Mac Pro - What Apple should do
What Apple should do about the Mac Pro (my opinion)
They haven't redesigned the Mac Pro in years. It's been this aluminum tower that they have added minor updates to. A lot of people feel like Apple just gave up on the pro market because of this. But Tim Cook the CEO of Apple responded to a letter last year by a concerned pro user on the topic. In his response he states that Apple was working on a new Mac Pro for release later in 2013.
So here is what I think Apple might do based on things I've heard and what makes the most sense given the current environment of desktop computers.
I think they are going to go for a modular design this time around. The current Mac Pro had to be pulled off the shelf in certain parts of Europe because it no longer abides by new manufacturing standards that have to do with exposed fans and such. The current Mac Pro also doesn't have the fastest and latest connection that Apple has been putting on all the rest of its systems, Thunderbolt.
Thunderbolt is an external PCIe connection with a few more bells and whistles. It allows you to add things externally that would previously have to have been socketed right into the motherboard itself. Things like video cards and other niche expansion cards, like RedRocket cards for pro video people that shoot on RED cameras. With the addition of Thunderbolt, Apple could do away with the bigger tower box that is not only more expensive to ship but spatially wasteful for those that don't ever add on to the box internally with extra cards.
So it makes the most sense that the new Mac Pro should be a pro system that can be built up and stacked externally with components as needed. The basic box would be about the shape of a Mac Mini but a little larger and come with the CPU and the RAM. From there you add a storage box/module for either HDDs or SSDs. You would also add a box/module for a pro video card as well as other expansion boxes for other things. Including a power box/module for adding power to all these boxes without having to run cords to multiple electrical outlets.
Potentially this could create an entire eco-system around the Mac Pro where other hardware vendors could buld expansion boxes that fit the stackable dimensions of the Mac Pro System. Stuff that maybe Apple wouldn't see enough profit in creting themselves like optical drives for burning DVD and blu-ray discs or and audio box with a better sound card for pro audio guys.
The other major benefit is that Apple could chain multiple CPU boxes togther for expanding the computers power. This potentially means they could release a basic Mac Pro CPU box for under or around $800 and allow you to add more boxes for more processing power as you ramp up your needs. This would give a lower cost of entry to the Mac Pro than Apple has ever given.
But the other added benefit is that the Mac Pro would not just be a single computer but a whole system, which means that potentially iMac or MacBook users could buy Mac Pro modules to hook up to their systems via Thunderbolt. So if you are a mabook pro user you could add a Mac Pro storage box to your desk that you could hook your laptop up to when you need more storage or an optical drive or a better video card. It would truly be a system that all mac users could benefit from if needed and not necessarily and entirely separate computer all by itself.
The time is right for Apple to shake up the desktop market. As it stands the desktop market is suffering due to iPads, smartphones and laptops. Apple has historically been good about moving into markets that are stagnant and revitalizing them with new ideas or old ideas done better. The iPod, iPhone, iPad and even the original iMac are all testament to that. Unlike any other computer company they can move mountains because they have a big following and they control their hardware and their software. They also sell more personal computers than their top five competitors combined right now.
To add some possible weight to my speculation, this is interesting and leads me to believe that in fact Apple is thinking out of the box when it comes to the new Mac pro.
Of course a modular Mac Pro may not come to pass. This is really just my best guess based on what I've heard and what technologies are available today. It makes the most sense. But the question is, does Apple think so and are they even considering such an idea? Time will tell.