Will Apple Silicon Be the Silver Bullet for the Mac’s Problems?

When Steve Jobs iconically pulled the first ever MacBook Air out of an envelope way back in 2008, few could foresee the impact that the laptop would have on the computer industry as a whole. Now, over a decade later, it is easy to see how the then unbelievably thin and light profile of the device heavily informed almost all laptops that came after it, with many of the design elements that made the original MacBook Air’s profile so iconic still present in a majority of laptops on sale today. But what many fail to realize is that that original 2008 MacBook Air was largely seen as a failure, a rarity for Apple. It was seen as such for a number of reasons, mainly, lack of ports, a lacking display, and, most importantly, comparatively terrible performance when put up against both Apple’s own notebooks and those from other manufacturers. All of these issues were exacerbated by a steep price of $1,799, a price made almost entirely unjustifiable given the aforementioned flaws that came with the device. It wasn’t until the second generation Air, introduced two years later, that these flaws were fixed and the MacBook Air became the mainstay of coffee shops and college lectures that it is known so well for today. This anecdote is important to the subject of the Apple Silicon in Macs today as Apple took a similar approach to the one they took with the original 2008 MacBook Air more recently with another Product, and they were met with strikingly familiar results. In 2015, Apple announced the brand new MacBook, sans “pro” or “air”, it was just the MacBook. With the MacBook, Apple ushered in a brand new design language and ethos to the Mac, one that emphasized portability and versatility to their popular line of laptops and desktops, and promised to change the way laptops were designed in the same way the original MacBook Air did. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. However, where the original MacBook Air and the 2015 MacBook were similar were in the numerous problems that plagued their respective releases. Much like the original 2008 MacBook Air, the 2015 MacBook was seen as lacking in connectivity department, too underpowered, and once again, far too expensive for what it was. All of these issues culminated in Apple pulling the MacBook from sale after just 4 years in 2019, replacing it with a redesigned MacBook Air. But this doesn’t need to be the end for MacBook. The issues that came up with the redesigned MacBook echoed through the rest of Apple’s Notebook lineup from 2015 up until very recently, as those flaws resulted from the scale of form and function leaning to far towards the former. But, with the recent announcement that Apple will begin to use their own processors in their Mac lineup, the most pressing of these issues could be solved. Apple’s custom silicon offers several key advantages for the Mac lineup. First off, is improved power efficiency. Apple’s custom processors are based off of the open ARM standard, which, as a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) processor architecture, promises much more power per watt when compared to Intel’s processors, meaning the issues with power that faced the 2015 MacBook and the later Macs that followed in its design foot steps could be eliminated. Furthermore, using in house processors offers a significant cost cutting advantage for Apple, as it allows for them to reduce the overhead generated from using processors from firms like Intel and AMD. This could answer the concerns over the ever-raising prices and questionable value of Apple’s Mac’s by allowing Apple to reduce prices on the lower end of their lineup and pack in more value for your dollar on the higher end. To conclude, Apple’s transition to implementing their own processors in their Macs offers them a unique opportunity to solve the issues facing the product line for years.

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