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Apple Silicon (probably) won't lower the price of future MacBook Pros

Apple Silicon Xcode Alert
Apple Silicon Xcode Alert (Image credit: Apple)

Apple will soon begin producing SoC processors based on the ARM architecture. Eventually, this will mean the end of the production of Intel-based Macs, although not for at least two years. According to TrendForce, the first Mac SoC could cost much less than Intel chips.

Will this mean less expensive Macs in the future? I'm not so sure.

TrendForce believes the first Apple ARM-based SOCs could cost under $100, compared to the $200 to $300 for the Intel Core i3 processors on the market. The cost difference is significant.

Tom's Guide's Roland Moore-Colyer believes this could be enough to push down the price of future MacBook Pros.

As they rightly admit, that could be wishful thinking, however.

No doubt, developing chips in-house will help Apple cut costs, especially in the long-run, as production picks up steam. And as these things go, at least some of those savings could show up in the price of future Macs.

Like Moore-Colyer notes, however, those discounts are less likely to come to Apple's premium offerings like the MacBook Pro. Instead, you could see the most significant price drops happen on the MacBook Air and other non-Pro Macs.

As Moore-Colyer explains: "As such, slightly cheaper MacBooks would be a good way for Apple to respond to the increased competition it faces in the laptop arena."

Fuzzy math for now

Market forces are going to play a massive role in what Apple charges for Macs with ARM-based SoC processors. At least in the short term, however, the market's going to be in flux because Apple decided to produce Intel-based and ARM-based devices for at least two years. Only when ARM is the only game in town will we see whether the transition made Macs noticeably cheaper.

During the transition period, when Intel and ARM Macs co-exist, I expect Apple will keep the prices between both types of computers very similar as a way to support both. When there's only an ARM-based computer (welcome back, 12-inch MacBook), however, we could see a price break unless heightened popularity for the new machines mean no discount is necessary.

The Intel/ARM debate has only just gotten started and it will be interesting to see where things go from here. This fall, Apple's likely to introduce new Macs with both Intel and ARM processors. In the meantime, stay tuned.

Questions

Should Apple drop the prices on its Pro products if the switching to ARM allows? Let us know your thought below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

3 Comments
  • I would like to see a 12" MacBook with Apple silicon at a competitive price. I don't think it would eat into other Macs sales all that much because the size fills a niche they aren't really covering now. Might hurt iPads.
  • Given that a Mac running on Apple Silicon could function off of the same type of board that goes in a 300 dollar iPad, I think it's insane to say that it won't bring down the entry level price of the Mac. Will there still be Mac Pro class Macs available? Of course there will. However Apple has always WANTED to have a cheaper MacBook they just couldn't get under a grand without cutting a lot of corners that they didn't want associated with the Mac. Now however, getting a 13 inch IPS panel, machining the case, putting in a serviceable if not razor thin keyboard, a decent track pad, serviceable audio, and a Face ID sensor shouldn't add more than two hundred more dollars. Obviously it wont' happen right away, Apple is going to want to make sure that they have people super confident in the value of their new processor platform. But once they've started to sell a consistent level of Macs as the price points that they have historically, you can be sure that those tried and true silicon designs are going to make their way down into lower priced entry level Macs. If Apple can eat the market for low price office terminals, why wouldn't they? If Apple can completely undercut Google's Chromebooks in education with devices that cost about as much but run full blown Mac apps as well as apps initially designed for iPads, why wouldn't they?
  • Hey Rene! I would stop calling it an SOC as well. Just because the iPhone and iPad use an SOC design doesn't mean the laptop and desktop systems will. More likely they will be more like Lego building blocks (chiplets) held in a carrier, or even discreet chips.