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A strong ARM: Apple changed 2020, will the laptop industry change in 2021

At the Rs 1,00,000 price point, Apple is expected to give other premium brands a run for the money.At the Rs 1,00,000 price point, Apple is expected to give other premium brands a run for the money.

Although 2020 would be remembered as tAlthough 2020 would be remembered as the year of coronavirus and the leaps and bounds we made in vaccine development, it would also be known as the year Apple succeeded in transforming the personal computing industry. The least exciting component of Apple, the Macs–they account for nearly 10-12% of the company’s total revenues–became the most talked about launch of the year. While Apple was already using its chips in its wearables, iPhones and iPads, the company earlier in 2020 announced that it would be bringing Apple Silicon to laptops. Later in November, when the company did launch its new M1 silicon Macs, they exhibited exceptional efficiency and power gains. A 17-hour battery life, a near-perfect transition software and better single-core and multi-core efficiency than Intel’s processors stunned most reviewers. Most had expected Apple to compromise on either power or performance.

At the Rs 1,00,000 price point, Apple is expected to give other premium brands a run for the money. But the question is will it change the industry to transition to ARM-based processors and RISC-based architecture.

While ARM processors have been in existence for long, performance issues have hindered their uptake by laptop makers. As smartphones started becoming more powerful–the new range can accommodate 32GB RAM, 1 TB hard disk and perform complex tasks–they found acceptance amongst tablets.

Apple is not the first company to introduce ARM-based processors for laptops, Microsoft introduced RT a few years ago without much success, and Surface Pro X recently. But Apple’s experiment is unique because it has been able to extract more juice out of laptops. More importantly, it has been able to ready the Adobes and the Microsofts to reconfigure millions of codes to run programmes using the RISC ecosystem. Microsoft, on the other hand, wasn’t even able to get Windows to run with RISC. The other achievement for Apple is the transition software. Rosetta 2 is much more efficient than before, it can run legacy software with the new Macs with little transition issues.

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But will it change the industry? The laptop business for Apple is anyhow not big enough to make a significant impact on revenues, nor is it expected to be. The new phenomenon is services; the share has increased from 6.52% in Q1 2012 to 22% in Q4 2020. Apple has nevertheless changed the status quo.
Not many companies would unveil ARM-based laptops in 2021, at least, not many successful ones. But expect ARM to mark the next decade.

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