Apple’s secret is out: Apple switches to Intel chips

I’ve been a Mac user since college, but I’ve been an Apple user since 4th grade when I got my first Apple, an Apple II+. I now have both a Mac Powerbook and an Intel-based machine running Windows XP. Okay, enough about my credentials to be able to talk about this news.

Today’s news out of Apple that it is switching from IBM’s PowerPC chips to Intel’s Pentium chips is something that could have only been an April Fool’s joke in other years. It’s truth, though – Steve Jobs made the announcement today at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Diego. He showed off a Pentium 4-based Mac running OS X. Apple will make the move gradually, over the next several years. There are still new Macs in the pipeline that will use IBM’s PowerPC chips. By 2007, Jobs expects all Macs to be using Intel’s chips.

It’s a great step for Apple, hopefully it’s a way for it to survive in the future with a bigger market share. Apple has been great at its software innovations, much better than its fame for hardware-based innovation. It’s true innovation isn’t in the specs, it’s been in the design. Macs have always been different due their focus on the user experience, from the wonderful experience of opening the box to see the care to which the machine is so carefully packaged, to the way the operating system works as an extension of the experienced user’s thoughts. Once you know where the basic menu commands are, you can intuitively know where to find controls even in a program you’ve never used before.

This news is worthy of discussing here due to the implications it could have on our digital lifestyle. The inner geek in me hopes this means that I can eventually choose to ditch Windows XP in favor of Mac OS X, or XI, someday. If Microsoft had to compete with Apple directly on the same platform, I think Apple would gain market share. Apple can also continue with its hardware innovations by making smaller, more lightweight pieces. I think the rumored Mac tablet would be insanely great, to borrow one of Job’s favorite lines.
This is big, big news, so big that it will take years to fully play out. I am now excited for Apple’s future for the first time in years.

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