I’m not buying a Mac Pro

Whenever Apple talks about a new piece of high-end hardware at WWDC, the Internet resonates: That’s so overpriced! Why would anyone pay that much money for a piece of hardware? A Hackintosh would cost way less! Apple is such a ripoff!

The thing is, the reason these hardware announcements are made at the WorldWide Developer Conference is because the conference is for developers. People who are building the software for people to use. And a lot of that software is for highly-specialized, resource-intense purposes.

Yeah, the average consumer doesn’t need to handle thousands of audio tracks and software instruments at once. The average consumer doesn’t need to handle multiple simultaneous streams of uncompressed 8K video. The average consumer doesn’t care about the latest API features in the next version of macOS or iOS. But the average consumer isn’t who’s being talked to in these presentations. There’s a reason the consumer devices get their own “town hall” events with an entirely different tone.

Not all developers are developing software for average consumers. High-end hardware costs a lot of money. Specialized, professional hardware costs a lot of money. The computing resources used by Hollywood studios and high-velocity video production houses and machine learning shops and so on have a different set of requirements than consumer hardware.

End-users don’t generally need 8 16-lane PCI Express slots, or multiple (or even single!) 10-gigabit Ethernet ports. They don’t need a chassis designed for thermal efficiency for placement in a server rack or for quick servicing in case of an outage. They don’t need the ability to install 1.5 terabytes of ECC DRAM.

Do I wish Apple had more flexibility in their consumer systems? Absolutely. Am I annoyed at the lack of modularity in my (consumer) iMac? Definitely. Am I tempted to build a Hackintosh to get the specific specs I want? Totally.

Do I need a $6000 Mac Pro? No. But does someone else? Definitely.

And then the same goes for their new high-end monitor. Is $6000 a lot for a consumer monitor? Yeah. But it’s not a consumer monitor. Its closest competition that I could find online is this 4K HDR reference monitor which has mostly-worse specs (except peak brightness – and apparently it can’t sustain that brightness due to thermal issues), probably inferior heat dissipation, and, oh yeah, costs over four times as much. And this is an off-brand!

TVLogic 31" 4K HDR Reference Master Monitor. Special order, $28350.00

(That said, $1000 for a monitor stand seems pretty ridiculous and I have to wonder what’s so special about it. The monitor itself is only around 15 pounds so it’s not likely a weight-related issue, and while it’s more adjustable than most monitor stands it’s still nothing special on that front.)

Will overly-wealthy techbros in search of a status symbol buy this when they don’t need it? Probably. Would that money be better spent on other things? Definitely. Does that mean that this product category shouldn’t exist? I mean, rich people spend their money on frivolous status symbols all the time. I’m sure there’s some weird transportation fetishists out there who buy a $100,000 semi truck for their own personal toy, but that doesn’t mean a semi truck shouldn’t be available to anyone ever. When Mack has a press conference about their latest luxury-model long-haul semi truck, we don’t see the car blogs talking about how overpriced and excessive it is and how much more fuel-efficient a 2012 Yaris is.

Or, for a more realistic example, there are so many wannabe film producers who buy a $10,000 (or more!) RED camera for their YouTube channel. Do they need it? Maybe! Is it something you need? Probably not! And that’s okay. Not everything is made for you.

One chat I’m on had someone say an almost-good line: “Apple is making Pixar machines, for people who run Word.” But in reality, they’re making Pixar machines for people at Pixar. Like, literally.

So no, I’m not buying a Mac Pro. And I’m pretty sure Apple is totally fine with that.