Although the focus is currently on Apple’s refreshed MacBook Air and entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, there was a subtle sign from Apple of where it is heading with its MacBook line up in 2020. The quiet demise of the 12-inch MacBook that came with the launch of the new MacBooks aligns nicely with rumors that Apple will introduce a new ARM-based MacBook next year.
While the current Apple fanfare is focused on the welcome updates to the MacBook Air and entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, it was easy to miss that Apple has also dropped the neglected 12-inch MacBook at the same time. While somewhat unexpected, it did make for a peculiar line up where the 12-inch model, while smaller and less powerful, was priced higher than the larger and more powerful MacBook Air. However, its disappearance suggests that Apple is making way for the entry of a long-rumored ARM-based MacBook laptop and 12-inches could well be the ideal size for such a model.
It has not gone unnoticed by the industry that although Apple has by far the most powerful and power-efficient ARM-based processors on the market, it is yet to ship a Mac fitted with one of these chips. In fact, despite having access to slightly less powerful ARM-based chips from Qualcomm, it has been Microsoft with its Windows on ARM initiative that is leading the way in transitioning its operating system to the RISC-based ARM architecture. Although yet to really take off, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chipset could create some WoA/WoS momentum with its combination of performance and excellent battery life.
Given that the Apple A12X Bionic fitted to the new iPad Pro line is more powerful than the just superseded entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, it makes a whole of sense for Apple to tap into the additional battery life gains offered by ARM-based chips over Intel’s ancient x86 architecture. With Apple expected to ship its first ARM-based MacBook in 2020, the axing of the neglected 12-inch model now indicates that Apple’s plans are indeed on track. The lightweight and compact form factor of a 12-inch MacBook would be the perfect home for an Apple A-series chip.
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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-07-10 (Update: 2019-07-10)