June 7, 2005
../ Apple Announces Switch To Intel Chips
Apple Computer announced that it's ending its partnership with IBM and Motorola, and
replacing its computers with Intel's microprocessors. There has been a lot of speculation as of late that Apple would make such a move since
IBM has not been able to create a version of the G5 processor that will run cool enough for
Apple's laptop line, and they have also not been able to keep up with the PC's clock speeds.
"Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and
looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Its been ten years since our transition to the
PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers
for the next ten years."
Apple has used IBM's PowerPC processors since 1994 when it switched from Motorola's
680x0 line. The migration required a complete overhaul of Apple's operating system to take
advantage of the performance gains. Software developers also had to make significant changes in order for their products to run on the new chips.
Apple has made available a Developer Transition Kit for $999 which includes an
Intel-based Mac development system and preview versions of Apple's software allowing
developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.
Apple plans to transition to the Intel chips beginning in 2006 with the entire line
converted by mid 2007. Most likely, the Mac Mini and the iBook line will be the first recipients of the Intel chips with the higher-end G5 desktops
being revamped in 2007.
Several analysts have stated that a processor switch at this time could further
erode Apple's 1.8% share of the computer market. However, the relationship has some obvious synergy beyond the consumer computer market.
Impressed with Apple's roll out of the domineering iPod line of digital music players,
Intel is interested in partnering with Apple on a variety of consumer household gadgets. With Apple's intuitive and innovative designs, and
Intel's engineering, several consumer markets could be toppled by an Apple/Intel juggernaut.
Moving to Intel now also positions Apple to take advantage of Intel's dual-core
technology. Apple, who has fully embraced the dual-processor approach, will probably utilize the Intel dual-core chip - which is essentially
two computer "brains" on one piece of silicon - when they switch over to Intel in their top-of-the-line desktop powerhouses.
Mac-exclusive software developers now have another hill to climb in order to get
their offerings ready for the new chips. This will especially be evident in the music industry where small companies have found a niche providing
innovative solutions to project studio owners. The migration will definitely be
slower among these firms and could hamper the music industry's swift adoption of the new computers.
Putting Intel chips inside Apple's line also opens up a slew of new questions regarding
Microsoft's Windows operating system and viruses. Will the new Intel-based computers be able to run Window's XP natively? Could an Apple owner
have a Windows hard drive and an Apple OSX drive on the same box? Will the Intel-based computers be more susceptible to viruses and other problems that
have plagued the WinTel (Window/Intel) based PCs? The jury is still out.
The one interesting thing about this announcement is that the Wall Street Journal speculated about this partnership about a month ago and CNET stated
that Apple would be utilizing the Intel chips a few days before the official announcement...but you didn't see
Apple launching lawsuits against these
organizations like it did to some college kids who speculated about the iPod Shuffle and a new version of the iPod Mini.
The Future: Despite
the criticism from Wall Street, Apple's making a good decision going with Intel. It's a symbiotic relationship that will be good for both companies if
they can truly work together. Intel certainly needs Apple's design cachet, especially after several recent setbacks that have hurt the company's reputation.
And Apple needs to be babied, so that they feel like they're the center of the universe.
IBM is happy to dump Apple since the low-profit division has never been its focal point, and
often an uphill battle. With new deals in place to provide chips to the leading game machines, it's a great, low-impact exit strategy.
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