I wish I could get excited for WWDC, but Apple already blew it with M4

I wish I could get excited for WWDC, but Apple already blew it with M4

So, Apple’s WWDC 2024 event is now mere hours away, and the rumor mill is running at full throttle with all manner of speculation regarding what might be announced.

And for once, I really don’t care.

See, I think the best thing Apple could do at WWDC is announce an M4 MacBook Air – but that’s probably not going to happen, as leaks suggest Apple won’t have any hardware to show off. It wouldn’t be entirely shocking – after all, WWDC is a developer-focused event, so we’re likely to see more software than hardware – but Apple has historically used the event to launch new products like the Apple Vision Pro and 15-inch MacBook Air shown at last year’s event.

As such, I was initially hopeful that we’d see the powerful new M4 chip turn up in a new MacBook at this year’s WWDC, but Apple dashed those hopes by revealing M4 earlier than I had expected – and in a new iPad Pro, no less.

Make it make sense, Apple

I’m going to be honest here, Tim Cook – releasing the M4 chip in an iPad like this was a truly baffling move. I thought it was strange enough that Apple revealed the M3 chip in the new iMac M3 and MacBook Pro M3 models last year, but ditching Mac entirely to launch your new chip in a tablet? You totally lost me there.

The new iPad Pro with M4 is very impressive, but let’s be honest – it’s no MacBook Air. (Image credit: Future)

Now, maybe it would be fair to say that the iPad Pro has earned a little time in the limelight. After all, revenue statistics from FourWeekMBA indicate that Apple makes roughly the same amount from its iPad sales as it does from Mac products. But the MacBook Air is a vital flagship device, and sidestepping it in favor of a tablet could undermine public reception of the M4 chip. After all, the M4 simply won’t perform as well in an ultra-thin tablet as it will in a proper laptop – albeit a passively cooled one like the Air. That was the case with the MacBook Air M2 and the iPad Pro (2022), which both use the same M2 chip.

Leaks from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and analysis from marketing firm Canalys previously suggested that we might not see an M4 MacBook until 2025 – in fact, Canalys projected that the M4 itself wouldn’t appear until next year, so the M4 iPad Pro was a total surprise.

More M4?

Apple calls the MacBook Air “the world’s bestselling laptop”, so one could reasonably expect the Mac maker to want to push its flagship macOS product with a shiny new chip – but Apple has shot itself in the foot by announcing M4 so soon after the M3 MacBook Air landed late last year. As TechRadar writer Muskaan Saxena recently noted, the M4 could make M3 MacBooks outdated already.

MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)

We all love the M3 MacBook Air here at TechRadar, but it’s hard to recommend it when Apple is dangling an M4 upgrade just out of reach. (Image credit: Apple)

Why should I buy an M3 MacBook, knowing that M4 models are already on the way? It’s a hard position to argue – and the M4 Air potentially not arriving until as late as 2025 may end up frustrating some Mac fans when the M4 chip is already out in the wild in the new iPad. Apple is in a catch-22 situation: no new M4 products at WWDC will lead to disappointment, but a shock reveal would likely ruin Apple’s chances of shifting its remaining M3 Mac stock.

If Apple turns around and reveals M4 MacBooks during the WWDC showcase later today, I’ll sit and eat my humble pie (you can shout at me on Twitter if you want). But I doubt it’ll happen; we’re probably going to be waiting for a while yet, and no amount of new macOS 15 features will get me hyped for this year’s event.

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