Attracting a New Crowd
The battle of the best, fastest, most magical ARM processor is well under way. So my recent videos on the Surface Pro X are drawing a bit of a different crowd. It turns out that there is a thing called a “Keyboard Warrior”? And they’re like Murder Hornets. And they’re swarming! So I guess they stumbled on my videos because of the new Apple Macs with ARM processors. Now that Apple have switched to ARM processors for everything, this online army of fanboys has arrived looking to smash it up online and taunt anyone who dares to think different!
Can we really compare Apple’s ARM processor to Microsoft’s?
Microsoft launched the Surface Pro X last year with an ARM processor. Macs have an ARM processor. Surface Pro X has an ARM processor. Obvious comparison point! Game on right?
Microsoft could have done me a huge favour and made a bog standard boring Surface laptop instead. That way, I wouldn’t have been making videos about it and I could have dodged this bullet altogether! Really though, I am glad that they did make a Surface Pro on ARM. The ARM processor is well suited to such a thin, lightweight device that can be used as a laptop and a creativity device.
But for anyone hoping to get an Apple M1 versus Microsoft SQ2 smackdown from this channel… Well I’m sorry, but you’re in the wrong place. I’m just not interested.
I’m not interested in an ARM processor smackdown
Why am I not interested? Well I’m interested in the human computer interface. I’m interested in the way people use computers, and I’m fascinated by how people get things done. I’m a Productivity Trainer and a Coach, and I’m interested in helping people to be more productive with their use of technology. I believe that laptops have done all that they can do on that quest. So for me, in 2020, a device that only allows you to input with a keyboard and trackpad does not pique my interest.
I’m not saying devices shouldn’t have a keyboard. It’s the most widely used input device on the planet! But it was invented in 1867. And since you all know how to use it very well I don’t think that I can add much value to how you use a keyboard.
We need to move beyond mouse and keyboard in 2020
In 2020 we have the benefit of 50 years of research into the Human Computer Interface, creativity and learning. We have a myriad of studies on topics like how people work out problems, take notes, brainstorm and remember things. All of that research tells us that there are enormous benefits to multimodal computer input. My surface devices all cater for keyboard, mouse and voice input, but they also lend themselves perfectly to touch and most importantly, pen. And if you want to work to the best of your ability with others, and you want to produce the best work that you can possibly produce – you need to be using a pen in your workflow. Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be sharing some of the research behind that statement.
Apple’s ARM processor is great!
Now, Apple have no doubt done an incredible job of producing their own processors. And I’m really glad to see companies like Apple and AMD bring competition to the market that’s been dominated by Intel for far too long. Like Microsoft was 20 years ago, Intel got a bit fat and lazy. I think that they need to experience a little bit of pain in order to return to their best.
And the Surface Pro X And Windows 10 on ARM have already benefited from the Apple Mac switch to an ARM processor, which is great. Over the next few years Apple users will be upgrading to these new ARM based Macs in the millions. On the other hand, Windows on ARM is still very niche. By far the majority of the billion Windows 10 users will stay on Intel. But thanks to the mass market that Apple brings with it to ARM, we’re already seeing apps that are developed for ARM processors arrive natively on the Surface Pro X – like Photoshop.
The M1 would win. Woohoo.
I know that people get excited over benchmarks and numbers, speeds and feeds and wars between brands. There are certain demographics that just live for this stuff. If you’re a male geek between, say, ten and thirty-five, you’ve probably already visited websites like this to leave an ego-stroking burn one way or another. You want to be able to say that this beats that. And you want to know if the Apple M1 processor can do something milliseconds faster than the Microsoft SQ2 processor. Let me put your ego at ease. It does! Woohoo.
Is Apple’s new processor serving your best interests or theirs?
But for everyone else, a better question to ponder is, “Why don’t Apple make a two in one device?” Because, research tells us that we need to move beyond the mouse and keyboard. And Apple certainly aren’t doing that with Mac. The answer to that question lies in the business model of the company.
Understanding big brands
I think it’s really important for people to understand the business model of each company that they deal with in the tech world. I mean it’s well known that Facebook and Google generate the majority of their profit by selling your data to advertisers. That’s a fact that more and more people are becoming mindful of.
Amazon’s business model
You might think that Amazon – one of the largest companies in the world – makes the majority of its profit from getting that package to your doorstep with head-spinning efficiency and brilliant customer service. But over half of it’s profit is generated out of view by its cloud infrastructure service AWS. Amazon makes profit from this platform – selling its amazing super computing power to small and large companies alike.
Microsoft’s business model
Microsoft is Amazon’s only real competitor in that space by the way. In fact, in 2020 Microsoft derives over two thirds of its revenue and profit from its cloud computing platform, Azure, and it’s productivity suite Office 365. Sure Microsoft plays in hardware with Xbox and Surface, but these are sideshows in the context of a business like Microsoft. Just like G-Suite is to Google.
Microsoft’s mission statement is: “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”. This matters to me and my organization. And I believe that – among other things – pen computing is one of the keys to achieving more. Surface Pro is the hardware manifestation of this mission.
Apple’s business model
So what about Apple? Where do they make their money? The primary driver of Apple’s revenue is the iPhone at over 50%. And the majority of its income is derived from selling devices like iPhones, iPads, Wearables and Macs. If Apple sold a device that could be both a laptop and a tablet, it simply wipes out a major revenue stream for the company – the iPad – which interestingly generated around the same revenue as the Mac last year.
Now, Apple is working hard to pivot towards “services” like Amazon and Microsoft with recurring and predictable revenue streams. But Apple’s play towards services is entirely dependent on you buying into their entire device ecosystem. You buy an iPhone, you get the Watch, you get an iPad, you get the TV, then you get the Mac. And by then, you’re all in on Apple music, iTunes, the 30% App Store, Apple TV, not to mention Apple Pay. That’s where the Apple services revenue comes from – post hardware sales. It will always be a shiny new device driven company – even when the device sales slow down.
Will Apple products make you more productive?
From their business model and mission statement, I don’t believe that Apple is driven by making your or me more productive. They’re driven by getting you to buy more devices. Otherwise they would have rolled the iPad and Mac together into the MacPad… Because in the computer world (maybe unlike the kitchen) having extra devices is not productive. It’s complicated, distracting and wasteful.
It’s no conspiracy. The Apple business is the most successful manifestation of consumer-driven capitalism. It is what it is, but it’s not what we’re about. I don’t want five devices to do the job of one. So, I’m not really interested in doing an M1 versus SQ2 chip comparison.
Do you want to achieve more?
So hey, if you’re happy with a keyboard, mouse and touch bar, with a separate iPad, then go ahead and get a Mac with an M1 chip. You’ll live a long and happy life with great battery life. It won’t be as productive or creative as it could be. But hey, we’re not taking prisoners here! And if you buy an M1 powered Mac you’ll be supporting us by supporting computing on ARM processors anyway!
But don’t worry, if you were here for the war… Who am I kidding, those boys are long gone by now! But the M1 would win by the way, hands down. It’s amazing!
Personally, I want to achieve more. I don’t want to just do the same old things slightly faster. So if you do too, then subscribe to our YouTube channel. Over the next couple of months we’ll bring you lots of discussion on the science behind the pen as well as more helpful Surface how-to tips and Surface Pro X videos.