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Apple to ditch Intel?

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David Mathis
Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:07:42 pm

Just saw this on Facebook:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-mac-intel/apple-plans-to-replace-i...

Questions that come to mind:
1. What does this mean going forward?
2. Is this why the new Mac Pro is being delayed?
3. Will we be able to upgrade our existing machines?

From what I read this will not happen until 2020 so at least we have two years to make guesses.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:37:39 pm

General wisdom is 2020 or later starting with the low-end MacBooks. But who knows? Certainly no one here.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 8:19:55 pm

The amount of interest Apple has demonstrated in controlling their own chipsets makes this sorta inevitable, I'd think.

The iPad Pro (and the new little one!) seem to be just fine with those A-series chips, so those devices do a LOT of computing and I/O functions without a big traditional outside CPU.

I noted years ago that with the whole "modular" approach could lead to someday our just buying and hanging "sub-boxes" off the main buss to take care of boosting performance.

Imagine a future A-15 or A-20 strong enough to run the full blown MacOS. Then maybe the user just piles the GPUs up in order to scale raw computing power for stuff like we need?

Somebody needs a monster CPU for some reason? Hang one on the system and let any program that needs it use it.

I kinda imagined that's what the Grand Central idea was for.

Playing traffic cop for all sorts of I/O stuff?

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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 9:23:28 pm

[Bill Davis] "The iPad Pro (and the new little one!) seem to be just fine with those A-series chips, so those devices do a LOT of computing and I/O functions without a big traditional outside CPU."

iPads can live in their own walled garden and developers do not need to worry about common instruction sets. Not so in the desktop world. Most software companies were glad when Apple standardized on Intel, however, were not happy with the pain it caused them to make the switch. If Apple switches away from Intel on their most powerful desktops, I suspect you will have a lot of high-end software developers facing that tough decision of whether or not the pain of change is worth the return. I would expect to see a bit of an exodus.

[Bill Davis] "Then maybe the user just piles the GPUs up in order to scale raw computing power for stuff like we need?"

Well, maybe. Especially since the software in general does not support a pile of GPUs, unless you are mining bitcoin. I think it's actually more likely that Apple would also abandon AMD in this move and not have a separate GPU partner. Maybe eGPUs would be viable, but maybe not. Especially when the Windows/PC option becomes more attractive for that traditional user.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Michael Gissing
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:22:21 pm

If this latest rumor is true, then I guess it spells the end of a dream for an ongoing MacPro or similar performance machine. I would see the main advantage for Apple being that they could have a single OS and better power consumption that says much about the direction to portable computing not desktops. They would also be very much on their own with GPUs also which again matters more in the grunt box world. I would say this is basically a surrender of that arena to Win & Linux.


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greg janza
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:28:15 pm

[Bill Davis] "Somebody needs a monster CPU for some reason? Hang one on the system and let any program that needs it use it."

Perhaps FCPX is different in it's architecture but the Adobe programs rely heavily on CPU power to maximize efficiency. A kickass GPU is great to have but if your CPU doesn't match the power of the GPU it's not making the most of the technology.

Also, if an add-on GPU is sharing bandwidth with a Thunderbolt raid/drive and also potentially a monitor is that a limiting factor in it's overall performance?

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Bob Zelin
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 12:04:42 am

this is my opinion, and of course, I am looking to "start trouble".

Way back when, when Apple first purchased Final Cut from Macromedia, the "concept was to plug in a Firewire 400 cable into your DV camera, and capture your video media. And of course, "the professionals" said "what kind of piece of crap is this - this is not an AVID".

It was not until AJA and Blackmagic got involved (and Pinnacle and Matrox) that FCP was considered a professional product. Translation - THIRD PARTY MANUFACTURERS.

As time went on, Nvidia got involved, and released the Quadro 4000. So now, we had a GPU, wonderful I/O, cards from Sonnet, Cal Digit, etc. and things were wonderful, and we all loved the Mac Pro - why ? THIRD PARTY MANUFACTURES.

When FCP X was first released - no shared storage, but you could "Share" to iCloud. With a lot of kicking and screaming, with FCP X 10.3, all of a sudden sharing to a network drive with SMB became possible.

And with macOS 10.13, (and with new MacBook Pros and iMacs), its becoming obvious that Apple wants to "close the doors" and not allow for THIRD PARTY MANUFACTURERS who are the ones that actually make these products viable (for the person that says "I made my living with FCP 1, and a DV cable - just shut up and go away).

If Apple continues with (what appears) to be a closed door policy of things to come - where if they don't directly make money (like in the App Store) then YOU are not plugging anything into an Apple product - well, that may be the end (for many of us). Hopefully this will not be the case.

It would be like Ford saying "you will use Ford tires, Ford Gas, Ford oil filters, Ford technicians for repairs, etc. or you are NOT driving this car".

Bob Zelin

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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 3:04:12 pm

I'd be concerned about what dropping Intel also means for Thunderbolt and USB support.
Would we be headed for another proprietary interface?

Unless there's a very easy way to developers to compile existing apps along with an easy way to program, it's creating a hurdle that many cross platform developers may balk at. Unless sales are big I think a proprietary interface is not something hardware manufactures will want to deal with.

Given that Macs are a small part of Apple's revenue and their past move to cross platform hardware standards, this really makes no business sense to me. Of course maybe the "Uber lighting connector" will be some compelling compared Thunderbolt "v2020" that everyone will want to support it.



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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 3:26:43 pm

So far this is only a Bloomberg rumor. If this 2020 prediction becomes a reality, I can't imagine it would be across the board. Probably low end machines only, even if that includes an entry-level iMac.

Of course, if that transition became successful, then past 2020, it could be mean all the machines. That's assuming Apple is even making full-blown desktop machines at that point - let's say 5 years from now.

But I'm not so sure Apple is all that interested in cross-platform compatibility in lieu of greater ecosystem synergy and supply chain control.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 4:02:01 pm

[Oliver Peters] "But I'm not so sure Apple is all that interested in cross-platform compatibility in lieu of greater ecosystem synergy and supply chain control."

The success depends on third party development as Bob Zelin says so emphatically.
As 2021 hits the end of Apple's "10 year plan" for FCPX they can easily move that but Adobe, Blackmagic, Affinity, etc aren't on board Apple is going to have some mega holes to fill
Heck there seems to be some exodus from the Mac App Store by developers as well.
A lack of "bio diversity" does not make a good ecosystem

And regarding hardware if developers don't take advantage or possible proprietary then a bunch of adaptors to less capable (in Apple's view at least) interfaces isn't particularly compelling.

Of course Apple can experiment and with their processor advancements. How close might a 12.9" iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is to a full fledged laptop computer and Wacom tablet in one? That may happen by 2020 (but it'll have to have more than the current lightning connector).

I think a trickle up will be more likely than trickle down as iPads become laptops and perhaps there would be market motive to make a desktop version. I don't think this is the same or as "simple" as soothsayer allusions to a sudden shift to a new CPU/GPU.



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greg janza
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 5:15:47 pm

To get a sense of where Apple may be headed in the future just look at how their revenue source has changed over time. The computer business is a small fraction of the phone business and perhaps not all that important to maintain and grow.




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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:08:04 pm

[Craig Seeman] "How close might a 12.9" iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is to a full fledged laptop computer and Wacom tablet in one? That may happen by 2020 (but it'll have to have more than the current lightning connector)."

Yep. I find it hard to believe that MacBook and iPad won't somehow merge.

[Craig Seeman] "I don't think this is the same or as "simple" as soothsayer allusions to a sudden shift to a new CPU/GPU."

I totally agree. Hardly time yet for anyone to get their knickers in a wad โ˜บ

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:58:46 pm

And another opinion.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/03/apple-macbook-laptop-chips/

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 3, 2018 at 7:06:38 pm

I thought this was an interesting perspective.


https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/03/apple-macbook-laptop-chips/

Geekbench tests of the iPhone X's A11 chip found that it was almost a match for the 2017 MacBook Pro.

Things that make you go hmm.

I imagine that we won't see these chips pop up in the Mac Pro any time soon, or even the higher-end MacBook Pros. After all, those machines are designed to appeal to professional users who won't want to sacrifice their existing software setups. The MacBook, however, seems like an ideal candidate for Apple's first custom CPU.

Generally I'd agree in concept but the question is form. Wouldn't it be more useful to keep the iOS interface, making it a real artist's tool (again I'm thinking of a Wacom tablet type computer) rather then the same "old" Macbook computer interaction with just an Apple designed chip?

I think we'd be looking at innovation (or at least hybridization) given Apple's design proclivities rather than same old same old with a new CPU/GPU.



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Michael Gissing
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 2:27:54 am

Interesting how the chart shows computer sales stopped falling and then rose briefly with the change to Intel chips before the iPhone & iPad started the next slide.

I would believe that Apple might go totally their chip for all battery powered Macs. I suspect they will stay with Intel or AMD for whatever is their desktop. Maybe by 2020 they will only have one desktop. There might be one more MacPro but I would never base a business decision that needed powerful desktops on expecting Apple to provide for my needs. I can see an end for Apple in this market and they can quietly retire OSX and be totally a portable iOS company from 2024 onwards.


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Scott Thomas
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 3:46:19 am

[Michael Gissing] "Interesting how the chart shows computer sales stopped falling and then rose briefly with the change to Intel chips before the iPhone & iPad started the next slide.
"


The chart isn't showing the rising or falling of sales. It's showing the percentage of Apple's revenue. Apple still makes a lot of money on Macs. The iPhone has just eclipsed the Mac on where the majority of the revenue come from. The Mac is still essential to iOS app creation.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 4:47:24 am

[Scott Thomas] "The chart isn't showing the rising or falling of sales. It's showing the percentage of Apple's revenue."

Ah thanks for that qualification.


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Bill Davis
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 16, 2018 at 5:24:46 pm

[Michael Gissing] "There might be one more MacPro but I would never base a business decision that needed powerful desktops on expecting Apple to provide for my needs."

The thing is, today's laptops are every bit as "powerful" as yesterdays primary desktops.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the "business machines" I've primarily depended on over the past 30 plus years.



Note the similarity between the processing grunt when I moved from my MacPro to my MacBook pro.

And the "experiential" difference was smaller (IMO) than the technical one. Maybe it's the FCP X integration, maybe it was my ability to specify a "bespoke" GPU for my laptop in an era where much of the processes of modern video editing have been re-coded to run on GPUs over CPUs - but for whatever reason, I didn't lose a single step in dumping my desktop orientation.

This is, put simply, the fastest, most fluid editing system I've ever sat behind.

That's a HUGE change - particularly when you look at those price points.

Chasing desktop grunt might be over for me, unless there are compelling reasons a new modular MacPro really kicks tail for ProRes RAW or the ever increasing camera raster sizes we are facing.

It just feels like a much different ballgame now.

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Michael Gissing
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 17, 2018 at 12:11:30 am

[Bill Davis] "Note the similarity between the processing grunt when I moved from my MacPro to my MacBook pro."

In that time frame I've moved from SD to 4k and have real time playback whilst grading. Standing still in terms of processor and going backwards in terms of GPU is unacceptable to me over the past ten years. If it works for you then fine. But your needs are not mine and so I stand by my remarks.


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Joe Marler
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 17, 2018 at 11:45:30 am

[Michael Gissing] "In that time frame I've moved from SD to 4k and have real time playback whilst grading. Standing still in terms of processor and going backwards in terms of GPU is unacceptable to me over the past ten years."

My experience is even the highest end desktops don't always have adequate performance -- because of the now-ubiquitous use of 4k acquisition, the higher shooting ratios now common, and incredible computational demands entailed by 4k H264.

When I used Premiere CS5 in 2010 on standard-def DV, it was fast on a desktop or a top Windows laptop of that era. It was great to just drop in camera files without transcoding and edit with high performance. Shooting ratios were lower then, so that helped.

Today both Premiere CC and FCPX can struggle on 4k H264 -- on any platform. Adobe's "Mercury" playback engine is no longer like quicksilver when editing that format, esp. for multicam.

The worst combination is 4k H264 on Premiere on a Mac because Adobe doesn't even use Quick Sync on Mac. But with *either* FCPX or Premiere CC on the latest hardware, we are often knocked back a generation to the previous workflow of "transcode before edit" -- not to a mezzanine codec but to proxy.

Traditional GPUs cannot help this because the core algorithm of long GOP formats is inherently sequential. GPUs can muster thousands of lightweight threads which can attack certain parallelizable tasks, but many tasks cannot be (or have not been) parallelized. Highly compute-intensive plugins such as Neat Video, Digital Anarchy Flicker Free, and Imagenomic Portraiture only partially leverage the GPU or not at all. E.g, Neat Video is slower if configured to use the iMac Pro Vega 64 GPU than if using all CPU cores and no GPU. The problem isn't the Vega GPU and it can't be fixed by a faster GPU or an eGPU.

My documentary team can produce 1 terabyte of 4k H264 per day. I'd like to screen dailies without building proxies, but it's just too slow, especially on a laptop. I've only tested one machine that can scrub though single-cam 4k H264 with moderate smoothness using FCPX, and that's the top-spec 2017 iMac. It is way faster than the 12-core D700 Mac Pro and faster decoding 4k H264 than the 10-core Vega 64 iMac Pro. So we'd have to take a 2017 iMac 27 on site to get adequate editing performance to screen dailies without proxies.

For those doing scripted narratives or other productions with lower shooting ratios which can use ProRes or similar acquisition, even a laptop is pretty fast -- at least with FCPX. Lower-compression intra-frame codecs are more an I/O problem than CPU. A top-spec MacBook Pro using SSD or Thunderbolt RAID storage can handle those codecs pretty well.

What I'd like is a desktop machine that regains the same timeline performance on today's 4k H264 that we had in 2010 on Premiere using standard def DV. That machine does not yet exist, at least from Apple -- even using FCPX.

So far Intel has remained absolutely intransigent on adding Quick Sync to any Xeon except the 4-core version. On the iMac Pro this forced Apple to write to AMD's UVD/VCE transcoding hardware, which is better than nothing but thus far slower than Quick Sync on handling 4k H264. There are lots of factors at play here, but if Apple controlled their own CPU design for desktops they wouldn't restricted by Intel's decisions.

CPU design has now reached a point where major performance gains are difficult -- as measured by traditional metrics such as clock speed and Instructions Per Clock. It's unclear whether an A-series architecture would greatly improve this, as the problems seem fundamental. However -- there are still major gains possible using "heterogeneous" processing -- IOW specialized subsystems like Quick Sync. There are probably other software functions amenable to silicon-based acceleration -- provided the chip vendor was cooperative and software harnessed this. Using an A-series CPU in a Mac would allow Apple to control both hardware and software.

The initial rumors of A-series CPUs on Macs focus on lower-end laptops, and those are a natural fit for some future iOS/macOS integration which a common instruction set might facilitate. The improved power consumption would help battery life. However this might be a testing ground to evaluate future use of higher-end A-series CPUs in higher-end desktop machines.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 17, 2018 at 12:40:31 pm

[Joe Marler] "4k H264"

All variants of this format are from the devil.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Joe Marler
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 11:04:17 am

[Craig Seeman] "Wouldn't it be more useful to keep the iOS interface, making it a real artist's tool (again I'm thinking of a Wacom tablet type computer) rather then the same "old" Macbook computer interaction with just an Apple designed chip?
"


Apple is probably tired of the limitations on Mac development imposed by Intel. E.g, Xeon still doesn't have Quick Sync, laptop CPUs burn a lot of power per unit of performance, aren't always available to meet Apple's schedule, etc.

However --- there is a lot more involved here than potentially switching Macs to an Apple-designed CPU.

The iOS and Mac UIs PLUS the development framework PLUS the app hosting must all be considered in a plan to move forward.

The Mac CPU change (if it happens) is just one element of this. In theory it could lay the groundwork for running iOS apps on Mac, or a future common development framework for both iOS and Mac apps.

Previous attempts to scale a single UI from phones to desktops didn't work well, e.g, Microsoft's Metro. In theory a more complex "Universal App" approach might work better, but that's yet to be demonstrated in a complex app.

In unified UIs, desktops tend to lose function. Google has tried multiple times to force fit their "Material Design" standards (optimized for mobile) on the Chrome browser for desktop users. It results in things like the Bookmark Manager being dumbed down, large fonts, large line spacing, loss of resize ability in certain dialogs, etc.

Going the other direction, nobody has yet demonstrated how a touch-oriented tablet UI could host a complex professional app like Photoshop, FCPX, etc. The current desktop menu/windowed design paradigm contains hundreds/thousands of UI elements which have no corresponding mobile UI equivalent. E.g, when Adobe ports Premiere to macOS, those are both based on a menu/windows paradigm. It's unclear if that kind of app could ever be ported with full functionality to a current mobile OS.

So several things are needed: a future evolved version of iOS which can host more complex apps (inc'l new UI paradigms), macOS which can support iOS apps, and development frameworks which allow a convergence of mobile and desktop software development. Whether this will be the rumored "Marzipan" or something beyond this, I don't know: https://www.moveoapps.com/blog/apples-marzipan-decoding-effects-on-app-deve...

From the standpoint of code generation, we tend to view the upcoming CPU change (if it happens) like past ones, e.g, the 68k-to-PowerPC or PowerPC-to-x86 transitions. In those cases the software development and deployment framework was based on a statically compiled and linked binary executable which was specific to a processor instruction architecture.

If the Mac ARM transition happens, it's unclear it will happen the same way. If Apple moves toward a managed code model using Just-In-Time or install-time code generation (similar to Microsoft's .NET common language runtime), it would somewhat decouple them from binary dependence on a processor instruction set. OTOH if those methods eat the performance gains offered by profiler-guided static compilation, going to ARM may not help so much.


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Scott Thomas
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 4:02:08 am

Apple has changed the Macintosh processor architecture twice before. I've stopped worrying about that.

The ARM processor was first developed for a desktop system by Acorn. ARM once stood for Acorn RISC Machine.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn_Archimedes

I don't think anyone would be surprised that Apple has probably has been doing ports of Mac OS to the ARM architecture probably for years now. I have no knowledge, but there is a precedent for this; The Macintosh Star Trek project in the early 1990s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_project

Microsoft has done similar things. They've put the NT Kernel on about everything, ARM, Itanium, X86, PowerPC, etc.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 4:22:18 am

[Oliver Peters] "I find it hard to believe that MacBook and iPad won't somehow merge.
"


I find it hard to believe that they WILL. ๐Ÿ˜‚ After all, "What's a computer?" In all of Apple's organizational schemes, it seems like these are the two product lines where they've worked the hardest to draw lines between them.

Some of this is differentiation to protect iPad, I suspect. I'd think that there are a lot of people who are happy enough with their big phones that iPads start to feel superfluous.

Apple also has bizarrely little imagination here, or perhaps Jonny Ive has bizarrely short arms. Listening to them moan about the intense physical discomfort caused by just the IDEA of a touchscreen on a laptop, and you can see how they will never, ever, ever merge these experiences.

[greg janza] "To get a sense of where Apple may be headed in the future just look at how their revenue source has changed over time. "

AMAZING chart, but the quintessence of skating to where the puck has been, I think. ๐Ÿ˜‹ As others have noted, that line doesn't represent Apple's overall computer revenue, but Mac's percentage of revenue relative to the rest of the company. That's a massive distinction.

In fact, looking at Mac sales by UNIT, the chart is almost inverted! This is as current as it gets, too, running from 2006 through the end of December 2017 (which is the end of Q1 '18 in Apple's calendar). Down a skosh from the 2016 peak, yes, but let's see what we see when Apple updates their Q2 '18 numbers in just a little bit. And trust me when I say that the iMac Pro promo push has barely gotten started.

Keep in mind too that the bars going up and down along the way are references to individual quarters -- some quarters of the year are bigger for computer sales as part of the annual cycle. But pick any quarter of the year and follow it through the chart -- the 2016 peak notwithstanding, Apple's Mac business unit is doing fine, thanks.



(Source here.)

This is actually quite a feat. Apple has the best-growing computer business in the industry, but it creates the optical illusion of shrinking, only because the rest of Apple is growing so much faster.

So the question for where the puck is going next is, what ELSE will Apple be doing, other than what's currently on the table? What's the thing we DON'T see right now that's going to drive the curve so massively higher that Apple's VERY NICELY GROWING computer business will LOOK like it's shrinking?

Well, they've already told us some of it -- Home Pod. This is potentially massive, not just for the devices themselves, but for what they drive. For example, Amazon says that sales of Echo drove a doubling of Amazon Prime Music revenue last year.

Believe me, Apple has noticed Spotify absolutely kicking Apple Music's ass. But who do you think is going to be quicker to market with a speaker/mic music DJ request line thingy, though, a la Echo? Apple. Count on it. Apple Music doubling annual growth would allow it to at least keep pace with Spotify, and if they hit the ball as far as Amazon did with Echo, will of course additionally create a nice source of hardware revenue.

Apple has of course been hinting at TV sets or something like them for over a decade now. Meh. I don't see it. The making and selling of TV sets is a terrible business to be in right now. Not nearly enough margin, even for what Apple could get away with charging for their version of the thing.

There's also honestly not nearly enough revenue coming from Apple's own corner of TV content. They'll do more than they are, but they're still years away from catching up to the most laughable channel on your Roku channel.

Contrast this again with Apple Music, with upside galore, easily accelerated with Home Pod.

Now then.

I know I'm the only gol' darn person in the entire history of this forum to believe that Apple can make a killing with cars. An accidental pun, but I'll take it. I don't care what Tesla is up to, and neither does Apple. Apple wants to go after Prius, and their most recent patent filings this very week are ASTOUNDING. If you haven't dug into these yet, you have absolutely no idea how seriously Apple is taking this.

The fact is that cars have been a massive part of Intel's business of late, and I'm convinced that Apple doubling down on moving away from Intel has EVERYTHING to do with moving into the heart of Intel's actual current businesses....and what's the one besides cars that have been driving (hahahahaha!) Intel? Artificial intelligence and VR/AR. And where do you need AI and VR/AR-styled technology, especially for heads-up display? In a car?

No shit, fellas. I'm telling you. LOOK AT THIS. Chips out the wazoo. HUD out the wazoo. And, as Patently Apple calls it, The Patent of the Decade. I think they're underselling it. If Apple pulls it off, it's the patent of the century to date, by a mile.



Don't just reject this out of hand. READ THE APPLICATION, or at least Patently Apple's summary of it. THIS is what it means to go after Intel where Intel lives. It has everything to do with why Apple is poo-pooing VR and promoting AR: because the goal isn't to get you out of your current reality into a different, not real reality. The goal is to provide overlays on the reality you're in. While you're driving.

This is of course old technology in some ways. Pilots have had this for many years. What's new is doing it without a helmet, in a consumer environment, with a combination of information dense but quickly readable, in a manner that stays out of the way, that can be operated at almost a subconscious, reflex level.....not unlike iOS. That you control with your eyes, not your fingers. Using AR technology.

Running on an assload of chips. Trust THAT to Intel? No thanks. If you give most people a choice in chip provider for controlling my door locks and lighted drink holders, you think they're gonna choose Apple or Intel? Hmmmm..... I wonder. NOT.

Note bene: this has NOTHING to do with whether Apple actually builds the cars. Who cars. Apple doesn't need to get in the brakes and upholstery business to pull of AI/AR driving environments. (Although, wouldn't it be nice? Anyone who flies Virgin knows EXACTLY how cool it would be if Apple DID get involved in building "transportation devices", so to speak. Virgin is as close as we've gotten yet -- it's like flying inside a white iPod, in a good way.)

This is already where they're headed with cars: get the manufacturers to open the hooks for an overlay, to let Apple control the car's systems. If Apple was also licensing them the chips, well, this gets right interesting. Now you don't have to compete with Toyota, Tesla, or anyone else. You let the market (eg, you maniacs) demand that your car vendor of choice license Apple's stuff if they want your business.

After you dig into Patently Apple -- here's the link -- take a listen to the normally pretty level heads at USC's Entertainment Technology Center, who posted some nice coverage just this morning.


Look, you may keep saying I'm wrong about Apple and cars. Apple has certainly made no bones about deciding that they didn't want to build the actual cars, which I was very hopeful they WOULD do. But it's clearer than ever that Apple's view of its own future is developing the INTERFACE for the future of driving. The interface for the car on the road and such -- wheels, brakes, steering, all that? Apple doesn't need that pain. But when it comes to the experience of how drivers relate to cars, to the world, and relevant data to manage that relationship -- who ELSE would you rather have do that? NOBODY.

Of course I say this as somebody who still can't imagine ever giving Apple another dime. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I just don't like their stuff. I don't think a single thing they do is best of category. I just don't. But I WANT them to keep winning, so that companies I like better will win MORE. ๐Ÿ˜

I need a rimshot emoji to truly sell that last paragraph, but don't think for a minute that I'm kidding the tiniest bit about believing that THIS is where the puck is going, that THIS is why Apple is parting ways with Intel. As big as Intel is thinking about cars, AI, VR, and AR, I think Apple thinks Intel isn't thinking nearly big enough. I KNOW Apple thinks that YOU aren't thinking big enough if you think Apple's chip moves are mostly about computers.

While also underscoring that Apple doesn't want you to take your eye off the ball, that the computer business is thriving, and entirely relevant.

Say, I've got the perfect music for the ad campaign for the Apple car overlay dingus, whatever they're gonna call it. Beep beep, mm beep beep, yeah!



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Scott Thomas
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 5:07:45 am

[Tim Wilson] "Believe me, Apple has noticed Spotify absolutely kicking Apple Music's ass. But who do you think is going to be quicker to market with a speaker/mic music DJ request line thingy, though, a la Echo? Apple. Count on it. Apple Music doubling annual growth would allow it to at least keep pace with Spotify"

http://www.asymco.com/2017/12/14/the-sound-of-music/



By this chart from the Asymco article, you can see that Spotify has double the number of subscriptions, but look at that timeline. It took Spotify around 7 years to amass that many subs. Will Apple continue that trend?


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Tim Wilson
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 9:48:34 am

[Scott Thomas] "It took Spotify around 7 years to amass that many subs. Will Apple continue that trend?"

I've seen that chart before, and it's completely misleading. It took Spotify 7 years, because that's how many years they'd been doing it when the chart was made. ๐Ÿ˜‚ The first few years were pushing uphill against the idea that renting music was a good idea at all, while Apple and Amazon were pushing as hard as they could to discredit that notion, and kept jamming on paid download ownership. Steve Jobs was banging on this point at pretty much every public presentation for the last years of his life. Renting music: bad. Owning music: good. Spotify had their fight cut out for them, and they did it.

Spotify was also fighting the labels who wanted to keep them out of the US. So they were locked out of not just the world's #1 music market, but pretty much all of the top 5 markets in the beginning. Heck, it started as a Sweden-only enterprise, because that's all they could secure the rights for. They did it one country at a time, over a period of years, self-funding the whole way.

Apple on the other hand did what they so often do, show up late when the concept has been proven, and the demand is high. They're the richest company in the history of humankind, poured billions into a fast start on a global scale, and kind of achieved it, but honestly, really kind of didn't.

More granular charts note that the gap between Spotify and Apple has been increasing over time, not decreasing. That's both the number of subscribers, and the rate of acquiring new ones. Part of the reason for that is the many millions of Mac users who'd already invested in Spotify, where playlists rule. In fact, there are individual Spotify playlists that have more subscribers than the entirety of Apple Music! There's really just not much of a race there right now on a feature level, or on user attachment. This has always been where Apple shone most brightly, but they whiffed this time.

Apple knew that they blew it, which is why they spent billions on Beats, a company created with just one strategy: prove themselves to Apple as quickly as possible and get bought out. It worked!

But it was still too late to truly close the distance beyond the core "if ain't Apple, I ain't buyin' it" crowd. Millions of Apple customers around the world had already said, "This is stupid. Apple has said they're not gonna do this, that buying music is the way to go, but I think they're wrong. I got tired of waiting for Apple to do the right thing with streaming video, so I stopped using iTunes and went to Netflix. Time for me to do the same with Spotify and music. Spotify works great on Mac, works great with all my Apple devices, so I'm in."

Apple hasn't made a compelling offer to switch any meaningful number of those folks back. They tried to jumpstart this with music, it didn't succeed all that well, so they're trying to do it more organically with video, by spending Netflix-level dollars, to create a fraction of the content that Netflix is, taking much longer to to do it. Barriers are low to adding new services. If Apple does something worthwhile, some Netflix folks will add Apple to the mix, too, the same way that they also do Hulu and HBO or whatever....but Apple's not going to CONVERT hardly ANY of those folks. Netflix is going to keep widening that lead. Same with Spotify.

That's why the one thing that might change the game for Apple even a little is Home Pod.

Amazon is of course an also-ran in this race in some ways, but Prime is much more than a subscription music service, or a movie service, or a delivery service. It's a platform that compresses the distance between impulse, expression of desire, and fulfillment to the shortest possible interval. Maybe it's seconds, maybe it's a couple of days, but THAT's Amazon's game. Impulse fulfillment in just a few words. Dim the lights. Ship me some olives. Play my Rainy Day playlist. Tell me the weather forecast.

Google's got the search part of that nailed, but not the impulse fulfillment.

Which is how Echo has been the driver to Amazon doubling Prime year on year. It's inconceivable to me that most people will see this in action and say, "Nah, I'll wait for Apple to do it", because Apple's is still going to be limited. It won't include nearly as much video for years, it won't include ANY meaningful shopping, and has a long way to go just to catch up to the basics. (Siri is not the same, sorry.)

The most Apple can hope for is that Home Pod serves as a compelling-enough front end for Spotify and Prime to capture the hardware money from those folks, at which point Apple can try converting them back to Apple software...although lotsa luck with that. Apple hasn't made much of a dent AT ALL in Spotify's loyalty among Mac customers, any more than they will with Netflix folks when they make that move.

But it's a shot that they don't have just yet. They will, though, and I bet they'll have it before Spotify does. It won't be enough to change their standing with Spotify, though, not ultimately.

In the context of my previous post, this area of inquiry is only interesting to me because of Home Pod as a place that Apple needs to put a ton of extremely sophisticated chips, loaded with Apple-specific programming, and they need it yesterday. Intel will take too long, and the solution will be incomplete, so this is one of the things that Apple is going to do with the chips that will keep that that first graph that Greg posted growing in the same direction -- yes, Macs growing, but the rest of Apple growing much faster. Places that the puck has not yet been.

I can honestly say that I spend as much time researching this angle of consumer behavior as I do almost anything in my life. You won't meet many people more versed in this than I am...although I'm happy to point you to sources for all this, to folks who know even more than I do....

...but to me, it still pales next to what Apple is going to do with using AR and AI as the front end for transforming the human-machine-world interface with cars, and how abandoning Intel is at the absolute heart of that. As I mentioned in my previous post, when Patently Apple calls this the "patent of the decade", I think they're wildly underselling it. I think it's the Patent of the Century.

No matter how big music, computers, and devices seems to you for Apple's chip story, I'm tellin' ya, this AI/AR automobile stuff is much, much bigger. Please read those articles I linked previously, and prepare to be dumbfounded.

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2018/03/patent-of-the-decade-ap...

http://www.etcentric.org/apple-submits-vr-patents-for-next-gen-autonomous-v...


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greg janza
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 3:59:04 pm

[Tim Wilson] "No matter how big music, computers, and devices seems to you for Apple's chip story, I'm tellin' ya, this AI/AR automobile stuff is much, much bigger."

Thanks for putting all of that on the table Tim. All fascinating and quite logical as an untapped area for major technological disruption.

The point of posting that first graph was simply to show that Apple is defined today in completely different ways from what it once was

And if those automobile patents are any indication, Apple may simply be looking at entirely new areas for expansion. And that's desperately needed since on any given day in the Bay Area about 1 out of 3 people driving on the freeways is holding their iphone or Android in one hand and using it while their other hand is on the steering wheel and driving 80 mph towards that promised land of silicon valley.

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Mark Raudonis
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 5, 2018 at 4:16:56 am

[Tim Wilson] "I'm tellin' ya, this AI/AR automobile stuff is much, much bigger. "

Couldn't agree with you more!



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Brett Sherman
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 7, 2018 at 7:02:12 pm

โ€œThe most Apple can hope for is that Home Pod serves as a compelling-enough front end for Spotify and Prime to capture the hardware money from those folks, at which point Apple can try converting them back to Apple software.โ€

The problem is Apple isnโ€™t pricing the HomePod for that strategy. Compared to Google and Amazon, Appleโ€™s device is grossly overpriced. It would have to be superior by leaps and bounds. And all indications are that it isnโ€™t. They are trying their iPhone pricing strategy where they were market leaders. In the home device they are far behind and need more aggressive pricing to catch up.

I own Mac computers and iPhones, but I much prefer the Amazon ecosystem. I donโ€™t know what Apple can do to get me back in the camp. It wonโ€™t be easy and they will have to start delivering better value for the money. Iโ€™m already thinking of ditching iCloud because itโ€™s going to start costing me $10 a month in a pricing schedule that is outdated.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 8, 2018 at 10:41:20 am

[Brett Sherman] "I own Mac computers and iPhones, but I much prefer the Amazon ecosystem."

I've mentioned my father's heritage at Apple before -- starting there in 1979 as Apple's first Director of Operations, where he set up large-scale manufacturing, the first sales channels, created the Apple Store, and much more, including being the one on stage to introduce Steve at the internal Mac rollout in 1984, and sitting next to Steve in the executive session in 1985 where John Sculley unveiled the new org chart that had Steve nowhere on it. You're not going to find many people on earth who bleed more Apple red than him...

He first dove into Google Home because of the integration with search, YouTube, and home control, but has since gone all-in on Amazon. Refilling the larder with voice commands to Amazon Fresh, streaming music, home control, general search queries, much improved sound quality, apps integration, etc etc.

I think he'd buy an Apple offering at least as an experiment if there was any thought that it would actually be vaguely compelling. After you've played around even a little with Google and Amazon's AI, though, it's clear how very, very short of the mark Siri falls....which is why Apple just hired away Google's former head of AI. He did a lot with AI behind voice-driven search, and if you've ever done head-to-head searches even with an iPhone and an Android phone side by side, it's astonishing (and for Apple, embarrassing) how much better Google's works.

And of course, with AI at the heart of what Apple wants to do with the car-driver-world interfaces and interactions, this might be Apple's most important hire since Tim Cook, if not Sir Jony. (I think we can safely call Apple's hiring of Steve in 1997 their single best hire. That has my father coming in at #5. Sounds reasonable. ๐Ÿ˜Ž)

What I was kind of getting at, though, is that Amazon has done a good job of using voice to drive not just their own stuff, but apps like Spotify, and even connects to local libraries of downloaded media that might include iTunes purchases. Why, it's almost like they understand that, as compelling as their own ecosystem is, it becomes still more compelling when people can add to it almost anything they want. ๐Ÿ˜‚

So, as much as competitive-ish pricing, and voice-driven AI that works roughly as well as Google and Amazon's, I'd want to see some notion that Apple understands ecosystem extensibility here as well as they do in the App Store (where Netflix and Spotify happily suck the life out of the dessicating husk of the iTMS)....but I don't know how realistic that is to expect.

Apple's gonna be fine without any of this of course. They don't need to win in any of these races as long as they keep sticking the landing with devices and computers. And I really am excited to see what they might do as the UI for driving. Cars are the most expensive device that most of use, and as much as I like my car (and I like it a lot), I've never seen any car that's especially impressed me with its understanding of how I want to operate it. Apple DOES get this for devices, even moreso than for computers imo, so I'm ready to see what they've got.

And once Apple cracks this nut, I'm excited to see what their competitors do to kick it up another couple of notches. ๐Ÿ˜‚


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Joe Marler
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:17:58 am

[Tim Wilson] "Apple has the best-growing computer business in the industry, but it creates the optical illusion of shrinking, only because the rest of Apple is growing so much faster."

Correct -- while Mac revenue is small relative to iPhone revenue, it is very large in absolute terms. If Apple's Mac division was a separate company it would be bigger in terms of annual revenue than Time Warner, Facebook, or McDonald's. Apple's Mac revenue is not that much smaller than Oracle's total revenue.


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Mark Smith
Re: Apple to ditch Intel?
on Apr 8, 2018 at 3:59:30 pm

I'd argue that Apple's phone business and mac business are almost the same, with the difference being one computer you can carry in your pocket and the other computer you can't. Oh and the computer you can put in your pocket also incidentally, can make and receive phone calls.


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