Look, I understand that to some I may sound like an Apple hater, but that is far from true. A couple of years ago I was fully equipped with a MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone; it's just that the recent products are lacking behind in my opinion.
The new Mac Pro is still a product I find amazing. I'm not super inspired by the design (I still think it looks like a glossy trash can), but the engineering is simply incredible. I'm sure it looks better in real life though, I'll at least give them that! The idea of getting my monstrous Alienware Aurora R3 off the ground and replacing it with a desktop powerhouse right beside me on my desk with more power just seems impossible.
The problem is that when I took some time to analyse the Mac Pro (link), I kinda got out of my dream; it didn't look too good and it started to look impossible. For me, the Mac Pro became a flawed product that didn't understand how professionals are working.
Well I was wrong.
The Mac Pro actually understand its audience, it's just a really tiny one. After an enlightening conversation on The Verge forums (link), I understood they built the Mac Pro to be a super compact computer to be placed in an already built infrastructure and working environment.
The product made more sense, but not to me... and it still sucks. They aimed their new Mac Pro to the absolute top and they forgot the guys right under them. Even the guys I know working in those huge TV stations still need crappy optical drives, card readers from their Canon C300 and they have a lot of USB peripherals. When your main desktop workstation needs a USB hub because you have too many things to plug to do your basic tasks... that's a problem.
Since I hate useless product bashing and whining I have a solution!
Behold, the Mac Pro Extender.
The idea here is simple. Apple wants to built the power essentials in a tiny polished package for professionals, so why not take that tiny polished package and make sure you can extend its functionality and features in a polished way for customers who might still need it.
You can still sell the greatest miniature desktop in the world, while giving the next level of professionals the opportunity to get the additional tools they need without compromising form and function. Bonus, you can make more money by selling the extender!
Why would it be a bad idea to offer more without compromising your core product and audience?
The Mac Pro is a simple product, so the extender needed to be simple. Let's not judge my Photoshop skills here, I didn't want to spent hours in 3DS Max and in fact I designed the whole thing in the now dead Adobe Fireworks. The idea here is to show that you can offer more capabilities without breaking up your core product idea. Giving more options when you don't need to fuck up your product is never a bad idea. And... more money!
The Extender would add an optical reader/writer, an SD card reader and two additional USB ports. Technically, if we follow my rant in my previous posts, we could add a LOT more, but I think that this is enough. The optical drive gives us one free USB port and blends nicely with the Extender, the SD card give us another USB port since we don't need to add an external reader for all those DSLR transfers and of course the two additional USB ports kills the idea of ever having to plug a USB hub of shame on a desktop workstation.
One of the critical engineering challenges of the Mac Pro is cooling the damn thing. So of course, you want the extender to just move the air in the right path and help with the air flow.
More extenders could be built with audio, video or anything else in mind, but I think that this is the essential. Display adapters are simple and discreet, surround sound audio is far from a priority, external storage can be found in USB/Thunderbolt/NAS easily and whatever you might need should exist as a USB external peripheral; thus the extra 2 added.
Everybody wins with a simple device like that. You could add a connector on the bottom of the Mac Pro to make it super elegant or just a simple 90 degrees Thunderbolt connector would do the job.
Apple (or any third-party), I'm giving you this idea, do whatever you want with it. You can send me a beautiful check... or just a new Mac Pro, I'll be very happy!