A Long-Overdue Apple Product Launch

It's been a long time coming, but it seems that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) is about to update one of its aging products that's in dire need of some fresh blood. The Mac Pro is Apple's priciest desktop, starting at $2,499 for an entry-level model. Maxing out the specs with 12 processing cores and all the other bells and whistles can easily bring that figure over $12,000 -- the price of a new car.

Source: Apple.

The professional-grade desktop has gone for an extended period of time without meaningful upgrades, internal or external. That led fellow Fool Patrick Martin to wonder if Apple was abandoning its creative professional user base. That was in 2011. Shortly after Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference last summer, one such professional user emailed CEO Tim Cook because he was tired of waiting.

Taking up his predecessor's habit of occasionally responding directly to customer emails, Cook did just that and went as far as to confirm that Apple is "working on something really great for later next year," hinting at a redesigned product. Well, next year is now and these pros may not have to wait much longer.

Apple is discontinuing sales of the Mac Pro in Europe effective at the beginning of next month due to changes in regulatory standards relating to electronic safety requirements. However, a third-party French reseller has advised customers that Apple has informed it that new models are due out in spring 2013.

Desktop Mac sales are no longer explicitly disclosed under Apple's new reporting format. Cook did say, though, that laptop units during the fiscal first quarter were "in line" with IDC's estimates of the broader PC market, which is to say they were roughly down 6%. We also know that iMac units plunged by about 700,000 year over year since the new models were incredibly constrained during the quarter.

Apple sold a total of 4.06 million Macs during the quarter. A year prior, it sold 3.7 million laptops, which implies laptop units last quarter of around 3.5 million. That means the company only sold a little over 500,000 desktops, with a smaller proportion of iMacs due to the shortages. The lower-cost Mac Mini probably fared well as a consumer-oriented machine, so Mac Pro sales really aren't too meaningful financially.

Still, Apple does have a strong position in creative professional markets, and a redesigned Mac Pro is long overdue.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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