Put this idea on the Never Happen list, right under Hillary 2020. Raspberry Pi for macOS. Think of it as a Mac kit, a cheaper-than-cheap little motherboard that will run the latest macOS. Hey, it works for Windows and Linux. Why not a Mac?
For the uninitiated, Raspberry Pi is a project designed to teach computer basics in schools and aid in computer proliferation around the world. The project consists of very small, very inexpensive single-board computers that start at about $40. What the world needs is a Raspberry Pi project for macOS.
Enter MacKit, Laughing
Every such ridiculous dream needs a name to carry the flame, to hold the torch of inspiration, so I hereby dub thee, “Macintosh Pi” or, in the alternative, “MacKit” for the officially sanctioned by Apple version.
It could happen. I don’t think it will. Ever. But it could. And what a better way to teach the rest of the Windows-licking, Linux-sucking world how a real computer should work. The Raspberry Pi Foundation claims to have sold north of 12-million units; the little motherboards that come with a CPU, some RAM, a few connectors, and the ability to run various flavors of Windows and Linux.
No, these are not the screaming fast Windows-based or Chromebooks you see at Best Buy. Raspberry Pi and their knock off clan are bare bones devices. No, even more bare than bones. It’s a motherboard. To get the device working you’ll need screen, keyboard, mouse, and other goodies. That makes the Mac mini look more like a bargain, no?
The latest Raspberry Pi 3 has an ARM v8 CPU (you just know Apple has macOS Sierra running on an Apple-designed ARM CPU, right?), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and Low Energy. The base motherboard also comes with 1GB of RAM, 4 standard USB ports, a full HDMI port, Ethernet, an audio jack and composite video connector, a Micro SD card slot, and other interfaces for camera, display, and so on.
I see a couple of ways MacKit or Macintosh Pi could play out just using the basic Raspberry Pi hardware kit.
Apple Approved – all Apple would need to do is to approve macOS Sierra for ARM to run on such devices and make it available. Even at $50 for the OS alone I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Apple could even limit, as does Microsoft with Windows 10S, apps that could be installed on the device. Or, not. It’s unlikely that such devices would have any negative impact on Mac sales, already at record levels, but it could be a way to introduce Apple and the Mac to many millions of non-Mac computer users.
Hackintosh – this would require the Raspberry Pi folks to work with the Hackintosh community to ensure the motherboard and an Intel CPU capable of running the latest version of macOS which does not currently run on all Intel-based CPUs. macOS Sierra can run on certain Intel-based hardware, so why not a Raspberry Pi-like device?
Amazon has Raspberry Pi 3 available for as low as $36 with half-way kits for less than $70 (minus display, mouse, keyboard). You’re a Mac user, so would you give such a device a try? Would you use it as your everyday Mac?
To the latter two questions I answer, “Yes” and “No.” Apple wouldn’t lose any money by sanctioning a MacKit or Macintosh Pi but could stand to benefit in other ways beyond good will. What a great One. More. Thing. opportunity that would make at the next Apple product presentation.