Apple’s surprisingly early move to a 64-bit ARM processor for the iPhone 5s and iPad Air benefits current and future mobile products, but may also reflect the dawn of a sea-change in Apple’s flagship line.
As finely detailed in the AnandTech review of the iPhone 5s A7 processor, there are numerous benefits to the ARM V8 architecture beyond the capability to address more memory, not limited to competitive performance with Intel’s new Atom processor Bay Trail. Meanwhile in ‘macville‘, Apple’s desktop sales are sliding due mostly to new and former Apple customers opting for more affordable iOS products, that can handle the most common tasks once only in the desktop domain
Apple’s iPhone gross profits easily dominated the Macintosh product line by 2010, just a few years after the first iPhone was released and decades after the first Mac was released. This while Apple is now the only major computer company that has no touch interface on any of it’s desktop models and has the biggest R&D advantage in touch user-interfaces.
Apple by its own count has 275,000 iOS developers, many of whom have seamlessly adapted their software for the iPad using Apple’s Xcode IED. This same process could occur when the Apple TV has it’s own App Store, making it possible to play Angry Birds on the TV using your phone as a remote, for example. The one place you can’t play that same Angry Birds build, the Mac.
Is the A7 64-bit ARM architecture an embrace of the future of mobile or is the future of mobile the future of personal computing? If the next Mac generation is running OS 11 on an A8 or A9 with touch input and a sleek keyboard, it won’t be dissimilar from Microsoft’s Surface approach. The key difference may be the ability to converge a complete product ecosystem around a custom unified chipset.