Apple Reportedly Taking Intel Out of Macs; ARM Likely Incoming

Intel Inside? Maybe not for long. Apple is reportedly planning a massive shift to its desktop and laptop lineup, potentially moving from Intel-based chipsets to its own processor architecture as early as 2020.

This news comes from Bloomberg’s Apple watchdog Mark Gurman, who has a very good track record with these news items. Codenamed “Kalamata” (possibly named for the first city to be liberated in the Greek war of independence), Apple’s plan has reportedly been approved by its brass, and will move forward.

Bloomberg’s report doesn’t tell us what sort architecture Apple is eyeing, but ARM seems the likely candidate. It’s already in use on iOS devices, where Apple has plenty of engineering experience and customization, and is utilized within consumer Macbooks Pro and iMacs Pro as a co-processor. The company designs its own A-series ARM SoCs for iPhones and iPads.

On the news, Intel stock plummeted.

Apple & Developers

This all relates to other rumor-mill grist: Marzipan. That is reportedly Apple’s initiative to have Mac and iOS apps work seamlessly together. It could even spell the end for the Mac App Store, instead giving us something akin to the failed Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative from Microsoft, which was an attempt to push “universal apps” across all devices.

With Marzipan, Apple is hoping to bridge the various gaps between iOS and macOS; most notably, apps that thrive on iOS are missing or abandoned on macOS. If we’re being blunt, it’s really hard to sell expensive notebook computers when the apps you want to use just aren’t there.

The line of sight for software developers is simple: write once, deploy everywhere. A unified platform would make developing apps for macOS and iOS simpler. Publishing to a singular App Store would make it all very effective from both a developer and consumer perspective.

But this also represents a sea change for Apple. If Apple streamlines the development process for apps, it’s going to have to abandon one development framework. We’ve posited that AppKit (macOS) has seen its end-of-life, and will probably be the one platform to go in this scenario. This may also affect actual professional apps such as Adobe’s suite of tools, or video editing software.

Apple will also have to consider how to qualify app purchases or subscriptions. Now, consumers are forced to buy apps multiple times for Mac, iPhone and iPad. Marzipan would either mean we’d be able to buy one app for all platforms – likely at a higher price point – or ‘licenses’ for the various platforms.

There are other considerations, as well. How ‘pro’ do iOS devices need to be? Do iPads need file systems? We can’t say Apple will even change the paradigm for iOS and macOS outside of the chipset architecture used. But, if Marzipan is really the path forward, unified architecture gets us a long way down that road.

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