The story of Steve Jobs return to Apple and his redirection of the product line to desktop/ portable. consumer / Pro is very famous. It’s been the corner stone of Apple’s simple product line for years and no doubt helps with sales. For a long time this distinction was clear, Pro was much more powerful and consumer was cheaper (though not cheap and not underpowered.)
However over time this distinction has become slightly more blurred and confused.
2013 was a funny year for Apple’s Pro lines. We had an update of the MacBook Pro, the Mac Pro and it’s worth considering the two updated iPads as well where before the iPad 4th generation filled a more pro roll to the iPad 2 and Mini. In these areas we see different visions of Pro.
The Mac Pro
The new Mac Pro is definitely a Pro. The amount of power it holds (especially when maxed out) is incredible. Frankly it is a device that only the most graphic or processor intensive tasks need and it is certainly not aimmed at the average consumer. In many ways this keeps on the tradition of the pro line with the Mac Mini and iMacs covering the consumer market. This might not sound like much of a change but really the pro is so high powered compared to the over options and the iMac and Mac Mini have got to the point where they can play decent games and fill almost all the regular users tasks that they truely are consumer machines.
Where as a few years back a regular consumer might want a pro model for their photography hobby or to run games on with decent graphics, now a standard mac fills that gap. The Mac Pro and iMac/Mac Mini divide is in someways the perfection of Jobs’s stratergy.
The MacBook Pro
The same can not be said of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Last year Apple started to blur the lines by making the MacBook Pro slimmer and more portable. With the updated haswell processors giving the MacBook Pro a staggering 9 Hours battery life it has truly become a portable machine like the old MacBook airs. When you add in the Price drop for the starting model it leads to a very blurred line between the two lines.
However, it’s not just been the Pro that has encroached on the rivals territory, the Air has become a much more powerful beast than it had previously. It still doesn’t have a retina screen and the raw processing power of the MacBook Pro is higher, but with the turbo boost function and high ram it can certainly carry more weight than previous models.
The dilemma for someone looking to purchase an Apple laptop isn’t as clear. Sure you buy the Pro if you need to do really high powered operations but if you are a consumer you’re left with the dilemma between a slightly more portable model or a slightly more powerful Model (with an incredible screen).
In many ways it’s a similar dilemma to the iPad conundrum. This year Apple made the mini have the same processor and power as the larger Air instead of last years processor chip as they did when they first launched the iPad mini and at the same time the iPad airs weight was dropped and made much more portable. Previously the Mini had provided an “iPad light” (in both weight and power) option but now the only decider was the size of the screen and ever so slight performance and weight differences. Like the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. There is still a difference in portability and cost. But the difference has shrunk dramatically.
The Future Of The Pro Lines?
The reality seems to be that Apple are just trying to make the best computers they can. For the MacBook Air they made the best MacBook Air they could and that happened to be more powerful than before. For the MacBook Pro they made the best pro laptop they could and that happened to be more portable than before. Likewise, the new Mac Pro is the best they could make and the Mini and iMac are the best consumer Pcs they could make.
Apple don’t water down their products, they make the best they can.
All such things should be considered when one listens (or doesn’t) to rumours about a potential iPad Pro to go along with the iPad air. All rumours surrounding it just seem to centre on “it will be bigger…” or “It will be MOAR powerful.” Which is entirely possible, but when we hold up the direction of the Apple Pro lines these rumours don’t really make sense. I think Federico Viticci has done the best “thought experiment” on potential iPad Pro options and why none of them really seem to make sense.
Do you have a “pro” product? Are you using it for Professional uses or more as a consumer?