Bbx2BNlIIAAiqJJ.jpg-largeThe December supply of Mac Pros?

The new Mac Pro is an awesome machine for those with several thousand dollars to spend on a computer and a need for all the power that comes with that thermal core, but managing to get one is going to be difficult for the next few months even if you have the credit card ready. Yesterday, Apple announced that the Mac Pro would go on sale today, December 19th. The store went live last night with the Mac Pro shipping the very last non-holi-day of 2013, December 30th.

As we noted earlier today, Apple’s customers in its home state of California awoke to Mac Pros being quoted to ship in February. But it gets worse…

Now we’re also hearing from customers with shipping quotes all the way in March (thanks to DetroitBorg for the image). And if you think getting one via a physical Apple Store location will be simple, know that many Apple Stores have already been giving Mac Pro quotes and processing orders for business accounts since the start of this week. It’s possible that initial store allocations will go to those customers paying $500 per year for a Joint Venture membership. Every Apple Store that we’ve checked with seems to also be taking orders solely for Personal Pickup at this point, not for walk-in purchases.

If this all sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably been reminded about the late-2012 iMac launch. Alongside the original iPad mini and fourth-generation full-sized iPad, Apple announced a redesigned iMac at its October 2012 product event. The new iMac was significantly thinner, lighter, and more powerful than its predecessor. The only problem was that 21.5-inch models would ship over a month later (in November) and the 27-inch product would ship in December.

The 2012 iMacs ended up going on sale on November 30th (the last day for Apple to meet its self-imposed deadline), and many orders for the 27-inch models ended up not shipping until well into January. In fact, iMacs saw significant shortages throughout the critical Apple Q1 holiday quarter, as Tim Cook predicted:

In terms of general shortages… on the iMac we’ll be constrained for the full quarter in a significant way… there will be a short amount of time to manufacturer and ramp those and i expect demand to be robust… we will have a significant shortage.

At the close of the quarter, reflecting on the iMac shortages, Cook said the following:

I don’t spend a lot of time looking back… If we could run it over, i would have announced the iMac after the turn of the year… we felt our customers had to wait too long for that specific product… Where the iPad mini was in shortage in the December quarter, I would not have done that differently because we were able to get the product out to many customers that wanted it. In retrospect, I wish it [iMac] was after the turn of the year so customers would not have had to wait as long as they did.

So, with that in mind, why is Apple launching another even more niche product (just one year later) to even more extreme shortages?


Let’s take a look back at Apple’s announcement process for the new Mac Pro, the lengthiest official pre-launch timeline for an Apple hardware product in recent history:

Apple announcing the availability of a future product 1.5 years before launch is absolutely unprecedented, but for a computer that is critical for certain professionals, that tease is practical. So, with all of the aforementioned announcements before the product even hit the market, why does Apple need to launch to shortages? The product is too expensive and too centered around professionals for it to have any legitimate impact on the all-important holiday quarter.

It would appear that there must have been some problems ramping up production in Texas. Why else would Tim Cook expose himself to the type of situation he just 1 year earlier said he wished he could avoid? The only rationale is that Mac Pro production was delayed beyond Apple’s wildest estimates.

When faced with the prospect of missing the deadline on the very important first U.S.-assembled Apple product in a decade versus making customers wait in very long queues, it would appear he opted for making the deadline.

What if Apple pushed back the ordering process of the machines until late-January or February of 2014? I do not believe that would have had a significant impact on the market because many customers who woke up at a normal time in much of the United States today won’t be able to receive a new Mac Pro until February or March anyway.

Perhaps Tim Cook just wanted to stick to his more than a year-old “later in 2013″ timeline, but is Apple really meeting that deadline with Mac Pros shipping in March after being ordered during the first few hours of the initial launch? Perhaps Apple could have taken a lesson from the prior year and launched when it had ample supply of the product.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the matter. Update: Apple gave the comment to Forbes:

“Demand for the all new Mac Pro is great and it will take time before supply catches up with demand,” an Apple spokesman said today.

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42 Responses to “Trouble in Austin: Apple repeats last year’s iMac holiday shortage with the Mac Pro”

  1. rogifan says:

    Wow did 9to5Mac spend all morning writing this up? Make sure you get it over to Business Insider (so they can create their sky is falling Apple is doomed click bait headline) right away.

    • When you have a company that takes in 170 billion dollars of revenue in each year, and somehow still manages to have these cluster fuck kind of product launch and production problems, people need to know about it.

      • rogifan says:

        What cluster fuck? The friggin machine was just launched today. For all we know Apple is being extremely conservative with shipping dates and people will get their machines sooner. This article is purely for the purposes of page views and/or to get the clowns at BI to put up a click bait article referencing this.

      • Tallest Skil says:

        Prove they messed anything up. Prove anything is going wrong. Prove any of the words you feel like spewing.

        Or just shut up about things you don’t even comprehend.

      • This so called cluster fuck as your calling it I can follow-up with this. I ordered a custom configured model with 6 cores, 512 SSD, 32GB Ram, Upgraded video cards on 12/19 that afternoon. The MacPro has shipped from Apple and is expected to arrive on Monday. When they originally quoted the date on the order it was February. I believe Apple is just being very conservative here.

  2. joe says:

    I don’t see how the Pro machine is comparable to the iMac especially in terms of losing out on holiday sales.

    • The Mac Pro is mostly going to be sold to businesses who need the computer the ship in 2013 so that it can be charged to the company and they can take the deduction. You can place an order, but if the sale doesn’t take place until 2014 a lot of companies will wait. Therefore, while it’s not the holidays that are important per se, it does need to be before the end of the year for companies to really justify the cost.

      • joe says:

        Sure, that’s a valid reason to have wanted to purchase one before the end of the year, but that is still a far cry from a comparison to the iMac Christmas disaster.

    • He’s talking about the production delays — the iMac last year had significant production delays after the launch was announced, and now the “new” mac pro is having the same problem. This is a company that is one of the wealthiest brands in the world. They should not have these kinds of problems.

      • joe says:

        The iMac is a pro/consumer system that makes a good Christmas present. The new Mac Pro is not in this same group and should not be compared. This is a new system for Pros and not a Christmas present. It was never promised as such unlike the iMac.

      • If it’s for pros how come it has no PCIe slots? :D

  3. As a past Powermac owner and Mac Pro owner (actually, I still have a quad core PowerMac), and an enthusiastic user of Thunderbolt peripherals with new MacBook Pro’s, I’ve been following the new Mac Pro closely. I just happened to wake up about 1 AM (PST) briefly, and thought, what the heck, let’s see if they’re up in the store now- which they were, with Dec 30 shipping time, so I ordered one, and went back to sleep. I’m rather surprised to see how much further delivery times have stretched out for BTO versions (1TB Flash is obviously a bottleneck, I think)- but the standard configurations are still showing February. STILL, that’s quite an additional delay. OR, there’s more demand than Apple anticipated.

    For me, as I’ll locate my main user account folder on an external TB RAID array, 256GB internal storage for Apps, Library, and system software and an Admin account is no problem.

    • drtyrell969 says:

      I suspect they’re running WAY behind, else they would have released this computer much closer to Thanks Giving. So the internal strategy is exactly what you’re seeing. Announce, and then OOPS! We don’t have any. Thanks for waiting!

    • I was hoping to get one for christmas…heading on down to the local store tomorrow…hope they have some decent configs in stock. I don’t need a 1TB ssd (lol), but I do need RAM.

  4. porschinator says:

    Trouble?!? Hmmmm…whats worse, not able to keep up with demand or you cant sell and inventories are piling up? Yeah….

  5. drtyrell969 says:

    I hope they get slammed with orders. Would love to see the Mac Pros blow away the competition and create experiences that can only be had on this machine. The last thing we need to be doing is developing on an iPad because of this “post-pc” PR campaign.

  6. Dan Grubbs says:

    The new Mac Pro looks like it doubles as a shiny looking trash can…

  7. toddtzm says:

    Hmmm….. A Mac news reporting site can’t figure this out??? Simple…The blame is on Intel delivering the parts. End of story….Wouldn’t be surprised if one day in the future Intel will be cut out and Apple will make them all in house….

  8. Mike Drips says:

    I wouldn’t call it a “shortage”. They will sell Mac Pros, but there’s hardly a line at your local Apple Store to snap one up with a starting price of $3000.

  9. rlowhit says:

    This is a problem HP and Dell could only wish they had this holiday season.

    • dman238 says:

      Heh… this is EXACTLY what I was thinking.

    • HP and Dell sell lots of workstations, and own a huge portion of the high end workstation market — HP with the Z series and Dell with the T series. They do not have production problems…they have more market share than Apple does in the workstation segment, but I suspect (obviously) that’s because the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in so long…HP and Dell actually update their workstation / enterprise products on a schedule, they don’t just disappear for years and let everyone wonder if they’re being killed off, etc.

      • joe says:

        The new Mac Pro is not a generic rack mount server. No comparison.

      • Who mentioned servers!? I mentioned WORKSTATIONS like the HP Z820 and the Dell T series — both NOT servers, both *workstations*

      • joe says:

        Apologies, when I saw the enterprise reference I glossed over “workstation.” However, all caps wasn’t necessary. The new Mac Pro is still no comparison to the existing lines of products by other companies and definitely not comparable to the iMac Christmas disaster we are discussing.

  10. Daniel Bliss says:

    And the Simplehuman assembly line cranks up with their new graphite line . . . comes with a free ten pack of size A.

  11. Want to bet that most of these February ship dates will actually ship in January. Intel is ramping up their processor production line. By the end of February ship dates will be 3-5 days. The production line will be set up to handle the steady state demand, not the initial demand. It would have been nice had they had more production pre launch, but by March this will be a non story, just as the 5s shortage at launch is now a non issue.

  12. Apple needs to do a better job when it comes to product launches: period. Know what the demand is, allow pre-ordering and store pickups to make it easier on staff and users, and have enough knowledge of what the demand is whilst directiong production at factories. I don’t get it — Samsung, Motorola, Nokia — etc.. all have high demand products…they don’t seem to run into these kinds of problems. Or maybe I just don’t pay attention enough to those companies to see it? I don’t know. All I know is, Apple has to do a better job. Our “latest” mac pro at my company is from 2010 FFS. And they’re not even allowed to sell the “old” mac pros in Europe any more due to the fan regulations. All in all, a pretty hairy situation.

  13. Here’s something else to think about — The mac mini has not had an upgrade in over a year. Is the new mac pro the end of the mac mini?

  14. are all mac pros (being sold world wide) being built in the states? or only those being sold in the states, being built in the states?

    at least some of us can use the delay to somehow find extra change to afford it.

  15. They’re doing it to hold the market. many pros have left the Mac in 2013 simply because the Pro was so out of date. The announcement tease and then the decision to ship before manufacturing was ready to rampwas designed as a message to the Pro users to stay the course and not defect.

    • Sorry, but too many people have already switched over to Z820s. HP actually updates their machines when Intel comes out with new chipsets, unlike another fruit based company I know of. Also with the whole FCPX fiasco, that helped even more to push people away from FCP, towards Premiere, and if you want to run Premiere and edit in 4K or 5K, you best be buying an HP Z820…which has never had any launch delays, and has plenty of custom configuration options, and even supports Linux.