Macs Are Wonderful, But Apple Has Some ‘Splainin To Do

2019 Mac Pro
Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. Going ARM? Relatively soon?

Two recent articles made the Particle Debris article of the week.

“MacBooks unlike anything Apple has ever made are coming soon.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo further detailed two other MacBook products supposed to launch later this year, and in 2021, both devices that Apple never made before.

The first one is the ARM MacBook that we’ve been talking about for a few years now. The Apple-made chips inside the iPhone and iPad would be capable of powering a device like the MacBook Pro and Air, although they would have to be customized for laptop usage. Also, macOS and macOS apps would have to be updated to run on the A-series chips. The ARM MacBook is supposed to launch in the fourth quarter of 2020 or in the first quarter of 2021, Kuo said, without revealing whether Apple is eyeing the Pro or Air lines for this ARM upgrade.

and…

“ARM Mac Pro coming sooner rather than later, says Jean-Louis Gassee.

Jean-Louis Gassee has changed his mind about the ARM Mac shift, and now believes that an ARM Mac Pro is the inevitable endpoint — and is not that far away.

Right now, we’re a bit intrigued, maybe excited, about this transition. However, as it plays out, Apple is going to have a public relations issue. Namely:

  1. Will some or all Macs make the transition? Why? Explain please. So we can plan.
  2. What is the market segment rationale? That is, for certain pro markets, are the customers crying out for ARM and its attendant migration issues? Or is ARM more about serving Apple’s interests, i.e., dissatisfaction with Intel and a desire to be more vertically integrated?
  3. For the customer, is this transition clearly beneficial — despite a few expected headaches? Is it really all about speed, low heat, longer battery life? A signature evolution of the Mac? Or is it some (evil) mastermind plan to merge the Mac platform with iPads? How Apple couches its promotion will be key to customer enthusiasm and buyer confidence.

A confident, well-articulated presentation of these issues is essential.

One of the issues Apple has brought on itself is emphasizing design over its dedication to serving specific tech markets. By absolving itself of this responsibility, in the past, to always work more closely with tech customers, Apple has granted itself the liberty to dabble with unwise design decisions. Look at https://www.apple.com/mac/ The market focus is on education and business, nothing else.

Celebrating and serving a broad range of specific markets is the way to telegraph Apple’s belief in the Mac.

The Week’s News Debris

• For just about every advance in technology, there appears to be either a downside or unintended consequences. Here’s a scary example. “Google location data turned a random biker into a burglary suspect.

I suppose the right approach is to know as much about the corresponding Apple technology you use as the police so you can challenge these kinds of faulty technical surmises. But that’s a huge task for most. Tech attorneys: are you ready?

• Debate resolution: Apple TV+ isn’t worth the price. This thesis is argued by Max Cea at GQ. Has Apple TV+ Produced Anything Worth Subscribing For?

… Amazing Stories is emblematic of Apple’s broader lineup one trimester in: it verges from bland to expendable.

All it takes is one House of Cards to rebound. And Apple indeed has exciting projects coming down the pike, like a Spike Jonze-created Beastie Boys documentary and a Chris Evans-starring crime drama. And yet, thus far, the company’s output isn’t merely disappointing; it’s puzzling. Why do none of its shows add up to their considerable parts?

What do you think? Are you glued to and mesmerized by Apple TV+? Or is it an afterthought after you’ve explored a wealth of orignal content elsewhere?

• iOS 14 is on the way, likely announced and demoed at WWDC 2020. But here’s a preview. “The 3 Best New Features Probably Coming to Apple’s iOS 14.” A sampling:

The home screen on your iPhone has been basically the same since the first version back in 2007. A few small changes have allowed you to add more items to the bottom tray, and fit more icons on the screen, but basically the grid design has remained mostly the same. Now, there’s reason to believe that may change.

Inc. explains the changes. I can’t wait.

• Finally,

Ahem. Replicator: Tea, Earl Grey, decaff.


Particle Debris is generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

7 thoughts on “Macs Are Wonderful, But Apple Has Some ‘Splainin To Do

  • Incompatibility with the Windows Intel based apps would be catastrophic for the Mac lineup. It’d put them right back into the pre-Steve Jobs mid 90s era Macs where their incompatibility brought on Mac Sunset moves everywhere in business and sales dwindled to pitiful numbers. Steve Jobs went immediately to Microsoft for a long term deal for compatibility and saved the company.

    The Mac market isn’t big enough to to support big development cost porting of Intel compatible apps to the ARM system. And the ARM based apps are nowhere near sophisticated enough, requiring big investment by Apple in developing new and better apps for ARM Macs. Apple (or somebody) could develop emulators to allow present apps to run, but what’s the point of going to ARM if the apps won’t run natively and run slower than their PC equivalent machines. The emulation route only works if the ARM chips are way faster than the Intel parts. Remember when RISC processors were supposed to be so much faster than the full Intel chips. Within a few years, the Intel devices were beating the RISC processors. So making very fast ARM processors running Intel based apps in emulation wouldn’t likely survive in the long haul. There’s not enough money to keep things ahead of the Intel based business world.

    Faster non-world-compatible apps aren’t going anywhere.

  • some kind of merger between macOS and iPadOS in sight? A complete merger possible only in case that future Mac’s Pro switch exclusively to ARM processors. Plausible?

  • Lack if Intel x86 microprocessors in Mac is a deal breaker for us. We love the Mac and hate Windows interface. But much more important than that is our workflow. And for that we need full Intel x86 compatibility.

    1. Exactly. Now it doesn’t mean it has to be Intel chips. AMD would work. Perhaps they can go the Blue Box / Yellow Box route. But it has to be 100%. There’s too much in the Pro world that needs x86 compatibility.

  • I don’t watch much TV at all. My wife does so when we got the free year of ATV with our iPhones we signed up. Do we watch it? Yes, but actually we use it mostly to stream BritBox. None of the Apple content has interested her at all. Once the year is up we’ll probably drop it and just subscribe directly to BritBox. Actually Apple’s biggest competitor in our household will be CBS. We have All Access now and that is still what she watches the most. If the ViacomCBS merger results in All Access becoming ViacomCBS and adding all the new content and channels, well sorry Apple, but it will be no contest. From what I’ve been reading there’s stuff coming that would even get me back to watching.

    If Apple does start making ARM Macs it will be very interesting. They’ll have two problems. Either they will have to sort out the x86 compatibility issue. Especially in the Pro world, many programs can be compiled to run on Mac but they require Intel hardware below. If they don’t do a good job with that they will have to deal with the WindowsRT problem. Where not all MACs are equal and not all Macs will run the same software. Either or both would be a disaster.

    Personally I’ve come to like the ARM Mac idea. The chips are certainly robust enough for my needs. Mac Catalyst looks like something designed to allow developers to easily port software over to ARM Macs. The increased battery life would be wonderful. Best of all not having to worry about the constant drip of core vulnerabilities in Intel chips will be nice.

  • What do you think? Are you glued to and mesmerized by Apple TV+?

    Well most of the AppleTV+ shows that I like are on hiatus and with this coronavirus it may longer than usual before we get some new episodes. But otherwise I am glued.

    Or is it an afterthought after you’ve explored a wealth of orignal content elsewhere?

    I don’t have any other streaming devices so, no I haven’t explored outside of the walled garden. I have explored other content via my Apple TV gadget. Primarily on the PBS, and YouTube channels, but also on TED talks.

    As to YouTube I was looking for a Russian movie about Admiral Kolchak and found it. Then I found some excellent Russian and Ukrainian TV series. Some are dubbed and some are subtitled, some only in Russian.

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