Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Apple-Intel: Why not!?

Yesterday I opined that the Apple-Intel news was (is) a smokescreen to cover for the sexual discrimination suit. One commenter agreed, but further stated the news is a cover up for the bad news in general - and that certainly has merit.

Looking at the continuing saga of comments both mainstream press and bloggers are putting forth, I'm seeing a general direction that, while pro/con, is mostly con. I.e., Apple shouldn't go Intel.

While logistically that sentiment may have merit (read: Apple's in too deep with PowerPC to feasibly make the jump), I think it is premature to put that sentiment forth as the reason Apple won't go Intel. Let me clarify: yes there is a huge set of apps developed for PowerPC - and folks who already (clue!) have made the investment in PowerPC (read: developers, et al.) the move from PowerPC to Intel chips is stupid. But that's just one perspective.

Consider the "unwashed masses", or in "Gladiator"/Roman parlance, the "Mob". What platform are they using? x86. Specifically (since I'm talking majority), Intel chips.

Granted, this news could blow over and Speculators who've said the deal is more in relation to appliance hardware might be proven correct. But that's irrelevant to my point.

Why is it illogical for Apple to jump to Intel, or at least "add" Intel to it's line of non-appliance PowerBooks/Macs iBooks/Macs? It seems that some of the arguments are from a philosophical/pseudo-religious conviction of what Apple stands for, or stood for. Indeed, Apple "stuck it" to "the Man" in 1984. Apple was, and to many, is still viewed as that same company. But a lot has changed since Jobs took over. Steve is a genius, no argument there. Steve's genius; however, is much wiser than it was in 1984. Steve may still have hippie ideals, but he's not a dunce. Apple is a capitalist company, make no mistake. Apple will do what is right for Apple. Apple is in the business to make money.

With that in mind, it is not inconceivable for Apple to go with the dominant platform (Intel) especially when that platform is like Walmart (humor me) in terms of ubiquity. IBM is not. IBM does not have the broadness and ubiquity (YET) of Intel. Side Note: Xbox 360 using IBM chips certainly stands to have a major impact on the chip market. But IBM still has to deliver the chips in quantity, and it is something they've had difficulty doing for Apple. The elusive 3GHz G5 is yet to be found. It is late. Very late. Does Microsoft have more muscle to make IBM deliver? Perhaps. If so, it could be a big plus for Apple.

If, as the Wall St. Journal reports, Apple is interested in Intel's mobile chips that have better power-management capabilities, then it stands to reason that the possibility is ... well, possible. I didn't say probable. I, for one, would much rather have a processor that is fast but a far better manager of power than one which is fast, but can't help me preserve battery life in the way the Centrino/Pentium-M laptops can.

If discussions are actually taking place, Intel may well have shown Apple blueprints for chips that rival or trounce G5 performance while delivering power savings - and fit in a laptop - and are not the "mother of all thermal challenges". As well, Intel is also in the position to *deliver* chips to Apple more consistently than IBM.

Could it be that the "mother of all thermal challenges" (G5 laptop) is insurmountable? Could it be that Intel approached Apple and said, "look Steve, we can surmount that challenge easily enough. It's called a Pentium-M-Whatzit. It's going to be a sad day when we ship this chip to Dell and the entire field changes in Microsoft's favor. Would you like to discuss over some coffee ... well, tea for you?" Could it be that IBM is too stretched delivering the millions of chips to Microsoft for the Xbox to offer a different chip to Apple?

It is fun to speculate. I doubt IBM is sitting on their hands. I don't doubt that discussions have taken place between Apple and Intel. I don't doubt that it is a shot across the bosun's (IBM) ear to send a wake up call. But what happens if IBM doesn't wake up? The capitalist Apple will not stand still. It would be suicide to leave laptops at G4 era chips. So enter Intel.

Analysts say it would be unlikely, but analysts have been wrong before.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Apple-Intel: Smokescreen, Rehased Rumor or Reality?

Well this news has the press in a tizzy:

WSJ: "Apple Explores Use Of Chips From Intel For Macintosh Line" -- "The computer maker has been in talks that could lead to a decision soon to use Intel Corp. chips in its Macintosh computer line, industry executives say, a prospect that may shake up the world of computers and software." Quote via MacSurfer's Headline News.

I couldn't help but wonder why this news/persistent rumor was surfacing again at such a precarious time for Apple. After all, they were smacked on Friday with a sexual/race/POUS (Person of Unusual Size, for you Princess Bride fans -- no disrespect intended to the person) lawsuit. While the lawsuit is almost surreal given that Apple has been friendly to alternate lifestyles with benefits and all, it has some serious ramifications, not the least of which is to drag Apple's name through the mud and tarnish a company with an arguably good reputation in this arena.

My gut tells me the Intel news is a smokescreen. My heart tells me that it isn't. My heart wants to believe that we'll see Apple/Intel machines - even Centrino-based PowerBooks/iBooks - that will bring the cost of Macs down even further. I know this is a hot topic, and I'm not throwing it out for flamebait. There are pros/cons of Apple/Intel. I like the prospect.

The rehashed rumor mongering is always out there. A "highly placed employee of Apple" told a friend who told so and so at the WSJ and so on. Rinse, repeat.

Whatever the case, it is a news generator and stock mover for Apple. As of this writing, Apple is up 82 cents.

Thoughts? Is this a smokescreen, rehash, or does this seem to have more credibility coming from the WSJ?