Pros versus Joes

[One month since my last post. That may be a record, but it's a sincere measure of the dearth of my free time.]

Apple announced a refresh of its Mac Pros recently, and the response from the professional community was, for the most part, one of weary disappointment. Brook Willard's post titled "The State of Apple's Professional Line" became the unofficial lament around which the pro community rallied.

My old G5 desktop, nearly a decade old, happens to be on its deathbed, and so I happen to be in the market for a desktop. I was waiting for the Mac Pro refresh announcement with some excitement, and it was somewhat of a letdown that so many anticipated upgrades failed to come to pass (more PCI slots was the one I really wanted). I'm a prosumer more than a pro, but my video editing needs are pro-level, as are those of my production team.

When fans lament that a band has sold out, it's often seems like some selfish reflex on the part of fans who'd prefer to feel that their tastes are distinguished by being in the minority. That seems illogical and spiteful if the band hasn't evolved its sound to be more mainstream in nature.

In this case, though, I have empathy for the pro community because their beloved enthusiast brand has shifted its attention to the mainstream. Shareholders won't mind, it's the logical financial moves in this case to address the broadest market possible, especially when even the mainstream products command such healthy margins (often the margin/sales volume disparity between the pro and consumer markets are sharper, but Apple's hardware/software design edge has allowed it to keep high margins on its hardware across the board). I'd love to see continued focus on taking products like Final Cut Pro to the next level, but I'm not hopeful.

Can a company of that size be the brand of choice for both the pro and consumer market? Will there be impacts down the road if there isn't a pro line from which technology can trickle down to more mainstream models?

The fact that Macs could be found in the offices of professionals in the video business always added a certain mystique to the brand, serving as aspirational brand markers the same way runway show outfits that never hit the actual market serve as prestige signals in the fashion world. Will that change?