Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iMac during an Apple special event at the historic California Theater on October 23, 2012 in San Jose, California.
Apple is planning to move all of its Macs from Intel processors to custom Apple chips in 2021, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note over the weekend.
Apple has been using Intel chips to power its computers for the last 15 years. But the iPhone and iPad are powered by Apple’s A-Series Arm-based processors. If Apple switches Macs to the same type of processors, it will be able to build computers without waiting for Intel to develop a new processor. And it could help Apple stand out from competitors in the laptop market, such as HP, Dell, Samsung, Microsoft and others that rely on Intel or AMD chips.
“We expect that ARM Mac models outperform Intel Mac models by over 50%-100%,” Kuo said in the note.
Kuo expects the first of Apple’s new computers, which include an “all-new form factor design iMac,” to launch late in the fourth quarter of 2020 or during the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest.
Today’s Mac apps were designed to run on Intel chips, but Apple’s macOS Catalina software, which powers Macs and was released in October 2019, includes Apple’s Catalyst technology. It allows developers to bring iPad and iPhone apps to the Mac. One area Apple will need to discuss, however, is how developers who have written apps only for the Mac will be able to port those over to the new chips too. In theory, it should be easier for developers to make apps that run across all Apple devices once they’re all powered by the same chips.
Despite these potential obstacles, Kuo said TF International securities believes “shipments and market share of MacBook will significantly grow, thanks to the adoption of the Apple processor” and a new type of screen called a mini LED display. The processor and screen “will improve the user experience significantly,” Kuo said. He did not explain what might change, but Apple’s chips could make it easier for the company to add cellular connectivity to its laptop and the new processor and screen could help extend battery life.
Bloomberg said earlier this month that Apple could announce its decision to begin moving away from Intel chips as soon as Monday, when its annual developer conference kicks off. CEO Tim Cook’s keynote begins at 1 p.m. ET.