraft102)

I know of no-one who would contemplate paying the Apple Tax to get off Windows. Them that can't simply say "Windows 10 takes some getting used to but is really not that bad" and those that can will build out a Linux based answer. People who belive that there is an audience waiting to fork over 3 grand for a computer for home use either are barking or work for Apple.

You've never even used OSX/macOS, have you? I can tell.

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Bollocks

Build a Hackintosh if you want a decent Mac. Like back in the 90s when the quickest way to run Mac software was on an Amiga running Shapeshifter.

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"handpicked favoured journalists" - I take it your invite was lost in your spam filter?

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Not lost...

Try 'never sent'- El Reg has been persona non grata for apple events for years and years.

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@ J. Cook

Better check your sarcasm detector. ☺

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Re: Not lost...

Well, after the type of language used in this article, I'm not surprised it was never sent!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not lost...

aka Lost in the outbox.

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Alien

Apple

They are a consumer gadget company.

They just want Apple badges in their own offices.

They took "computer" out of their name.

They make FAR more profit from non-OSX products, it's a niche. But it hurts their ego that pro users don't much like the macs now.

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Re: Apple

Are playing a very dangerous game.

You need a Mac running OSX to legally develop for OSX and iOS.

Right now, there are no professional-grade Macs, so you have to develop on consumer-grade kit.

If this continues for much longer then there will be no professional applications for OSX or iOS.

In the long term, Apple will either have to allow development on Linux/Windows, or Hackintosh, or there will be no professional-grade iOS apps and iOS will start to die.

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Re: Apple

Apologies, under the new rules it's called "macOS".

I'm not changing my #ifdef though.

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N2

Creative Professionals...

Well, Apple have crapped all over them, the types that stuck with Apple have been shunned into a corner with aps like Aperture discontinued & something resembling a fancy trash can to replace the much loved Mac Pro.

Will they come back?

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Anonymous Coward

Did the meeting really take place or is it fake news?

"Apple did not respond to a request to confirm that this meeting actually took place". So in your view did it take place or not? Presumably you are hinting it is fake news.

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