As we all know, the Apple developer conference is being held today. I’d be interested to know whether the rumors of Apple switching to x86 based machines are true.

So far the WSJ, CNet and the G&M have gone on record supporting this with ‘credible sources’

UPDATE: This information has been confirmed. The entire keynote presentation was conducted on an Intel Mac…


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  • Hey Allen,

    Long time reader. 1st comment ever.

    What’s your take on how Apple will control installation of OS X to Apple boxes only? Is the Hardware DRM up to task?

    I’m operating under the assumption that *there will* be DRM (Apple being a hardware company, Microsoft being present at the WWDC keynote) unless we see some kind of holy war over the same boxen. That could get interesting.

    — Jaron

  • Sorry for your comment taking so long to show up Jaron. All new commenters get moderated and I’ve been very busy.

    What I’ve heard is the following:

    You will be able to install Windows XP et. al. on Apple branded computers.
    You won’t be able to install Mac OS X on any non-Apple branded computers.

    You’re right – there _will_ be DRM. Based on the above operations, I suspect some sort of additional module or ROM chip that Mac OSX keys off of…

  • No problem Allen. I’ve read the comments that have mentioned the comments moderation so I actually expected the delay!

    Then perhaps here’s a different angle on things: would DRM be in Apple’s best interest? Could they get a stronger foothold into the market by making the DRM weak enough that a black market copy could sweep the PC world while still requiring the official hardware/ROM chip for legitimate use (Enterprise, Education)?

    There’s a very extreme take on things over at I, Cringeley (http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050609.html) where he goes off on a limb and starts talking about an Intel/Apple buyover. Perhaps the truth isn’t that extreme but it definately seems that this isn’t a strictly hardware decision and if played correctly has large implications for Microsoft and Windows.

    What I found especially hilarious (if you’ve watched the WWDC keynote) is when that Microsoft Mac Business Unit rep comes on. Not only was it the most rehearsed trash I’ve ever heard (even the speech from Sony’s CEO/Prez was more endearing and articulate @ Macworld)…throughout the whole speech, all I could imagine her thinking in her mind was…”Bill is going to be so seriously pissed.”

  • Ahh…Cringely…

    The man’s been ingesting one too many hash brownies. At least that was my take when his opinions hit Slashdot.

    I’ve only read the Keynote summaries – not watched the Keynote itself. I couldn’t due to other priorities. But, I’m cracking a smile here when you describe the Sony CEO’s speech as more “endearing and articulate” than the Microsoft Business Rep’s. That’s quite the indictment of her speech.

    I don’t think Microsoft is too concerned. If anything, I think this switch is immaterial to their larger plans.


    3 points:

    Microsoft’s biggest cash cow is Office. It’s what people want. The market for Office exists whether you use Windows or Mac OS X. If anything, Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit just got their costs cut (a little) by not having to support PPCs, PPC boxes, PPC compilers etc.

    Apple’s not out to become the new Dell. Steve Jobs is definitely in the business of making Apple the premier computer supplier – not the common one. There’s no cachet in owning something without any entry tax. People want exclusive. They like exclusive. They’ll pay for it. I’m fairly sure the DRM will be quite strong and almost certainly have a hardware component involved.

    This move is all about numbers. x86 chips are ubiquitous. x86 chips present a lower bar for 3rd party app developers. And the name “Pentium” is recognized by consumers. Apple will stick “Intel Inside”, probably ship a demo copy of VPC for the switchers and trumpet the MHz.

    Welcome to the brave new world.

  • Endearing because I was smiling the whole time he was speaking, building up complex thoughts with the limited English he knew. Articulate in the sense that he’s Japanese and english isn’t his first language. The Microsoft rep could’ve done much better (but may have been under corporate PR constraints, I shouldn’t be making personal skills judgements. Social Psychology: Fundamental Attribution Error. Just because she’s mouthing the words doesn’t mean she believes it.)

    3 Replies:
    Yup, it’s definately what people want. I actually on the side that costs will go up a bit (however much it costs to recompile, 1 guy, 2 hours? $80 maybe). In the short term, they will have to put out those universal binaries (I’m interesting in seeing how much the added size is, double? +30%).

    If you’ve ever seen Keynote in action, that is one sweet program. PowerPoint reeks of amateurishness in comparison. If the Apple iWork division wanted to take on the whole office suite, I think they could make a hell of run. If indeed Office 12’s XML spec is actually open enough for other to implement, they could stand a chance of offering compatability. Even the slightest error will mar their reputation however.

    Office should actually be an interesting cudgel that Microsoft can wield against Apple. Without Office 2004, Apple would be facing a lot of problems with Educational/Corporate uptake.

    [Apple Is Not Going To Be Dell]
    I’m countering on this one. Remember a time when Steve said…no one wants a dinky flash MP3 player? Lo and behold, we get the Shuffle. Can’t splurge for that Dual 2.8GHz G5 PowerMac? Maybe a Mac Mini will suffice.

    I think we’re seeing an increasing trend towards the mass market with Apple but they’re orchestrating it one piece at a time. Planned PR. Bit by bit encroaching on the mass market. If their marketing can sustain demand (which in and of itself is up for debate) it won’t matter that they’re common. It’ll matter that they’re “cool”. And if their competitors don’t get their act together (PlaysForSure anyone? iPod killers?), save for being cheaper than Apple, they don’t stand a chance.

    “There’s no cachet in owning something any entry tax.”
    I think Apple has resolved this by being very explicit in their product lines. It’s a big part of the reason why the Shuffle doesn’t have a screen. True, you may not be able to get the best iPod Photo 60Gb but here’s a $99 device *with the same white headphones* that’ll demonstrate that you’re “with it”.

    I wouldn’t count Jobs out on this one. I’ve might’ve agreed prior to the Shuffle and Mac Mini but with those in place, and not to mention the Intel switch, I think Apple’s going the whole 9 yards, albeit in 5 years.

    [Chips and Numbers]
    “Intel Inside”. No way is that stupid sticker/ badge going to mar the surface of a Mac. Is that some Intel client marketing requirement? I’ve heard of kickbacks for playing the “Ding Dong Ding Dong” sound on commercials; dunno about the badge.

    That would cinch it. All you need is the appropriate price point.

    [Trumpet the MHz]
    Hell yeah. And maybe even the dual/quad cores too as the processor chipworld seems to be moving towards.

    [Welcome to the brave new world]
    Forget Huxley. You’ve gotta love the 1984 style tactics at the keynotes and irony (or is it incongruence) with the original 1984 Mac commercial.

    “Eurasia’s the enemy. No wait, Eastasia is and always was. Or was that Eurasia…?”

    $500 million deal with Microsoft.
    Switching to Intel.
    I believe the Slashdot comment was … “2 Button Mice” are next. But let’s not get crazy here.

    Leave no preconceived stone unturned.

  • Point by Point (in no particular order):

    [Chips & Numbers]
    You’re right – there’s no way a badge like that will go near a Mac. Jobs would have a fit. But I wonder if it’ll be a selling point for customers.

    “It’ll have a Pentium inside…”

    Don’t underestimate the impact the name Pentium has on the average consumer. I don’t think the Apple reps will play up the “it can run WXP” angle, but they’ll certainly play up the “its compatible with your apps” angle.

    [Brave New World]
    Switching to Intel was the only logical choice. I know that the Sony Pres. tried to talk Jobs into using the Cell – but honestly – that was DOA. Jobs wants to be able to leverage x86 compatibility.

    Not to mention my personal contention that the next-gen XServes will be Opteron loaded. Just a thought.

    [On Being Dell]
    Here’s the dirty secret behind the Shuffle. It (especially the 1GB model) is not doing as well as expected. People are buying up to the Mini and I guess quite a few really want an LCD screen to go with their MP3 player.

    Cue the rumors on the 2GB shuffle w/ LCD screen planned for later this year.

    I think where we disagree is on the marketing angle. Dell sells computers. Apple sells experience.

    “The professional dream machine.”
    “Where did the computer go?”

    Sound familiar?

    I’m more inclined to believe that Apple’s target market is the home entertainment hub. That’s why the Mac Mini’s so small and affordable. Not because they want to beat out Dell at selling PCs. But because they want you to buy a cute box that looks and works like something you’ll plug into your living room setup.

    I think people are fundamentally more comfortable with spending money on home entertainment systems and gadgetry than computers. Look at the popularity of the low-end computer market. People buying the lowest of the low-end boxes at Wal-Mart. They want the sub-$500 computers. Heck. Show them a sub-$200 box and they’ll buy it.


    Look at how much people spend on an iPod. On an HDTV – be they plasma or LCDs. On audio setups. The populace wants to be entertained.

    PC = work
    Apple = play

    I think that’s Job’s ultimate goal. Not to be the new Michael Dell. But to be the new Sony/Samsung.

    I’ve seen Keynote in action. But looks aren’t everything.

    I’ve also read a lot of testimony from Keynote/Pages users. It’s not pretty. There’s _a lot_ of functionality missing. A lot of bugs and a lot of holes. It’s nowhere near to competing against MS Office.

    Oh – Keynote will do for 90% of the public. But Pages is another matter entirely. In its current incarnation, it’s lacking.

    I don’t think it’ll be that easy to take on Office. Here’s a few stumbling blocks I can list off the top of my head.

    What feature are you going to sell iWork on?
    How are you going to move entrenched software houses to an Apple solution?
    Where’s the macro compatibility?
    What’s the scripting language you offer? (Never underestimate the power of VBScript)
    Where’s the RAD tool that ties into your apps and their documents?
    What about legacy document compatibility?

    No – there’s no way Jobs is stupid enough to take on Office. That’s equivalent to Napoleon’s grand desire to take on Russia. He’ll be content with offering consumer-oriented “good for 90%” of the public apps. For now.

  • On the off chance that tags work in comments
    [b]Square brackets make you wish for Rich Text functionality.[/b]

    [Pentium Inside]
    I’ve never quite understood that whole Pentium fetish thing. Although I acknowledge its infuriating existance (I’ve met a few people hung up on the Intel brand). I suppose my low tolerance to price gouging made me an early convert to AMD. Ahh…the K6-2 300.

    Ever used WINE? Can windows apps be made to arbitrarily run in a Mac OS X windowframe? That could make the experience a bit more seemless.

    [On Being Dell and iPods]
    I’m actually part of the unwashed masses now (iPod 4G 20Gb, 2 weeks ago). Just declaring any conflicts of interests :)

    I’ve been trying to get PodCasting to work reliably: “RSS Radio” so far being the only Podcast program I’ve found that works the way I’d expect it to. iPodder and NIMIQ have been giving me problems. David Curry’s Daily Source Code is pretty good. Eagerly awaiting iTunes 4.9.

    [Apple Sells Experience]
    “Look at how much people spend on an iPod.” >> I guess I know how *that* feels now don’t I :P

    Most surprising negative thing so far: iPods crash. You hit the Centre + Menu in order to restart. It may have something to do with not properly unmounting or forwarding tracks too quickly.

    Most pleasant positive thing: Take out the headphones and the iPod pauses. Pure genius. I don’t know if other players do that but it’s a sign of good attention to detail.

    [PC=Work, Apple=Play]
    I’m totally buying into that. But to add one caveat. Those Macs can’t be beat for video work. I was literally salivating over Motion. Final Cut Pro I can deal with but After Effects has been resistant to my learning attempts.

    I’m sure you’ve already read about the analogy: Apple is to Sony as iPod is to Walkman. So the progression is definately already there. And I agree with your home entertainment angle. Hell, that’s much more mass market than Dell. Apple stands to make a killing.

    [NEW][Apple and Video: The Next Logical Step]
    There’s been reports in the iTunes executable of WMV and various video references. These appear to be our options:

    “Music Videos”
    Already happening with the integration of Quicktime and iTunes. Small enough to download. Not really a killer feature in it’s own right however. “Oooh! Music videos!” ….Pass.

    R.I.P. BTEfnet. Former bittorrent purveyor of TV shows.

    Combine BitTorrent + RSS + iTunes + iPod video to get subscribable TV Shows that be plugged into your TV or watched on the road. Your bandwidth has to be there but it’s fairly doable. The subscription basis and shorter show time might make it feasible. The medium could (and probably more is more likely) to take your Home Appliance Mac mini device. Not HDTV however, Mac Mini’s aren’t fast enough (but maybe Intel Macs will be in 2 years?) Licensing and commercials are going to be interesting to figure out.

    Movies. Not really feasible with iPods. The critical comment I read was “There’s a limited lifespan for movie content. Watch once and dump unlike Music which grows on you.” Which is why TV content seems all the more likely. The best the iPod can do is act as a conduit to bring stuff from your PC to your living room. Of course, the Mac Living Room computer would short-circuit that extra step.

    Nah, Pages is nowhere near yet. It’s also fulfilling more of a niche role once in Home Office/Small Business desktop publishing (formally the domain of Adobe’s Pre-InDesign PageMaker).

    “But looks aren’t everything.”
    Nah. Looks are great! But I suppose also not everything. I’m interesting in reading about the missing Keynote functionality, any links? I guess I’m operating on a far too idealized impression of Keynote so anything to broaden my understanding would be great.

    [Office Replies]
    “What feature are you going to sell iWork on?”
    That’s tough. Honestly, if Microsoft maintains Office support for the Mac, it doesn’t make sense for Apple to compete. Let it be someone else’s problem.

    I was more concerned about a situation where the Office Mac would lag behind or be shut down entirely and in that scenario, Apple would have no option but to provide something to fill the void. What killer features? It may be the only choice for Mac users.

    “How are you going to move entrenched software houses to an Apple solution?”
    How do you move anyone away from anything? Good PR. Consistent quality. Low bar to entry. If Apple doesn’t have a compatible MS Office app, they’re screwed (in the office place). Period.

    *WHICH GIVES* amazing support to the Home Entertainment/(PC=Work,Apple=Play) angle of things. You don’t have to worry about entrenched standards if you approach the adoption problem from an entertainment angle, where Apple can get first starter advantage (eg. Fairplay DRM).

    “Where’s the macro compatability?”
    “What’s the scripting language you offer?”
    Cue AppleScript. Cue OS X Tiger 10.4 Automator. Quite powerful in its own rights.
    Of course, this is absolutely useless for any custom VBScript/Custom Office Applications/MS Access Applications. I’m also not too sure how Macro compatible Office 2004 is. That would be one tough pickle for Apple to independently implement.

    “(Never underestimate the power of VBScript)”
    Never do. Never will. I love VB & VBA! (Well maybe NOT *love*. MS Access VBA takes the most convoluted hacks to do the things I want it to do sometimes).

    “Where’s the RAD tool that ties into your apps and their documents?”
    You’re talking about Visual Basic Applications (VBA)? I’m sorry but any RAD that requires me to load a system tray service to get SCROLL WHEEL WORKING can probably be improved on. Of course, that’s still a lot more than a non-existant complete iWork office suite has.

    “What about legacy document compatibility?”
    There’s reports that Mac Office 2004 and OpenOffice can sometimes deal with older Office document better than Office 2003 PC can.

    If Office 12 XML pans out, maybe compatibility will be made more easy to implement. Or maybe it’s just PR B.S. Either way, compatability can still be done; it’ll just be a lot harder.

    “No – there’s no way Jobs is stupid enough to take on Office.”
    Agreed. What you really need is a Pearl Harbour where Microsoft declares war first (seeing as we ‘re on the war analogies).

  • Now there’s a rumor flying about about how Apple’s going to use TCPA chips. More like unfounded, pie-in-the-sky speculation.

    But it’s out there…