John Siracusa’s excellent piece from 2013 on why Apple should continue making a Mac Pro:
In the automobile industry, there’s what’s known as a “halo car.” Though you may not know the term, you surely know a few examples. The Corvette is GM’s halo car. Chrysler has the Viper.
The vast, vast majority of people who buy a Chrysler car get something other than a Viper. The same goes for GM buyers and the Corvette. These cars are expensive to develop and maintain. Due to the low sales volumes, most halo cars do not make money for car makers. When Chrysler was recovering from bankruptcy in 2010, it considered selling the Viper product line.
Why wouldn’t a company want to get a low-volume, money-losing product line off its books, bankruptcy or no bankruptcy? If you can’t think of a reason, you may be what is known in the auto industry as a “bean counter.”
The arguments, terminology, and mood of this piece also map perfectly to Apple’s pro software. I love the term “bean counter”, because it applies equally well to looking at feature usage analytics as it does to balance sheets. “Halo” also perfectly describes the benefits of pro software, here capturing both the trickle-down effect from pro software to consumer software1, but also developers, designers, and other content creators making things for the platform they do work on.
Finally, as Siracusa points out, another reason to develop great and powerful software is for the sheer joy of it. Apple’s priorities for software were once greatness, now it feels like it’s just about how things fit into a corporate strategy.