Apple Plus Intel Equals Surprised Mac Community

    June 6, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

A rumor from mid-May about a possible switch from IBM to Intel chips may be about to become fact at today’s Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Once upon a time, Apple’s computers used Motorola processors. Then the company switched to IBM, an unthinkable change at the time. But the switch proved less painful than predicted, and Apple’s signature operating system ran just fine on the new architecture.

During today’s keynote speech at the opening of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs will reportedly announce a change from the company’s use of IBM provided PowerPC chips to those made by Intel.

Should the change be true, for the first time in the decade or so that these rumors have risen, circulated, and faded, it will be the second time Mr. Jobs has moved a computer company he helped found to an Intel platform.

As founder of NeXt Computer Inc., Mr. Jobs drove the transition for that operating system to running on Intel chips in 1993. When he rejoined Apple, Apple purchased NeXT. The current Mac OS X is based on NeXT.

Though Apple has seen some recent success with its hardware sales, driven by the new Mac Mini and a redesigned iMac, the company still trails Dell and three other computer makers in sales. According to one analyst cited in a Bloomberg report, Apple can realize $2 billion USD in revenue for every point of market share it gains on its current 3.7 percent.

Laptop Sales Forcing Change?

The big driver in gaining market share will be among the laptop purchasing market. More households are buying notebook machines instead of classic desktops, almost three times as many. Intel chips offer Apple the opportunity to make smaller laptops as well as higher performing ones.

Intel chips cost less than those offered by Motorola and IBM. The Intel designs also run faster and produce less heat, a factor that would let the computer maker build slimmer laptops.

Apple may be making this change at an opportune time. Sales of its iconic music player, the iPod, have flattened. An increase in Macs sold could spur more iPod sales as well. But the earliest Apple might deliver an Intel-based Mac would be 2006.

Mr. Jobs has to convince developers that the change will benefit them in the long term. And Apple will have to convince an occasionally overzealous customer base of those benefits as well.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.