When Apple formally announced it would truly be jumping into the ARM-based ecosystem, developers were naturally worried about how they’d be able to develop and test their apps on those upcoming computers. Of course, one can always use an emulator but, as the name itself implies, it doesn’t really give developers the full hardware story. Some device manufacturers often provide development hardware kits for that exact purpose and Apple did so with its Developer Transition Kit or DTK based on the Mac mini. Now Apple is telling developers to return those prototypes which, while unsurprising, feels almost cold-hearted.
By itself, the DTK isn’t exactly that remarkable. To some extent, it is pretty much an unrefined, pre-release version of what would be the M1 Mac. It’s exactly for that reason why Apple is practically saying developers don’t need those anymore as there are already products available using the Apple M1 Silicon. There are, however, two reasons why developers might not be so keen on complying with the company’s notice.
Apple is offering a $200 credit for the DTK which cost developers $500 to get, presuming they were lucky enough to be in the queue. Considering the base M1 Mac mini goes for $699, owners of returned DTKs could then purchase the final product for $499. In short, it’s almost like they’re buying the DTK twice.
On a more personal side, however, the DTK represents both an important part of Apple and computing history as well as a personal landmark for some developers. One developer even recounted how he had to beg to get access to one.
Of course, Apple is well within its rights to get its hardware back and it’s probably part of some legal document that developers signed anyway. Given what it’s offering in return as well as the emotional attachment some might have for the computer, the company will hopefully reconsider.