The MacBook Air ‘envelope’ and why Intel could lose a large portion of the PC market to ARM

When Apple announced that it was giving up Android and moving to Mac, the PC market was going through a rare bad period. Despite the increasing demand as more users moved to work from home, the total number of smartphones sold still suffered heavy losses because the shops had to close, the supply chain was disturbed by assembly workers who could not reach it. factory.

In this market, Apple has a one-digit market share (the number of IDs. The number of Macs sold is less than 8%, only a small part of HP or Lenovo. Even, Apple’s market share is only calculated on laptops. , built-in desktops and workstations – that is, does not include the potential market for self-assembled PCs.

But with Intel, the departure of Apple could potentially be a bigger problem in the future.

12 years ago, still with a small market share, Steve Jobs started the revolution with a laptop in the envelope.

To see why, let’s go back to 2008. Through a performance that can be said to be as memorable as the launch of the iPhone or iPad, Steve Jobs pulled a laptop from the envelope in a standing ovation. of the audience. With a thickness of only 1.9cm, the first MacBook Air model is considered the opening product for the trend of ultra-thin and light laptops that will be pursued by PC manufacturers during the 2010s (and until today).

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the MacBook Air is a perfect laptop. To achieve impressive thinness, Apple had to remove the optical drive, which is still very popular at this time. The body has only one USB port and micro-DVI port, VGA or FireWire ports are removed. Despite being equipped with a customized Intel chip, some MacBook Air models still experience overheating leading to crashes.

Even the MacBook Air is so thin that it only has a single-channel speaker (mono) instead of a dual-channel speaker (stereo). To achieve a lower thickness than Toshiba, Apple had to accept too many trade-offs.

The MacBook Air envelope and why Intel could lose a large portion of the PC market to ARM | Phone

The first generations of MacBook Air carried too many weaknesses: heat dissipation, connectors, power …

The MacBook Air envelope and why Intel could lose a large portion of the PC market to ARM | Phone

But, the massive appearance of Ultrabooks shows that Apple was right to put the thin and light element first.

But what happened after that shows that, for many, “thin and light” is still a high enough requirement to sacrifice all the remaining factors. To increase the competitiveness of Windows laptops compared to MacBook Air, the main Intel had to propose a standard called “Ultrabook.” By this standard, Windows laptops were also super-thin, lacked ports, and were … as expensive as the MacBook Air. From ASUS to HP, from Dell to Acer and Lenovo, all of the major PC manufacturers, everyone has their own Ultrabook models for thousands of dollars.

Without Intel, Windows laptops (and even MacBooks) wouldn’t have been so thin. It was Intel who designed Apple specifically for a Core 2 Duo chip that is only 40% the size of Core 2 Duo models sold. It is Intel who created the Ultrabook standard to push PC manufacturers to create ultra-thin laptops. Intel led the way in the “airification” of laptop computers in the 2000s.

10 years later, the “thin and light” trend continues, but the key is difficult to select PC makers not Intel but ARM. Since 2012, Microsoft has made its first efforts to bring Windows to ARM through Windows RT and Surface. The attempt failed miserably, costing Microsoft nearly a billion dollars, but six years later, Microsoft still came back to Qualcomm to design a separate chip for Windows 10 running on ARM. In 2019, the ARM love was raised to a new level by Microsoft through Pro X, the first version of Surface Pro to be changed in many years.

The MacBook Air envelope and why Intel could lose a large portion of the PC market to ARM | Phone

Right now, the key to making lighter machines is non-Intel chips.

Expensive and quite a lot of application problems, Surface Pro X still has an important difference compared to Surface Pro 7: thinner and lighter. Because Surface can be considered as the most popular Windows hardware brand, Microsoft’s move to ARM will surely be learned by many manufacturers.

And, when Apple moved the entire Mac portfolio to ARM, these mobile chips received another big boost in communications. Because Apple has always been the learning pattern of competitors, the massive Windows laptop shift to ARM is sooner or later. Power or compatibility issues will probably still exist, but as the MacBook Air and Ultrabook have proven, there are still a number of users who put the thin and light requirement first. Right now, that need remains, but the key is no longer in Intel’s hands.

[ Æsir Tales ]
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