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Based on comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook during the quarterly earnings report, the odds of a November launch for a new 14-inch screen and 16-inch MacBook Pro I have dropped.
Fall is Apple’s main product launch period, with the year iPhone update being the centerpiece of the events. Flanking them are other changes to the Apple ecosystem, covering product areas including the iPadthe apple watchand the Mac, which can sometimes get its own events.
Apple’s M2 processor debuted in 2022, with the new 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. And, before that, the incredibly powerful Mac Studio hit store shelves.
The next obvious choice for the M2 is the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. That update has rumored for some time. November has been the most likely deadline.
A combination of a fall release cycle with outlier timing and comments made by Tim Cook directly have thrown a November event into question.
So now, we may not even see anything new until 2023.
Maestri’s “challenging comparison” and Cook’s “established” lineup
A couple of things were mentioned in an analyst call after Apple quarterly earnings release. As is typical on an earnings call, Apple doesn’t offer any opinions or details on yet-to-be-released products.
However, you can still extract details based on what is said.
For Mac, Maestri spoke about the “great quarter” for the Mac unit, achieving an “all-time revenue record of $11.5 billion, up 25% year-over-year despite significant FX headwinds.” . Maestri highlights three things that helped the quarter, including the launch of the MacBook Air M2 Y 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Second, Apple’s ability to “meet pent-up demand stemming from the significant supply constraints we faced during the July quarter,” the CFO explained. Finally, as the supply position improved, the channel was able to fill completely.
Maestri also touched on how Apple has attracted new users and upgraders, growing the install base to an all-time high. “In fact, we set a quarterly record for upgrades, while almost half of the customers who bought Macs during the quarter were new to the device.”
While good for the past quarter, Maestri offered some guidance for fiscal Q1 2023, the crucial holiday quarter. Maestri expects the quarter to see a slowdown in performance growth for the company as a whole.
Much of this is a negative 10% hit to year-over-year growth caused by currency swings, but the Mac also stands out.
“Second, on Mac, in addition to increasing FX headwinds, we have a very challenging comparison to last year, which had the benefit of the launch and associated channel feel of our recently redesigned MacBook Pro with M1,” offered the chief financial officer. “Therefore, we expect Mac revenue to decline substantially year-over-year during the December quarter.”
The other curious comment is from Cook himself. In a section on retail sales, Cook thanks Apple employees across the company and adds color on what’s selling for the quarter.
In opening remarks, Cook addressed analysts directly.
“As we head into the holiday season, with our product line ready, I’d like to share my gratitude with our retailers. AppleCare and channel teams for the work they are doing to support customers.”
Right in the middle of that sentence is the key. Apple is entering the busy shopping season “with our product line established.”
Interpreting the leaves
Maestri’s comments describe the first fiscal quarter of 2023 as difficult for Mac revenue. The reasons offered for his forecast are based on known past events and well-informed guesswork.
In discussing why, he referred to the high Mac revenue of Q1 2022, triggered by the M1 MacBook Pro launches. This could be a revealing element depending on how you view the evidence by default.
Maestri and Cook don’t talk about future product launches, as Apple’s PR team is usually left to report on upcoming events. This hasn’t stopped them from saying another event is on the way or new Macs are coming.
After all, if there were to be a Q1 2023 release, for Q1 2022 to be even better and worthy enough to reference M1 releases, Q1 2023 Macs would have to be anticipated as those of lesser sale in comparison.
No company leader in their right mind would tell investors that next quarter’s product launches will be disappointing. The most likely reason is that there will not be an event or launch of any kind.
And, Cook’s clear “product line set” remark pretty much eliminates any further speculation of an event.
If Apple were to release more products, like the new Macs, Cook wouldn’t knowingly say a line has been “established,” since that means there’s nothing more to come.
At the end of the year and with other comments in play, it seems that the product catalog has been completely finalized.
Another launch is doubtful
After months of rumors about the M2 changes, including the addition of M2 to the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro and an expected revision of the mini macfinancial commentary makes it seem highly unlikely that there will be another 2022 release for Mac.
Unfortunately, we can’t even stretch things by questioning whether a chip change constitutes a new model for a Mac. Previous updates to the Mac lineup that were simple spec improvements received at least one press release and were counted as full updates. of the model in the past.
As a more recent example, take 2022 iPadPro update, which largely consisted of Apple stuffing an M2 inside instead of the M1, and adding the apple pencil scrolling function, keeping virtually everything else static about the models. This pair of relatively simple changes was significant enough that Apple issued a press release release, and it would be reasonable to expect the same for a Mac or MacBook Pro update in a similar vein.
Further evidence that a late 2022 update is unlikely is the cadence of other apple silicon hardware upgrades. It took Apple a year and a half to go from MacBook Air M1 and 13-inch MacBook Pro to the M2 versions of each.
By contrast, the 14-inch MacBook Pro M1 and its 16-inch counterpart launched in October 2021, making them only a year old.
Being only a year old is not a barrier to Apple hardware upgrades, as in the touch bar Era of Intel MacBook models, the time between updates was repeatedly reduced to about a year. So it would usually be possible if the components were available.
And the components are also a problem, specifically the M2 chips. Apple waited 11 months between the introduction of the M1 and the faster M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
With the M2 landing in June 2022, it seems very early in the chip cycle to bring out the Pro and Max versions that would be included in the updated MacBook Pro models.
All of this strongly raises the idea of Apple actually taking a break from product launches for 2022. This pushes new Macs into early 2023.
Apple may not lie on earnings reports, lest they run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a variety of other regulatory bodies internationally. There’s enough wiggle room in Cook’s statement, that if you squint and look at it like that, Apple releasing a new MacBook Pro or Mac mini in the same form factor before the end of the year could be interpreted as an upgrade or something similar. legal dodge to avoid the wrath of the SEC.
But, it would be a new wording for Apple. And, Cook and Maestri have been at it long enough to make sure they don’t say anything that requires a regulatory dance to work after the fact.
A better way to avoid that anger is to have said nothing about the product line during the heavily worded earnings announcement before the holiday season.
But they did. And it wasn’t because they were taken by surprise.