So, a couple of days ago I listened to Adam’s interview with Leo Laporte on the MacCast (which was very good by the way). One of the many subjects they discussed in the podcast was the impending move to Intel chips by Apple and what they think will or won’t happen with regards to Mac OS X being released for generic non-Apple hardware.
I’ve held back in airing my thoughts on this subject for some time, but I thought I’d just get it out of my system now and move on as some of Leo’s opinions mirrored mine (but I doubt we agree on everything). It’s been sitting here as a draft for way too long, this subject is starting to get old.
Hardware Release Schedule
Leo said that he does not expect us to have to wait until next summer for the first MacTel, and I agree whole heartedly. In recent times Apple hasn’t released any information on products much more than a month ahead of release, they are very good at officially being tight-lipped even if the rumour sites do get the scoop ahead of schedule now and then. Steve Jobs said in his WWDC keynote in June that they would have Intel based hardware “Starting next year, we will start introducing Macs with Intel processors in them… so when we meet here this time next year, our plan is to be shipping Macs with Intel processors by then.”, I’m hoping that Apple really expects their first product to be out before that.
I predict that by the end of January 2006 we will be able to buy a Intel CPU’d Mac mini, we’re not going to have to wait until summer. Further more, I expect there to be a variation specifically targeted to the Home Media Centre segment, which may have either new software for full screen TV compatible Music, Movies and watching/recording TV, or at least extensions to iTunes for full screen simplified control (e.g. via bundled remote control).
By summer 2006 we will have the first PowerBooks (or whatever they will be called) based on intel chips, what’s the date of next year’s WWDC event with all those developers milling around with PowerBook in-hand?
I would expect that the Intel based replacement to the PowerMac G5 should be easier to create than any other Apple hardware model purely due to the extra room you have for part placement. However, I expect the G5 replacement (G6 anyone?) to be based on the recently announced “proper” dual core Intel chips, and I seriously hope that they are dual processor too giving us effectively four way processing. Drool. This may delay release a little, so we may be looking at end of 2006/begining of 2007 for this one. What’s the betting that Apple’s deal with Intel includes them getting first dibs on the new chips as “guinea pigs”, with release to Intel’s major volume partners soon after.
iMac G5 replacement. This is a little tricky, with any luck we’ll get these for Paris Expo next year, I expect them to be out before the PowerMacs, but after the much needed PowerBook replacements. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PowerBook, it rocks, but Apple needs to get the Intel laptops out the door as they’ll be a key seller.
Mac OS X On Intel
A lot of the discussion recently has centred around whether Apple will release Mac OS X for any old generic PC, or whether they will ensure Mac OS X can only run on hardware made by themselves.
Well, I reckon they will (and should) take steps to make it fairly difficult to run Mac OS X on anything but Apple hardware, but not waste time in making it very difficult. It doesn’t matter how hard Apple tries, someone will have it running on generic PCs within a month of release, so why bother trying to make it impossible. Apple should do as most software vendors do, just make it hard enough that the casual user won’t bother, and make it extremely clear that Mac OS X running on anything other than Apple hardware will not be supported in any way. Apple simply could not afford to support Mac OS X running on generic hardware, their support costs would sky-rocket. But, after the first iteration, once a fair chunk of business has been buying Apple hardware or looked at OS X, and a sizeable segment of the software market has made noises about porting their apps to Mac OS X to satisfy the demands of the new switchers, I can see Apple taking another look at the generic PC market as a platform for OS X. It would in my opinion be a shame to decouple the hardware from OS, quality will suffer, but they’ll sell a lot of copies and iLife will sell by the truckload too, not to mention the Pro tools.
Where Apple will gain is in people buying Apple hardware that they know can run MS Windows, but also that sexy Mac OS X that everyone is raving about. They’ll take the plunge because the hardware just looks fantastic and has a superb build quality, and if their current computer usage depends on Windows based software, they’re not going to miss out. Security is a real head-turner in todays virus ridden world, Mac OS X in inherently more secure and so I think this will make a lot of sales just in itself as people look for a safe platform to do their email and web surfing while still having Windows as a fall-back.
What About Mice?
Why did I title this post as “Of Mice And Machines”? Well, I’ve talked about machines, and the OS that runs on them, but what about mice?
It occurred to me as soon as I saw the Mighty Mouse that one of the major reasons that Apple released it was not because it’s existing users have been requesting it or that they have been buying replacement 3 button mice forever, but because Apple is trying to remove as many obstacles from the path of potential switchers. These mice, when bundled with a new Mac that can run both Mac OS X and MS Windows are what the switcher expects, three button mice are the norm in the Windows world.
OK, I’ve made enough of a fool of myself, better leave off now!