In November, Apple released new Macs based on its own chip, a move way from Intel forever, that has long-term disruption to the Mac market for years to come. Essentially, the M1 is based on the design that has been powering the iPhone and iPad for years now. The difference is that the M1 was designed for the Mac. The late 2020 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini is just a taste of what is to come. And judging by media coverage, reviews, and general excitement, people are loving what they see.
Overlooked is what it means for the Mac market in the long term. These new Macs were barely on sale before fans are talking about the M1X, presumably the next M1 upgrade that may power MacBooks with bigger screens and the iMac. Oh, and you have to throw M2 into the mix of what Mac fans are excited about.
M1, M2, or M5. Consider this. Whenever new iPhone comes out, Apple has kept around some of the previous year's models around to take up lower price points while the newest models take up the current price points (or higher). That is the same with the iPad. The iPhone has a price range from $399 to $1299. And when the iPad came out, it was priced at $499. Today, the cheapest iPad is $329 and the iPad Pro topping off at $1499.
The cheapest M1 Mac is the MacBook Air at $999. The most expensive Mac with a M1 chip is almost $2000 while the Intel MacBook Pro is even higher. What will happen when the newer M-series chip come out to power the Mac? Will Apple stop making M1 Macs and only sell the M1X or M2 ones instead?
It could. The PC market is different from smartphone or tablet markets. However, Apple may be interested in capture a larger share of the PC market if it can lower the prices of the Mac, to say around $600. In a few years, Apple may be able to sell a $599 MacBook with a 10" screen that can complete more effective with PCs in that range. Right now, Apple is giving up a lot of sales to underpowered and cheap Windows and Chrome laptops. By spending just a little more, users can buy MacBooks that are powerful running the latest OS X.
This would represent a seismic shift in the PC market - tens of millions of users will suddenly be able to afford Macs that were previously priced out of the range they were willing to spend. And as years pass, features and speed of the Mac that was previously available to only to the higher end Mac would begin to trickle down these more consumer and school friendly Macs.
If Apple takes up this strategy, do not be surprised if it sucks an even larger share of the dollar spent in the PC hardware market but also increase sizably in the number of units sold as well.