By John Gruber
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Chalk this one up as something I’ve never seen before: an Apple event in the evening. The company on Tuesday announced a “Scary Fast” event coming Monday, October 30 at 5pm Pacific time.
It’s largely expected that this event will feature new Macs, as reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman this weekend: the money seems to be on a refreshed 24-inch iMac, though other announcements are possible.
Broadcasting an event at 8pm ET / 5pm PT is new, but we’re still relatively early in the era of pre-recorded keynotes. Unusual to say the least — makes me wonder if there’s some other shoe to drop that will make the timing make sense.
If it’s the iMac, I wouldn’t be surprised if the upgrade is to the M2, not the M3. Gurman reported that the iMac would skip the M2 and go straight to the M3, but that report was all the way back in June 2022:
Outside of the Mac and iPad Pro, there’s another place I expect the M2 to appear: Apple’s mixed-reality headset. I’m told the latest internal incarnations of the device run the base M2 chip along with 16 gigabytes of RAM. [...]
Apple is also already at work on the M2’s successor, the M3, and the company is planning to use that chip as early as next year with updates to the 13-inch MacBook Air code-named J513, a 15-inch MacBook Air known as J515, a new iMac code-named J433 and possibly a 12-inch laptop that’s still in early development.
He was correct about the Vision Pro using the M2 — and remember, that was a full year ahead of it being announced — but it doesn’t feel right to me that the M3 chip would debut in the iMac. Gurman has also pointed out that MacBook Pros — both the not-really-all-that-“pro” 13-inch model, and the truly-pro 14- and 16-inch models — are in short supply at the moment, with mid-November shipping dates for most configurations. But it just feels too early for the M3 Pro/Max chips to start shipping, when the A17 Pro — the chip the M3 is presumably based on — only started shipping last month. Given what I’ve heard about TSMC’s 3nm production capability — particularly obtaining wafers — I think their hands are full just producing A17 Pro chips for the iPhones 15 Pro.
So I’m just guessing here, but I’m thinking this event might be about iMacs only, with an upgrade to the M2, and maybe some design changes — like, say, fresh colors. It’d be a lot more fun if it’s the debut of the M3, but my spidey sense says that’s not happening yet.
Also: It would sort of feel awkward to start launching $1,300 M3-based iMacs (or $1,000 iPad Pros) months ahead of the $3,500 Vision Pro, which will have the M2. It feels natural to me that M3-based Macs and iPads will only launch after the Vision Pro, so that when the Vision Pro is announced, the M2 is still the “current” Apple silicon generation.
But: The event is named “Scary Fast”, so maybe it is about the debut of the M3 series? I still don’t think they’re going to have the M3 Pro/Max chips ready, but maybe it’s a refresh across the line for all the Macs that use the regular M2 (and in the iMac’s case, M1)?
So it looks like Gurman is going to beat Ming-Chi Kuo in the “are new Macs coming this year?” Thunderdome face-off, but it’s fun that no one seems to know what exactly is coming.
OK here’s a spitball idea that fits all the puzzle pieces together:
M2 Pro and Max iMacs would justify “Scary Fast” in a way that just plain M2 iMac speed bumps would not. This would still allow the Vision Pro to launch “early next year” while the M2 remains the current Apple silicon generation. And this would fit with the scuttlebutt that TSMC’s 3nm production capability is, for the near future, almost entirely dedicated to keeping up with demand for the iPhones 15 Pro.