During a Halloween Eve Apple product launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook, dressed in all black at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, unveiled the next generation of Mac computers. This new phase indicates a future driven by AI technology.
The event focused on Apple's new line of custom-made M3 chips, including the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Pro Max. These processors promise enhanced performance in computing and graphics, as well as longer battery life. Additionally, they are designed to better support advancements in artificial intelligence due to their utilization of 3 nanometer technology. The chips will come pre-installed in Apple's latest MacBook Pro and iMac models.
"This Halloween event showcased Apple's vision and the evident potential of its new chip, which marks the creation of the most advanced chips ever for personal computers," Cook emphasized. "Apple's ability to deliver such deep integration is unparalleled, showcasing our continuous commitment to innovation." While companies like Microsoft, Google, and Meta have openly discussed their plans for an AI future, Apple has been relatively less revealing. Nonetheless, reports suggest that Apple has been actively developing generative AI tools of its own to compete with ChatGPT. Analysts speculate that Apple's strategic approach to supporting AI work and harnessing the power of its new chip was evident at the Halloween event.
"Although Apple may not openly discuss AI, the company is fully aware of its flourishing use cases and the extensive computing power needed for its development," stated Forrester analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee. "This presents an immense and promising opportunity, and Apple aims to capitalize on it."
So, how challenging could it be?
During the presentation, Apple showcased the capabilities of an M3 device for conducting complex tasks like DNA/RNA sequencing. This technology has the potential to detect early-stage cancers and aid in preventing pandemics, regardless of the location. Additionally, Apple presented a promotional video illustrating how the Mac can be utilized for diverse purposes, ranging from analyzing ECG signals to mapping the intricate structures of galaxies. In the video, one actor acknowledges the challenging nature of the work, to which another responds, "But you're using a Mac, so how difficult could it be?"
Tim Cook presents during an Apple livestream on October 30, 2023.
Apple's upgrades coincide with its growing success in the traditional PC and laptop market. Despite this, it still trails behind Lenovo, Dell, and HP in terms of product shipments, according to IDC Research. In 2022, Apple reported shipping approximately 26 million Macs, which accounted for 9.1% of the overall market—an increase from the previous year's 7.8%. Conversely, the overall PC market experienced a 15% decline, shipping around 292 million computers that same year.
While the iPhone and Apple services like iCloud, Apple TV+, and Apple Music continue to be significant revenue generators for the company, sales of Macs and iPads have decreased year after year. This decline is primarily attributed to weaker demand, excess inventory, and a worsening macroeconomic climate.
Apple is seeking a boost in revenue, particularly leading up to the holiday season, with the release of the new iPhone 15. However, there is a feeling that demand is lacking, particularly in China, which is a crucial market for the brand. Chatterjee mentioned that if iPhone revenue decelerates, a countermeasure needs to be implemented.
Creating their own sandbox.
David McQueen, a director at ABI Research, stated that predicting the impact of the new chip on the overall sales of the computer market is challenging. According to him, Apple's goal is to position itself as a performance leader against Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, NVIDIA, and Dell by offering chips that support productivity-related AI tools. McQueen emphasized that it is crucial for Apple to ensure that the performance of its silicon remains on par with or surpasses its competitors.
Kieren Jessop, an analyst from UK market research firm Canalys, stated that instead of Apple catching up, their focus is on "running their own race." He emphasized that Apple's main objective is to empower developers and enhance the capabilities of their platform by creating their own sandbox for developers to work in.
The introduction of the M3 chip for its MacBook Pro and iMac lines has solidified Apple's commitment to a future filled with AI integration, despite the ambiguity surrounding their vision for the AI era.