For the MacBook Air, Steve Jobs once considered it a great achievement in Apple's design.
▲ MacBook Air famous scene
And I also hope to create a real thin and light notebook computer, which can not only meet people's mobile office needs, but also not compromise on performance and functions.
In the Intel era, the MacBook Air was still some distance away from Jobs' idea, and its performance gave way to a thin and light design, making it positioned closer to an entry-level Apple product.
Until the arrival of the M chip, the MacBook Air has this potential.
In addition, for the MacBook Pro, Jobs said that "it is a real professional laptop", which will help some professionals complete work and create more efficiently.
Also in the Intel era, especially after 2016, MacBook Pro has been taking into account both performance and thinness, and strives to fill both sides.
As a result, the dreamy single heat pipe presses the Core-i9, making the MacBook Pro not so Pro, but because of the design, many professional specifications are abandoned.
Once again, with the release of the M chip, Apple redefines the MacBook Pro product line. On the product balance of thinness and performance, Apple chooses to favor performance.
From this point of view, the emergence of the M chip in 2020 is a very important node for the MacBook series product line.
The MacBook series products in the transition period have also begun to re-plan.
There will be a large wave of Mac updates in 2023
Compared with Intel chips, the advantage of Apple's self-developed M chips lies not only in cost control and ecological integration, but also in the ability to start product planning several years in advance.
In particular, the M chip is not sold externally, and Apple can have a stronger definition of the product based on the planning of the MacBook series and the development progress of the M chip.
▲ Bigger and stronger
The strict management of the product line is somewhat similar to Apple's control over the iPhone.
Such as update cycle, update frequency, specification iteration and reasonable design changes, material changes, etc.
Since the release of the M chip, June in the middle of the year and around December at the end of the year have basically become a stable update period for the MacBook series (Air, Pro).
After updating the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and M2 Max in early 2023, many Macs will also get updates in the middle and end of this year.
In the Power On podcast, Mark Gurman also disclosed Apple's iterative strategy for the Mac in the next few years.
▲ MacBook Air duo picture from: Macrumors
The long-rumored MacBook Air 15.5 is very likely to be released at WWDC in June, and it will still be equipped with a 5nm M2 chip, with a larger size.
The novelty and demand brought by the large size may offset the need for stronger performance. After all, for Apple, the size and design of Air can distinguish the positioning gap more than performance.
Due to the 3nm production capacity problem, the M3 chip will not arrive until the end of the year at the earliest, and it will still be released through the MacBook Air 13.3 at that time.
A colorful new iMac 24 is also on the horizon, though it's unclear whether it will be powered by the M2 or the M3.
In addition to processor iterations, the structure of the new iMac may also be optimized, perhaps with a narrower chin and a thinner body.
In addition, WWDC may also usher in the new Mac Pro of M2 Ultra. It is rumored that M2 Ultra will have a 24-core CPU, a 76-core GPU, and 192GB of unified memory.
Moreover, the body of the Mac Pro may be redesigned based on the M chip. I believe that according to Apple's practical concept, the Mac Pro may have a detachable and modular design.
As for M3 Pro and M3 Max, they will be updated in early 2024 (estimated to be a surprise attack before the lunar calendar), and there is a high probability that they will still maintain the feature of only chip upgrades.
▲ Touch OLED screen MacBook Pro, isn't it another form of iPad Pro?
In addition, Mark Gurman also pointed out that 2025 will be a year of important changes for the MacBook, the design mold will be replaced, and a touchable version of the OLED screen may also be ushered in.
Potentially a revolution in the way Macs operate.
From this point of view, for Mac this year, the update rhythm will be quite tight. Almost all Mac products will usher in specification changes, and it will also be a year when the bank balances of old Mac users suddenly disappear.
M2 chip with a weak sense of presence
If Mark Gurman's update frequency of the Mac product line is accurate, the M2 chip series product change cycle is almost 12 months, almost similar to the iPhone change cycle.
And, not surprisingly, the M3 will be the industry's first 3nm process chip, which is a "big update" compared to the 5nm M2.
If it is said that M2 is similar to the iPhone s enhanced version update, then M3 is the beginning of a new big update.
Macs and iPad Pros based on the M3 chip will also have a longer life cycle.
Regardless of the brand and product, from the perspective of the M chip, its update strategy is a bit familiar, which is somewhat similar to Intel's Tick-Tock chip replacement strategy.
Intel believes that processor architecture updates and process updates should be staggered to make chip design and manufacturing more efficient.
Tick means process update, and Tock means micro-processing architecture update. A Tick-Tock process, the cycle is set to two years, and then the chip replacement is promoted in an orderly manner.
From M1 to M2, it mainly focuses on the optimization of the chip architecture. The specific CPU cores are updated from M1's Firestorm and Icestorm to M2's Avalanche and Blizzard cores.
The M3 may be designed around the new 3nm process. Similar to Tick-Tock's strategy.
In addition, from M1, M2 to M3, it can be seen that Apple maintains a very stable chip replacement strategy, which is almost consistent with the A-series chips.
After the appearance of the M1, the unique energy efficiency ratio of the Arm chip allowed Mac sales to grow against the trend and promoted the replacement of many old Mac users.
But after the transformation, how to stimulate more demand, the answer given by Apple is to increase the size (subdivide products, maintain differences), and the other is to maintain a stable update frequency.
In this way, the Mac products under the M chip are somewhat similar to the iPhone.
Turn MacBook into iPhone
As the iPhone launches four new products a year, and will change the product line according to market demand, such a market orientation is mostly for the sake of sales.
The annual iPhone product line is a fairly standard strategy of medium cup, large cup and super large cup.
There is a "price anchor point" in subdividing the product line in this way, and it is easy to form a proportional bias when selecting products.
This is similar to the famous stalk of "8,000 budget for the card, and 28,000 for the graphics card", which can be regarded as a user's consumption thinking.
From Starbucks coffee to the current smartphone market, manufacturers have used this idea with great proficiency.
▲ Beggars’ Edition with memory and hard disk
When updating the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 at the beginning of this year, in view of the core of the M chip, the speed reduction of the entry-level SSD and the reasonable memory size, I clicked on the configuration table and the budget was almost doubled.
Looking at the entire Mac product line, including the free configuration of configurations, Mac covers a wide range of prices, and the products include many usage requirements.
But similar to the positioning of the iPhone 14 Plus, Apple also believes that the Mac market will also have a demand for a large screen but does not require high performance, and the MacBook Air 15.5 came into being.
In addition, similar to the iPhone, the core performance has actually developed to a high level, that is, under the workflow and usage habits of many people, it is not easy to perceive the gap caused by the core performance.
Therefore, the differentiation of many Apple products has also begun to shift from the pure core performance gap to the body material, design, camera, screen, etc., and the overall positioning gap has been opened up a little bit.
From a product point of view, the gap between each series is getting smaller and smaller, and there may be interference between different product lines, which will make it more difficult for consumers to make decisions at once, unless you know your needs very well.
But in the end, whether such a product strategy will bring about sustained sales growth requires a long-term observation. After all, iPhone mini and iPhone Plus have not been as successful as expected.
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