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Apple launches Macbooks with new M2 chips in rare January

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Apple Inc on Tuesday unveiled MacBooks powered by new and faster M2 Pro and M2 Max chips in a surprise launch several weeks ahead of schedule.

The introduction of devices using the latest versions of Apple’s M2 chip, which the company introduced last year, is the result of the tech giant’s 2020 decision to use semiconductors designed in-house after 15 years of relying on Intel technology.

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The new Mac mini starts at $599 and will be available from January 24. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with the latest chips start at $1,999, compared to a $1,299 price tag for the 13-inch model equipped with the M2 chip.

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The new Macbook Pro models had been anticipated for months, but supply chain issues meant the launch was pushed back from last year to early 2023, Bloomberg News reported in October.

“It all has to do with the delayed chipset transition… Since it’s been delayed, Apple has faced questions about whether to wait for the traditional expected launch or really do something a little unexpected,” said Canalys analyst Runar Bjørhovde.

“It’s a great way to throw things around and surprise consumers and competitors,” Bjørhovde said, adding that the announcement could generate some hype at a time when the broader PC market is in the doldrums.

Apple shares rose 1%, outperforming an overall weaker market. The stock has lost about 27% in 2022, the biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis.

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Apple said the new M2 Pro has nearly 20% more transistors than the M1 Pro and double the number of the M2, helping programs like Adobe Photoshop handle heavy workloads “faster than ever before.”

The company, which makes its chips with Taiwan’s TSMC, replaced chip maker Nvidia as one of the top 10 semiconductor makers by revenue last year, according to a Gartner report on Tuesday.

“We estimate that the value of these (Apple) chips is equivalent to $17.6 billion in 2022. The growth comes from the increased cost of increasingly complex chips,” said Andrew Norwood, vice president of analyst at Gartner.

Apple usually holds its first event of the year in March when it launches its iMacs and accessories. This spring’s event could include the launch of a long-awaited augmented reality headset, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Devika Syamnath)

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