Open letter to Steve Jobs. Re: Mac Mini Pro.
The MacBook Air is cute. The iMacs are cute.
The Mini is cute. iPods, cute again.
But the Mac Pro is an expensive behemoth.
You see, I’m one of those “Pros” that you target your $1300 software to…
I’m not looking for “cute.” Nor am I looking to get screwed.
So, I’d like you to make a Mac Mini Pro.
This shouldn’t be news to you. Really.
Unless you pay zero attention to your customers.
A Mac Mini Pro has been discussed by the Macintosh faithful for many years.
I mentioned it in EventDV back in 2006 (written in 05) while reviewing Mac Mini hard drives.
Here’s a link to the Mac Mini Monster MacInTouch Reader Report that spans 2006 and 2007. Actually, there was an earlier thread that went back to 2005, but I lost the link to that one.
People are taking the Mac Mini and putting it into larger cases, with full size drives, faster chips and more to make the Pro mini you inanely refuse to make.
There’s a thriving “Hackintosh” community which is working to put the Mac OS onto the types of hardware that Apple refuses to build. Like this Wiki about installing Tiger onto a truly small, light, and cheap $300 Asus EEE laptop. The movement even has it’s own Wikipedia page.
It’s clear your customers want the Mac OS on different hardware than the few designs you offer.
Axiotron and Other World Computing have put together the ModBook. The Mac tablet that Apple won’t make. It’s more expensive than it has to be because it’s built after the retail sale of a MacBook. Why do you punish your loyal customers like this?
I’m one of those Pros who owns Final Cut Studio. Actually, I own two complete sets of Final Cut Studio to use on two Macs that are four feet apart from each other. I’m the only one that uses them but your copy protection won’t allow me to use FCP on one machine while the other is rendering a complex timeline for 2 hours. So I went and spent $1300 more. Yes, that’s a $1300 tax for the privilege of using just one application (FCP) on two computers because you won’t sell the individual applications. Why do you punish your loyal customers like this?
Our dual G4 tower is having issues again. We’d love to upgrade to a new machine. I mean, we’d walk into an Apple store tomorrow and buy a new machine to replace our aged G4. But you don’t make a machine for us any more. Not. At. All.
We have a G4 tower with three empty slots. All we edit is DV and HDV over firewire. We’ve added an internal “video” hard drive so now we have two 3.5″ hard drives. The original optical drive died. We replaced it with a new optical drive. We’ve added RAM. This is why we like these “desktop” models- because a failure of a single component doesn’t mean we have to throw everything away. We can easily open it up, take out the optical drive, slide a new one in, and be back up and running in minutes.
We have an extended keyboard we like, Logitech mouse, Apple Cinema Display HD, Altec Lansing speakers, JVC 13″ tube monitor, and Sony decks. We don’t need to change anything but the box with the CPU in it. So, all-in-one machines, like the iMac are ruled out. We do not wish to waste the $2000 investment we made in the monitor alone. It still works perfectly.
As much as Final Cut Pro will work on a machine with integrated graphics, like the Mac Mini, other components of Final Cut Studio won’t. It doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements. Your already a little bit too expensive $800 desktop model is ruled out.
The next step up is an eight-core, $2,800 behometh that:
— still needs additional RAM, and a second “video” drive, to work in our edit suite. Adding just these two items rockets the price of the Mac Pro to $3,950. For a new CPU.
That’s waaaay too friggin’ much.
Why is it so expensive?
— is so big that it literally won’t fit into the rack we have. We had to remove the handles from the G4, which is considerably smaller than the aluminum Mac Pro, to get it to fit. We stood the PC on its side because there wasn’t room above or below the G4 in this Winstead video editing desk. The desk is designed to hold gear, but your computers aren’t designed to be held.
Why the heck not?
— has extra capability that we’ll never use. The Mac Pro has four additional PCI slots. It would be nice to keep one for a SATA card to connect speedy, redundant storage a year from now when we need to dump projects off the internal drive. But there’s just way to friggin much unused potential here for the mid-level video pro.
Why only offer too little and too much?
— is designed for eight cores. Great for those few people who need that. But these days, due to your own software engineering, video pros need a GPU (good video card) more than eight cores. Cut the box in half, put in a single quad-core chip and take half off the price tag.
Let me go back to the issue of “the rack.”
You do make a “rackmount” computer. The 1RU Xserve.
This is a very cool design. Cool-looking (but noisy) ventilation ports. Three easily accessible, swappable hard drives- great for having one startup drive and two swappable media drives. Hey man, that’s friggin’ cool. Processor utilization LEDs on the front- nice touch. This way we can see from across the room when FCP is finally done rendering the timeline (…because you can’t see fit to give FCP a nice and incredibly useful end-of-process “ding” like that other oh-so-professional tool- iTunes.) Front USB for convenience. You can even open the thing up while it is mounted in the rack. This thing just begs to be a pro video tool.
The problem with the Xserve is the whopping 30 inch deep chassis and up to 38 pounds of weight. (omg)
This is just completely unusable for most video pros. I’ve been reading and writing for trade pubs for decades and, other than the very high-end post house which is all about networked workstations, nobody uses the Xserve as their primary desktop edit machine. Video and gear racks are not 36″ deep. Portable racks are even shallower. We have a serious problem integrating something as deep as this- and you must keep in mind that all kinds of cables must plug into the back of this, so it’s really not “just” 30 inches deep. You have to add a few inches to the back of the gear for real world use.
I need you to listen to your customers, me included. We need a Mac Mini Pro.
Here are some general requirements:
- Around $1500 ready to go, or $999 with no RAM or hard drives. Internal SATA hard drives (2) and full-size optical. Make it so we can open it, put our own drives in it, swap those drives out as we see fit, upgrade the optical drive, and keep it up to date for a few years.
- After the high-end GPU, we need one PCI slot; or two ExpressCard slots. We don’t know what new technology will come out tomorrow, but we need to be able to take advantage of it without having to buy a whole new machine. We feel much better about our purchase of Apple gear, if it isn’t obsoleted the very next day.
- Single chip, quad core. Handle at least 4g of RAM. Back in the PPC days, you touted how lean Mac code was compared to PC code. It really was. Well, those days are dead. The ever-expanding OS is bloated beyond belief and apps continue to get bigger and bigger every year. Short of a “conservation effort” in programming, we’ll need RAM, lots of RAM.
- Rack mountable 1 or 2 RU, or standard component width that we can put in a rack. I know how much you like to make things “amazing” and “unbelievable.” You make them too big and silver, or too small and white. We don’t need that. We need to put it in a rack and use it to create our own dreams. The computer is a tool, not a dainty flower. We need to put it with the other tools. In the damm rack.
I’ll keep repairing my dual G4 until you make the Mac Mini Pro.
No, really! I mean it. We will not buy the Mac Pro.
It makes absolutely no fiscal sense to waste that much money.
I’ll buy a shuttle PC, add Windows XP Pro (SP2),
and the Intel Core 2 Quad,
and 4 GB of RAM,
and two 1 TB hard drives,
and Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Suite 3,
and a Blue Ray burner,
and a Canon HD camcorder,
and a Manfrotto tripod, all on Amazon (not the cheapest I can find)
and I’ll still have spent less than just the Mac Pro shown above. See: receipt.gif
When you finally listen to your customers, instead of trying to dictate,
and get back to making products we can integrate with the rest of our gear,
then I (and many others) will gladly give you money for new machines to replace our tired, old, but affordable and upgradeable machines.
Remember, the customer is always right.
I have been, am, and could continue to be your customer.
What have you done for me, Pro video editor me, lately?