Intel is a monster, or at least it has been. For nearly three decades Intel has owned the desktop-class and server semiconductor markets. Ever since the DOS PC emerged Intel gained rapid traction into desktop computing. While others, such as AMD, constantly struggled to meet demand, Intel understood capacity and high yields were key to market dominance and never left PC manufacturers wanting. No one had a better silicon fabrication process in the industry. Intel's marketing was equally brilliant. Before the tag line "Intel Inside" no one really knew or cared much about microchips used within a computer. After all, the only interaction a user had was with a keyboard, mouse and display. Suddenly, everyone was asking for a computer with Intel inside.
Intel was so confident of their own ability to shape the future based on their self-serving direction, they no longer needed to own a large portion of ARM, so they sold it off as it was useless for the long term. Intel also decided there was no need to quickly move to 64-bit processors. Intel failed to understand they had built, and were living in, their own arrogant reality distortion field. But AMD knew it, and 2003 stunned the industry by offering their 64-bit backwards compatible 32-bit, Athlon processor. It saved AMD as a company and Intel suffered it's first major stumble. Mobile computing arrived soon after, with Apple commissioning Intel to design a processor for their secret handheld needs. Intel balked, finding it a financially useless pursuit. Thus, Apple launched iPhone with an ARM processor. Due to Intel's blunder, the mobile world runs almost entirely on ARM designs, with Intel nowhere to be found other than under piles of failed ATOM processors. Today Intel finds their bread and butter personal computer market about to be shaken like never before by Microsoft, and quite likely, Apple.
It's a curious thing, that Apple. To have all but ignored the Mac for years made going into the Apple retail stores seem like a walk through a computing history museum. "...and here is the MacBook Air. Launched in 2008 and still does not have a Retina display, Thunderbolt, or any other port for that matter." At least it is – slowly – getting harder to point out how slow Apple has been to getting Mac's updated. Cook and crew clearly took their eye off the Mac ball for years, but things have changed in Cupertino, and much needed updates are on their way. Does this mean Apple's leadership is listening to customers, or does it merely explain the pivot due to iPad's constant and decreasing sales since 2014?...
While Samsung is in Galaxy Note 7 never happened mode and the media is getting over digesting Apple's latest iPhone 7 and Apple Watch offerings, Apple is bustling about preparing for their October 27, special event. This time it's all about the Mac – F I N A L L Y!
We've previously discussed how walking into an Apple Store is like stepping into a computer museum, but Phil Schiller should be all about delivering some welcome Mac news. But which Macs will get updates and how major, or minor, will those updates be?
Apple's Mac lineup has been languishing over the past few years, and their may be valid reasons as to why. Perhaps Apple been preparing to migrate away from Intel to their own A-series processors? Or would iPad's be ushering in a new area of computing relegating Mac's to back of the line? Any number of rumors have given chase as to why Apple's overall Mac lineup has become extremely stale, but it appears Apple is staying firmly Intel for their next generation processors, and thus a slew of long overdue Macs should should be unveiled during an October special event.
Apple is planning a major Mac invasion of new technologies, but it does not explain why this has been long overdue. Two big distractions may have been causing Apple's innovative Mac engine to sputter on 3-cylinders the past few years.
Forget what side of politics you play on. I am tossing my views aside for this article, just laying out the “logic” cards. Apple is supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign, and even more so Tim Cook. If you thought Apple’s best interests would be to support Trump, who talks about fighting tough on trade imbalance, or better tax rates, there is a lot more to it than that.
First and perhaps foremost is viewing how Cook separates Apple’s needs and wants with his own personal politics. Cook is involved in LGBT politics, and Apple is squarely in support of many LGBT ideals. But many shareholders wonder what this has to do with company profits? And which Presidential candidate should Apple support for maximum financial gains? But maybe Cook and many others on Apple’s board think beyond financial goals with their politics, but there are a few items we can clearly understand (well, as best we can in this crazy Presidential race).
If you walk into any Apple Store looking to buy a Mac, it is like stepping back in time two years — and those two years are not just regular years, they are technology years. In comparison to regular calendar years, technology years have like a 10:1 ratio. For example, this would like be walking into your local car dealership and the most current model they were selling was from 1996!
Apple’s Mac lineup is stale, and that is putting it mildly. The Mac Pro is now a staggering 2 1/2 years into its lifecycle without a single upgrade. The MacBook Air has seen almost no changes, save for incremental processor updates since 2010. The iMac form factor has not changed since the fall of 2012. The newly minted MacBook and MacBook Pro's have seen only slight incremental upgrades this past year, and the Mac mini is a mere afterthought. What's going on?
The only significant new release to Apple’s Mac lineup has been the MacBook (of which I use and love), in April of 2015. It recently received a slight Intel processor update. Wow... In fact, all Apple has been keen to do the past few years is release Intel processor updates to products, with the MacBook Air still living in an ancient design, with what can now only be described as a horribly low-resolution display. Apple’s Mac lineup has become a cash cow with little invention, but that may be about to change.
Call it a sophisticated workstation, call it a silent powerhouse or video editing marvel, but now-a-days, do not call it relevant. Apple has again let its cutting edge flagship Mac Pro tower languish into obscurity due to a lax approach to updating, reminiscent of predecessors. How relatively lax you may ask? Since its release on December 13, 2013, the Mac Pro has had not three, not two, not one, but zero updates — as in none.
The good news, according to financial site The Motley Fool, is that the long overdue refresh may be arriving soon. Today is supposedly the day Intel will release its 14nm "Broadwell EP" lineup. As workstation class chips go, the Broadwell-E looks to be impressive as ever, sporting up to 10 cores per processor, with an overall 18% raw speed increase. But Intel has seen delays with this processor refresh, and as of yet there has been no press release for the processor. Will Intel suffer upon us yet another delay, thus delaying the Mac Pro update?
According to FutureSource Consulting, Google's Chromebooks achieved 51% share in the K-12 educational market. Historically, Apple has long been the market leader in educational sales — which may have been a key factor in surviving Apple’s 1990’s collapse as school districts were reluctant to leave the Mac platform. But today is a brave new world, full of tablets and mobile devices. Laptops and desktops are not what they were in the educational space. Say what you will about Unions and school districts spending every dime they get, budgets for technology are simply squeezed, and Apple is feeling the blow.
Google's Chromebooks offer a near 100% cloud-based experience, for dirt-cheap hardware prices. Chromebooks are not for music or video editing classes, but it would be silly to suggest Google does not have their eyes on a larger desktop prize. In the educational market, Apple has left space under their pricing umbrella, and it will eventually hurt Apple in the education market, if it hasn't already.