Investor Alert

New York Markets After Hours

MarketWatch First Take Archives | Email alerts

Nov. 10, 2020, 8:14 p.m. EST

Apple’s new Macs launch in time for holidays, but shouldn’t make your wish list

Watchlist Relevance

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Apple Inc. (AAPL)
  • X
    Intel Corp. (INTC)
  • X
    Adobe Inc. (ADBE)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Therese Poletti

One of the highlights of Tuesday’s third Apple Inc. launch event in the past few months came at the end of the presentation, with the return of the old “PC vs. Mac” ads, and this time, the nerdy-looking actor — John Hodgman — was alone.

“Stop. Hang on, wait. One more thing. Hi. I am a PC,” he said in a video . “Is there time for questions? ‘Cause I have one. Why? Why make all these advancements, what’s the point?”

That might be a question that some of Apple’s /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +2.77% professional customers are asking about the new line of Macs launched Tuesday, the first with the company’s new custom-designed M1 chips . Intel Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203649727/composite INTC -2.15% and its x86 chips still power the higher-end line of Apple computers, and Apple is promising to continue support of those machines once it moves fully to its own silicon design.

As third-party software developers catch up and optimize their offerings for the new setup, early adopters will have to run much of their software, including games, through Apple’s Rosetta 2 software, which will act as a translator for Intel-based apps that are not yet optimized for its new chip family. The new Macs will run Apple’s new operating system, Big Sur, and all of Apple’s native apps cleanly, and Apple’s closest friends, like Adobe Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200389143/composite ADBE +0.21% , will be ready earlier than most. Photoshop, used by designers and photographers, will be available early next year, and Lightroom is coming next month.

“Those creative types do tend to use Macs,” said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research. “However, having said that, it would have been a real loss for Apple to wait for every app to be ready to launch.”

The more important consideration was the coming holiday season, Lopez said.

“They have the chip, they have the machine, a lot of apps will work for a majority of consumers. … If they don’t launch this year, they miss Christmas.”

Beyond consumers, Apple is hoping to catch any corporate and educational buyers who need to get any purchases in before the end of the calendar year.

“The next wave of buying won’t be for months after that, so timing is critical,” she said.

For consumers, though, a holiday purchase should lead to real thought. The choice with the new Mac line is between either an unproven technology, or one that its manufacturer may feel pressured to make obsolete sooner rather than later.

Apple’s unproven technology is usually a pretty sure thing, and the early advances in battery life are appealing. Apple touted one system without a fan, and the new MacBook Air offers up to 15 hour of battery life, with wireless web browsing and up 18 hours of video playback. In the ad the company showed, actor Hodgman was proud of the noise the fan in the PC makes, but then at the end, he runs off camera, yelling that he needs to find a power outlet.

Apple really didn’t back up many of its claims, though. Apple said the new MacBook Pro will run 2.8 times faster than its previous generation, but it did not show any performance comparisons with Intel-based machines.

“We’ll need to see third-party tests to confirm if the new Macs perform as well as the Intel Macs,” Kevin Krewell, an analyst with Tirias Research, said in an email. “Apple has a history of cherry-picking performance comparisons. ”

Even so, Krewell said that he believed this transition will go much smoother than when Apple moved from the PowerPC architecture to Intel chips in 2006. “Apple has better software tools and a long history of iOS development to build on,” he said.

No technology transition is easy, but investors appear confident that Apple’s will go smoothly. After falling slightly early in the morning, Apple’s stock came back, and in after-hours trading, it was up very slightly. But consumers who buy the new Macs and use a lot of software not designed by Apple should anticipate the possibility of some sluggishness, at least in these early stages.

US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 142.92
+3.85 +2.77%
Volume: 157.01M
Jan. 25, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$2339.61 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 55.44
-1.22 -2.15%
Volume: 61.93M
Jan. 25, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$230.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 473.44
+1.00 +0.21%
Volume: 2.70M
Jan. 25, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$226.16 billion
Rev. per Employee

Get news alerts on Apple Inc. — or create your own.
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.