• The Apple/Intel Report: What They Stopped Talking About

    August 27th, 2005

    It’s tempting. We live in a world of instant analysis, so when something happens, expected or otherwise, you can bet there will be a thousand and one interpretations of the meaning of the event within the first five minutes. You aren’t supposed to just sit back and sort through the maze of facts and fiction for yourself, not when others are ready and waiting to tell you what to think.

    And, sure enough, the online talking heads were busy as bees churning out speculation, reasoned and otherwise, about what really happened in the wake of the announcement that Apple was migrating to Intel processors. One commentator pronounced it a lame-brained move that would eventually result in the death of Apple Computer. Oh well, they’ve been saying that for years, and Apple still won’t take the hint, thank goodness.

    Worse, the unfortunate assumption on the part of some of those commentators was that Apple must, of course, be lying somehow. They insisted that Steve Jobs simply became too much of a pain in the butt, so the folks at Freescale Semiconductor and IBM stopped listening to his demands for faster chips. Serves him right, they said. That IBM eventually announced new generations of lower power and dual-core versions of its 970 processor series, the processor family used in the iMac and Power Mac G5 line, surely indicated that it was all Apple’s fault. How could it be otherwise?

    Others suggested that the sale of new Macs would stop dead in its tracks as soon as folks realized something much better was around the corner, even though that corner wouldn’t be reached for another year or two at best. After all, why should anyone buy a new computer now when you know there is something a lot better on the horizon?

    Taking that logic to its obvious conclusion, of course, meant that you should never buy a new computer, because the one you buy, even if it just went on sale, is already obsolete in the scheme of things. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t buy a new TV, a new printer, a new scanner or a even a new car. Regardless of what you plan to buy, the manufacturer is already working on something better, so why settle for second best? Why indeed!

    Well, the predictions that people would postpone plans to buy new Macs was, fortunately for Apple, largely unfulfilled. Sales remained at a pretty high clip through June. And reports from so-called industry analysts about summer sales show that the hot pace hasn’t cooled. Of course, to be fair to the fear-mongers, Apple won’t announce the real sales figures for the current quarter until the middle of October, so there’s plenty of time for the predictions of doom to be realized. After all, why do you really want Apple to succeed anyway? After all, Windows Vista is coming to your town by the end of 2006, so who needs the Mac OS anyway? Besides, isn’t the new version of Windows supposed to be far more immune to security leaks? Doesn’t it look more Mac like than ever? Why should you be forced to live with the original when you can always buy the imitation?

    No, wait, by the time Windows Vista hits the streets, Microsoft will no doubt be designing its successor. Head for the hills! Hide your head in the sand! Progress will never stop! Why do we need progress anyway? Break out those black and white TVs and turn off the air conditioners!

    Back to the real world, or what passes for real these days: This week, Intel is talking up its forthcoming processors and its plans to test Mac development tools. Sure enough, as Steve Jobs said to Mac developers in June, Intel is moving to new generations of powerful chips that have much lower power consumption. Imagine, for example, a thin and light PowerBook with dual core processors and a battery life of six hours or more, even when running full bore.

    Although Apple will continue to keep its product plans close to the vest, you can bet that some of those new chips will find their way into the MacIntels of 2006 and 2007. At the same time, you can also bet that there will be new Macs with PowerPC inside before then. Apple is not going to sit back and watch its products become dusty before your eyes. You may even find something in those new products that’s tempting enough to convince you to buy now rather than later. In fact, the rumor sites are already gearing up to predict what Apple might introduce next month at the Apple Expo in Paris.

    Maybe I should reserve my plane ticket now. No, not that. Airplanes are far too advanced. Are there any slow boats to Paris?

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