Saturday, July 16, 2005

Apple -> Intel

I have been following as much commentary on the Apple to Intel story as I can stomach. There appears to be one common thread among all of the punditry, and that is the search for the reason Apple made the switch. The latest I read was rehashing early ideas that the move was based on the need for Apple to get on the Intel-cum-Microsoft-backed DRM bandwagon known at Trusted Computer Group (TCG). Apple just doesn't stike me as a company that would make a major processor transition just for the sake of compatiblility. Lets face it, if there were enough motivation to do it, it would have come long before now.

Of all the stuff I've heard, the most likely scenario in my mind is:

a) Steve Jobs had planned to ditch PPC as soon as he came on board, but realized that he had to get a certain percentage of existing Mac users transitioned to NextStep...I mean OS X...before he could make the switch. Jobs had already mentally switch from the PPC back when he was running NeXT, so it was a no brainer when he took the helm at Apple.

b) There were a whole host of issues that just built up to make the move necessary and or compelling. The hardware R&D costs of building PPC systems, suppliers that couldn't feed them fast enough chips, Intel dumping a bucket-load of co-marketing cash their way, an operating system that was agnostic to processor type, The popularity of the iPod to give them the financial capability to weather the transition, The desire to get volume discounts on xScale chips for their media devices, the pressure to adopt more effective DRM... the list goes on and on.

All of these at one time or other over the last couple months have been presented as the reason Apple made the move. More than likely, all of them combined were the critical mass necessary to start the chain reaction.