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Overpricing or Segregation?

What is enough in a PC? That is the question many have asked in the past. Some state that for gaming you need the max hardware possible; for those using a word processor, a spreadsheet, email and browse the internet, the minimum often suffices.

I have been in the middle of that equation for a long time; I was for well over a decade in the high end of it, as gaming was my life. Yet, the realisation became more and more that high end gaming is a game for those with high paying jobs was a reality we all had to face. Now we see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X Video Card at $1950, whilst we can do 4K gaming and that one card is a 4K 65″ TV with either the Xbox X or the PS4 pro. Now consider that this is merely the graphics card and that the high end PC requires an additional $2K that is where the PC with 4K gaming requires 4 thousand dollars. It is a little stretch, because you can get there with a little less, but then also the less requires the hardware to be replaced quicker. So I moved to console gaming and I never regretted it. We all agree that I have lost out, but I can live with that. I can truly enjoy gaming without the price. So in this situation, can someone explain to me how the new iMac Pro will cost you in its maximum setting $20,743? Is there any justification to need such an overpowered device? I reckon that those into professional video editing might need it, but when we consider those 43 people in Australia (on that high level) who else does it benefit?

In comparison, a maximised Mac Pro costs you $11,617, so it is almost 50% cheaper. Now the comparison is not fair because the iMac Pro has an optional 4TB SSD drive, and that is not a cheap item, but the issue is that the overpowering of hardware might seem cool and nice, but let’s be fair, when we compare this through MS Word, we see the issue. The bulk of all people will never use more than 20% of that text editor, which is a reality we face yet at $200 we do not care, take the price a hundred fold, with $20,000 in the balance it adds up and even as MS Word has one version the computers do have options, and a lesser option is available, in this, that new iMac Pro is in minimum configuration $7K and at twice the price of a 4K gaming machine, with no real option for gaming, is that not a system that is over the top?

Now, some might think it is, some will state it is not and it is really in the eyes of the beholder. Yet in this day and age, when we have been thrusted into a stage where mobiles and most computer environments are set to a 2-4 year stage at best, how should we see the iMac pro? In addition, where the base model of the pro is 100% more expensive than the upgraded iMac 27″, is there a level of disjointed presentation?

Well, some do not think in that way and they are right to see it as such. One source (ZDNet) gives us: “The iMac Pro is aimed at professionals working with video (a lot of video), those into VR, 3D modeling, simulations, animation, audio engineers and such“, a view I wholeheartedly agree with, yet that view and that image has not been given when we see the marketing, the Apple site and even the apple stores. Now, first off, the apple stores have not been misleading, most have kept to some strict version of ‘party line’ and that is not a wrong stance. Also the view that ZDNet gives us at the end is spot on. With “It’s Mac for the 1 percent of Mac users, not the 99 percent. For the 99 percent, yes, the iMac Pro is overpriced and just throwing away money, but for the 1 percent who need the sort of power that a system like that can generate, it’s very reasonably priced” and that is where we see the issue, Mac is now segregating the markets trying to get the elite back into the Mac fold. Their timing is impeccable. Microsoft made a mess of things and with the gaming industry in the chaotic view of hardware the PC industry has become a mess. It moved towards the gamers who now represent $100 billion plus already we see that others went on the games routine whilst to some extent ignoring the high end graphical industry. It is something that I have heard a few times and to be honest, I ignored it. I grew there whilst being completely aware of all the hardware, which was 15-25 years ago. The graphical hardware market grew close to 1000%, so when I needed to dig into the PC hardware for another reason, I was amazed just how much there was and how affordable some stuff was, but in the highest gaming tier, the one tier where the gamer and high end video editing need overlaps, we see a lag, because selling to 99 gamers and one video editor means that most will not give a toss about the one video editor. Most will know what they need, but that market is not well managed. Issues like video drivers and Photoshop CC 2017 against Windows 10 are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of issues that seems to plague these users. Important is that this is not just some Adobe issue; it seems that the issues are still in a stage of flux. With “Microsoft warned that the April 2017 security update package has a known issue that could affect users’ computers and which the company is seeking to fix” a few months ago, we are starting to see more and more that Windows forgot that its core was not merely the gamer, it was an elite user group that it had slowly snagged away from Apple and now Apple is striking back in the best way possible, by giving them that niche again, by pushing these people with money away, they might soon see that the cutting edge Azure targets for high end graphic applications become a pool of enjoyment for the core Microsoft Office users. A market that they are targeting just as Apple gets its ducks in a row and snatches that population away from them.

That is indeed a clever move, because that was the market that made Apple great in the first place. So as we read on how Azure is aiming for the ArcGIS Pro population, we see that Apple has them outgunned and outclassed and not by a small amount either. Here the iMac Pro could be the difference between real time prototyping and anticipated results awaiting aggregation. That would instantly make the difference between a shoddy $5K-$8K gaming system used for data and the iMac Pro at $20K that can crunch data like a famished piranha, you can wait and watch those results become reality before you finish your first coffee.

In addition, as soon as Apple makes the second step we will see them getting a decent chunk out of the Business Intelligence, forecasting and even the Enterprise sized dash boarding market, because with 18 cores, you can do it all at the same time. This is not the first, not the second and not even the third case where Microsoft dropped the ball. They went wide, and forgot about the core business needs (or so you would think). Yet, the question remains how many can or are willing to pay the $20K question, even as we know that there are options in the $8K and $13K setting in that same device, because there is room for change between 8 and 18 cores. It seems that for a lot the system is overpriced, we can all agree on that, but for those who are in the segregated markets, it is not about a new player, it is more that the windows driven PC market, they just lost a massively sized niche, it is the price we pay for catering to the largest denominator, the question then becomes: ‘Can Microsoft and will it hit back?

Time will tell, what is the case is that the waiting is over and 2018 could potentially see a massive shift of high end users towards Apple, a change we have not seen for the longest of times, I wish them well, because in the end many average users will benefit from such a shift as well, because in confusion there is profit and Microsoft is optionally becoming one of the larger confused places in 2018.

So why should I care?

Apple started something that will soon be copied by A-brands like ASUS. It will remain a PC, but they now see that the high end users they do have, they want to keep it. This makes it almost exactly 20 years after I learned this lesson the hard way. There was a Dutch sales shop who had a special deal, the deal was the Apple Performa, maxed (as far as that was possible) for almost $2750, I was happy as hell. My apple (My first 100% owned by my own self) and I had a great time. I never regretted buying it, but there was a snatch, 3 months later that same shop had the Power-Mac on special, the difference was well over 300%, the difference $1000 (a lot in those days), but still 300% more power and new software that would no longer support the Performa system and older models, a system outdated before the warranty ran out. We are about to see a similar shift. We know multi-core systems, they have been around for a while, yet the shift is larger, so as we see new technologies, new solutions pushed on us whilst the actual current solutions as still broken to some extent, we will be pushed into a choice, will we follow the core or fall behind? Even as we see the marketing babble now on how it is upper tier, merely for the 1% and we feel to be in agreement (for now) we see a first wave of segregation. As the followers will emphasise on the high end computers, we will see a new wave of segregation.

And? So what? I do not want to pay too much!

This is the valid response for many players, for many users, they do not have the needs IT people have, many merely see the need they have now and that is not wrong, not in this life as the economy is not coming back the way it needs to be. Yet two elements are taking over, the first is Microsoft, we can’t get around them for the most and as e-commerce and corporate industry is moving, shows to be both their option and their flaw. As we see more push where 90% of the Fortune 500 is now stated to be on the Microsoft cloud, we see the need for multi-core systems more and more. Even as some might remember the quote form early 2017 “Find out why it’s the most complete #cloud solution“, the rest is only now catching on that the Azure cloud is dangerous in several ways. Chip Childers, the fearless leader of the Cloud Foundry Foundation gives us “We are shifting to a “cloud-first” world more and more. Even with private data centres, the use of cloud technologies is changing how we think about infrastructure, application platforms and software development“, yet the danger is also there yet not mentioned. This danger is slowly pushed onto us through the change that the US gave yesterday. As Net Neutrality is being abolished, there is a real danger that certain blocks could grow on a global scale. So as we see trillions in market value shift, how long until other players will set up barriers and set minimum business needs and cater to them above all others?

Core Cloud Solutions become a danger, because it forces the contemplation that it is no longer about bandwidth and strength of your internet connection, the high end of business is moving back to the Mainframe standards that existed strongly before the 90’s started. It will be about CPU Time Used. So at that point it is not about the amount of data, but the reception of CPU channels, as such the user with a multi core system will have a massive advantage, and the rest is segregated back towards second level, decreased options. It does not change consumer use of places like Netflix, but when you require the power of your value to be in Azure, the multicore systems are the key to enable you and disable connection huggers and non-revenue connected users, consumers at a price for limited access.

This is the future we push for; it is not created by or instigated by Apple. It merely sees what will be needed in 4 years when 5G is the foundation of our lives. I saw part of this as I designed part of a solution that will solve the NHS issues in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but I was slow to see that the lesson I was handed the hard way in 1997 is also around the corner. As Netflix and others (Google in part) is regressing towards the mean in some of their services and options that they will offer the global audience at large. The outliers (Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and SAP) will soon be facilitators to the Expression Dataset of the next model of usage that comes. There will be a shift and it will go on until 2022, as 5G will enable some players like NTT Data and Tata Communications to get an elevated seat, perhaps even a seat at that very table.

They will decide over the coming years that there is a shift and as people decide the level of access that they are getting they will soon learn that they are not merely deciding for themselves, because the earlier their children get full access, the more options they will get beyond their tertiary education. Soon we will learn that access is almost everything, but we will not learn that lesson the way we thought we would. Even I have no idea how this will play out, but such a shift beyond the iteration IT world we see now is exciting beyond belief. I hope I will end up being part of that world, I have been part of the IT/BI Industry since 1980 and I am about to see a new universe of skills unfold before my very eyes. I wonder how far I am able to get into that part, because these players will all need facilitation of services and most of them have been commission driven for too long, meaning that they are already falling behind.

What a world we are about to need to live in!

 

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