During the 1990s and 2000s, Mac was a relatively popular computer choice in schools and universities. Since then, institutions have largely stopped buying them, although many students still buy Macs for themselves. The iPad has sailed up as an alternative many schools use, but they can't fully replace a computer in one regard: developing programs.

As Apple now switches from Intel processors to proprietary Apple Silicon chips, a new opportunity suddenly opens up to take back its former position and upset the Chromebook.

Apple can produce an education Mac (perhaps even reviving the old eMac branding?) at a fraction of the cost of today's cheapest Mac. With the same hardware as a regular iPad but macOS instead of iPadOS and in a small Apple TV-like box that you have to connect to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, the total cost can be squeezed to Chromebook levels.

Compared to the Chromebook, such a Mac would provide higher security, much greater software compatibility (for example, all iPhone and iPad apps) and higher performance. For colleges and higher education, deeper access to the Unix basics of the system and Xcode would allow such a Mac to be used for programming courses.

Whole class sets can be purchased even by schools that would never be able to afford large fleets of Intel Macs. More kids would then have the opportunity to learn programming and other parts of development, something Apple loves to talk about.

Home users would certainly crave such a Mac as well, but Apple doesn't have to make it available outside the education sector, and it wouldn't be the first time. The eMac was a simpler version of the iMac that was sold for a few years. Although some models were sold to the public, most were for schools only.

Apple may not be able to challenge the Raspberry Pi with a true micro-Mac. But a new education Mac could give Apple a chance to grow in a market the company has almost completely lost, and at the same time introduce macOS to a new generation: the users who could become tomorrow's iOS developers.

Read more about how Apple Silicon will compare to Intel here. You may also be interested to read whether the transition to Silicon means you should buy an Intel Mac now.

This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.