EPS (justeps) wrote,

A few thoughts on Apple's switch to Intel CPUs

  1. It's a decision driven by marketing. From a technological perspective, it's a huge leap backwards, and likely going to set them back two to three years.
  2. I don't understand how to reconcile conflicting claims that (a) Apple just doesn't make what consumers want to buy, therefore their market share is small and insignificant vs. (b) Apple can't obtain sufficient parts from their suppliers to meet demand, therefore their market share is small, and people are on waiting lists to obtain Apple-branded products.
  3. People who hold off purchasing Apple computers now because Intel-based systems are on the way are fools. Initial revisions of new Macintosh lines are always crap. Eventually they get it right, then discontinue the product. G4 PowerBooks are good now, G5 iMacs are good now. I'm hoping they'll release an "improved" Mac Mini with better video and a faster hard drive.
  4. Apple is making a terrible mistake by restricting Mac OS X sales to their own hardware. It's exceedingly arrogant, and going to hurt them in the long term.
    • "But it's been tried; the `clone' experiment was a failure." There were a number of reasons for this. First, Apple insisted on being top dog: if no one else is allowed to produce machines that are faster, more functional, or better looking, there is no fair competition. The second problem was the same one NeXT had with the Canon Objectstation: companies like Motorola, Power Computing, and Umax didn't have the name recognition and the trust the public has in "the big guys" like Dell and Hewlett-Packard. Consumers want "safe" choices.
    • Nobody wants to get stuck with another Cobalt Qube.
    • "We want out customers to have the best possible user experience, and putting Mac OS X on a pile-o'-junk `white box' will reflect badly upon us." It's OK to insist on quality standards, but issuing a challenge to The Hacker Community hardly does much for your image. Just as giving file-swappers the opportunity to legally download music did wonders to combat piracy (not to mention lining your pockets), getting your software on more supported platforms is good for you, good for your shareholders, good for software developers, and good for your customers.
    • Get a solid foothold in the public sector: That's one of the motivations for obtaining Common Criteria certification. But government agencies are notorious for putting procurements out for competitive bid, and extremely wary of single-sourcing. Apple needs someone else who can sell compatible hardware, or they'll lose--no matter how good their products may be. HP is the obvious partner here--work with them.
    • Education--particularly K-12--is vitally important. Lately, Apple's been getting their butt kicked by Dell. Apple should certify Mac OS X for use with select Dell "n series" systems, and stop getting locked out of "closed campuses."
    • Apple didn't just change architectures, they gave Intel "exclusive" control over their chip supply. There are tremendous advantages to having Mac OS X run on AMD CPUs (particularly the 64-bit ones), and even if Apple's contractually boxed themselves into a corner here, nothing prevents HP from satisfying demand.
    • Apple can only offer so many models for sale at one time, and they just can't be all things to all people. For example, there are companies making ruggedized notebooks that can withstand hostile environmental conditions. It's a niche market, but a lucrative one, and Apple shouldn't be dismissing it.
    • Should Apple decide the margins are better on iPods than PeeCees, they can exit that hardware segment as long as there are at least two viable alternatives (e.g. HP and Dell) out there.
  5. It's time to port iTunes to Linux, and play nice with Linspire. Wal-Mart will take care of the heavy lifting, and every dollar the iTunes Music Store sucks in from the price-conscious is just as green as anyone else's.
  6. I hope to see interesting Windows-only software like Yamaha's Vocaloid ported to Mac OS X now.
  7. Pundits are paying too much attention to Apple's deal with Transitive (Rosetta), and not enough to TransGaming. (Have any of you noticed that both Apple and Intel are technology partners? ...as are ATI, NVIDIA, and Transitive) TransGaming's AclereX and Cedega--commercially-supported derivatives of the open-source Wine Project--allow COTS business applications and video games written for Windows to function in a 100% Microsoft-free environment. Now imagine Apple's next major release ("Leopard") being rolled out at January 2007's MacWorld Expo, suddenly able to run nearly all Win32/Win64 applications as well or better than Windows, with .Net compatibility, full FreeBSD [ELF executable] ABI support for good measure (with, perhaps, Linux and Solaris x86 compatibility available), along with a beefed-up iWork suite that reads and writes all Microsoft Office document formats.
  8. [Because someone asked] I don't see Apple being acquired by another computer company in the near future, but I would understand interest from, say, Disney or Time Warner.

P.S. For those of you who aren't developing for Mac OS X now, perhaps it's time to start looking at GNUstep.

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