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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Should Apple Do About Pro Users?

With Apple's business moving more and more towards the consumer segment, what should Apple do to keep supporting their professional users that have supported them through thick and thin?  Clearly, recent moves by Apple have upset their professional user base, take for example the recent Final Cut X debacle.  Lion's new features are clearly aimed at the consumer user as well.  And add to this the current rumors of the possible demise of the MacPro and the possible "airification" of the MacBook Pro line.  Apple is risking alienating some of its most loyal and core users.  So what should Apple do to continue to support this smaller segment of the user base without slowing down the momentum of it new growing consumer business?

I think Apple should spin-off the professional business from the main company.  Basically, make a new company that focuses on the needs of the professional market, that is not hampered by the traditional closed and secretive consumer products company.  This new company would be the first (and maybe only) licensee of OS X and would build desktop and notebooks for high end users at high end prices, kind of like Dell's Alienware division.  Since this new company would still be controlled by Apple, there would be no risk of them building machines that would hurt the sales of iMacs or MacBook Airs, but would still give the high end professional user the option to stick OS X instead of forcing them to Windows or Linux because there isn't any Apple supported hardware that does what they need.  In fact, at some point, maybe OS X would be forked into a consumer and professional version or transferred over to the new company all together as it becomes less important to Apple.

This new company could also choose to re-enter the enterprise market and would be more friendly to enterprise IT departments and actually have long term road maps and maintain support for legacy hardware and software.  They could bring back products like the XServe if there is a demand for it.  They could make enterprise software products for OS X and iOS.  As a separate company, they would be responsible for their own R&D and product designs as well as their own profits and losses.

I think separating the two markets allows Apple to focus its energy on its new consumer focused products while allowing the professional market to still be served without resorting to a full blown OS X licensing strategy right now.  Maybe in the future Apple will license or even open source OS X, but this would allow them to move towards that in a slower, controlled manner, while continuing to support pro user that has always supported them.