03:29 - Source: CNN
Can Apple still innovate?

Story highlights

Apple previewed its new Mac Pro desktop computer on Monday

The new design is striking but offers fewer options for expansion

For creatives to switch to the machine, third-party companies must embrace Thunderbolt

The Mac Pro is one of Apple's priciest products, starting at $2,499 for the most basic setup

CNN —  

The big hardware unveil at Monday’s Apple press event was the new Mac Pro, a sleek cylindrical desktop computer and the most powerful machine Apple has ever built. It was the announcement that prompted Apple executive Phil Schiller to exclaim, “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.”

It also costs thousands of dollars and is way more machine than most people will ever need.

The Mac Pro is aimed at a narrow market of professionals such as photographers, videographers, designers and animators. Since the line was first announced in 2006, the Pro has received relatively few upgrades compared to the rest of Apple’s product line. The company has been busy focusing on its hit consumer and mobile devices, leaving many professionals wondering if they were being left behind.

For people using the desktop computers in their businesses, the external look of a Mac is often secondary. So periodic internal improvements to the old tower design were enough to keep them satiated. Others had already abandoned the Pro line as the iMac and MacBook Pro became powerful enough to meet their photo- and video-production needs.

The sleek, rounded new Pro is a design marvel compared to its clunky predecessor.
The sleek, rounded new Pro is a design marvel compared to its clunky predecessor.

For the remaining power users, reaction to the new Mac Pro is mixed. And the future of the computer, which is 2.5 times faster than the current model, is still unclear.

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First things first: The new Pro is a design marvel compared to its clunky predecessor – a sleek, black cylinder that bears little resemblance to computers as we’ve traditionally imagined them.

It’s smaller and cannot be expanded and customized as much as the previous system. Apple has built a machine so unique that people who want to add to it will end up building out, adding components like hard drives and PCI cards externally.

To make that expansion possible, the industry must first embrace the Thunderbolt input-output standard.

For example, it’s no longer possible to pop in standard video cards. Mac Pro users will have to either get cards that fit the custom shape of the new computer or plug them into the computer using a Thunderbolt 2 connection.