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Is the Mac Pro on Apple's Chopping Block?

By Rachelle Dragani MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 1, 2011 10:56 AM PT

Apple's Mac Pro Line could be on its way out, according to a report from AppleInsider. If it proves true, the development could leave behind a void in the company's enterprise space.

Is the Mac Pro on Apple's Chopping Block?

The powerful, pricey computers, which start at US$2,499, are reportedly suffering from low demand. Executives aren't sure they want to continue investing company time and resources into the supposedly dwindling line, according to the report.

Unlike Apple's more mass-market personal computers, like the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac, the desktop tower Mac Pro line is used mostly by professionals who need its speedier graphics, more powerful processors and larger memory for design, audio, video and editing programs.

Beefing Up Laptops

Apple has been making frequent changes to beef up its laptop lines. Recent updates to MacBook Pros, for example, include performance boosts to the graphics, adding Intel Core i7 chips and increasing storage in the laptops' hard drives. Before that, Apple had last improved the lineup as recently as early 2011.

By contrast, the most recent Mac Pro update was more than a year ago, in July of 2010.

Other desktop computers Apple offers -- the iMac and the Mac Mini -- are now also equipped with Thunderbolt technology that give the devices more flexibility and connectivity. New laptops also have this feature. Still, none are quite as powerful as the Mac Pro.

Apple didn't respond to MacNewsWorld's request for comment.

Giving In to Competition?

Since notebooks currently make up 74 percent of Apple's computer sales, the company focuses on making those more powerful to both the mass market and enterprise markets. However, Mac Pros have a specific set of customers, and to alienate those wouldn't just be losing customers, it would be allowing competitors with more products for business consumers, such as HP, to get a larger share of the computer market.

"There are always refreshes, upgrades and changes to lines, but making it disappear would leave a huge hole in products," Edward Zabitsky, principal and CEO of ACI Research, told MacNewsWorld.

Executives are mulling over the cost of the resources it has to put into the Pro line, according to the report. But if anyone has the extra resources to invest in a core product line, it's Apple -- it's sitting on a cash pile several billion dollars high.

And as usual, the Apple rumor mill cuts both ways -- there's also talk about what improvements the company might make with its next generation of Mac Pro computers.

"This is counter to the news that Apple is working on a slimmer version of the Pro Family, so considering the two contrasting rumors I would just leave it at pure speculation on a slow news day," Carolina Milanesi, vice president of research for consumer technologies and markets for Gartner, told MacNewsWorld.

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