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Can Apple pull another iPod with its move to Intel?
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 6/07/2005 08:00:00 PM.

So Apple is going to move to Intel-based CPUs.

That MacOS X has had a shadow-X86 version running for years is one of the worst kept secrets in the industry. But few, ever thought that Apple would ever switch to it. It's quite a risk. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet.

Some pundits had predicted that Apple would have to switch -- economies of scale would force it. But why now? What were the factors leading to the decision?

There might be two factors that made the time right for Apple to make the jump.

The first factor had to do with the difficulty IBM was having in ramping up the performance of the PowerPC chip at the price-level Apple could afford. With only 2% of the market, Apple simply couldn't purchase enough of IBM's CPUs to justify the investment in producing faster CPUs at a reasonable per unit cost.

But I think there was a second factor -- the iPod. Steve Jobs may have concluded that the door isn't closed for becoming a major player in the personal computer market. After all, the iPod was not the first portable media player. It wasn't first by a long shot. But it has around 87% of the portable media player market now.

Apple has seen first hand that a well designed, well engineered product can come into a maturing market and take it over. Hence, what is to stop Apple from taking over much of the PC market? With Intel-based CPUs, it'll be able to manufacture its machines at a price competitive to other PC makers. And with it running on Intel, no doubt emulation software will allow Windows programs to run fast and seamlessly on the Mac as people "transition" to a pure MacOS strategy.

The pressure is on Microsoft to deliver the goods with Longhorn. MacOS X "Leopard" will arrive around the same time as Microsoft's "Longhorn". And with Microsoft asserting that Longhorn will require most users to make a hardware upgrade to benefit from it, users will be faced with a pretty stark choice. Users would have to choose between a machine that runs Windows software or a machine that runs MacOS and Windows software -- both priced in the same range. If Longhorn fails to deliver on Microsoft's promises, it could open the door for Apple to pull another iPod.

Though Apple should bear in mind that Microsoft has faced this situation before with OS/2 and we know how that turned out. If history is any guide, Microsoft is keeping a very close eye on this and won't stand idly by.

Source: Link


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