Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple is on the verge of transitioning the Mac from Intel processors to homegrown chips — a move that, even if it pays off in the long term, could mean hassles and tough choices over the next few years for developers and consumers.

The big picture: The move is a blow to Intel, long the U.S. microprocessor leader. Whether it is a win for Apple depends on the eventual cost savings and performance gains, as well as how smoothly Apple is able to handle its transition without losing customers and app developers.

Driving the news: Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Apple may announce its plans for the shift at its Worldwide Developer Conference, scheduled to take place online this month.

  • The move is not a surprise. Bloomberg has been reporting it for a while, as has Axios. What's new is that the change seems imminent.

Why it matters: The shift creates dilemmas both for customers deciding what to buy and when, and for software developers allocating scarce programming resources.

Flashback: Apple has changed the types of chips powering the Mac line twice before. In 1994, it switched away from the Motorola chips that powered the first Macintoshes to PowerPC chips, jointly developed by IBM and Motorola. Then, starting in 2005, it moved from PowerPC to Intel.

Consumers and businesses looking to buy a Mac computer in the next year or so will have to decide between two not-so-great options:

  • Buy one of the last of the old computers, and accept that there will be new software in a couple of years that doesn't work on your machine...
  • Or hang on to the old computer and buy one of the first new machines, even though it may not yet fully support much or all the software you need.

Developers face a dilemma of their own: when to put resources behind optimizing key programs for the new chips. Even after Apple officially announces the move and provides the tools, developers know that the base of potential users for the new software will start from zero.

Between the lines: Apple has a pretty good track record here, having managed past chip transitions — as well as the shift from classic Mac OS to OS X — fairly successfully. There were bumps, to be sure, and some applications took years to be converted, but in the end, everyone made it across, and the platform was stronger for it.

  • There will likely be some sort of compatibility layer allowing existing apps designed for Intel chips to run on the new Apple-made chips — as well as tools to help developers convert their programs without starting from scratch.
  • That said, such approaches have a mixed track record and can slow performance.

Yes, but: This transition differs from Apple's previous ones in a couple of ways.

  • The Mac isn't the center of Apple's business any more. Most of Apple's revenue comes from iPhones and other non-Mac product lines, including iPads, peripherals and services.
  • And, speaking of iPhones and iPads, Apple isn't moving to a brand-new architecture, but rather to ARM-based chips similar to those that power Apple's iOS devices. That means some work can be ported from existing iOS apps.

Our thought bubble: In addition to sharing the time frame and particulars of the transition, Apple needs to answer why it needs another change in chips. Some developers say the shift will only be worth the effort if it provides a truly meaningful performance boost.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been trying to open up Windows to ARM-based processors for years now, with little success.

  • Each time, Microsoft and a chipmaker partner, such as Qualcomm, promise improved battery life and wireless capabilities — but performance and compatibility issues have consistently sent the companies back to the drawing board.

The bottom line: Apple's motivations for the move likely include an opportunity to cut costs, an effort to boost performance, and a desire to control its own destiny. But even if the company gets all those wishes — and even if it manages the transition well — the whole Mac community is probably headed for some short-term pain.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Sep 15, 2020 - Technology

Apple updates Apple Watch and iPad models, adds fitness service

Screenshot: Axios via Apple.com

Apple on Tuesday unveiled new iPad and Apple Watch models, as well as a new fitness service and Apple One, which bundles the company's main services for one monthly price.

Context: Apple has launched new iPhones in September in the past, but production issues have flipped the script this year and the new smartphones are expected to be unveiled at a second event, likely next month.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!