- Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro introduced an innovative “trash can” design over the classic cheese-grater design.
- This design restricted pro users from expanding and upgrading the computer over time.
- Apple didn’t add any upgrades to the “trash can” since its release and users felt abandoned.
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Narrator: This is the $2,000 Power Mac G5 from 2003, Apple’s pro PC with a modular, cheese-grater design.
And this is Phil Schiller, 10 years later. He’s about to reveal a revolutionary design of Apple’s new $3,000 Mac Pro that looks a lot like a trash can.
Phil Schiller: Can’t innovate anymore, my a–.
Narrator: Sure, going from a cheese grater to a trash can might seem “innovative” to some, but Apple didn’t need to innovate the look of its Mac Pro. It needed to make a good PC.
The 2013 Mac Pro was a classic case of form over function.
Kyle Dowley: The trash can sucks namely because it’s got very little expandability. You realize this only has four RAM slots, the GPUs are very constrained, and you couldn’t add in anything. Like, it was all just “set it and forget it.” And I think for a professional consumer that just caused a lot of problems.
Narrator: Animators, editors, and developers who needed better performance didn’t need just high-speed Thunderbolt and external hard drives. They needed slots to upgrade graphics cards and add way more RAM, which were all things the trash can lacked.
Dowley: Usually, as a computer gets a little bit older, Apple will make small tweaks, add in USB-C or upgrade the CPU or the GPU, and it just seemed like Apple never cared to update it after it was released.
Narrator: Yep. If you bought the trash-can Mac Pro as recently as early 2019, you were pretty much buying a computer with the exact same specs as the 2013 model. That’s six years without an upgrade. Not only did Apple not upgrade the trash can over the years, it also didn’t think about the future thermal limitations in its design.
Schiller: The processor, graphics, memory storage are all built around a new, unified thermal core.
Dowley: The thermal design was really cool, but it just didn’t have a lot of flexibility for adding more heat. Heat needed to be evenly distributed around the whole sides of the computer for the thermal design to work. It meant that you could only have one CPU and two GPUs. And it didn’t really take into account modern advancements where you had just one really big GPU that generated a ton of heat.
Narrator: In 2017, company officials admitted in a meeting with a select number of journalists that they made a mistake in their design. As Daring Fireball reported, Schiller told the group, “The current Mac Pro, as we’ve said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it. And for that, we’re sorry to disappoint customers who wanted that.” Six years after the release of the trash can, Apple finally debuted its new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019.
Tim Cook: This is the new Mac Pro, and it’s incredible!
Narrator: After bragging about innovating so hard on the trash can, the new Mac Pro is a return of the good ol’ cheese-grater design. It’s easily upgradeable and expandable, and it’s got a ton of power, checks off almost every box power users want in a high-end machine, and has a starting price of $6,000.
John Ternus: It is the most configurable, most expandable, and by far the most powerful Mac we’ve ever made.
Narrator: Steve Jobs always liked to quote Wayne Gretzky, saying he skates to where the puck is going to be, not where it is. But the trash can wasn’t Apple skating to where the puck was going. The company just put it somewhere on the ice and hoped users would come to it. Pro users, many who had supported Apple in its most difficult times, felt abandoned and ignored by the company’s focus on design over function. Hopefully, Apple will take the failure of the trash can as a lesson that it still needs to acknowledge users’ wants and needs. Now, if only it could work on the new model’s pricing.
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