Apple’s New M1X MacBook Pro Was Closer to Reality Than We Realized

MacBook Pro Concept 14 inch or 16 inch Credit: Renders By Ian
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In the days leading up to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this week, a significant number of reports from usually reliable sources began suggesting that the company would unveil at least one new Apple Silicon-powered MacBook Pro during its annual keynote. Although we know that didn’t happen, new information reveals that there may have been a last-minute decision by Apple to delay the announcement.

This would mean the reports weren’t entirely wrong in their predictions — they just didn’t have the most up-to-date information from inside the walls of Apple.

To be fair, not everyone agreed that a new MacBook Pro was coming, with supply chain sources indicating that Apple wasn’t expected to even begin manufacturing its first new mini-LED MacBook Pro models until later this year. If every report was accurate, this meant that Apple was either planning to release a redesigned MacBook Pro without a mini-LED display, or simply announce the new model at WWDC, but not start shipping it for at least a few weeks.

Of course, we didn’t see any mention of a new MacBook Pro at all this week, but it does seem that Apple may have had an announcement planned at some point, but for whatever reason changed its mind before the final presentation.

A bit of forensic digging by YouTuber Max Balzer reveals that the metadata for Apple’s YouTube livestream of the WWDC Keynote contained a tag for the “M1X” — a likely name for the M1 successor that Apple is working on.

While other reports have dubbed this the “M2” chip, the reality is that nobody really has any idea what Apple will choose to call it. Even the name “iPhone 13” isn’t locked in for this year’s iPhone lineup until Apple takes the stage and actually announces it — it could still be the “iPhone 12s” for all we know. So, needless to say, it’s even harder to predict what Apple is going to call its next-generation Apple Silicon chip.

What This Could Mean

Although it’s difficult to imagine how the “M1X” tag could refer to anything other than a new M-series chip, there are a few plausible reasons for why it may have appeared in Apple’s YouTube metadata. Perhaps an Apple employee made a mistake, or perhaps somebody in marketing just thought it would be a good idea to throw in “M1X” to help juice search results.

This isn’t something Apple typically does, though, since with 14.3 million subscribers to its YouTube channel and over 6 million views of its WWDC Keynote, it’s not like Apple needs to pull crazy search tricks like this.

The most obvious one, however, is that Apple did plan to make an announcement, and set up the data for the video at that time, but the metadata simply didn’t get updated when its plans changed.

After all, we’ve seen evidence in the past that Apple creates entries for things like YouTube videos well ahead of time so that they can test everything and have it ready to go. It’s certainly plausible that somebody would have forgotten to remove something as relatively minor as a metadata tag.

This would also line up with an updated report from DigiTimes that suggested that production for the first 14-inch MacBook Pro could be further delayed into the fall, due to the same mini-LED component shortages we’ve been hearing about for the past few weeks.

By contrast, DigiTimes had predicted last week that production could begin as early as “the second half of 2021,” which could work out to as early as July, and line up with rumours from other very reliable sources like Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has been predicting for some time that the first new redesigned Apple Silicon MacBook Pro would arrive sometime this summer.

If this was the original timeline, then it suddenly seems more reasonable that Apple would have chosen WWDC to pre-announce the new MacBook Pro, while simply offering a ship date like “the second half of July” — much like it did with the 24-inch M1 iMac back in April.

There’s a big difference between a 4–6 week delay and a 3-4 month delay, however, so if it suddenly became apparent that Apple wouldn’t be able to have a new MacBook Pro ready to ship in a reasonable time, it would have simply canned that part of the announcement and carried on with the rest.

Just because we didn’t see new MacBook Pro models arrive at WWDC, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t still coming this year, and the DigiTimes report actually added a bit of cautious optimism in revealing that Apple could have both the 14-inch and 16-inch models ready to go at the same time later this year.

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