What it is: Rumor has suggested that Apple will replace Intel processors with their own ARM processors, but Apple has no reason to do so.
At one time, Apple relied on PowerPC processors while PCs relied on faster and more powerful Intel processors. So Apple shifted from PowerPC processors to Intel processors.
To do this, they created Rosetta, a software emulation layer that allowed Intel processors to run PowerPC programs. Then developers crated fat binaries that contained both PowerPC and Intel code, allowing programs to run on either older PowerPC Macs or newer Intel Macs.
Now the latest rumor is that Apple will soon replace Intel processors for their own ARM processors on the Macintosh. However, that makes little sense even though Apple’s ARM processors are now getting faster and more powerful than equivalent Intel processors.
If Apple switched to ARM processors for the Macintosh, they the reasoning goes that they’ll have more powerful and energy efficient computers. However, doing so means Apple will sacrifice Windows compatibility and need to rely on an emulation layer to allow Intel programs to run on ARM processors.
Apple needed to shift to Intel processors because PowerPC processors were falling behind. Today, Apple does not need to shift to ARM processors because they’re already using ARM processors in the iPhone and iPad. Most kids today are growing up using smartphones and tablets while sales of PCs are slowly falling among consumers.
Since many kids today use smartphones and tablets and not traditional PCs like Windows PCs or even the Macintosh, there’s little reason for Apple to switch the Macintosh to ARM processors because people are no longer going to want a traditional PC. They’re going to want mobile devices like the iPad.
Today’s iPad is nearly as powerful as today’s laptops. In another generation or two, the iPad will be more powerful than equivalent laptops, which will only accelerate the shift away from PCs to mobile devices like tablets. That means Apple has little reason to prop up the fading world of PCs and has far more incentive to keep improving ARM processors for the iPad.
Creating iPadOS is Apple’s way of defining the future. With a dedicated operating system for tablets, Apple is going to make the iPad even more powerful with each generation. Combined with the growing power of ARM processors as well, and more people will simply buy iPads instead of laptop Macintoshes.
Therefore, the iPad is already the ARM equivalent of the Macintosh. The Macintosh, like PCs in general, are slowly fading away while mobile devices like tablets are continuing to grow. The future is clearly the iPad, not the Macintosh because the future is mobile and not desktop/laptop PCs no matter what operating system they might be running.
Just ask a mainframe of minicomputer user how well their favorite devices are holding up against PCs and that’s the future of PCs against mobile computing.
If you want the power and energy efficiency of an ARM processor, get an iPad. For many people, the iPad can already replace a traditional PC. In another generation or two, the iPad will be able to replace more PCs, not less.
The Macintosh has a limited future and Apple knows it. The iPad is clearly the future, and Apple knows that too. If you want to cling to the past, stick with a traditional PC. If you’re a child of today growing up in a world of smartphones and tablets, who never or rarely uses a traditional PC, you’ll likely never want a traditional PC.
Older people will cling to PCs. Younger people will cling to mobile computing. Eventually the older people will be a smaller part of the market and younger people will be a larger part of the market. It’s just logic, and that sums up the future of the Macintosh and Intel processors.