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In December 2019, Apple introduced its flagship Mac Pro to meet the performance needs of professionals. In addition to showcasing its state-of-the-art hardware components, Apple claimed the machine is built for the future. It's key selling point is upgradability and expansion through swappable hardware modules residing inside an easily accessible chassis. Consequently, Apple charges a hefty $50K for this privilege.

Within less than a year after its debut, however, the Mac Pro's status as the most powerful Macintosh is nearly coming to an end. Apple just introduced several low to mid range models featuring its incredibly fast M1 processor. According to several benchmarks, the new models outperform the Intel-based Mac Pro across a range of computing tasks. It must be disheartening for owners to discover their machines rendered dinosaurs by Macs costing 1/50th of the price within a year of unboxing them.

Do existing Mac Pro users have a good case for a class action lawsuit, if Apple decides not to provide them with an upgrade path to the new M1 processors? While not explicitly stated as future proof, Apple did market the machine as expandable. Could a legal argument be made that it mislead its Mac Pro customers into thinking they were buying into the future?

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  • The allegation would presumably be "false advertising". What specific claim did Apple make which was false or misleading at the time when they made it? Note that general language such as "built for the future" is usually classified as "puffery" that is not to be understood as claiming anything in particular. Nov 26, 2020 at 21:21
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    Workstations class computers have different requirements from laptops. Price or compute per watt are not leading concerns, but the number of PCIe lanes, Thunderbolt ports, or max supported ECC RAM are. The Mac Pro delivers on those quite handsomely, even though any single component is no longer top of the line. An “upgrade path” for a CPU is an unrealistic concept on the hardware level.
    – amon
    Nov 26, 2020 at 22:04
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    No serious purchaser of a Mac Pro should be expecting an upgrade path to the new Apple M1 processor, because they know its almost certainly an impossible task without replacing pretty much the entire guts of the machine - its not a simple task of plugging in an upgrade card, the entire memory bus, PCIe bus etc are driven by a chipset which is incompatible with the ARM architecture and would require replacing. The Mac Pro is still expandable even without an upgrade path to the M1, you can still upgrade its memory, add additional PCIe cards etc, which is a step up from the older model.
    – user28517
    Nov 26, 2020 at 23:35

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That Apple advertised the Mac Pro as "expandable" does not mean that they promised that any particular new chip or technology could be applied to the Mac Pro. As a comment said "built for the future" will generally be treated as puffery that does not extend a specific guarantee unless there are more specific claims along with it.

Computers become obsolete, or at least behind the cutting edge. This is a fact that all reasonable computer buyers know. Sometimes this happens quickly. No computer maker promises that there is an infinite upgrade path, or that a machine will never be behind the curve.

All that said, Apple might well provide an upgrade path for this machine to the M1 chip. But I do not see anything which legally requires them to do so.

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  • Yeah, I agree. Although they may not be legally required to provide Mac Pro users with an upgrade path, it would be good business sense to do so. In fact, it would be smart to give them a low cost upgrade. You don't want to piss off your high end customers by nickeling and dimming them after such a huge expense. Apple surprisingly did offer upgrades for some of their products such as the Lisa to Mac and the Apple IIe to IIgs. Not sure about the Apple III though.
    – ATL_DEV
    Nov 27, 2020 at 0:31
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    @ATL_DEV no, the upgrade path is “buy the next Mac Pro”. Its the same with every single tech product ever. There is no “low cost upgrade” here, as you will need to replace pretty much every board in the computer, sans memory and ssds.
    – user28517
    Nov 27, 2020 at 1:35
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    Whether an upgrade path is available is not a question of law. But if a new CPU chip is to bne used, and if that chip requires a different motherboard (as is not uncommon) an upgrade is nor likely to be cheap and easy Nov 27, 2020 at 1:41

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