by Brandon Butler
Perception of a smooth transition 11/10/2020

Nick Heer at Pixel Envy:

Next Friday, the first Macs powered by processors of Apple’s own design will go on sale. That is a pretty big deal. But what isn’t — at least, not from a user’s perspective — is the transition from one architecture to another. Apple last did this about fifteen years ago when it moved from PowerPC to Intel processors, and it is effectively copying its own playbook from that time. There are even sequels of the same transitional technologies: Rosetta 2 and Universal 2.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the Macs announced today use enclosures that are either identical or nearly so to the Intel model equivalents, and at similar prices. The perception of a smooth transition would be marred if there were a clear line between Intel Macs and Apple Silicon Macs, so it is best to keep everything pretty samey.

Heer makes a really good point: by keeping the products familiar, average users see a normal, every day Mac for sale, and everyone seems a seemless transition from one architecture to the next. If it’s Apple’s game plan, it’s so far, so good.

“Nothing to see here, move along” however, feels like the wrong approach to selling a computer. Don’t you want, from a sales perspective, to get people excited about a new Mac? “Look here, this Mac has a new CPU” is gibberish to most people, but “Look here, this Mac has an all new design and a touchscreen display and an RGB glowing Apple logo and a 4k webcam and comes in 18 colors” gives me a clear message: it’s upgrade time.