Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Macs drop 34% in sales and we know why: the M1s were too good

The Macs they have hit it big. In Apple’s latest quarterly results, the data is terrible: a 34% drop in revenue compared to the same period last year.

This business division has not stopped bleeding since the beginning of the year, and although the presentation of the new Apple M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max should liven things up in the coming quarters, one thing is quite clear: if the latest Macs are They have sold little, The fault has been (mostly) the Apple M1.

Those chips that were announced in November 2020 made an exceptional leap in power and efficiency compared to the Intel chips that had traditionally been the heart of Macs, and that led to renewed interest in these devices.

That graph, compiled by my colleague Javier Lacort, makes the evolution in the last five years very clear. Sales for the entire year 2019 and half of 2020 they were limping and were affected by problems such as the (sadly) famous butterfly keyboards.

But things changed right after the launch of the Apple M1. The expectation generated by these chips caused a sudden rise in sales in the last two quarters of 2020.

It’s not just that those chips were a revolution for Apple: it’s also that The terrible COVID-19 pandemic joined. Although we had been out of confinement for a few months, the panorama had changed and teleworking (and “tele-study”) had become almost massive.

Both circumstances made the renewed MacBook Air and Mac mini a success, but also the colorful iMac that had not been significantly renewed for six years. Those computers represented a real breath of fresh air for this segment, and demonstrated how well macOS had adapted to the ARM architecture. The transition went smoothly, and it soon became clear that those chips were a turning point in the history of Apple computers.

It was then that PCs experienced a surprising new golden age: manufacturers could not cope. The impact of the pandemic was felt during the end of 2020 and much of 2021: Lenovo, for example, had PCs taken out of its hands, and the second quarter of 2021 was absolutely crazy for Mac sales, which They increased by 70% compared to the same period of the previous year.

By then Apple had already had the success of presenting its M1 Pro and M1 Max, so the MacBook Pro and the striking Mac Studio became perfect options for those looking to renew their old high-end equipment based on Intel chips.

But Apple didn’t count on one thing: The Apple M1 turned out to be too good. In 2022 we finally met their successors, the Apple M2, and although the MacBook Air (2022) took advantage of the launch to change their design and say goodbye to the wedge format, the chip did not represent a particularly significant leap.

Other models appeared taking advantage of the expected variants of the M2, but once again we found equipment that although the performance increased, the price increased even more.

In fact, although 2022 continued to be a notable year for Mac sales thanks to the pandemic hangover, things would begin to change quickly for both Apple and the rest of the manufacturers. In fact, the Cupertino company seemed to resist the first blow, but then fell even more sharply.

This is how we have experienced a disastrous 2023 for all manufacturers but which is also being especially worrying for Apple. It is true that the renewal cycles of our computers are longer than those of mobile phones, but the Apple M1 chip family has been so good that it has probably lengthened that cycle even more.

Screenshot 2023 11 03 At 12 02 20
Screenshot 2023 11 03 At 12 02 20

Where are the M2s? Apple preferred to compare its new chips with those they launched (no less than) three years ago.

Apple itself seemed to convince us that it was still a good time to renew that equipment. During the presentation of the Apple M3 All the comparisons that were made focused not on M2, but on M1.

The multicore performance improvements reached 50% in the efficiency cores (30% in the performance cores) between the M1 and M3, a striking figure that, however, is not so striking if we take into account that three years have passed and we are facing some chips with a 3 nm photolithography compared to the 5 nm of those models.

Will the M3s be able to reverse that trend? Of course it seems difficult to get worse, but the macroeconomic scenario, with sky-high inflation, does not encourage spending much. That and the other, of course.

That the M1, I insist, have turned out to be too great.

Danish Kapoor