On Friday, MacRumors reported that Apple’s powerhouse iMac Pro was no longer available with custom configurations. Only the base model remained, and even that had a “while supplies last” label slapped on it. It smelled like Apple was discontinuing its most muscular iMac, and sure enough, on Saturday Apple confirmed it.
To be sure, the iMac Pro – with its 27-inch 5K Retina display, base 32 gigabytes of error-correcting memory, 1-terabyte SSD and up to 18-core Intel Xeon 3.0-GHz processor – was a beast. It even looked menacing, done up in Apple’s Space Grey finish. It was the Darth Vader of Macs.
Its price was also formidable, starting at $4,999.
But as impressive as it was, at the time it was introduced the iMac Pro was something of a placeholder in the Mac lineup. When it was launched in December 2017, it had been more than four years since the company had unveiled the cylindrical Mac Pro, which was quickly nicknamed the “trashcan Mac”. That workstation-level desktop was showing its age.
On top of that in April of 2017, Apple did a very un-Apple thing. During a product launch event, then-Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller pre-announced a new Mac Pro, conceding that it was not going to be launched anytime soon. As professional and creative users of Apple’s highest-end Macs grew restless, Schiller’s peek under the tent was a “please be patient with us” move.
And that’s one reason why Apple added the iMac Pro to its lineup. A new Mac Pro would not become available until December 2019 – a full six years after the trashcan Mac. The iMac Pro gave designers, developers, animators and others who needed maximum computer power a new Mac to buy. And indeed, it was an impressive product.
But it wasn’t everything hardcore pro users needed. That would not come until the new Mac Pros came rolling off their U.S. assembly line in Austin. And once that happened, the iMac Pro probably was not long for this world. After all, it never got any significant updates in its lifespan, and it’s hard to tell just how well it sold. It was a stopgap.
And its fate was sealed with the development and subsequent launch of Macs built around Apple’s own processors. At some point, maybe very soon, we’ll get iMacs that use an update to the M1 Apple Silicon chips used in the three models the company unveiled last year. Those CPUs run rings around their equivalent Intel chips, and those capabilities are likely to be even more impressive in upcoming iMacs. Plus, they may come in sweet, sweet colors!
I always loved the look of the iMac Pro, and when I broke down and bought my own 27” iMac last year, I really wish it had been available in Space Gray, but $5000-plus wasn’t in my budget. Maybe these incoming iMacs will give us that foreboding look and jaw-dropping power, without the dismaying price tag.
Sign up for my Release Notes newsletter, bringing you consumer tech insights, help and practical tips. It drops each Tuesday morning.