For some time now the Apple faithful have questioned Apple’s dedication and motivation to improving and enhancing the Mac. Questionable product choices such as the much-maligned butterfly keyboard, removing certain legacy ports and the divisive Touch Bar from the MacBook range have further supported these doubts. But in 2019 that all began to change.
We’ve now seen the first efforts from Apple to transition to its custom silicon with the M1 series chip. The MacBook Air, the 13 inch MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini have all transitioned to the M1 chip and the results are sensational. The M1 chip is astonishing because not only does it offer extreme performance per watt, it also does something that doesn’t happen all too often in the computer industry. It provide a generational leap in performance improvements but also offers a generational leap in battery life all in one fell swoop.
Even Apple’s harshest critics have conceded that Apple has delivered an extraordinary product with the M1 chip. And it’s quite reasonable to say that it has sent shockwaves through the entire industry. It feels much like Apple’s move to 64-bit processors on the iPhone way back in 2013. That particular move left the mobile industry floundered for two years. The transition to Apple silicon has had that same effect. Intel are scrambling and racing to try to catch up but so far the closest that they’ve managed to do is to provide flawed benchmark comparisons.
It’s now becoming clear that Apple’s attention to the Mac and their dedication to improving it is perhaps at its highest point since before the iPhone was launched. As the iPhone is now a much more mature product and provides Apple with incredible revenue security, the company is now able to spend time, energy and money on true and genuine innovation for the Mac. The M1 chip is just the start of this journey and it’s exciting to wonder exactly where we’ll be in a couple of years from now. Who knows just how good the M1X or the M2 will be or whatever Apple decides to call them. I think it’s become obvious though that the industry is watching, Apple’s critics are watching and customers are waiting for new products from Apple that build on the legacy of the M1. We are yet to see what the next-generation MacBook Pro might look like when powered by Apple silicon or a new iMac or of course the Mac Pro.
In many ways Apple silicon is the most Apple thing that the company has done in years. The company has long believed that the advantage of the Mac is that the hardware was custom designed for their own operating system. But that wasn’t quite the case because the processor, the brains that make the magic happen weren’t designed by Apple. And that placed limits on the kinds of products that the company can build. It’s the reason the iPad was built on the iPhone chips rather than Intel. The iPad couldn’t exist with Intel chips. At least not back in 2010 when it was announced (and probably not today either).
So the future of the Mac is rooted in new, custom form factors enabled by new, custom silicon. It’s that simple. Two years from now the entire Mac lineup will look different to how it does today. I think we’ll see new designs for every existing Mac and we might even see some new categories of Mac…. Some recent rumours have hinted towards a mini version of the Mac Pro, similar to the radical (albeit flawed) G4 cube from back in the day. Either way the Mac is heading in a bold new direction and for the first time in a long time, it’s great to be a Mac user.