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    Newsletter Issue #1018: Random Thoughts on the Upcoming Apple Silicon Macs

    May 25th, 2021

    As you might expect, the skeptics are looking hard to find problems with Apple’s first generation Macs with the M1 chip. They need something to do, but other than app developers who haven’t upgraded their goods to the new silicon, and a few glitches here and there, the rollout has been quite seamless. What’s more, high Mac sales clearly indicate customers are pleased, or at least the changes aren’t impediments to buying new gear.

    Now I’m sure most people who purchase new Macs aren’t concerned so much about the fine details of a new processor architecture. That’s all about we geeks getting involved in the nuts and bolts and Apple’s design choices.

    For the first release of the M1 Mac mini, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple followed the same tact used in the transitions from Motorola to PowerPC and from PowerPC to Intel. The external designs were virtually identical to the models they replaced except for the new hardware. As a practical matter, most everything you did to make the new Macs run was the same as the older Mac. The 24-inch iMac represents the first change, to a thinner, lighter form factor — and they come in colors, which makes it sort of a throwback to the second generation iMacs from over 20 years ago.

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    Newsletter Issue #1016: So Apple Didn’t Fail Under Tim Cook

    May 16th, 2021

    Wall Street analysts must go back to the drawing boards after Apple reported two blowout quarters in a row so far this year. With total revenue of $89.6 billion for the most recent quarter, you’d almost think they had, by mistake, released the numbers for a holiday quarter. But no, this was correct. It was 54% higher than last year, with earnings of $1.40 per diluted share.

    Most important is that Apple’s “failing” products all had significant growth. That includes the iPhone and even the “old fashioned” Mac. So maybe Apple wasn’t so crazy switching to Apple Silicon and ditching Intel. Or maybe most Mac users don’t concern themselves with the niceties of parts selection and such and are more concerned with having a computer that, well mostly, just works.

    In passing, I go with the latter. While I don’t have any polls at hand, I rather suspect that the vast majority of Mac users wouldn’t know what sort of processor their machine has. Well, perhaps the numbers will be higher for the M1 Macs, since Apple has made such a huge deal in promoting them.

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    Newsletter Issue #1013: Apple’s M1 Macs: Must You Wait?

    December 29th, 2020

    If you’ve used Macs for a long time, say over 25 years, you might recall the original processor migration. Then it was the journey from Motorola 680×0 chips to the PowerPC, said to be the ultimate processor. But it wasn’t such a friendly change.

    For one thing, just about every app you used, even those from Apple, hadn’t made the trip to the new processor. So they had to run in emulation. So they’d run, more or less, about the same as Macs using the 68030 CPU, such as the IIci or the IIx. If you were upgrading from a Quadra, for example, using the 68040 CPU, you lost the performance advantage till the apps were updated.

    Now if you weren’t using Macs way back then — or weren’t even around — no worries. Most of this should be pretty clear anyway. Apple as “vintage” for several years), and a Late 2014 iMac (which has just been declared “vintage”).

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    Newsletter Issue #1011: The Apple Critic Report: Little Has Changed

    November 26th, 2020

    You’ve heard those claims. Whenever Apple takes a significant action with a new product, it is deemed to be endangering the company’s success. Whenever the company releases a modest or incremental update of a product, it’s accused of playing it safe.

    In other words, they can’t win.

    So let’s see where the Mac universe exists now: The first group of Macs with Apple Silicon, dubbed M1, has been released. They are entry-level models, such as the $699 Mac mini and the $999 MacBook Air, plus a $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro. You can easily boost the prices substantially by customizing with more RAM and storage.

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