You shouldn’t buy a new Mac right now

If you need a new Mac right now of course get a new Mac. It’s a must have, not a good one to have.

But if you can wait at least until the end of the year to update your laptop or desktop, you’d be crazy if you buy a new Mac right now. Not after Apple’s big WWDC announcement.

Some uncertainty

In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Apple has just announced that it will begin a two-year transition to replace Intel processors on Macs with Apple’s own designed processors.

It is a great change for many reasons. First, Intel chips use the x86 instruction set, while Apple chips use the ARM instruction set. That doesn’t mean much to you as a consumer, but to developers, this isn’t like Apple switching between Intel and AMD processors, or Nvidia and AMD graphics. Intel and Apple chips work fundamentally incompatible code, so most applications will need to be rebuilt for new Macs.

Apple is doing a lot of things to ease that transition, as detailed here. But any developer who creates a Mac app that wants to run on new Macs sold in the next two years is thinking of writing it for these new processors. Eventually, every new Mac app or update to an existing app will be primarily for new processors, with Intel support in the background.

There are several things that should significantly affect your decision to buy a Mac right now:

  • We know that the first Macs with Apple processors in them will arrive by the end of the year.

  • We know that in two years, every Mac will be powered by an Apple chip.

  • But we have no idea which Macs will make the switch first, or what they will be like.

Every time you buy a new computer, you can be sure that a better and faster one will be released soon. That is progress. But these Apple-based Macs have a higher than normal chance of being much best. Every Mac sold now is essentially in an “Old Mac” category, and could be replaced by a “New Mac” in six months. Or in two years. Or anything in between.

Shopping in the past

Of course, macOS will continue to be created and supported for Intel-based Macs for years, and developers will surely continue to produce Universal Mac applications that run on Intel and Apple processors. Not that the Mac you buy today suddenly turns into a paperweight!