That was the argument John C. Dvorak made in early December last year. More recently we have rumors of Apple putting their own chip designs into the Mac by 2020 and kicking Intel Outside. TWiT TV host Leo Laporte thinks Apple plans to drop the Mac entirely, or, at least move iOS into future Macs.
What will happen is change. Nothing improves without change. My experience with the Mac goes back to the early days, spring 1984; back when a Mac was $2,495. With a floppy disk and a 9-inch black and white display. Look at what $2,495 buys you these days.
The future is all about change. That’s how things improve; sometimes in spurts and jumps, mostly iterative, but change happens. The Mac is about to change.
For all the excitement about Apple designing their own Mac chips based on the powerful A-Series CPUs found in iPhone X, Windows 10 notebooks with ARM Inside perform miserably. Check the Futuremark benchmarks for confirmation. Battery life on ARM-based PC notebooks might be good, but maybe that’s because the little creatures just sit there doing very little very slowly.
The argument about ditching the Mac could not be farther from the truth. The Mac represents at least a $25-billion annual revenue stream and that represents nearly half the entire PC industry’s profits. Why would Apple ditch that when the company struggles to create new multi-billion dollar revenue streams.
The Mac is selling at record levels while traditional Windows PCs continue their long, slow drop into obscurity. Everything looks pitiful when compared to the iPhone’s success.
What about Intel Outside?
The iPhone X’s A-Series A11 Bionic chip is powerful, but not sufficiently so to run professional level applications from Adobe, Apple itself, and many others. Just look at the capabilities of similar apps for iOS vs. macOS.
Unless there is a skunkworks project that will push out Xeon-like chips on ARM architecture in the next few years, Intel isn’t going Outside– at least, not on the high end MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iMac Pro models.
So, what’s going on?
First, Apple wants a way for apps to span platforms– iOS and macOS– and that requires a major shift in how applications are developed. Think one platform where app developers can create software that works on all (or many) of Apple’s products from one development project. Since Apple designs its own ARM-based A-Series chips, that seems plausible. But less so with Intel Inside the Mac.
Second, why not an Apple-designed, ARM-based, A-Series chip in an entry-level, sub-$1,000 Mac? That would bring sufficient segregation to the Mac that professionals would not feel threatened, and give Apple time to grow their own Apple Inside pedigree for the Mac. Improvements in performance would occur over x-number of years (and, perhaps, spur Intel into making smaller, faster, power sipping chips for PCs) to a point where even professional level applications could run on Apple’s ARM-based A-Series chipsets.
It could happen. It just won’t happen by 2020. Apple will not ditch the Mac. Apple will change the Mac. For better or worse is the end result we don’t know about. Yet.