Once upon a time, the tech industry flocked to Apple events to swoon over software and hardware design. Things have changed.
Now the industry is tuning in to architecture — and crying over lost opportunities as Apple moves its platforms far, far ahead of everyone else. Of the society “Peak performance“Today’s event saw the company pull off a big, old-fashioned smackdown.
The day the industry changed
In short, the days when Apple computers looked great, ran great software, but felt a bit underpowered are behind us.
Now, its machines look great, still run fantastic software, and actually deliver as much (or more) power as other rigs, while displaying a clear commitment to environmental stewardship.
This latest commitment means that any company currently using many PCs can see an almost immediate financial benefit simply by replacing those PCs with Macs, because Apple’s processors require so little power.
So what did Apple introduce?
Discover the new iPhone SE
Now with 5G, an A15 processor, better battery life and a new camera system that can take brilliant photos, the 4.7 inches. iPhone SE costs start at $429 (64 GB). It’s now the best way to roll out 5G support to mobile teams on a budget, and the fact that Apple has proven it will support these devices with new software and security patches for years makes this device a serious contender for anyone’s smartphone deployment budget.
And the iPad Air…
Apple surprised almost everyone with a new iPad Air. Confirming the speculations that appeared at the 11th hour, the system now uses an M1 chip (the same one you find in Macs), has a 12MP camera with CenterStage, a 10.9 inch. Retina display and optional 5G cellular (if desired). The design is pretty much unchanged: you still get Touch ID and a Home button. But what you also get is a huge performance boost – 60% faster CPU performance and twice the graphics performance of the latest iPad Air. Apple also pointed out that these iPads are twice as fast as top-selling Windows laptops in the same price range (starting at $599).
What does this mean for your business? This means that for certain tasks, the iPad offers all the theoretical performance you could need to replace long-in-the-tooth Windows PCs with mobile devices that your employees could actually enjoy.
It also makes it seriously possible to deploy iPads to perform tasks that could not be easily computerized before. Think of flight crews outfitted with iPads to replace the paper-based processes they used to do. Again, Apple’s commitment to product support means these systems are investments that will keep working for years to come.
The big news: Mac Studio and Studio display
But the biggest news seems to have surprised us all. Yes, we were all expecting a brand new Mac mini, but what we got was the mac studio — and an all-new Apple Silicon chip that upends all the jokes about Apple Macs being underpowered. Discover the M1 Ultra.
[Also read: One year on, developers still love Apple Silicon Macs]
The M1 Ultra delivers 90% better multithreaded performance than the fastest 16-core PC desktop chip available at the same power. It also offers a 20-core CPU, a 64-core GPU (for faster performance than the highest-end PC GPU money can buy with 200 watts less power), and 10 times better than the latest PC desktop chip.
Apple’s Mac Studio desktop looks a lot like a larger Mac mini with more interconnects and is available with an M1 Ultra chip ($3,999) or the same M1 Max processor ($1,999) you’ll find in the MacBook Highest-end pro.
Eagle-eyed readers might recall my review of a MacBook Pro with this chip, which basically said the computer could perform any high-end task you can imagine. I have no doubt that it is the same with the M1 Ultra. With a little more.
Apple’s new Studio display is also very interesting, but I think it’s time to head straight for the takeaways here, which are:
- Mac Studio is Apple’s Mac Steve Jobs has always wanted to deliver. It gives Apple a desktop computer that absolutely rivals (and in many ways excels) what you’d expect from PCs at the same price or more.
- It’s a huge challenge that other processor developers seem to fall far short of. gives Apple years ahead of the industry. I’m confident the benchmark tests (as they appear) will prove it.
- The direction of the processor extends to all announced Apple products.
- Apple also told us that it has one more Mac to switch to Apple Silicon, presumably the Mac Pro. The transition is almost complete.
- The problem Apple seems to be heading towards is that its mid-range products seem to become quite capable of handling almost anything you throw at them (whereas the high-end solutions can handle challenges you don’t even have yet thought). It’s a good problem.
- Apple is about redefine computer industry. At the high end, its products match or beat anything you can get from anyone else. Your employees will want even more.
- If you use a computer for business purposes, you can be sure that, assuming your industry or business isn’t reliant on legacy software or equipment, an Apple solution will more than meet your needs.
- Apple has never competed at this level before. The industry will have to get used to it. And as this message gets through, old corporate IT loyalties will continue to atrophy. To put it simply, Apple is no longer about design. It has become the gold standard of what to expect.
Two other things are worth noting.
Apple continues to be committed to environmentally responsible designs, and in these products, this involves 100% recycled rare earth elements. Along with huge improvements in energy consumption, it’s a milestone that positions Apple for a future defined by environmental stewardship and the conservation of the earth’s raw materials. Other players in the consumer electronics industry – and all business people – will need to follow suit, especially as global economic, environmental and political turmoil make this the right thing to do while improving results. Of course, machines that use less energy are cheaper to run, which big difference in results in all medium and large companies.
Technology is sexist
Apple’s leadership is dominated by men. I think the company is trying to narrow that divide, but changing the world (as Apple’s 10 years of progress in chip design efforts show) can take time.
We know that one of the ways to change systemic imbalance is to highlight positive patterns. With that in mind, I think Apple pulled off a pretty good move when it decided to put women in almost every speaking role in its presentation. In doing so, he sent a message to so many women who might want to get involved in tech that they can do it and be successful. This seemed to me to be a great way to celebrate International Women’s Daywhich coincided with the date of this Apple event.
I’m sure I missed some elements of today’s announcement. But if there’s one big takeaway that everyone should consider, it’s that Apple’s adventures in silicon have shaken up the industry.
And Apple is just getting started.
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