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Apple expected to unveil new Macs as PC industry slump eases

Apple is expected to unveil at an event on Monday (Oct 30) new Mac computers and possibly a new chip to power them as it gears up for a fresh bout of competition against Windows-based PCs with better battery life starting next year, analysts said.

The event, to be livestreamed at 8pm ET, comes as Apple has seen a revitalization in its Mac business, roughly doubling its market share to nearly 11 per cent since 2020 when it parted ways with Intel and started using its own custom-designed chips as the brains of the machines, according to preliminary data from IDC. The event could include laptops and desktops.

Apple’s custom chips, which use technology from Arm Holdings, have given its Macs better battery life and, for some tasks, better performance than machines using Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Apple’s shakeup of the market has spurred Qualcomm to redouble its efforts to make Arm-based chips for Windows, and last week it said it plans to release a chip that is both faster and more energy efficient than some Apple offerings. Reuters last week reported that Nvidia also plans to jump into the PC market as early as 2025.

“The good thing here is, it feels like there’s a competitive environment again on PC and Mac chips,” said Ben Bajarin, CEO and principal analyst at Creative Strategies, who added that computer makers are racing to offer machines that can carry out artificial intelligence tasks like generating text and images.

At Apple, the Mac hit $40.18 billion in revenue for its fiscal 2022, or about 11 per cent of its revenue. While that was up 14 per cent from the previous fiscal year, sales this year have slowed along with the rest of the PC industry, which has suffered a post-pandemic slump.

Bajarin and other analysts expect Apple to debut on Monday a new chip called the M3, possibly with a few variants for higher performance. But it remains unclear how many models Apple will put the new chip into.

Analysts expect the M3 will be made with 3-nanometer manufacturing technology at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which uses the same technology to make chips for the top-end iPhone 15 models.

Bajarin said he thinks that supply constraints will lead Apple to focus on higher-end Mac models used by large businesses.

“Most likely, more than 50 per cent of their user base is still Intel-based Macs” and especially so among business users, Bajarin said. “Everything will be oriented at getting that Intel base to upgrade.”

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