Last year saw Apple take the first steps to moving its entire Mac lineup away from the Intel-based processors it has been using for over a decade, to an ARM-based world of silicon designed specifically by Apple for its own hardware and software.
With the release of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and macMini, all with the M1 chip, the new world of the Mac offers far more power, capability, and potentially a longer working lifespan as demands on desk-bound consumer computing increases.
But I don’t see how Apple’s brave new world will change the marketplace in 2021.
The Mac market is the Mac market, and the Windows market is the Windows market. While both platforms do have a significant amount of crossover in terms of the main applications (and of course the flexibility of standards-compliant web browsers), there are still significant mental barriers for consumers to change systems. A ‘little bit better’ is rarely enough, there needs to be some substantive advantages to making the switch.
One of the big selling points behind Apple’s new laptops was the lack of differentiation in the late 2021 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines compared to the previous MacBooks.
There’s no getting away from the raw benchmarks of Apple’s new hardware, but how do these translate into real world usage? For me this is one of the key issues that can sell an M1 machine – and with social distancing restricting access to demo machines in the Apple Store, sticking with what you know – the computer in front of you – brings us back to the barriers of change.
Where Apple may have an advantage here is with those looking to buy their ‘first’ desk-bound computer, such as students looking to have an independent machine of their own. This is where a clean decision can be made between two platforms. It may be a small part of the market at the moment, but once you have someone on a platform there is a disinclination to jump – someone joining macOS now could be counted on to be macOS for life.
Finally, Apple is not the only company that can improve its chipset. The arrival of Apple Silicon has challenged PC chip manufacturers, and the likes of Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm will be looking to deliver their own improved products – such as Intel’s EVO platform.
Apple has made a significant step forward with its move to Apple Silicon, and it has made every effort to make as much noise as possible about the advances has made to make the Mac platform better than it ever has. What hasn’t changes is that the Mac platform remains for Mac machine, the Windows platform remains for Windows machine, and the two sides are just as entrenched as they ever was… even though the numbers are bigger and better.
Now read the latest headlines in Apple Loop…