Apple has spent two years revamping the MacBook, and Monday should show the final step

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Apple is holding a launch event on Monday to announce new products, which will likely include a redesigned MacBook Pro.

Apple has a chance to keep pushing its Macs ahead of the Christmas shopping season, especially as it is expected to announce more computers that run on its own chips rather than Intel’s processors.

Recent computers running on the company’s powerful M1 processor have “spurred the growth of the Mac,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in June. In the most recent three quarters ending June 2021, Apple sold $26 billion worth of Macs, nearly 33% more than the $19.59 billion it sold in the same period last year. “In fact, the last three quarters have been the best three quarters ever for Mac,” Cook said in June.

Before the pandemic, which led to the sale of new computers, many customers and analysts feared that Apple was neglecting the Mac in favor of newer, faster-growing companies such as the Apple Watch and iPhones. But Mac computers remain essential to Apple. For example, it’s only possible to develop iPhone apps on a Mac through Apple’s Xcode software, and Mac remains a bigger enterprise than iPad.

Last month, Apple announced and subsequently released new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, leaving Apple’s line of Macs as the remaining major product line that hasn’t been updated this fall. The larger 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop, hasn’t been updated since 2019 and currently uses Intel processors instead of newer Apple chips.

Here’s what to expect on Monday.

A completed transition

If Apple announces new MacBook laptops on Monday, it will be the culmination of a two-year transition to completely revamp the entire Mac lineup.

Since 2019, Apple has been replacing Intel processors in Macs with its own processors, called M1, which offer longer battery life and allow Apple to more closely integrate its hardware and software. Apple’s chips also enable new features, while still providing enough power to run demanding applications.

So far, Apple has released four different Macs with its new chips: the MacBook Air, the Mac Mini, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the redesigned 24-inch iMac.

Apple is likely to highlight the benefits of its own chip, as it has done at the past several Mac launch events. Expect a new name for the M1 chip if Apple makes significant performance improvements. It could call it the M1X or M2, depending on how Apple wants to market the processor improvements.

Apple is reportedly preparing a redesign for its high-end MacBook Pros with proprietary chips and new ports, including space for an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to monitors, and a magnetic charger, Bloomberg reported. Work is also underway on a larger-screen iMac and a more powerful Mac Mini desktop, the report said.

On Monday, Apple is also likely to release a release date for macOS Monterey, the latest version of the Mac software, which was announced in June but hasn’t been officially released yet.

More ports

Apple’s Mac growth is also due to changes the company has made to address some longstanding consumer issues with some products.

Between the end of 2017 and the second fiscal quarter of 2020, Apple reported eight out of ten quarters of flat or negative annual growth in its Mac business. Growth started to pick up in 2020.

In 2015, Apple introduced a thinner keyboard design for its laptops, often referred to as the “butterfly keyboard.” Over the next few years, the thinner keyboard became standard in Apple’s line of laptops.

But the keyboard was plagued with reports that it was unreliable and that crumbs or dust could make certain keys “sticky” and fail to register or type certain letters twice. Apple has an ongoing service program to repair defective butterfly keyboards produced from 2015 to 2019 for free. It is also facing a class-action lawsuit over whether it knew the keyboards were faulty.

During this period, the biggest new addition to Apple’s laptops was the Touch Bar, a strip of touchscreen that replaced the function keys. However, many users found it frustrating and less useful than regular keys. Software developers never got together to make touchscreen software, and Apple’s recent M1 MacBook Air doesn’t have it.

At the same time, Apple significantly reduced the number of ports on its laptops and streamlined them into a pair of USB-C connectors. Users complained that they needed adapters, often called dongles, to connect things like mice and external monitors to the laptops, which sometimes used older USB-A connections. The dongles Apple made were expensive, often costing more than $20 per adapter. The company temporarily cut adapter prices in 2016 after users complained.

That could change on Monday. Apple’s new MacBook Pro design could include an HDMI port to connect the laptop to external monitors or TVs, an SD card port for photographers, and a new version of the MagSafe magnetic charger, eliminating many complaints from professional users. resolved, Bloomberg said. Apple’s 2017 MacBook Air was the last laptop with MagSafe charging, even though customers liked that.

Apple has started to roll back some of the Mac design decisions it’s made over the past decade. The M1 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro now have a more traditional keyboard with deeper keys. Both computers have received positive reviews. The laptops still use USB-C ports for charging, but Apple’s new iMac desktop, the first redesign since 2015, has a new kind of magnetic power adapter.

An increase in PC sales

Apple’s Mac business has been boosted by a global surge in PC sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, as schools, businesses and individuals bought new laptops and desktops to go to school or work from home.

Earlier this year, according to research firm Gartner, at its peak, PC sales (including Windows) had their highest year-over-year growth in 20 years. Research firm IDC said PC sales rose 55% year-over-year in the first quarter. Analysts from the PC industry and component makers at the time said they were optimistic there was a permanent shift in PC sales trends.

But the pandemic-related PC peak may be coming to an end. According to market researcher IDC, the US PC market contracted for the first time since the first quarter of the pandemic in the third quarter, typically a boom period due to back-to-school sales.

Apple computer shipments are up 10% in the third quarter, according to IDC, but the pandemic trends that lifted all manufacturers appear to have slowed down significantly. Before the pandemic, PCs were one of the slowest-growing technology markets, with several years of flat growth over the past decade.

Apple hopes shiny new Macs can break that trend.

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