Touch screen MacBooks could be a reality in 2025, says analyst
Apple has strongly denied such rumors in the past, but could be gunning for more market share
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Touch me not
👉 Apple’s engineers are “actively engaged” in touch screen mac consideration
🙅 Apple is usually firmly against touch screen macs
🤔 Past speculation falls flat when rumored features don’t pan out as expected
📉 Apple’s 2023 PC sales declined much less than others, even without touch
😰 Yet it could feel pressure to add touch to gain more market share
A new report claims Apple is finally considering touch screens for MacBooks. The company’s engineers are “actively engaged in the project,” according to Bloomberg. It’s hard to see this as being as reliable as rumors of incoming Apple OLED laptops for 2024, though.
The company’s top brass has long rejected the idea of touch screen laptops – former CEO Steve Jobs called it “ergonomically terrible” during an October 2010 Apple event – so at first blush, this news may come as a surprise to anyone who‘s followed past touch screen Mac rumors.
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The more things change…
But things change, and there have been signs along the way (at least if you want them to be there) that such a Mac has been under consideration. iPads have grown increasingly powerful, particularly the iPad Pro and Air lines, and changes to the iPadOS interface lately have bent it towards MacOS, the operating system that drives Mac laptops and desktops.
Meanwhile, MacOS has seen its own changes which bend it towards the company’s tablet UI, such as more iPad-like design language in MacOS’ settings app and more space between UI elements like the sidebar items or forward and back buttons in the Finder app that lets users crawl their Mac’s file system.
Those updates sparked renewed speculation, as recently as 2020, that Apple was prepping to take the touch screen plunge, which the company’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, vehemently denied in an interview with The Independent.
“We had designed the look for MacOS in a way that felt most comfortable and natural to us, not remotely considering something about touch,” Federighi was quoted as saying at the time. He further insinuated that the updated aesthetic was intended to reflect the openness of the iPad and iPhone interface.
Gurman wrote that the considered change isn’t portentous of a coming shared OS between the Mac and iPad, as was rumored after a 2017 Bloomberg report that was probably referring to the changes that prompted those touch screen discussions in 2020.
Apple holds steady
Whatever is coming, that Apple has continued to arguably make some of the best laptops in the world without a touch screen puts some weight behind its insistence that it doesn’t need touch screens on its portable machines. The company dramatically reversed the slow decline of its computer business when it released new Macs with its custom silicon, pushing it past Acer to take the fourth spot in overall global PC sales.
It’s never managed to move beyond that place, however, with Lenovo, HP and Dell all maintaining a healthy lead, even following reports of drastic 4th-quarter double-digit sales declines of all three companies, with Apple itself seeing a much milder decline (how mild ranges from 2.1% to 10.2%, depending on which report you read).
It may be that, as speculated in the Bloomberg article yesterday, Apple is feeling pressured to add touch screens because the rest of the PC market has seen success doing so. It could be the company sees touch screens as a way to move its computers up a rung or two in global market share.