Stephen Green approves of Apple’s new stratospherically-priced Pro computing equipment (even if he can’t afford that $999 stand).
At Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) earlier this week, the company announced its forthcoming modular Mac Pro, and its impressive accessory, the Pro Display XDR reference-class monitor. I watched the big keynote on Monday, and if the crowd winced when the Mac Pro’s starting price of $5,999 was revealed, you couldn’t tell. The auditorium full of developers maybe shifted in their seats a bit when they were told that the Pro Display would cost $4,999, but in the end they understood that a monitor with its specs is a game-changer for pros, because it goes toe-to-toe with the $40,000 (that’s right: forty-thousand dollars) displays Hollywood studios rely on.
But there were unhappy gasps when they heard that the XDR’s optional stand — and it is admittedly an impressive bit of engineering — would retail for $999. Sitting here at home, even I gasped a bit. The whole thing was just so much that it got Engadget’s Devindra Hardawar to opine that a “$999 monitor stand is everything wrong with Apple today.”
Au contraire, a $999 monitor stand is everything right with Apple today. And no, I’m not being facetious, or day-drinking any more than I usually might.
With its industrial-ugly purity of form, its over-engineered ergonomic perfection, (jeez, I’m sounding like a Jony Ive promotional clip) and its indefensible price tag, this stand represents Apple’s re-commitment to the actual professional user community which the company has all-but-ignored in recent years. And it doesn’t just sit there and hold your monitor for you. The pro stand attaches to the XDR monitor without screws, but with the simple click of some magnets. From there, the stand makes the giant screen infinitely adjustable (and rotatable) with the gentle push of one finger, yet won’t budge when you don’t want it too. It’s a real piece of work.
Here’s the thing. The new Mac Pro and XDR monitor aren’t for you. They aren’t for me. They likely aren’t for anyone you know, and maybe not for anyone the people you know, know. They’re for video/audio/design professionals for whom a $50,000 (or more) workstation setup is a just a typical cost of operations. …
The prosumer in me is, in a way, just as disappointed as those folks at the WWDC who’d been hoping to buy tomorrow’s Mac Pro at yesterday’s prices. What we’ll settle for is getting prosumer performance at what used to be consumer prices.
As for that optional $999 stand, those who actually need it won’t ask the price — and can afford not to. Besides, it’s nice to see Apple finally put the Pro back in Mac Pro, even if there will never be another one on my desktop.