Apple’s new chip for Macs is called Apple silicon
Today was another Apple event only this time, there no crowd cheering due to the Coronavirus pandemic which has forced many tech events to go online.
One of the big but expected announcements of the night was Apple’s plan to transition from Intel chips to its own which it says will be more optimised for its computers. We first heard of such a plan back in 2018 even thought this has been in the works way before 2018.
The move means that the Mac laptop and desktops will now be moved to Apple’s own ARM-based processors like the ones used in its iPhones and iPads. The big challenge ahead is whether the transition will be smooth for both Apple itself and third-party developers who have to act accordingly by updating their apps. On that the Apple CEO Tim Cook says “we expect to ship our first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of the year” but this comes and the CEO says he expects the full transition process in two years. He added that developers would in fact embrace the new move because it will give their apps a better performance which means users will likely stay in their apps more as a result of the improved performance. Tim Cook says this should make it easier for developers to “write and optimise software for the entire Apple ecosystem”. Well that ecosystem keeps growing and this may be a major incentive for developers in the long term.
The transition while it’s not good news for Intel is certainly good for Apple which would see increased flexibility in the way it makes its products. There is also the issue of the massive investment it had put into building its own chip making plant in the United States which investors will now see as being justified. By finally producing its own chips, Apple’s range of hardware will now see some level of consistency in the long term thereby making its ecosystem even more attractive not just for users, but for its third-party developers as well.
Apple will be saving more money by producing its own processors in-house but this also means part of the savings will be passed on to the consumer which could mean a bit more affordable Macs in the near future. Then there is the unintended consequence of people wanting to wait for the cheaper Mac even as Apple still has some yet to be released Mac that would likely run on Intel’s processors. This may see sales really plummet in the event that this is so. Samsung and Huawei are among hardware makers who have brought their chips in-house.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple which is the fourth largest PC vendor in the world will overtake some of its rivals like Lenovo and HP. With a market share of about 4.5 percent when it comes to laptops and 2.6 percent for desktops, the bigger effect of producing its own chips in-house could see it gradually gain some market share.