Endless winning: The real winner of Apple’s ARM transition

Was it ever in doubt?

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Apple announced new Macs last week, shipping with chips that are incredibly fast and, most importantly, vastly faster per watt than Intel chips.

So.

Soooooo.

Who’s the big winner here?

C’mon.

You know who it is.

Youuuu knooooow.

Writing for MarketWatch the day before last week’s event, Daniel Newman says “As Apple releases its new line of Macs, the biggest beneficiary may be Microsoft.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @designheretic and Jack.)

Mmm. That’s the stuff.

Now, you could have made a good swing at this by saying “Linux on the desktop”. That would have been a solid guess. But there was only one true answer, which just happens to be the same answer every time Apple does anything: Microsoft is the winner.

Let us unpack this suitcase full of logical horrors.

The transition from Intel to its new Arm-based silicon is almost certain to be a challenging transition that will impact both consumers and developers.

It certainly does seem to be going terribly from a speed perspective.

“Apple’s M1 chip outperforms GeForce GTX 1050 Ti in graphics benchmark.”

“Apple Silicon M1 Chip in MacBook Air Outperforms High-End 16-Inch MacBook Pro.”

Ah, but will users be able to take advantage of those speed gains?

The company’s entire software ecosystem will have to be rewritten to work on this new architecture, and this takes time.

If users want software to run natively and super fast, yes, the applications will have to be recompiled. Until then they’ll have to settle for running some apps in emulation and, uh, only running them at speeds faster than any other previous Mac.

“Apple Silicon M1 Emulating x86 is Still Faster Than Every Other Mac in Single Core Benchmark.”

It doesn’t seem like people have come to grips yet with the actual speed of the M1. Indeed, Newman never mentions the advantages the Mac will gain by switching to Apple silicon.

…the transition from Intel to Apple’s new silicon will likely break applications, and create compatibility issues with peripherals.

Apple has done this transition plenty of times before and has a pretty good idea of what it’s doing. There might be some apps that break, but from having Rosetta2 to run Intel apps in emulation, making it as easy as possible to recompile apps that will run on both Intel and Apple chips through Universal and the fact that iPhone and iPad apps will run on Macs with Apple silicon, users should be fairly awash with software.

This will leave consumers frustrated with their new Macs…

Comment noted.

Furthermore, this creates more work for developers, who will now be required to support disparate apps for the Intel version and the Arm version…

It’s not clear if Newman actually knows how this is going to work since, no, they don’t have to do that. And when you don’t know how things work, it does often make it easier to think they’re not going to work.

Many Mac users stay with a device for five to eight years, and certainly won’t want to be forced to buy another $2,000-plus device prematurely if Apple decides to stop supporting its Intel-based Macs after three years.

First of all, what will undoubtedly be the most popular M1-based Mac, the MacBook Air, starts at half that. Second, you don’t have to buy a new Mac, you just won’t be able to run new version of the operating system after the support period, however long that ends up being.

Anyway, this is all going to go horribly, there are no benefits to Apple silicon and Microsoft is going to make out big time as everyone switches to the Surface.

No, no. He said that.

Maybe more than just Microsoft and Surface’s growth momentum is the brand strength and ultra-premium branding that comes with Surface.

Macs, meanwhile, are largely regarded as garbage.

Apple’s move away from Intel has long been touted as a big problem for Intel, but it could be equally, if not more problematic, for Apple.

Let’s just scrolllll back up to those M1 benchmark results and reiterate something people might have missed if they happened to be stuffing prodigious amounts of Fiddle Faddle into their mouths instead of reading carefully: the 2020 M1-based MacBook Air that Apple announced this month runs faster in emulation than the i9-based iMac the company shipped over the summer. Tell us again how this is “equally” a problem for Apple.

You know, it’s almost as if Newman has some kind of ax to gr-

Daniel Newman is the principal analyst at Futurum Research, which provides or has provided research, analysis, advising and/or consulting to Qualcomm, Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, ARM, and dozens of companies in the tech and digital industries.

Oh. You don’t say.

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