On the surface Big Sur is just a minor aesthetic change. It is nothing like the macOS 9 to Mac OS X transition.
However it does represent two important shift that will be marked in the Apple ecosystem as an important milestone in Apple history:
- The first time Apple transitions to its own Silicon. The ability for Apple to control the microprocessor and computer graphics themselves will have enormous consequences for the future of the Mac.
- A merging of iOS and maOS. While not a merging in the Windows since, we are getting an OS where iOS applications can run more or less unmodified on macOS. The aesthetic has aslo been upgraded to match better iOS applications. Dock icons now look like iOS app icons.
With iPhone and iPad Apple has been able to destroy the high end competition. Yes Android sells in much higher numbers but Apple completely dominates the profit. Part of the reason for this is the ability to make premium chips like the A12, which strongly outperforms anything available to Android phones.
Add full control over the OS as well and you see how it is very hard for Android phone makers to beat Apple in the premium segment.
With the Mac they don’t have that same advantage. People can pick Windows or Linux on PC hardware and Apple does not have access to any better chips than the competition.
With their own silicon with ARM instruction set, Apple will be able to make chips which are significantly cheaper and with lower power consumption than what intel makes. That means they can sell laptops in the premium segment with much longer battery times. With cost savings they can spend more money on better screens, more hard-drive space, better keyboard or just about anything that lets them sell a premium Macs which offer more value than the premium PC competition.
How about the iOS integration. The Microsoft attempt of merging their Phone Operating system and their desktop operating system bought them next to nothing. For Apple this is a whole other ball game. The iOS app ecosystem is enormous. Much larger than that of Windows or Linux. By bringing it into the Mac, Apple will suddenly have an unbeatable combination of Applications. They got their rich Mac history of Applications, in addition to a vast amount of console based Unix applications. Now they get Mobile Applications as well. That means a huge collection of games e.g.
One of the reasons I kept using Windows when I was younger was primarily due to the selection of games. I could care less for the operating system. Yes Apple will still be second rate in terms of AAA games, but for casual gamers it may end up as one of the best platforms.
This will go down in Apple history as one of the most important transitions in their history, and I think that is why they wanted the macOS 11 label on it. It makes sense that you can look back in history and you got a specific operating system version and point in time where it all began.