Did you catch Apple’s magic trick?

Anthony Caruana
9 April, 2018
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Apple are the masters of getting people to talk about them without really saying too much themselves. On the back of a largely positive iPad/education event last week, the news should have been filled with reviews of the new iPad and its newfound Apple Pencil capability. Instead, a short statement made by an “unauthorised” person within Apple has dominated the Apple news cycle.

Apple is rumoured to be preparing for a future where it’s no longer encumbered by its relationship with Intel. And that shift, from “Intel Inside” to “Apple Inside” could be just a couple of years away.

Long-time followers of Apple should not be surprised at these rumours. Apple has never been good at playing with others and has only done so when it’s to their advantage. The shift to Intel processors in 2005 was a response to the poor performance per watt of energy the Power PC platform delivered and many delays to performance improvements in those processors.

Before the A-series processors hit the first iPhones in 2010, Apple worked with Samsung – their sometimes rival, sometimes collaborator – to power the earlier iPhones. But, in buying P.A Semi in 2008, they created the internal capful;ity to make their own processors which are manufactured in partnership with TSMC.

In other words, with the A-series, they kept the intellectual property and development roadmap to themselves while outsourcing the manufacturing process. Just as they do with almost every other product.

I’ll bet that Apple has been making prototype systems – probably based on the current MacBook design that use a bespoke version of the A-series processor family to run macOS using their own silicon. This mirrors the shift to Intel. Remember that back in 2005, Steve Jobs, in announcing the move to Intel, said OS X had been running on Intel systems within Apple since its initial release at the turn of the century.

So, what was Apple’s magic trick? They have prepared a major partner for the loss of their business and signalled to customers that things will be changing in the near future. Two years is enough time for everyone to get their heads around the change and for purchasing decisions to be made.

One of the complaints made about the shift to Intel was that it came a very short time after a new iMac was released. This time, Mac owners won’t be caught out.

And they’ve managed that without saying a word (officially) themselves.

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