Why Apple should make an ARM Mac

In the tech world, a successful transition is a scarcity. Flops like Windows Vista, the Windows 8, and well, pretty much any version of Windows after ’95 just serve to prove this point. This curse, however, seemingly does not afflict Apple. Throughout its history, the company has pulled off numerous successful transitions, such as the transition from MacOS 9 to MacOS X, even further back, the transition from the Apple I to the Apple II, and, most relevant to this topic, the monumental architecture transition from PowerPC to Intel. The Intel transition should will down in history as a master class on product transition; In just one year, Apple successfully, and, more importantly, gracefully, moved the whole entire Mac lineup from the PowerPC Processor architecture to Intel’s, all while seeing widespread adoption after doing so. This monumental transition does not get nearly as much attention as it deserves, and even when compared to everything the company had done before and has done since, it still goes down as one of the most impressive feats in the company’s history. But now, another, equally as massive transition could be coming, and if the rumors are correct, the Mac could be moving to ARM. The ARM architecture, off of which Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Watches are powered, has several key advantages over Intel’s, which is currently in use in all of Apple’s Macs. For one, they are significantly more efficient, with their lower power consumption leading for what can equate to up to double the battery life on Intel computers. Furthermore, ARM processors support native cellular radios, which, with the advent of 5G, could prove tremendously useful. Finally, specifically for Apple, the company already produces them for use in their phones, watches, tablets, and more. This could make Macs running ARM chips significantly cheaper than preexisting Intel versions, as in house processor manufacturing would severely undercut the cost of production. While all of these prospects could serve as reasons why Apple could make an ARM based Mac, they’re not why Apple should make one. In fact, the reason why Apple should make an ARM based Mac doesn’t even pertain to the Mac at all, it pertains to the iPad. Apple sees the iPad as the future of the personal computer, but it’s pretty clear that not everyone else does. While the company has made strides to bring the iPad closer to their vision for it, such as a dedicated, first party hardware keyboard, or more recently, iPadOS, with its range of previously Mac/PC exclusive abilities, it is still clear that many people don’t see the iPad as a computer. A major contributing factor to this sentiment stems from the lack of apps, many of which are deemed essential to a computing experience. This includes apps like Lightroom, Photoshop, and even Apple’s own Final Cut, all apps that people’s entire careers are based off of that have no equivalent offering on the iPad. The reason for this comes from a lack of developer support, as devs don’t see the iPad as a viable platform for their applications given the time and cost needed to develop apps for it. A large majority of this cost comes from having to port or translate PC or Mac apps that were designed to run on Intel processors to iOS apps that were designed to run on ARM processors. Porting an app from Mac or PC to iPad or iPhone is no easy task, and developers simply don’t see it as a worthwhile one given that the large majority of computer users reside on the Mac because that’s where the apps are -It’s a catch twenty-two. However an ARM Mac could break this loop. Releasing a Mac based off of the Arm architecture would force developers to develop versions of their apps for it, or risk losing relevancy for failing to do so. Once they developed ARM ports for the Mac, a large hurdle in porting to the iPad would be removed, and doing so would be an exponentially easier pill to swallow. This-with to all the advantages of the ARM architecture on top of it- is why Apple should put out an ARM Mac, not for the future of the Mac, but for the future of the iPad.

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