Ted Landau’s latest column explores life for the Mac after Lion, but he also includes this passage regarding the Mac Pro:

I still believe the demise of the Mac Pro is coming. Within two years at most, probably sooner. Almost two years ago, I wrote a column titled “Mac Pro: R.I.P.” — where I suggested that the Pro’s days might well be numbered. I was roundly castigated by readers for my prediction. Times have changed. With the arrival of the iPad, the expanding popularity of the MacBook Air, the demise of Xserve, and the almost complete absence of the Mac Pro from any of Apple’s current marketing — you have to wonder. Even Apple’s OS X Lion Server web page predominantly shows the software running on MacBooks and iMacs — not a Mac Pro. Want to buy a Mac with Lion Server pre-installed? You’re directed to the Mac mini rather than the Pro. Suddenly, the demise of the Pro doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

I’m not sure I agree on this one.  If I had to list the most important distinctions for this model it would be PCI slots, higher number of processing cores, and swappable internal drives.  PCI slots are still very necessary for video capture cards, fibre channel, and video cards that exceed the capabilities of what comes standard in the box.  All of these things fit squarely into the needs of the high end professional (despite my column last week, I still believe Apple cares about the professional).  In addition, no other Mac available today will give you the number of cores available in the Pro- the new iMacs are certainly powerhouse systems, but for absolute best performance you still need this tower.  The importance of the internal drive bays is open for debate.

I see the strong possibility of a re-imagined Mac Pro with a new form factor (possibly rack-mountable) and a lower price tag.  Since it’s the oldest model in the current lineup I suspect we’ll have an answer before the year is out.

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