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.


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.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
110 months ago
Not surprised. Intel seems to be working out pretty good on this machine.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
110 months ago
I stopped reading at

Cnet reports...

Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
110 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)
Avatar
110 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)
Avatar
110 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)
Avatar
110 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)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

Google to 'Dramatically' Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life

Sunday July 12, 2020 1:56 pm PDT by
Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chrome will improve "tab throttling" by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance." Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...

Deals: Amazon Taking $400 Off 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Starting at New Low Price of $1,999.99 for 512GB

Monday July 13, 2020 5:34 am PDT by
Amazon has introduced a new low price on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro today, including both 512GB and 1TB models. Starting with the 512GB model (2.6GHz 6-Core, 16GB RAM), you can get this notebook for $1,999.99, down from $2,399.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....