Apple revamps Mac line-up and pricing with new family of chips
SAN FRANCISCO – Apple on Monday introduced new MacBook Pro and iMac computers and three new chips to power them, with the company saying it had redesigned its graphics processing units, a key part of the chip where Nvidia dominates the market.
The new computers and the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips were unveiled at an online event heavily focused on professional users.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro laptop will start at US$1,599 and a 16-inch version starts at US$2,499. The new iMac desktop with the M3 family of chips starts at US$1,299.
In Singapore, the laptops will retail from $2,299.
Some will be available next week, while others will not ship until later in November.
Apple has seen a revitalisation in its Mac business, roughly doubling its market share to nearly 11 per cent since 2020 when it parted ways with Intel and started using its own custom-designed chips as the brains of the machines, according to preliminary data from IDC.
As part of the focus on business users on Monday, it showed off a new secure screen sharing feature that would let them work on their machines from remote locations.
The company’s custom chips, which use design technology from Arm Holdings, have given its Macs better battery life and, for some tasks, better performance than machines using Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
Unlike other laptop makers that might combine a central processor unit (CPU) from Intel with a GPU from Nvidia, Apple has combined both parts in its Apple silicon chips, which the company claims gives it better performance than its rivals.
Apple’s shake-up of the market has spurred Qualcomm to redouble its efforts to make Arm-based chips for Windows, announcing plans last week to release a chip that is both faster and more energy efficient than some Apple offerings.
Reuters last week reported that Nvidia also plans to jump into the PC market as early as 2025.
Apple aimed the new machines squarely at designers, musicians and software developers, at one point highlighting that the way it users memory can be used by artificial intelligence researchers, whose chatbots and other creations are often constrained by how much data can be held in the computer’s memory.
Apple also tweaked its overall line-up of computers in ways that could change the behaviour of corporate buyers.
While slashing the US price of the new 14-inch MacBook Pro from US$1,999 to US$1,599, Apple appeared to have eliminated a cheaper US$1,299 13-inch model of its MacBook Pro that was a big seller to businesses, said Mr Ben Bajarin, chief executive and principal analyst at Creative Strategies.
That move will likely clarify the choice between the company’s model lines, prompting choices between Apple’s productivity-oriented MacBook Air models that top out at US$1,299 or the new US$1,599 starting price for MacBook Pro models.
At Apple, the Mac hit US$40.18 billion in revenue for its fiscal 2022, or about 11 per cent of its revenue.
While that was up 14 per cent from the previous fiscal year, sales this year have slowed along with the rest of the PC industry, which has suffered a post-pandemic slump.
Apple said the new chips would be the first for laptops and desktops that use 3 nanometer manufacturing technology, which will give the chips better performance for each watt of electricity used.
Apple did not name who is making the chips, but analysts believe it is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which uses the same technology to make chips for the top-end iPhone 15 models.
Throughout the event, Apple executives compared the performance of the new MacBooks and iMac machines to older Apple machines with chips from Intel, playing up how much speed customers would notice by upgrading to devices with Apple’s own chips. – REUTERS