Apple's product strategy is really confusing

Chip Oglesby bio photo By Chip Oglesby

Apple should:
1. End the iPad and iPad Air, 13" Macbook Pro, 14" Macbook Pro, 24" iMac and Mac Mini.
2. Since the iPad Pro has the M1 chipset, upgrade the operating system to the full Apple OS.
3. Rebrand the remaining iPads as entry level computers for consuming content.
4. Upgrade the iPad Pro the M1 Pro and the iPad Mini the M1 chip.
5. Include the iPad Mini with every Mac Studio and Mac Pro as an On The Go content management device.
6. Add cellular connectivity to the 16" Macbook Pro.

Before I begin, here's the point of view that I'm approaching this from: Most of Apple's 
current devices are overkill for 90% of its current audience. The M1 chip and future
iterations are overkill for what most people use their computers for, consuming content.

My first Apple computer was the Powerbook G4 that I purchased in 2006. Just a few months after buying it, Apple announced that they were moving away from the Power PC proccessors to Intel Chips. 14 years later they’ve done it again by introducing the ARM based M1 chip designed by Apple.

Since I’ve purchase my Pixelbook Go, I’ve been more interested in Apple’s computers than I have in a long time. This past week Apple had an unveiling event where they released the new iPad Air, Mac Studio and some other devices.

I’ve spent some time browsing Apple’s website and I will admit that I’m pretty confused about what they’re doing with all of their products.

In 2020 after years of research and development, Apple has unveiled their new M1 computer chips which is leaps and bounds ahead of what a lot of the competition is doing. Their current chips are the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra. Their device lineup is also multiple iPad models, Mac Mini, Mac Studio, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro.

This is where it gets interesting. Their iPad Pro that’s completely built out is just as powerful as the top of the line Macbook Air AND 13” Macbook Pro.

The M1 chip in all three of these computers have an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, 8-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. In laymen terms, this chip has A LOT of power, more than most other chips from the past.

So why does Apple have four devices that are almost the same? I don’t understand why Apple has put such a powerful chip in the iPad Pro and iPad Air when it is so limited by the iPad operating software.

Apple could clear up a lot of decision fatigue by removing a lot of their overlapping products. I also hope that if they ultimately replace all the iPad chips with the M1, they’ll replace the iPad OS with the full version of Apple’s OS to make them truly capable computers.

Imagine an Apple lineup of devices that is just:

  • iPad Mini
  • iPad Pro
  • 16” Macbook Pro
  • Mac Studio
  • Mac Pro

Now the iPad Pro with the M1 or whatever chip comes next has the full Apple OS and replaces the Macbook Air and the 13” and 14” Macbook Pro. The new Mac Studio replaces the Mac Mini and iMac 24” (which I really love the look of and the all in one form factor). Then rounding out the lineup is the top of the line Mac Pro.

At this point, the iPad Pro becomes your entry level “computer” even though it’s technically a “tablet”. You get all of the benefits of a tablet, but you can run apps like terminal for web development and lightroom/photoshop and final cut pro for photo and video editing. For people who want more power, they can upgrade to the 16” Macbook Pro for the M1 Max or M1 Pro chip. Then for really heavy lifting you can choose between the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro.

The top of the line fully spec’d out Mac Pro (which still has the Intel Xeon chip) will run you $51,799 without FCP or any other software pre-loaded.