Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > What would you like to see in an Apple business workstation?

What would you like to see in an Apple business workstation?
Thread Tools
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 12, 2008, 10:22 PM
 
Just as the title says. I threw together the below picture. Basically it'd be a Mac mini with 2 PCIx slots (an x16 and an x1.) The case would be easy to open to get access to internal components. It's about 8.25" tall, 3.5" wide, and 10" deep. The size also makes it rack mountable.

4 USB ports, Firewire 800 (or 1600 or 3200), dual gigabit (meh, maybe just one), and speakers and mic ports (the front one is the mic/bud combo port.) It also has passive power supply so you can plug the monitor power directly into the computer. It'd also have vPro/AMT for easier management.

So what would any of you like to see in a business workstation? Somehow I don't think my design would be $1000 or less, which is what I think would be the magic price point for a business workstation.

"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Admin Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 01:07 AM
 
Well, define "business."

As a business workstation, I think of basically a Mac mini, since most business users are extremely light users.

Are you asking more about a low end workstation? Then basically a headless iMac with two hard drive bays, a bunch of USB ports, FW 400 and 800, ethernet (one is plenty, only specialty servers need two), audio out (input not necessary, can be provided via USB or webcam later), DVD-RW drive, dual DVI or DP ports.

In other words, an iMac without the display, with an extra hard drive bay.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 03:31 AM
 
Ah, this is going to be an interesting thread. As tooki already pointed out it would be good to know what you actually mean by "business" Mac. I'll get back to that.

Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Just as the title says. I threw together the below picture. Basically it'd be a Mac mini with 2 PCIx slots (an x16 and an x1.) The case would be easy to open to get access to internal components. It's about 8.25" tall, 3.5" wide, and 10" deep. The size also makes it rack mountable.
Easy access is paramount for a business desktop. The PM7600 was a great example of how an easily serviceable desktop case should be. With the vertical orientation in your example I would think about a lever on the back, that upon being released lets you slide off the top and both sides as one piece. That way people get direct access to the 5.25" and 3.5" drives (presumably fastened to a mount frame which also holds the front and back case panels) and the PCI cards at the bottom. In your example it would probably be difficult to access the PCI cards w/o removing the optical. It would be nice if that were the case. OTOH I think having to slide out the optical to add/remove DIMMs would be acceptable since that is something you won't be doing often during the lifetime of the machine (once when you buy it, maybe one upgrade later on).

I don't like the slot optical in your design. In a slim notebook or iMac they might be necessary, but in a "regular business desktop" they're not. They're slower than tray drives and in my experience a hole lot less reliable.

4 USB ports, Firewire 800 (or 1600 or 3200), dual gigabit (meh, maybe just one), and speakers and mic ports (the front one is the mic/bud combo port.) It also has passive power supply so you can plug the monitor power directly into the computer. It'd also have vPro/AMT for easier management.
Sounds good to me. For cost and space reasons I'd drop a second Ethernet jack. There are two PCI slots after all.

So what would any of you like to see in a business workstation? Somehow I don't think my design would be $1000 or less, which is what I think would be the magic price point for a business workstation.
I think Apple wouldn't mind such a Mac being a tad expensive. It should drive similar margins as the iMac since that is what it will pressure most. It would also cannibalize some MP sales, but I see that as less of a problem. The MP is far more expensive to produce than the iMac or this. On the customer side, I don't think it has to be that cheap either actually. Apple doesn't need to compete with Dell. Right now I think it's much more important they actually populate this gaping hole in their line-up at all. I think simply having the option is far more important than the option being inexpensive.
( Last edited by Simon; Nov 13, 2008 at 03:47 AM. )
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 03:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
Well, define "business."
I think you are raising a good point here.

As a business workstation, I think of basically a Mac mini, since most business users are extremely light users.
I would agree when it comes to people using web, e-mail, office. All the secretaries at our department here would be perfectly happy with a Mac mini.

Still, the mini is not entirely ideal. It's focus on small size carries a price. The external power brick is not ideal in an office environment. 2.5" HDDs are expensive and they're slower and smaller than their 3.5" counterparts. Sure in a corporate environment actual documents are stored elsewhere, but having a fast boot drive is important for perceived performance. And of course scratch disks are local and should be fast. A 3.5" would be better here. And finally all the other notebook components. Sure they help keep it small and low-power, but they also make it expensive to manufacture. It's not that these mobile parts don't offer enough performance, but they just cost too much compared to better performing desktop parts.

So even if we agree that there are many corporate users who'd be just fine with a Mac mini, it could be significantly improved for this market.

Are you asking more about a low end workstation? Then basically a headless iMac with two hard drive bays, a bunch of USB ports, FW 400 and 800, ethernet (one is plenty, only specialty servers need two), audio out (input not necessary, can be provided via USB or webcam later), DVD-RW drive, dual DVI or DP ports.
I think this is more along the lines of what the OP was talking about. There is a huge hole in Apple's line-up below the MP. It's this mix of expansion and performance that makes the MP pricey. It's really at the top end. But there are a lot of business desktop users that don't require eight 3.2 GHz cores but still would like to have medium range expansion. A lot of engineers I work with fall into this category. They don't need the raw power of the MP, but they do want a PCI slot or a second HDD in their desktops.

In other words, an iMac without the display, with an extra hard drive bay.
To a certain extent, yes. But that's not the entire story either. Again, the iMac is built from a mobile chipset, CPU and slot optical. It's designed to be really thin. But for this business desktop you don't need that. You can use a much cheaper desktop chipset and Wolfdale/Yorkfield rather than a Penryn CPU. More performance, less cost for Apple to build. Relax the space constraints to reduce case complexity and cost while making it easier to service.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 04:48 AM
 
In such a business Mac desktop personally I'd like to see the following:
• Yorkfield and/or Wolfdale CPU
• Bearlake chipset -> 4 RAM slots, one PCIe x16, one PCIe x4
• one 5.25" bay for a tray optical
• two 3.5" bays for disks (easy access)
• Gigabit, FW800, eSATA, 3 USB (back), USB and audio (front)
• internal power supply

I'd be OK with a vertical case as proposed by the OP as long as it can easily be removed for access to all disks and PCI cards.

Personally, I would probably prefer something along the lines of the old IIsi case. Horizontal, but slim. A tad higher than the LC to allow for the two PCI slots. But not as wide as the PM6100 case. Hit lever at back, remove the entire lid giving free access to all components. Towards the front the optical and two 3.5" drives fastened to mount frame (SATA, power) with immediate access. Next to the drives two PCI cards mounted on top of each other to a vertical carrier board. Behind the drives access to the four DIMM slots. Power supply next to the DIMM slots. The PS can have its own fan. The space in front of the HDDs could be used for another fan.

Here's a quick 'n dirty mockup. It's roughly 18" x 12".
( Last edited by Simon; Nov 15, 2008 at 05:05 AM. Reason: typo)
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 01:13 PM
 
By business, I mean a general workstation that can be configured as a relatively cheap workstation, or upgraded to a decent CAD or video workstation. Basic specs I'd like to see (I'll redo my picture later.):

1. Tray load DVD (as per suggestion)
2. 2x internal 3.5 bays (presumable for lots of storage)
3. 2 x16 PCIe slots (might as well; you can stick an x1 into an x16, right?)
4. Screwless (but lockable) easy access case (ala any Mac since the 8600)
5. Small footprint to maximize useable desk space
6. vPro / AMT for management

Wanted to keep it minimal to keep it relatively cheap. I still think the $1000 price point is the magic number for a business workstation. Anything more would seem too expensive. I agree that something like iMac hardware, but in a mini-tower case with PCI-e slots would work. Get that price to $1000 or less because you wouldn't have the built-in LCD display to factor into the price.

The problem I see with this workstation is that it would eat into heavily Apple's pro market. Probably why they haven't made one.

I forgot to mention that my original design could be vertical or horizontal.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 01:41 PM
 
I have just had to set up a calling center in my office block, with an autodialer, and I bought about 20 Dell Optiplex M260's (or something like that) and all they do is use the browser window to connect up with the server, and another very small program that we developed that runs in the background. One thing that they had that was very useful was slots that peripherals could be taken out and interchanged (e.g. like the CD Drive).

I had to take out all of the hard drive to do a ghosting job, and I must say that they were very easy access.

On another note, I have read a few articles about the feasibility of using MacBooks as business machines, and I think with Snow Leopard's Exchange support, seeing Apple in bigger corporations as stock machines could be a reality.

(and they won't manufacture lifeless grey boxes)
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 03:53 PM
 
I imagine they'd be aluminum, shiny plastic, or something in between. Maybe a black anodized aluminum, or a flat black plastic case. You'd still want it to scream "Designed by Apple" but also be a functional machine.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 04:05 PM
 
Either way, I would LOVE to be the sysadmin for that company
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 04:45 PM
 
Business workstation? Well, a floppy disk drive, SCSI and ADB ports would be required, since you're apparently stuck in the nineties...

Well, maybe not the nineties, but the Word-Excel-Outlook running desktop is a dying breed. That machine is a laptop today, and the Macbook fills that slot nicely. A cheaper version of the "dockable" 24"er would be nice, but the Macbook is OK. Desktops are used for:

* Extreme budget installations - in which Apple is rarely considered, and anything more powerful than a mini is pointless. A cheaper mini (cheap desktop Core 2 and 3.5" HD) could fill this role better, but as I said, few would pick Apple in an extreme cost situation.
* True workstations - for which a Mac Pro does the job.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 05:49 PM
 
I think the current lineup of Mac mini and Mac Pro actually fits the business desktop/business workstation markets quite well. It's the home market where I'd like to see a box like you described.
     
Mac Elite
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: here
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 09:14 PM
 
Fanless (ultra quiet) design.

Enough RAM slots to give graphics apps RAM.

Chance to put in a real, good graphics card (not that mac mini approach with the integrated graphics).

I wonder if Apple would replace the mini with a more powerful (and more expensive) little computer... or if the mini is just located at a sweet price point.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 13, 2008, 11:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
I think the current lineup of Mac mini and Mac Pro actually fits the business desktop/business workstation markets quite well. It's the home market where I'd like to see a box like you described.
I disagree. The Mac mini isn't powerful enough for RAM hungry applications or anything requiring a video card, and the Mac Pro is too expensive. $2800 + the screen minimum for a workstation. The iMac isn't always practical, especially because you run into the problem that if either the screen or the computer goes bad, you're out both a screen and computer at the same time... or you don't want a freakin' glossy screen reflecting everything behind and including your head.

There's an in between, especially for a company that wants a workstation with lots of RAM and a decent video card, but doesn't want to shell out $2800 for it, and another $700 for the screen. The only option for that is not Apple.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Forum Regular
Join Date: Aug 2002
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 12:30 AM
 
I'd be happy with a dual core 2.33 or better, 4GB ram minimum expandable to 6 or 8 GB though most "office workers" will not need that much. One 3.5 (HDD) and one 5.25 (DVD+/-RW) drive bay 4 USB, 2 or more FW ports. You can always attach additional drives, no need to add them to the internals. Built-on video is fine for most normal day-to-day use but I would suggest at least 256 MB on board video memory. It would of course come with optional ports for video card expansion/upgrade. One gigabit + optional wifi/bluetooth. It would need to be ultra silent. My G5 2.0 sounds like a jet engine after an hour of use, very annoying. As for price between $500 and $799 seems respectable as you can buy a Dell/HP/Compaq with these specs for around that price.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 02:34 PM
 
Here's my revised workstation:

18" wide, 2.35" tall, 12" deep. Flat workstation, display would sit on top.

1. Tray load Optical drive
2. 2 3.5" slots
3. 3 USB, 2 FireWire, speaker & mic on back
4. 1 USB, dual headphone/mic port on front
5. 2 x16 PCIe slot
6. 4 RAM slots for up to 16 GBs.
7. Easy open case, top opens up like the new MacBook battery compartment. Single latch on the center rear.


( Last edited by olePigeon; Nov 14, 2008 at 05:06 PM. )
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Standing on the shoulders of giants
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 04:13 PM
 
In the last place that I worked, and in my present place everyone has a laptop and docking station. I'd love to see Apple come out with an easy docking station solution. I have a Dell 630 which is a pretty good machine. At work I've got a 19" screen and a full sized keyboard and its easy to dock the beast - why haven't Apple got a docking station instead of having to fool around with far too many wires?!? It'd be nice if a docking station could up the spec of the laptop a bit, extra hard drive, boost in graphics/sound whatever.

I dunno about Apple using businesses but I get the impression that most companies are going the laptop route for client machines.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 05:09 PM
 
I just realized my new design looks like a NeXT slab.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Minnesota
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 06:40 PM
 
Mac Pro wise, I need a faster PCI bus to support more and better video cards. Believe it or not, drawing too many stock charts on a Mac Pro with two video cards on 4 monitors can bring a Mac Pro to its knees.
     
Admin Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 06:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
I just realized my new design looks like a NeXT slab.
Actually, it looks almost exactly like a Quadra 610 or Power Mac 6100 gussied up in aluminum.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 1999
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 09:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
Actually, it looks almost exactly like a Quadra 610 or Power Mac 6100 gussied up in aluminum.
I could add a floppy on the left side.

I liked the 6100, it was a nifty case design.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
Admin Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 09:40 PM
 
I liked the Q605 and Performa 400-series better! So slim and fantabulous!
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: God's Country
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 14, 2008, 10:28 PM
 
I think Apple's pretty well settled into sort of a niche market. The whole iMac line is about total hardware simplicity - one power cord, keyboard and mouse, and that's it. The PowerMac line is more or less targeted at the graphics/video sector of the IT world, where ultra high power is pretty much mandatory (particularly when it comes to HD video editing and processing).

I don't think Apple's really equipped to do large corporate hardware contracts, and they know it. What they're doing now fits with their business model. They're still a premium hardware retailer, and no corporation is going to get a hardware contract for thousands of machines through Apple when they can get the same hardware at half the price through Lenovo, Dell, or HP - and with far better support contracts and warranties. Even with what I'm assuming is native Exchange support in the next iteration of OS X, there's a lot that goes into managing a corporate IT infrastructure.

Although it's entirely possible to integrate Macs into a Windows environment, they can be a lot harder to manage on a large scale compared to Windows machines. However, I've never been under the impression that Apple is shooting for the every-machine-is-identical-and-heavily-locked-down corporate network environment. They're more about a certain professional market and regular consumers.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 04:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Here's my revised workstation:
...


I like it. Looks very similar to my above suggestion. And it does resemble the Quadra/Centris 610 or PM 6100 a lot. What I'd like to know is how such a device would be marketed by Apple. What would it cost to make it? Intel's CPUs, chipsets, and other components like disks, optical, PS all have a fairly well known price tag. What do you get when you add that up for this Mac?

But then, what would they sell it for? At which price point would they drive 25% margin? At which price point would it not hurt other Mac lines too much? And at which price point would it compare with similar quality PCs? And do all those price points turn out roughly similar or are they very far apart? My gut feeling says it's the latter. And I assume that's a major reason behind Apple not entering this area.
( Last edited by Simon; Nov 15, 2008 at 04:50 AM. )
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 04:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
I liked the Q605 and Performa 400-series better! So slim and fantabulous!
I agree. That was an even sexier case. And easier to service too.

But there is no way you are fitting in even a single optical, single HDD, and one PCI slot into that case.

I'm pretty sure it's actually quite tough to get two HDDs and two PCI slots into the 610/6100 case.
     
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 04:59 AM
 
That's not a workstation. Apple already has a workstation, the Mac Pro.
What you want is the much-talked about xMac, a headless tower. Most people in the `business world' (secretaries, office workers for whom a Mac mini suffices) don't really upgrade their computers (other than RAM or harddrive). You can do these upgrades on an iMac or a Mac mini.

Under Steve's rule, I don't think that's going to happen.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 05:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
In the last place that I worked, and in my present place everyone has a laptop and docking station. I'd love to see Apple come out with an easy docking station solution. I have a Dell 630 which is a pretty good machine. At work I've got a 19" screen and a full sized keyboard and its easy to dock the beast - why haven't Apple got a docking station instead of having to fool around with far too many wires?!? It'd be nice if a docking station could up the spec of the laptop a bit, extra hard drive, boost in graphics/sound whatever.
I absolutely agree with you about the docking station. In fact for years I've been putting a docking port pretty much at the top of my portable Mac wish list. As somebody who uses his MBP mostly at different desks with bug screens and KBs/mice I would really appreciate a sleek docking station rather than this silly cable mess every time I switch desks.

That said, I do not think that solves the issues at hand in this thread. The MBP is not a cost-effective replacement for mid-range desktop. It's actually similar and even a bit worse in this respect than the iMac. Its small size and the thermal envelope dictate expensive and limited mobile components. You could get more performance from cheaper components if Apple removed the portable constraint. And let's not forget that even a docked MBP does not offer PCI expansion cards (EC/34 does allow some expansion but is by far not as versatile as full PCIe cards), nor two internal disks. Things that a mid-range desktop would easily offer for little money.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 05:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
I think the current lineup of Mac mini and Mac Pro actually fits the business desktop/business workstation markets quite well. It's the home market where I'd like to see a box like you described.
Come to think of it, this is an excellent point. I can see the Mac described here as a very viable solution at work, but I realize that it's probably also my skewed picture. Academia, science, and engineering have significantly different needs from the vast "corporate" computing world.

So although this box would suit many of my colleagues perfectly, if it were to actually go on sale for let's say round $1500 I'm pretty sure Apple would sell most of them as home computers.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 05:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Most people in the `business world' (secretaries, office workers for whom a Mac mini suffices) don't really upgrade their computers (other than RAM or harddrive). You can do these upgrades on an iMac or a Mac mini.
I agree with you. But even if you come to the conclusion that most office people will be fine with a Mac mini, you have to admit that Mac mini is an expensive way of achieving the goal.

A regular 3.5" HDD, desktop rather than mobile CPUs/chipsets, a larger case to facilitate cooling, etc. are all things that would serve the office computer well and drop the price. None of these things is possible within the Mac mini picture. Next to being bare bones, it is after all also geared at being extremely small. Something which is entirely unnecessary in the office space. And expensive too.

Under Steve's rule, I don't think that's going to happen.
I agree with you again. Unfortunately.
     
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 06:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I agree with you. But even if you come to the conclusion that most office people will be fine with a Mac mini, you have to admit that Mac mini is an expensive way of achieving the goal.
You're right.
The Mac mini isn't that expensive if you compare it to other machines in the same niche, but it certainly is expensive if you compare it to cheap desktops. My parents could probably do without the smallness, but well, you don't have a choice.

However, in the business world, costs of computer hardware are often small compared to other costs (human workforce, software licensing, etc.).
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 12:43 PM
 
Well actually I was thinking about manufacturing costs. Apple could produce the Mac mini for a lot less if they didn't have to use mobile parts and fit it all into an extremely small case.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Dec 2000
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 15, 2008, 01:15 PM
 
Wait, isn't the business machine you're discussing in this thread...a mini-tower?

<cue scary organ music>

I thought the prevailing logic in here was that introducing one of those would completely kill off any and all demand for Mac Pros, iMacs, MacBook Pros, Cinema Displays, iPod Socks, and anything else Apple makes, causing the four horsemen to immediately go on the march, the sun to go dark, the moon to go blood-red, and Apple to go out of business, since after all, the Performa 6400 was entirely, single-handedly responsible for all Apple's financial troubles in the late 90s (the clones and the duct-tape OS had nothing to do with it).

What's the matter with you heretics?
( Last edited by CharlesS; Nov 15, 2008 at 11:25 PM. )

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Feb 2006
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 16, 2008, 02:34 AM
 
"Hey! I just bought my xMac and it won't work with my Squid Music Card, and the additional USB 3.0 card doesn't work, and when I slotted the nVidia card in backwards I couldn't get a screen on the thing!

Damn you Apple! Damn you!"

Why is there no "mini-desktop"? No market, no point, huge support costs, major whining.

If you want a PC, buy a PC.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 16, 2008, 04:02 AM
 
No market for a desktop? I hope you're kidding.

There is no mid-range Apple desktop (w/o a screen). That's Apple's chosen market.

In the rest of the computer world, headless desktops more than half of the market. The entire rest is divided among notebooks, netbooks, tablets, servers, etc. So in the "90%-of-computers-world" desktops are THE market. The question is if Apple can successfully exclude itself form that market distribution and still expand into new market areas.

They're doing very well with what they have today. And I have no problem to admit there is no immediate reason to believe this will change. I do know however that a certain market segment does not like to be told that actually don't really know what they want and that actually they want something else (iMac instead of expandable headless). These are not cheap people. And it's not about Macs made to compete with some generic $500 Dell. It's about savvy buyers willing to spend money who want to work with OS X and are used to facing a huge selection of desktop PCs.
     
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Online
Reply With Quote
Nov 16, 2008, 04:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Well actually I was thinking about manufacturing costs. Apple could produce the Mac mini for a lot less if they didn't have to use mobile parts and fit it all into an extremely small case.
They could also make the *Books much cheaper if they didn't mill the cases out of a block of solid aluminum
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 16, 2008, 11:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
In the rest of the computer world, headless desktops more than half of the market. The entire rest is divided among notebooks, netbooks, tablets, servers, etc. So in the "90%-of-computers-world" desktops are THE market. The question is if Apple can successfully exclude itself form that market distribution and still expand into new market areas.
I don't know that's true anymore; Intel expects laptops to sell more units than desktops next year, so desktops may already be down to a plurality.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 16, 2008, 12:41 PM
 
Of course if you leave out servers and workstations. Which I foresightedly included. The argument stands.
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 03:00 AM
 
Yes, but Intel is counting over the entire world. Apple does most of its business in the US and to a lesser extent Europe and Japan. In these markets, laptops passed desktops years ago. The traditional business desktop is dying if not dead already. As for the home market: Over the last few years, I don't know a single person who bought a desktop for their home except for the explicit purpose of gaming. Everyone buys laptops.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 03:21 AM
 
There is no doubt desktops are still a huge chunk of the market. Even if in some countries they have already been surpassed by notebooks. I agree notebooks will eventually be more prevalent everywhere, but for the time being the desktop is still far from dead.

But if I understand correctly, you are basically suggesting Apple should just sit this one out and hope the desktop will die altogether with the exception of servers and workstations which they do offer.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 03:41 AM
 
I think the argument in Apple's favor comes down to prosumer towers killing the iMac market, which may be valid.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Dec 2000
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 03:45 AM
 
The argument just presented seems to be that laptops are doing that... all home desktop users other than gamers would certainly include the iMac users.

I'm not sure I buy it, though. Laptops are certainly gaining in market share, but I don't think it's fair to assume that that means that they will go all the way and completely kill off desktops altogether, instead of just settling on some equilibrium point.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 04:01 AM
 
I'm curious, assuming Apple could make an xMac that drives as much or even more margin than the iMac, why would they prefer the iMac? Offer xMacs bundled with a 24" display. You don't lose screen sales and you drive even more revenue.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Dec 2000
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 04:50 AM
 
Myself, I'd expect a minitower to make a better margin - because the case wouldn't have to be as expensively engineered, since you're not trying to cram a bunch of components in a tiny space. You also get to use a regular desktop CPU and desktop RAM instead of the expensive laptop versions.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 05:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
Myself, I'd expect a minitower to make a better margin - because the case wouldn't have to be as expensively engineered, since you're not trying to cram a bunch of components in a tiny space. You also get to use a regular desktop CPU and desktop RAM instead of the expensive laptop versions.
Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking too. So if we assume that Apple could pull off such a design and drive even better margins, why worry about cannibalizing iMac sales?
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 02:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
But if I understand correctly, you are basically suggesting Apple should just sit this one out and hope the desktop will die altogether with the exception of servers and workstations which they do offer.
Pretty much, yes. Combine this with the fact that in higher cost brackets, the laptop share is even bigger. As we all know, those are the only brackets Apple plays in.

Originally Posted by Simon
I'm curious, assuming Apple could make an xMac that drives as much or even more margin than the iMac, why would they prefer the iMac?
Because teh Steve doesn't like the idea of you plugging in any display you like into his lovely computer, preferring it to be one box true to the original Mac ethos?

(And yes, I have it on excellent authority that he hates the Mac mini.)

Actually, there are many reasons. That is one, the second is that the margin probably would have to be on a level with the Mac Pro rather than the iMac and it would look seriously overpriced if Apple charged such a margin, the third is that they've tried it a few times at the margins they'd like to charge, and it didn't sell, the fourth is that the market for expansion boards on a Mac is very small, the fifth that Apple likes you to buy a new box every so often rather than an upgrade every now and then, the sixth that it's an imitation/step back from a company that prefers to lead, the seventh is...

I guess you could rephrase the question thus: Why does a dog lick its balls?
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 18, 2008, 08:39 PM
 
I wonder if the iMac and Mac mini would count as desktops in Intel's figures, given that they use mobile CPUs and chipsets.
     
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Feb 2006
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 19, 2008, 12:46 AM
 
Let's look at this from the Apple viewpoint:

The Mac Mini is a small, self contained unit that at most you can add RAM too and maybe a bigger HD.
The iMac is a (relatively) ditto.
The MacBook, MacBook Pro also fit this model.

The only expandable Mac is the Mac Pro.

Providing an "entry level" Mac Tower would require that Apple put out lists of what cards work, how to use them, and so on. And someone won't read those and blame Apple when their lo-brand PCI-X video card won't work. This leads to huge support costs, bad publicity, and NO BENEFIT to the corporation. Apple does not have the happy "blame the vendor / drivers" luxury that Microsoft has. And they also don't want to be in a position where they have to depend upon third parties to make their stuff work.

The Mac Pro, with it's small but smart user base, know already (ahem) what will work and what won't.

Totally logical. If you want a tower Mac, it's a Mac Pro.
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 19, 2008, 02:16 AM
 
That just doesn't fly, dimmer. There wouldn't be negative press if a random card didn't function properly. Apple used to sell regular desktops and people didn't complain about expansion card incompatibilities - and that was when a far smaller percentage of third party cards were compatible with the Mac than in modern times. Apple just doesn't want to compete in the normal desktop space anymore.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Dec 2000
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 19, 2008, 03:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
the market for expansion boards on a Mac is very small
That's such a circular argument. Why do you suppose the market for expansion cards on a Mac is so small? It couldn't possibly have to do with the fact that almost no Mac users can use expansion cards, and thus a company that makes them doesn't stand to make a lot of money.

Add card slots to the consumer desktop line and watch the market for Mac expansion cards grow. Add an ExpressCard slot to the MacBook and watch the market for Mac ExpressCards grow. It's not too hard to figure out.

Ticking sound coming from a .pkg package? Don't let the .bom go off! Inspect it first with Pacifist. Macworld - five mice!
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: in front of my Mac
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 19, 2008, 06:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Actually, there are many reasons.
But hardly one that withstands closer inspection.

I don't doubt Steve likes the AIO iMac and hates "generic" desktops. But we all know that Steve is all about business. If he knew he could earn a lot off of an xMac he'd do it. Therefore, the question I'm most interested in debating is why Apple thinks such a Mac couldn't make a lot of moeny. Especially considering that its parts are cheaper and it sells to a crowd entirely out of Apple's reach right now.

Let's look at the others.

That is one, the second is that the margin probably would have to be on a level with the Mac Pro rather than the iMac and it would look seriously overpriced if Apple charged such a margin,
That would only be true if they sold only as many xMacs as MPs. Considering everybody likes to point out how the xMac would kill the iMac I'd say the xMac would sell at least as many units as the iMac which is way more than the MP. So even if margins on the xMac are 30% lower than on the MP, if you sell twice as many units you are easily making more money.

Next.

the third is that they've tried it a few times at the margins they'd like to charge, and it didn't sell
Before 1999 that is. And before anybody says Cube let's just remind ourselves that the Cube was again a special design made to be compact and quiet. It was not even close to an xMac. Expensive to manufacture, only one slot, at a reduced length actually, no extra drive bays, no adequate cooling system, not easily serviceable. Seeing that Apple's last true "experiment" with such a Mac is the PM G3 Desktop offered a decade ago, I'd say we have pretty much no adequate data (i.e. not ancient) to compare with.

the fourth is that the market for expansion boards on a Mac is very small,
Circular argument. Next.

the fifth that Apple likes you to buy a new box every so often rather than an upgrade every now and then,
How many people updated their Mac minis? The mini's or iMac's boards can't be upgraded easily so nobody is doing it. The only thing you can do on a Mac mini is upgrade the CPU. But since chipsets and sockets change so quickly, this isn't really a long-term upgrade strategy either. I can't imagine Apple is holding off the xMac because they're worried about the three sales they'd lose due to upgrades on an xMac that wouldn't have been possible on an iMac or Mac mini. How upgradeable a Mac is, is pretty much up to Apple. That's just as true on the xMac as on the iMac.

the sixth that it's an imitation/step back from a company that prefers to lead,
Sure they prefer to lead. But sometimes they lead the wrong way. And in about half those cases they're smart enough to realize that they made a mistake. They correct it even if it comes at the expense of taking a "step back". Example are DVI instead of ADC, CDRW drives instead of pure DVD readers, USB on the iPod, ...

I guess you could rephrase the question thus: Why does a dog lick its balls?


So although I see a lot of points, none of them are very convincing.
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 19, 2008, 08:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
That's such a circular argument. Why do you suppose the market for expansion cards on a Mac is so small? It couldn't possibly have to do with the fact that almost no Mac users can use expansion cards, and thus a company that makes them doesn't stand to make a lot of money.
Of course it would grow - it's almost zero - but the market for expansion cards on Windows is also dropping. The old days where you needed a sound card, a network card, a "game card", a graphcis card, a controller card and whatever are gone. Few need any cards, and those that do need one specific one.

With miniaturization getting ever more effective and the desktop share of the market sliding, it makes sense to put even more stuff into the southbridge, further limiting the expansion card market. Pretty soon it's only GPUs, and even discrete GPUs are dropping as a share of the market. I think this type of internal expansion is heading for the grave on all non-specialist platforms.

An Expresscard is more likely, though: It would be shared with an already significant market, could be inserted without opening the case, and older iMacs even have a PCcard slot (for Airport, although you have to open the case to get to it). If you want to wish, wish for Expresscard slots on iMacs and MBs. The fact that Apple hasn't done that is evidence that they don't view expansion as a priority on those lines.
     
 
Thread Tools
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:26 AM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2015 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2