Apple must address this huge MacBook Pro problem

The move from Mac to ARM is exciting for Apple, but it does have some major issues along the way. One of the biggest problems is the existing user base of Intel machines. Apple needs to retain support for the Intel platform. And that will lead to an awkward few years with some substantial issues around every corner on the road to ARM.

While Intel machines won’t go away overnight, Apple has clearly stated that its future is based on ARM. Engineering efforts will focus on the new architecture, designers will work with the new freedom offered by the greater efficiency of chips, and marketing will focus on the new frontier. Apple’s main focus will not be on Intel. Maintenance? Yes. Push the envelope? Unlikely.

The developers will also be looking towards the new platform. Although they will be so aware of their existing customer base and the need to support them, as Apple expands the MacOS platform and presumably incorporates iOS and iPadOS features, hooks may be restricted to the ARM platform. In other words, older apps can be kept, but full capabilities will only be unlocked on ARM hardware.

Finally there is the loss of value on Intel machines. Apple hardware has traditionally held its value for a much longer period than equivalent PC hardware. Selling an older Mac in order to buy a new Mac is a traditional tradition in the community.

As the years go by, the current rate for Intel hardware is likely to drop much faster than in previous years, subtly raising the price of a switch to an ARM-based machine (something Apple has already begun to do) .

A big mitigating factor here is Apple’s past performance and long-term support for older devices.

MacOS 11 is supported not only on current Mac machines, but can be installed and run on Mac machines since early 2013 in the case of that year’s MacBook Air. Apple isn’t going to suddenly give up on a seven-year support window and existing user base.

What can happen is that MacOS iteration 202 can raise the drawbridge a little faster, maybe it only goes back to 2015 instead of 2014. In my opinion any retreat will be on a curve instead of a cliff.

Apple has handled this transition before, as it switched from the PowerPC platform to Intel.

Announced in 2005 to start in June 2006, it was completed in late 2007 (a two-year project, hmm, that sounds familiar …). Although the full Mac range had changed, PowerPC machines continued to be supported until MacOS 10.6 Snow Leopard.

That was a four-year window of official support. Apple will have had a high turnover since then, corporate memory and knowledge remain.

The transition period is full of dangers and there are big problems along the way. Apple has worked hard to minimize the risk, but it’s there. No matter how simple the process is, users will find it incredibly difficult to find the right balance.

On one side is the ‘top speed ahead’ crowd, get on the ARM train as soon as possible. ‘ On the other hand, I suspect, there is a much larger crowd that will remain with Intel for years to come. They could be companies with a fixed IT budget and a fleet of Mac machines; business users with a specific workflow that requires third-party applications that may or may not be ported to ARM in the future; And people will have invested a lot in their personal Mac hardware.

Apple’s biggest problem may not be the technicalities of the new architecture, but keeping all members of the Mac community satisfied with their Apple product as the uneven transition in the background progresses.

Now read three from MacOS about the great benefits of ARM …