ARM-Based MacBook Air Unlikely Based on Analyst Talk with Tim Cook

There had been some interesting claims last year that Apple had been actively testing an ARM (A5) based MacBook Air. The ARM processor is the same one that is used in the iPhone and iPad. An ARM-based MacBook Air, however, would raise a number of questions about what kind of device it might actually be. Would it run OS X, or iOS? Would it be closer to a Mac or an iOS device? One of the main advantages of using an ARM processor would be a reduction in power-requirements, but with a corresponding drop in computing power. Using ARM, however, would abandon binary compatibility with existing Mac OS X applications.

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CNet reports on a research note from Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner who was able to meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer on Thursday. Gardner addresses this question in his note with the following:

"Tim Cook reiterated his view that rapid innovation on the iOS platform (and mobile OS platforms in general) will significantly broaden the use case for tablets, eventually pushing annual tablet volumes above those of traditional PCs. We have wondered whether Apple might offer an ARM-based version of MacBook Air at some point; we walked away from this meeting with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies--or will soon satisfy--the needs of those who might have been interested in such a product."

Based on his conversations with the Apple executives, it seems Gardner believes that the iPad will evolve to meet any needs that might be met with an ARM-based MacBook air.

Rumors have suggested that the iPad will likely be getting a significant upgrade in the near future, with a faster processor, improved graphics capabilities and the long rumored Retina display. Of course, Cook is unlikely to divulge specific product plans at analyst meetings, but a complete Apple transition to ARM processors seemed an unlikely prospect regardless.

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Top Rated Comments

VanMac Avatar
161 months ago
Not surprised. Intel seems to be working out pretty good on this machine.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GSPice Avatar
161 months ago
I stopped reading at
Cnet reports...
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalsta Avatar
161 months ago
An ARM-based MacBook Air, however, would raise a number of questions about what kind of device it might actually be. Would it run OS X, or iOS?

iOS = touchscreen. OS X = mouse and keyboard.

I don't know why we have these persistent debates about OS X merging with iOS, and hybrid touchscreen devices capable of running Mac software. That is Microsoft's approach, not Apple's! Apple understood that a device which tries to do everything, ends up not doing anything particularly well, and ends up adding complexity (for both developers and users) rather than reducing it. So they designed a UI specifically for a touchscreen device. I'd say they've done rather well with this approach.

I guess that kills my hope that Apple will offer an"ipad pro"; a Lion based tablet of similar capabilities and dimensions of the MBA 11. Seemed like the perfect way to make win8 tablets DOA.

You're suggesting Apple needs to copy Microsoft's approach, the one that's been failing for years to bring a user-friendly tablet to market, to ensure they do well in the market they already dominate? That doesn't make much sense to me.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
parapup Avatar
161 months ago
Ok, at least analysts can stop now. We don't have to hear stupid 'theories' and rumors about an A6 Air for some time. That cannot be bad.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BobbyRond Avatar
161 months ago
I hope this will never happen. This would make it an Apple netbook. And god do I hate netbooks. :rolleyes:
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalsta Avatar
161 months ago
For those that need to do serious work dock station with physical keyboard and external display will be usable (an extension of airplay), for even more computational intensive work, there would be cloud options an VMs.
The desktop computer as we know it is going to disappear during the next 10 years if only because it isn't great business anymore.

Docking an iPad with a keyboard and display does not a Mac replace. This idea is more or less just another variation on the merging OS idea, to suggest that iOS will simply replace OS X. A pointer device and cursor is intimately more suited to precision work than touching a screen with your pudgy digits (which cover what you're touching). This isn't going to change in the future, unless humans evolve transparent fingers which narrow to a precision point at the end, and the ability to hold their arms extended up to a vertical screen for hours on end.

What has been missing is a complete professional experience. Writers, engineers, creative professionals all need a full fledged computer to do their daily work. However, almost all of these could be done better on a tablet if the right hardware and software combination came together. If Apple's latests apps are any indication, this is beginning to happen.

Old timers might not like it, but Mac OSX's life is now limited.

This ol' timer says no.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)