Apple is Apple. Folks love them for it or hate them for it, but it’s undeniable that the company’s self-image is based on being precisely, uniquely itself. Even when presenting ideas originally developed by others, doing it the Apple way is supposed to make you think different. And if rumors are to be believed, a core Apple product is about to think much more differently. According to Bloomberg, Apple is developing its own custom Mac processors for 2020.
Why does it matter? This shift would further Apple’s plans of merging the beloved but not super popular Mac line with the massively popular iPhone, iPad, and other iOS products. Those devices already use custom, A-series, ARM system-on-chips. Even supplemental Apple products like HomePod and AirPods and Apple Watch share similar tech. So if Macs also move to Apple-designed architecture, then it would be easier for the entire ecosystem to get even cozier, and more exclusionary.
Yes, beyond whatever potential performance upgrades these “Kalamata” chips would provide, like better MacBook battery life perhaps, they might also make the Mac platform even more closed off and incompatible compared with PC rivals. It’s like a more high-tech version of requiring proprietary peripherals like Lightning headphones. But if the chips do make Macs more compatible with iOS, at least the machines won’t be wanting for software. It just won’t necessarily be exactly the kind of software you’re getting on PC or even older Macs. That probably sounds like good news to most Apple fans anyway.
The only thing somewhat surprising about this speculation is that it would actually be a step back for Apple in terms of how nice it plays with the rest of the computing hardware industry. In 2006, Macs moved over to PC-style Intel chips instead of PowerPC processors. But then again Apple in 2006, pre-iPhone, was in a much different place financially and culturally compared to today. Now they have power and aren’t afraid to swing it around.
Whatever the future for Mac holds, including a real OS name upgrade beyond codename “Marzipan,” we should find out more at WWDC in June. I’m just hoping they still all look like space trash cans.
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