Thursday, June 09, 2005

Say What?


I have been following some of the news about Apple's decision to switch to Intel as the future supplier of its CPU's. Let's just say that although some people love Windows XP, I am not among them. I was not particularly impressed with early analysis, which often went along the lines of "Apple will never switch, so this is really about negotiating a better deal for the Power PC chip". Moving onto an Intel platform raises a number of interesting possibilities for Mac, presently theoretical, particularly if Microsoft continues to suffer delays in its release of its next generation operating system.

Some technology coverage, though, still leaves me scratching my head. For example, an article that asks (in its headline) "Apple Goes To The Dark Side?" How is switching from IBM to Intel "going to the dark side"? The author states,
For Apple, crossing over to Intel, which many of its longtime customers consider “the dark side”, makes for some interesting future directions.
Well, no explanation there. The author continues,
If the release of the Mac-mini was any indication, Apple has decided to try and lower the price of its systems to gain market share (currently a paltry 2 percent of the total PC market). With the move to Intel based machines, Apple will be forced to bring the price point of Macs closer in line to that of PCs.
Right.... Just like when GM puts the same engine in a Cadillac as it uses in a Chevrolet, it can't price the Cadillac significantly above the Chevy....
Furthermore, moving to the Intel platform will make it easier for other manufacturers to produce Mac clones – something Apple already knows will make a significant dent in its hardware sales.
Well, not really. That is, unless Apple permits other manufacturers to make Mac clones. One of the big attractions of the Intel chip is its built-in features which help facilitate the licensing of intellectual property (and make infringement more difficult) - something that should be of use as the iTunes Music Store continues to grow, but which could also help Apple block its OS from running on any unauthorized hardware. That is, the new processors should make it harder to clone a Mac, absent Apple's express consent.

That's not to say that we couldn't see Apple authorize Mac clones, or issue versions of its OS (or server software) which run on any PC. But I fully expect Apple to retain control of its hardware, until such time as it decides that "clones" should again be allowed.

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