I visited the Apple campus in Cupertino to figure out where the hell the new Mac Pro was. I joined a round-table discussion with Apple SVPs and a handful of reporters to get the skinny on what was taking so long.
The answer, it turns out, was that Apple had decided to start completely over with the Mac Pro, introduce completely new pro products like the iMac Pro and refresh the entire MacBook Pro lineup. The reasoning given at the time on the Mac Pro was basically that Apple had painted itself into an architecture corner by being aggressively original on the design of the bullet/turbine/trash-can shaped casing and internal components of the current Mac Pro. There was nothing to be done but start over.
The secondary objective to that visit was to reassure pro customers who had not had news of updates in some time that Apple was listening, was working to deliver products for them and generally still cared.
Now, it’s a year later and Apple has created a team inside the building that houses its pro products group. It’s called the Pro Workflow Team, and they haven’t talked about it publicly before today. The group is under John Ternus and works closely with the engineering organization. The bays that I’m taken to later to chat about Final Cut Pro, for instance, are a few doors away from the engineers tasked with making it run great on Apple hardware.
To do that, Ternus says, they want their architects sitting with real customers to understand their actual flow and to see what they’re doing in real time. The challenge with that, unfortunately, is that though customers are typically very responsive when Apple comes calling, it’s not always easy to get what they want because they may be using proprietary content. John Powell, for instance, is a long-time Logic user and he’s doing the new Star Wars Han Solo standalone flick. As you can imagine, taking those unreleased and highly secret compositions to Apple to play with on their machines can be a sticking point.
So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full-time, as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple Park toting kit for an on-premise outdoor shoot). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users