Another Possible Twist on Intel Mac
Again, I am engaging in idle speculation on the heels of the underwhelming Apple media event, as well as Steve Jobs pulling out of the keynote. Many people have begun to wonder why indeed Apple is not sticking with the PowerPC architecture. It isn't clear whether or not IBM can make a 3 GHz G5 part, or whether they can get a chip's power requirements low enough to deliver a G5 PowerBook. In fact, it is pretty clear that a dual-core 2.5 GHz part would be at least as powerful as a similar part from Intel. Now, I must preface this by saying that I don't truly believe this one myself, but I am, as I often do, pondering the possibilities.
Let's say that in a bizarre parallel universe, Apple after releasing the multi-button, multi-function mighty mouse that is fully compatible with computers running Windows, decides that they can make more money out of building iPods and computer hardware than they can in releasing software. They have realized that what makes their products compelling is their design, and not in actuality their operating system.
The result of this revelation. Apple decides to produce all of their iLife applications as well as GarageBand for the PC. They will continue to sell Macs of all types and iPods, but they decide to phase out OS X in favor of pre-installing Microsoft's Vista. Since most of their profit comes from hardware, to the shareholders this seems like a good move. It would also explain why the Mighty Mouse is designed to work so well with PCs, and why Apple has been so explicit about not doing anything to prevent users from running Windows on their Macintoshes.
Now, why this would be a very bad move. On my very long drive back from Las Vegas, I was listening to the TWiT podcast. They brought up the fact that CP/M was a lot like Apple way back in the day. They had the leading operating system for PCs and they locked it into their hardware. Eventually IBM decided to get into the game with an operating system that would run on any intel based hardware, regardless of the vendor. Soon, Microsoft wrote an operating system that was superior to the one that IBM made, but was company agnostic, it didn't care who's hardware it was running on as long as it made the system requirements. After a while, all anyone said about CP/M was “CP/M who?” Apple's current strategy of lock-in is similar to CP/M's. This strategy obviously didn't work for CP/M, and isn't working for Apple. Without the iPod Apple's computer division isn't doing all that well. If they licensed their OS, they could do at least as well as Microsoft. But they would have to drop their hardware line. What they could be thinking about is that they could be like Dell and sell hardware with the OS preloaded. They could then focus on their hardware margin. But here's where this would destroy Apple. The problem is knock-offs. Whatever they came up with, they would have something like a one week lead on the design, before it was reverse engineered and sold on the market here for hunderds of dollars less. Right now, even though there are cases that look very similar to the G5, no-one, even Microsoft, has been able to reverse engineer the operating system to any truly successful level. Just a few thoughts….