Today I saw HP's Z1 all-in-one workstation. A number of people on youtube and twitter are taking issue with the fact HP said "The first 27" all-in-one" but they're missing the most important part of the claim to give themselves an excuse to bash HP, and bring into light that Apple has a 27" all-in-one and has done for a long while.
I'm not usually one to rush to HP's defences but the part they're missing is "workstation". HP said "The first 27" all-in-one workstation".
Without that simple word, HP would be outright lying. We all know HP have copied Apple in the past, more recently with the HP Envy and, to some extent, they're doing it again here with regard to the website's page layout and the way the videos are presented and directed.
But they're not lying.
The 27" iMac, while very powerful, is not a workstation. The HP Z1 has the equivalent of a Mac Pro inside a case that is a similar (though, not as elegant or attractive) form factor as the iMac. It also has the ability to be opened very easily and has a mostly tool-less design that allows fast and easy swapping of the components. However, going off on a tangent here, I suspect that HP will require custom, HP branded components that will fit inside the Z1. And they'll likely charge a lot more than if you bought the same component for a 'normal' system.
I'm going to call it, right now, at 23:00 on Sunday 19th February 2012: Right now would be the perfect time for Apple to discontinue the Mac Pro and announce the iMac Pro.
Think about it. Apple have been neglecting the Mac Pro for some time now, with product refreshes being just that - refreshes. Nothing ground-breakingly new. They've already discontinued the Xserve.
Removing the Mac Pro from their product lineup would mark the point where Apple leaves the server market (their current server offerings are Mac Pro's which, ask any 'server guy' don't really fit in those racks), but it's becoming increasingly clear that the server market isn't Apple's target audience, and I don't think they want to be there anymore.
I'm not going to make any assumptions on how Apple would create a mythical iMac Pro, but seeing the Z1 makes me think it can be done. Apple took existing consumer desktop computers and created an iMac. Why wouldn't they be able to take existing workstation computers and create something just as attractive? I mean, if I told you before the Macbook Air came about that you could have a 13" laptop with a Core i7 CPU and have it still be thinner than any other laptop, would you have believed me?
I'm not saying any kind of iMac Pro would be as customisable as the Z1, I mean, this is still Apple. Even the Mac Pro is only 'so' customisable. But still, an iMac with a desktop class GPU just screams "desire" to me. Also, there's the small stumbling block of the price. I can't imagine it would be very competitively priced. Again, this is Apple.
So there you have it. I respect HP for doing this. They'll lead the way for more, better all-in-one workstations. Let's all remember that Apple is almost never the first to enter a market. They see what others do first, wait for them to fail and do it better themselves.