Steve Jobs considered taking the 'pro' out of Apple's products to make everyone more powerful

Steve Jobs once considered canceling Apple's "pro" products, the niche hardware and software aimed at higher-end power users, in an attempt to make Macs more productive for everybody. This according to former Apple advertising guru Ken Segall, who wrote on his Observatory:

This was back in the days when iMac had established itself as a global bestseller. During one of the agency's regular meetings with Steve, he shared that he was considering killing the pro products.

His rationale was as you might expect: consumer products have an unlimited upside, while pro products are aimed at a niche market that eats up major resources.

Certainly this has been something often postulated based on observation of Steve Jobs' and Apple's actions. The iPad, for example, is the current ultimate expression of the same concept that drove the Apple II and the Mac - to make computing more accessible to more people. Same with Final Cut Pro X, which puts high-level video editing within the reach of people - like me - who'd otherwise never be able to accomplish it with traditional tools.

That the Mac Pro still exists - and is getting an aspirational reboot - is a different thing. That the 17-inch Mac Book Pro and Xserve are gone, is exactly this thing.

I wrote a lot about this in my power vs, empowered piece back in February, so I won't repeat it here, but it's great to see a first-hand source confirm what many of us have speculated about for a long time.

Give it a read.

Source: Observatory

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Steve Jobs considered taking the 'pro' out of Apple's products to make everyone more powerful


The "aspirational" Mac Pro definitely fits this category. Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and the new Mac Pro all took out Pro level features, hamstringing people at the truly high end in favor of making things easier on the consumer/prosumer/low-end pro level. Apple has effectively taken the "pro" out of their lineup by this shift in focus, although they continue to use the word. Jobs apparently just wanted to be more honest about this focus.

And that is Apple's choice to make. The example Rene famously uses in podcasts is that he was able to cut a 3-camera shoot, something he could not conceive of doing beforehand. That is empowering to him, no question about it. But at the same time Apple empowered Rene they took The Mac Pro offers similar concerns - no doubt it will be a beast of a machine, but the lack of internal expansion and a physical design that defies any sort of rack enclosure will be very real pain points to pros who have been working with Macs for years. Simply put, it gives more people professional capabilities, but benefits for the traditional pros are more incidental than any particular focus of Apple.

Again, that is Apple's prerogative, but it is particularly irksome how people wave the "for the rest of us" flag to dismiss any problems a particular group (in this case, video pros) have, if not outright bring to a halt any such discussion. In years past, at least the pros with these problems could hear the follow up "...for you there is the Mac Pro." For some pros, when the new Mac Pro is out, there will be nothing for them, and, especially since these people have been Apple's staunchest defenders during their worst times, I find that a bit sad.

I had an Apple ][+ as my first computer, and although I love my iPad too, it does not feel at all like it has the same concept driving it. The old Apples came with BASIC, and were totally open. Heck, they even came with circuit diagrams. They practically begged for you to tinker with them, program them, and learn how they worked. Now Apple forbids apps that include any kind of code interpreter, so an app implementing BASIC or something similar isn't allowed. And if you want to climb the learning curve and use Objective C to write an app to tinker with on your own iPad, you need to shell out $99 for an iOS developer membership. I wish I had an Apple device that was as friendly and open to tinkering/programming that my son could play with now. I've got a couple kid-oriented apps with programming elements in them (Kodable and Hopscotch), but it's not the same.

aka. Steve Jobs considered raising the price of Macs to the stratosphere. Luckily he was convinced otherwise.

I'm glad they didn't kill the line. I need a laptop to stay mobile but Airs just aren't enough. Screen size is a definite issue too. My 15" MacBook Pro is ok but I really wish the 17" would make a comeback. Call it old age and crappy eyesight I guess.

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