M1 Macs: The opportunities Apple seized and sacrificed


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Apple’s launch of its M1 Macs represents the third and likely final (at least to a party other than Apple) transition. Long before the company’s WWDC keynote in which it revealed the switch to its own silicon for the computer line that predates millions of its users, the company was not shy about dropping hints at how favorably the latest A-series in its laptop-like iPad stacked up to PC laptops.

While the shift was no doubt in the works for a long time, completing the move to get all of Apple’s devices on the same core processor architecture it’s still telling that Apple was content to wait for two years from the introduction of the first Qualcomm-powered PCs to debut the new Macs, a rough milestone for determining the feasibility of running a mainstream desktop OS on an Arm processor.

Apple had plenty of incentive to wait. Unlike in the Windows market, where Qualcomm-based PCs were positioned as a subsegment of the ultramobile category, Apple has fully cast the Mac’s lot on the M1. It’s not as if many users will want to turn back. The new Macs scream on M1-native software and, via Rosetta 2, run the existing catalog more than adequately — all while providing battery life unheard of on the Mac.

Yes, there are some limitations out of the gate; these will likely be addressed as Apple introduces M1-based versions of its more professionally-oriented computers greeted by an ever-growing wave of professional applications optimized for Apple’s new Mac processor family. But the fad-averse company focused on addressing customer needs by tackling the fundamental tradeoff in a notebook — performance and battery life.

First, Apple can be faulted for not rolling out any enticing new form factors along with its new chip. But, as noted, the M-series processors will become the SoCs for all Macs, not just a segment of them. Some of these computers will even include — gasp — fans! So, it’s not too surprising that Apple passed on a new form factor. After all, with its aversion to putting touch screens on Macs, the 2-in-1s that have led the charge in Qualcomm-based PCs are essentially irrelevant to Mac users. A big part of why that’s…