One of the key elements of successful product marketing is differentiation. Apple differentiates iPhone from Android riffraff via hardware and software; specifically Apple-designed chips, iOS, and the ecosystem.
The Mac is differentiated via hardware, too; Intel Inside is not different, but Apple takes differentiation to a higher level with macOS; Macs can run almost anything from Linux to Windows. The newest trend from Microsoft is to forego Intel and run some Surface notebooks with ARM inside.
Et Tu, Apple?
Think about how iPhones and iPads are differentiated from Android smartphones and tablets. All are flat slabs of glass, but Apple’s devices run rings around whatever is inside a competitor’s device, thanks to the company’s own chips. Apple designed the A-series Bionic chips in iPhone and iPad.
Microsoft is using an off-the-shelf ARM-based CPU for Surface Pro X which seems to have attracted a few criticisms. Here’s one from Tom Warren:
At times, performance has been erratic, battery life underwhelming, and using the keyboard obnoxious. I fell in love with the Surface Pro form factor over the past 12 months, but using the Pro X for the past week felt like a step backward in many ways. The machine is beautifully designed, but I’m writing this review on the Surface Pro X with a Pro 7 sitting in my bag just in case. That sums up the Pro X for me. I don’t trust it enough yet since the performance and app compatibility just aren’t where they need to be. Microsoft has gotten closer than any other OEM with a viable Windows on ARM laptop, but more work needs to be done.
In other words, ARM-based PCs are not quite ready for primetime.
What do Apple executives say about the Apple-designed Bionic chips in iPhone and iPad Pro? They outperform more than 90-percent of all PC notebooks. What about iPhone performance vs. the Mac notebook line? Benchmarks show the iPhone holding its own with a mid-range MacBook Pro.
ARM-based Windows PC notebooks are touted as anemic. iPhones and iPad Pro models are touted as competitive with mid-range Macs and PCs.
What does that say?
Apple is about ready to show the world how it is done with their own ARM-based Bionic-like CPU in a Mac. Which Mac? Well, which Mac name is open? MacBook Pro? Likely to stay Intel for many years. Mac Pro? Same thing. iMac? Big displays need big power.
Whatever happened to the MacBook?
Apple discontinued the much-beloved MacBook in favor of a revamped MacBook Air, so it doesn’t take much effort to extrapolate the future. A strong ARM in a Mac will start first with a new entry-level MacBook.