“Apple recaptured consumers’ attention with its hip iPod. Jobs may be thinking that the company can win over even more converts if Macs were powered with Intel chips,” David Kirkpatrick writes for Fortune. “It makes perfect sense that such discussions should be under way. In some form, they’ve been going on for years. Back in January 2003, Paul Otellini, who recently became Intel’s CEO, told me: ‘I’d love to have Apple as a customer.’ In our conversation, Otellini conceded that he’d been talking to Jobs. While no deal emerged at that time, the talks have apparently heated up again.”

Kirkpatrick writes, “Jobs’ options are many. For one thing, Intel badly wants to sell its chips to Apple. For another, PC makers realize that the Mac OS X operating system is superior to Microsoft’s Windows, and they want a piece of that market. FORTUNE has learned that Apple, Intel, and several PC companies already have the Mac OS X operating system working on Intel chips in their labs. And then there’s the fact that more PC users are considering switching away from Windows. There are more Mac fanatics now than ever before. The Mac OS X operating system is superb, especially in its new ‘Tiger’ version, and Apple’s brilliant iPod is this decade’s signature tech device so far.”

“My colleague Brent Schlender addressed this in his excellent cover story back in February, ‘How Big Can Apple Get?': ‘Most tantalizing of all is scuttlebutt that three of the biggest PC makers are wooing Jobs to let them license OS X and adapt it to computers built around standard Intel chips. Why? They want to offer customers, many of whom are sick of the security problems that go with Windows and tired of waiting for Longhorn, an alternative,'” Kirkpatrick writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If PC makers are wooing Jobs, they don’t need Intel. Wouldn’t it be far easier for all sides if Apple simply licensed Mac OS X to HP and/or Sony, for a couple of examples, and let them assemble PowerPC-based Mac clones? Imagine Apple’s Jonathan Ive designing the Mac clones and PC makers can brand them like HP currently does with the “Apple iPod by HP.” Apple’s robust iPod revenue has weaned the company off its dependence on Mac hardware as their lifeblood. Perhaps Apple can now absorb any Mac hardware revenue hit that would come with cloning the Mac in exchange for Mac OS X market share growth. Is the time ripe now for Apple Mac clones?

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