Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently…
Thus runs one of Apple’s most iconic ad campaigns – the one that Steve Jobs so famously used to start the brand’s comeback from the dead in 1997 (here it is in his own voice). What role it played in reviving the company’s fortunes we will never know. But we certainly do know that it got Apple this “crazy Think Different” image. An image Jobs nurtured and sustained. Apple was expected to do different things, so new products from the brand were welcomed, and features that would have been criticised in others, were merely taken as a sign of “craziness” and “being different” – hey, these folks released a phone that could not forward messages in 2007 and no one blinked in surprise (all right, I did, but then I also thought that the iPhone was a disaster…never mind!).
Apple rocks but…”Steve would not have liked this”
However, that reputation has taken a bit of a beating in recent times. Apple is still one of the top tech companies in the world but has been increasingly seen as getting more conventional, following trends more often than setting them. And of course, a lot of people very conveniently lay the “blame” for this at the door of the man who succeeded Jobs, Tim Cook, very conveniently forgetting that this man oversaw Apple becoming the first trillion-dollar company in the world. For many, Cook was “too normal” and did things that were rather mainstream. He released multiple product variants (rather than sticking to a simple portfolio) and was seen as playing more to the crowds than to the Apple elite.
“Steve would not have liked this,” is a statement that had been heard increasingly in reference to Apple products, whether in reference to the larger size of the iPhones, the smaller size of the iPad mini or even the rose gold shade of the MacBook. You see, Steve was the crazy one. Tim Cook was being too “normal.” Apple was SUPPOSED to be crazy. “Here’s to the crazy ones…“, geddit?
The M1: M for Mac…and Mad too?
Well, they cannot say that about Apple’s Apple Silicon move, which brings its own range of processors (the M1 being the first) to its Mac range of computers. Yes, Apple had been making its own chips for iOS, iPad OS, and Watch OS devices, but when it came to computers, Cupertino had of late stuck to the room with the “Intel Inside” sign. That changes with the M1. Suddenly, Apple has totally gone against the tide and staked a lot on becoming the only brand that has its own OS and chips in the PC business. In fact, in a world that has been dominated by two chip players, it is now striking out to create a third option, one just for itself.
And it is not going to be simple. The M1 might set all sorts of benchmark records and deliver a super smooth performance, but then as anyone who has used a Mac will tell you, those are not issues anyway. Not even with Intel chips. No, the M1’s real strength is going to emerge in the coming days when developers start making apps that are optimized for it. Apps that might not be available for Intel devices.
In many ways, this is a return to the pre-Intel era of the Mac, when the Mac represented a totally different world from Windows. That was a time when Mac and Windows were totally different kettles of fish. That era came to a semi-end when Apple opted for Intel chips when the differences between the Windows and Mac versions of applications started to blur a little. It also became increasingly rare to see major Mac-only apps. By opting for Intel architecture, Apple had removed a few bricks from its garden wall. Users could run Windows applications on the Mac and indeed even Windows using BootCamp.
That could change with the M1. Heck, I am wagering that WILL change. By 2023. The PC vs Mac wars will be back in all their glory by that time.
Them crazy feels…again!
The fanboys will be applauding wildly, but I can see the logical ones shaking their heads. Why step away from a formula that has been serving you so well? And there had been no real complaints about the Intel-based Macs, had there? Why take on even more responsibility when you could have devoted that same energy to some other product – maybe a foldable or a squeezable or a squashable or a twistable or whatever kind of (dis)abled device that geeks find in fashion? Why put the developer community through the whole exercise of adapting to an entirely new platform? Why run the risk of developers perhaps ignoring the platform, especially when the alternative (good old Wintel) is so popular? I mean, Apple is doing great, right? Then, why do this?
Sounds crazy, right? Sounds like…Apple.
After days of seemingly sticking to a straight path, Tim Cook has rolled the Silicon dice. Only time will tell us what will turn up – sixes or ones! What I can however tell you is that with the M1 processor, Apple has just gone right back to being mad again.
In an appropriately insanely great manner.
And yeah, Steve would have loved it.
Here’s to the crazy ones. One more time!