Wednesday, May 29, 2024

When are the Macs Getting M4 Chips? Prediction: MacBook Pro With M4 At the WWDC

What are the new M4 chips? Presumably, Macs could get the M4 chip tomorrow if Apple decides to pull the trigger on them. 

First, let's address the question of why we are even talking about M4 based Macs when the M3 MacBooks were just realized about 7 months ago? Earlier this month, Apple released an all new slate of iPads - iPad Air and iPad Pro. The Air were upgraded to the M2 chip, the same chip that my MacBook Air has now. To the surprise of everyone even though rumors had suggested this weeks ago, the iPad Pro got the M4 chips. Traditionally, the iPad Pro felt like an after thought to the Mac but I am sure that is not really how Apple looks at it. 

This would be the first time that the iPad Pro with the M4 chip outperformed the Mac in terms of sheer horsepower - both in the single core and multi-core performance. However, a small segment of the iPad Pro users lament the fact that the performance of the M4 is wasted as the iPadOS 17 does not really take advantage of all the power of the M4 chip. Personally, I have this to say to these users - who cares? 

The question for these users should be when are the Macs getting the M4 love? I think we could be in for a June surprise at the WWDC when Apple talks about the future of its platforms on June 10th. If this does not happen in June, the next window of opportunity for Apple is this fall, probably October. 

Here is why I think it could happen in a little more than two weeks. Apple really cannot afford to let the Macs sort of languish with the M3 chip. And the M3 chips are powerful. Compared to the M4 though, I think power users really are looking forward to the M4 Pro and M4 Max. Apple will likely refresh the whole MacBook line up but don't be surprised if Apple only upgrades the MacBook Pro. After all, the WWDC is really about the pro users - programmers if you will. 

Apple could then complete the MacBook upgrade with the MacBook Air and possible a new MacBook, which would be another surprise and another post, later this fall in October. 

Another reason why I believe Apple will move on the M4 upgrade now rather than later is competition. With Intel waking up to Apple's threat and Qualcomm releasing its own ARM chips that rival Apple's own chips, Apple cannot afford to fall behind. Even a tie would be a blow to the chip design prowess that Apple has gained in the industry. Furthermore, it is all about artificial intelligence these days. The consumer understanding of AI is mediocre at best which is why these tech companies are all about AI this and AI that. Having the fastest chip only gives Apple bragging rights but its legendary integration between  hardware and software will give it an edge that Wintel or WinQual cannot never match.

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