Apple’s M1 processor means faster transition away from Intel, but Mac Mini your best bet

Apple aggressively rolled out its M1 system on a chip across its Mac portfolio — MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini — in a strategy that may equate to a transition away from Intel processors measured in months not years.

The biggest challenge will be how well Apple’s Rosetta 2 software can run Intel-based applications on the Mac. But if Rosetta 2 delivers, Apple will transition away from Intel faster than the few years the company expects.

You see where this is headed. Apple will support Intel-based Macs, but the marketing will back the M1 chip. The ability to order today with price points of $699 (Mac Mini), $999 (MacBook Air), and MacBook Pro ($1,299) means there might be an upgrade cycle ahead. The win would be seamless workflows from the iPhone to iPad to Mac and the ability to run Apple App Store apps across the portfolio. 

“This enables the Mac to run more software than ever,” said CEO Tim Cook.

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What’s unclear is whether the M1 powered Macs can run key apps like Adobe’s Photoshop and Tableau well. Apple indicated that key software makers such as Adobe will be making M1 versions of applications in the months ahead, but in the meantime, a lot rides on Rosetta 2.

Key points to ponder

  • Apple pitched creative pros, developers, and data scientists with the M1 processor. What Apple is really going for is that bottoms-up approach to enterprise adoption of M1 powered devices. That approach has served it well in the enterprise with iPhone, iPad, and Mac adoption.
  • “Seamless workflow from the iPhone to iPad to Mac.” That pitch is another way to convince businesses to ponder M1 Macs.
  • Developers transitioned in a few hours. In some of the testimonials, developers said the switch was easy. Apple is clearly acknowledging that it needs developers on the M1 train so it can cut over from Intel faster.

MacBook Air

  • The Mac Mini is a nod to the skeptical Apple Silicon folks. For $699, you can take the Mac Mini for a spin and see what the limitations of Apple Silicon are in day-to-day workflows and applications.
  • Profit margins are going to be better. Note that Apple held the…