Re: [NTLK] [OT] Concerning Apple's Switch to Intel Chips...

From: Riccardo Mori (
Date: Mon Jun 13 2005 - 19:04:25 PDT

Kevin Hagen wrote:

> If Apple hardware is no longer different than PC hardware, I won't pay
> more for an Apple brand PC. Industrial design is nice, but isn't worth
> paying more if the box is like all other boxes on the inside.

since Jobs' announcement at the WWDC, the mailing lists i usually (try
to) follow have been flooded with threads and threads on the subject,
98% of it being nonsense based on the fanciest assumptions. i don't
know, maybe it's been the shock. but lots of things i've read seem to
lack common sense. [no offense. nothing personal. i'm replying to you
but mine are general observations.]

first and foremost: what do we know? as of today, very little, apart
from what Jobs said and few other little pieces of information. but one
thing is sure: people have imagination. we know that Apple will use
Intel chips. we know that next year a new macintosh will come out. we
know the existence of a developer kit consisting of a pentium 4 machine
and a set of software tools to help developer port the software toward
the Intel architecture. it's been said that Windows will run on the new
Mac. it's also been said that Apple _will prevent_ Mac OS X from
installing on a PC Windows machine. we know little else. we don't know,
for example, how this new Mac with Intel processor will be, which
technologies will have, and so on.

here's when the common sense comes in (in my opinion, of course): Jobs
must know what he's doing, and surely knows (as Otellini) things we do
not know. making Apple hardware no longer different than PC hardware
would be a truly suicidal move for Apple. Apple sells hardware and
software and it could not simply survive by selling just software, Mac
OS X and the iPod. even from a company image viewpoint, Apple (and
Jobs) has always made individuality and distinction characteristic
traits of its brand, so a sudden transformation in "another PC vendor"
seems to me quite unconvincing.

> Regarding Open Firmware, Phil Schiller said that Windows will run
> natively on MacIntels. Apple won't sell Windows, nor support it, but
> they won't do anything to stop someone from installing and running
> Windows on the Mac. Doesn't that mean BIOS motherboards? I also read
> somewhere that Apple was hiring BIOS engineers.

who knows? and, in any case, why worry? let's wait and see what happens
next year. but i have my idea of what it'll be. a reasonable scenario
is that the new Mac with Intel processor will be able to run both Mac
OS X and Windows, but a PC won't be able to do the same. this way,
Apple might present another powerful and innovative computer, with
pretty good performance and capable of doing much more than a PC. if
this happens, who's going to count the many switchers? :)

> I know OS X can run on standard PC hardware, but I felt comfortable
> paying more for unique hardware and software. Apple will soon be just
> another PC vendor, with a winning OS that will be running on many
> non-Mac PC's, and with Macs running Windows and removing the need for
> developers to support both Mac OS and Windows.

as i said before, this would be a stupid, suicidal move for Apple.
Apple must keep selling hardware, and the only way of doing it is by
keeping Apple's hardware different from the rest. with Intel chips
inside it may be challenging, but i have the feeling that it can be

furthermore: Mac OS X can run on standard PC hardware _now_. the
prototype Intel versions of Mac OS X secretly developed till now have
of course been developed and tested on what Intel was offering these
past few years: pentiums. the developer kit includes a pentium box
because it's all it can include _now_, a pentium 4 machine. but i don't
think that the new Mac we'll see in 2006 will have a pentium 4 chip.
it's reasonable to think that it will have a new chip Intel is
developing. and it's also reasonable to think that this Intel chip may
be mounted on a motherboard with some proprietary elements here and
there, or with a proprietary kind of "firmware" that makes it different
from a common PC-Intel motherboard architecture.

> First, Mac game port
> houses will cease porting to OS X, then other software will follow,
> leaving OS X as a pretty desktop that supplements Windows. At least
> that's how some people see it, and I'm leaning that way as well.

why should they stop? they can develop for a better operating system
running on an architecture that can be more familiar to more
developers. and then: do we know the specs of the new 2006 Mac? do we
know the performance? for all we know, it could be even better than a

> Apple wants to maximize profits and supporting an alternative and
> superior architecture is an expense they don't want.

well, maybe they would love it, and maybe Apple has even the money to
fund research on microprocessors, but the money spent on research has
to re-enter somewhere in Apple's pockets. and how? by selling new Macs
at 12,000 dollars (for example)? i think that no one wants that. better
ask Intel then :)

> The Think Different days are over. Apple wants to play in the big
> leagues, and that means shedding its niche status. To do that requires
> that they Think Similar. It's a big risk, a huge gamble. This will
> make or break the company. And it results in standardized CPU's,
> reducing consumer choice, and perhaps stifling real advances in
> computer hardware.

standardized CPUs? again, who knows. i serenely sit on the river bank
and wait. i don't feel betrayed by Apple if it's going to change the
chip on its macintoshes. i don't think that this kind of decision means
the end of "different thinking". Apple is not new to risks and gambles,
and since Jobs returned in 1997 Apple has always won these gambles. for
20 years rumours have been saying that Apple's on the verge of
bankruptcy, and it's still here among us, alive and well and living.

as for me, i expect a huge surprise next year. actually, what struck me
most of the WWDC keynote was not the switch to Intel, but the
announcement of a new mac coming. everyone is talking about processors
and science fiction, while i'm intrigued also by other aspects that no
one seems to take into consideration, like the design of this new mac,
or the hardware innovations and technologies it might contain. if it's
going to be a powerbook, how will it look? i'm looking at my Powerbook
Aluminium G4 12" and wondering: what's next? if it's going to be
something better than the current Aluminium powerbook line, how will it
look? what features will it sport? a touch-sensitive screen? a
detachable keyboard? a built-in high-definition webcam? will it change
a lot or just a small outer restyling but with a huge power under the

I can't wait :)

best regards -

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