Is Apple abandoning the professional creative marketplace?

The idea that Apple might seek to abandon the professional market segment altogether having decided to focus on the consumer marketplace has gained ground with the focus of their recent product updates becoming clearer. In fact this trend has been obvious for some time with a growing range of pro/business equipment being dropped over the last decade.
I have more than a passing interest in this segment of the IT marketplace due to the interface of my musical interests with education and church scenarios over many years. Due to the previous efforts made by Apple to support professional music production, Apple hardware is very prevalent in many educational settings particularly classroom music suites, and also in church settings where these days contemporary worship environments are making major use of their products.
The trend is obvious however that Apple has been losing interest in the professional end of the marketplace for some considerable time. In one sense this is welcome as it has been blindingly obvious for some time that the snobbery and elitism that seems to be inherent in the choice of Apple hardware by default (and the willingness to fork out large sums of money for the nice bells and whistles unquestioningly) has, unfortunately, carried over to Christian circles where the self serving aspects of Apple’s business model are something we should be more willing to challenge, and it is most regrettable that I have had people in church circles attempt to paint Apple gear as inherently superior and better than anything else out there.

The main interest Apple has these days is making a lot of money and the trends in hardware have seen Apple gear not only become more expensive over time, but sacrifice serviceability as well. Witness that it is now virtually impossible to make any user upgrades to the Macbook laptops, while the Mac Pro is frozen in time to 2013 in hardware spec and lacks internal expansion capabilities; and that the newer versions of the Imac are basically impossible for anyone other than the repair centre to open up for service as they are similar to a tablet in design and manufacture. All of this serviceability sacrificed in the name of superior visual elegance in the form of thinner, lighter product means they are very expensive to repair and once out of warranty may in fact be considered almost throwaway due to the high costs of servicing.
Leaving that aside it is now time to focus on viable alternatives. These are of course Windows and Linux. By and large it appears the mainstream commercial focus has shifted to Windows, but MS’s attempts since Windows 10 to maximise revenue by virtually taking over the control of the computer from the end user (witness the default update settings which are to MS’s convenience rather than user’s, which cannot be turned off in the Home editions and which in the Pro and higher editions are deliberately hidden from the Start Menu user interface) have alienated many expert users such as myself, which is why almost all my computers now run Xubuntu. However there is a growing base of commercial creative software being produced and in schools the Windows alternative to the likes of GarageBand and even Logic has been achieved with packages like Mixcraft and a lot more besides. Adobe shifted its focus to Windows some years ago and has a very good range of software now available for the platform, and a lot of worship presentation packages are well supported on both platforms.
Linux is a bit of a dark horse when it comes to the pro-creative market segment but is steadily gaining ground – my views must be tempered with the reality that I have not actually been involved in production activities at any level except for worship multimedia presentation. Hence I am reliant on the knowledge that the operating system’s customisability to an extent virtually impossible with Windows or macOS giving the ability to ensure high stability and reliability is what attracts growing support from segments of the music community and in fact there are two particular distros that are now produced, AVLinux and KXStudio, that are aimed squarely at the needs of musical creatives. It is a verifiable fact that Linux is now extensively used in motion picture production studios as the OS of choice for the big commercial hardware vendors like IBM and HP who produce the hardware of choice for movie production. This started with graphics rendering and Linux is steadily making inroads into other areas like video editing. One big advantage for Linux is its overall compatibility with Unix which was the previous market leader for the high end hardware needed at this level of production. meaning a lot of the software used has been readily ported over.

The biggest advantage Linux has is its ability to run on virtually the same hardware as PCs, something Apple has missed with their reversion to hardware lockdown since the clone Macs were discontinued in the mid 1990s. Since there is not that much difference between macOS and Windows it will be relatively easy for Apple to exit the desktop marketplace and switch its entire focus to laptops and handheld devices. It only remains therefore for its professional segment fans to find something else that will meet their requirements for the future. I think that future is very likely to be in Linux/x86.