Saturday, July 2, 2022

‘Pro’ has lost all meaning, and Apple knows it

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Apple has a “Pro” problem — while some products with the label are clearly intended for proprofessional use (such as Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, and the Mac Pro), years when Apple and competitors have slapped the name on wireless earbuds and slightly more luxurious phones, have made it hard to say what “Pro” even means. That’s why my ears perked up when Apple released a different word to describe his new computer and monitor clearly aimed at his audience of creative professionals: “Studio”. I wondered if I was witnessing the start of a new brand for Apple.

From the get-go, Apple made it clear who the Mac Studio and Studio Display were for. It showed that they were used by musicians, 3D artists and developers in his presentation, and the message was clear: these are products for creative professionals or people who want to become creative professionals. you know the same exact crowd it is aimed with MacBook Pro commercials for years

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, I wonder when the iPhone Studio comes out,'” Jonathan Balck, co-founder and director of advertising agency Colossus, said in an interview with The edge† “Pro was exclusive, and it was about one way of doing things, but the whole culture is moving toward creativity,” he adds, musing on whether we could see Apple’s Pro branding shift to Studio instead. to become branding.

I hear people asking, “Isn’t it a bit early to predict that, since we’ve only seen two products?” It is a very fair question. But it certainly seems like a first step – to me, the Mac Studio line is a clear successor to Apple’s iMac Pro. Both computers are powered by monstrous CPUs and come standard with 10Gb Ethernet and quite a few Thunderbolt and USB ports. I’m convinced that if Apple had released the new Studio even two years ago, it would have put “Pro” in its name. (Although, to play devil’s advocate, I’m not too sure this would have been the case for the Studio Display.)

Some marketing experts tell me that the word ‘Pro’ starts to take a long time, and not just from overuse. “The previous term Pro is outdated and dry in my opinion,” said Keith Dorsey, founder and CEO of the creative marketing group and management company YoungGuns Entertainment.

Balck agrees; “When you look at the word Pro, it’s limiting in a lot of ways,” he says in an interview, explaining that when you say a product is “professional,” it conjures up ideas like job interviews, portfolios, and aloofness. Pro products, he says, come across as just for those who use creativity to get a paycheck.

By comparison, I’ve heard a lot about how “Studio” is a great word given Apple’s target audience. “Apple has always been focused on empowering the creative class, and studio evokes that and has only positive connotations. Music studio. Design studio. Photo studio. It’s an idea we all romanticize,” said Matt Talbot, chief creative officer at the ad agency WorkInProgress, in an email. “Apple has always been a club you want to be a part of,” he adds. When you buy a product called “Studio” you might feel that you’re part of the Apple club and the creators’ club that so many people aspire to, he suggests.

Michael Janiak, co-founder of the Pattern design firm, puts it differently: “It definitely evokes a certain kind of atmosphere and environment where creative work takes place,” he says in an email. “It seems to me that the purpose of using the term is more to send a cultural signal to current and potential customers.” Balck says it evokes the image of a studio where people can come together and collaborate on projects, not for money per se, but to fulfill a creative drive. (It’s not far from how Apple pitched its “town square” stores.)

Surface Studio 2 from Microsoft from 2018.
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Of course, that’s why this isn’t the first time we’ve seen companies use the word “studio” to market similar products. Apple actually reuses the Studio Display name from a line of monitors it sold in the late 90s and early 2000s, but nearly every Windows PC manufacturer has used the word recently: Razer and Lenovo have made “studio” versions. of some laptop models, HP has its ZBook Studio line, Asus has the incredibly named ProArt StudioBook. Nvidia even has an entire “Studio” program that certifies computers from the likes of Dell, HP, Mainingear, MSI, and just about any PC maker that wants to attract makers with a little more cash to spend.

The real elephant in the studio could be Microsoft – the Surface Studio desktop was marketed directly to artists and could be folded to turn into a huge drawing tablet. It now also has the Surface Laptop Studio. Not all of these products were successful, but the point is that Apple is running a known record.

The reason Apple may need this is because it has led the industry to thoroughly overuse the word “Pro” to the point where it has lost all meaning. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this started (although, in my mind, it was with the MacBook Pro model with two ports), but now the word is being beaten everywhere. Selling wireless earbuds for even more money? Those are now Pro earbuds. Do you want to have a normal and beautiful version of your phone? No problem, call the nice the Pro.

To quote my colleague Chaim Gartenberg in his piece on what it means for a phone to be a pro:

For the most part, both for Apple and the rest of the world, the “pro” label doesn’t mean hardware is meant to be “professional”. It’s a marketing abbreviation for “better,” just as “plus” has seemingly become the favored term for streaming services or “lite” denotes a less versatile version of an app or device.

But because Apple also makes some really professional products, there’s always that little bit of confusion. Seeing the word Pro on an Apple product could mean it’s an expandable computer that can hold 1.5 TB of RAM. Or it could just mean it has an extra camera – and a flashy ad campaign trying to convince you that no, really, this phone will make you the next Rian Johnson).

But Apple’s new word, “studio,” seems to be ready-made to excite the company’s target audience.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think “studio” branding has been widely used to make computers sound more powerful than they actually are. And that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case with the Mac Studio, which seems to be capable enough for creative work. That means Apple has fewer heads with “Apple’s new Pro isn’t really for professionals.”

Although, talk to some members of The edge‘s own video and design team, I didn’t get the impression that it is an absolute top for creative work. While it has Apple’s most powerful processor yet, that’s not necessarily what all creatives are looking for. Grayson Blackmon, our senior designer (who also helped us review the Mac Pro), says he’s not sure the risk of running a computer with a new CPU would be worth the extra performance, which it might not. once makes a lot of difference to a lot of his work.

“I don’t care about the Mac Studio,” he says, but he says he can imagine what kind of people would do that. “Big studios that are at the end of their machines’ lifecycles will be interested in them. They can just buy a bunch of them and they’re good to go for a while. On the other hand, independent freelancers or extreme small studios like this. It’s priced within their budget.”

Our senior video director Becca Farsace says she might be interested in the Studio as an upgrade to her personal machine, but only after seeing tests showing it’s capable of long edits with 4K video. However, it is not the branding that sold her. “I care so little about the name… But I’m glad to see they’re labeling it properly. Pro is so random, but I could definitely see this in studios,” she says, shrugging emoji.

For the most part, it seems that the word “studio” is used for products that could actually belong in a creative studio. But what about two or three years from now? If Apple tries, as Talbot puts it, to “build power in the Studio line”, it will be tempted to repeat the mistakes it made with “pro?” We’ve already seen a bit of this – Apple has some decidedly consumer products that have liberal use of the word “Studio” in its Beats range, although I’m sure from someone a song mastered with those headphones.

Apple’s Mac Studio product page is full of images of people meticulously practicing their craft, which it hopes you’ll see yourself in.
Image: Apple

Apple knows that not everyone with a creative passion project has the same needs as professional filmmakers or musicians. I’ve made quite a few videos in my time, and none of them would have been too much for something like a $1,300 Mac Mini to handle – but just imagine how cool and hip I would have felt if I had edited on a Mac Studio (which, by the way, starts at $2,000). And what if Apple could take that feeling and use it to sell a set of AirPods? The AirPods Pro may seem old and uncreative compared to a new set of AirPods Studio.

Still, Apple has been claiming for a few years that the microphones in the MacBook Pro are “studio quality” – when in reality most creatives will miss a dedicated microphone setup. In this case, studio quality is meant to evoke a feeling rather than describe the actual quality of something. Recording with the MacBook’s microphones may make you feel like your favorite podcaster, but you probably won’t sound like them. That’s the same trap Apple fell into with “Pro”.

“There is always a risk that the word will be overused and eventually become detached from its original meaning,” says Janiak. For now, Apple seems to be getting a lot of attention from creatives with the Studio — if it wants to keep it, it needs to make sure it doesn’t waste that brand equity on products that don’t deserve it.

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