Ars Technica: Why Apple really went Intel; ‘Macintosh is Apple’s past, iPod is Apple’s future’

“Apple’s mercurial and high-handed relationship with its chip suppliers” was what caused Apple’s switch from IBM to Intel processors, according to Ars Technica’s Jon “Hannibal” Stokes.

Apple over the years has routinely demanded that Motorola dedicate their CPU design teams to making special chips for Apple that will never generate much revenue. If Motorola won’t play, Apple will go to IBM. Apple kept up the demands with IBM, threatening with their only valid threat: we’ll go to Intel. “Apple has been pulling these stunts for a long time, as anyone who followed the company’s relationship with Motorola knows,” Stokes writes.

Basically, IBM told Apple, “Fine, go to Intel.”

“The cold, hard reality here is that the Mac is Apple’s past and the iPod is Apple’s future. It’s a shame that Steve Jobs can’t be upfront with his user base about that fact, because, frankly, I think the Mac community would understand. The iPod and what it represents… is the Macintosh of the new millennium… [It’s not that IBM] dropped the performance ball,” Stokes explains. “What Jobs is really doing is shifting the focus of Apple from a PC-era ‘performance’ paradigm to a post-PC-era ‘features and functionality’ paradigm.”

“For the real reason behind the switch, you have to look to the fact that it’s the iPod and iTMS—not the Mac—that are now driving Apple’s revenues and stock price. Apple is more concerned with scoring Intel’s famous volume discounts on the Pentium and XScale lines than it is about the performance, or even the performance per Watt, of the Mac,” Stokes writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Stokes’ questions about the recently announced PowerPC 970MP and 970FX chips from IBM are interesting. You’ll need to read Stokes’ full article, which we highly recommend. For us, it’s always been about “features and functionality” over “performance” anyway. As we used to ask Windows users, “what good are high performance CPUs if you’re constantly running virus scanners, routinely fighting the user interface, and can’t run best-in-class applications like Final Cut Pro, Motion, Logic, DVD Studio Pro, GarageBand, iMovie, or iDVD, to name but a few?”

Now that the CPU issue has been eliminated from the conversation, Apple’s strong points are highlighted even more. The Mac OS and the applications are without compare in the Wintel world. Mac OS X Tiger vs. Windows XP? Puleeze. If the Mac is Apple’s past, it’s also its present and future.


  1. I don’t know why Wintelians all think that Apple is going to use exactly the same chips and mobo’s as every other PC for every one of their products. I can see desktops using legacy free chips that Microsoft will not code for and I don’t see Intel designing and building all of Apple’s mother boards. Apple is the king of miniaturization, not Intel.

    Wintelians seem to think that Apple has just become another Intel box assembler with a third OS to compliment Windows and Linux. That is what is behind all of this bullshit speculation. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

  2. “Just that he refers to this as a ‘stunt’ putting it in such a negative light immediately makes this article suspect. “

    You people do know a little bit about the history of Steve Jobs don’t you? I mean your not all speaking from a position of ignorance are you? Because if so your comments are the ones that are suspect.

    Steve Jobs has a long and storied history of being the master manipulator. I mean everyone has heard of the reality distortion field right?

    Yes stunts, thats often what it amounts to when you get right down to it and if you actually read the article you might actually educate yourself to soem of what went on behind this switch instead of just living inside of Steve’s keynote RDF.

    I don’t know about the Mac being a part of the past, but I have no doubt that there is more to the switch than an unseend roadmap that only his Steveness is privy to and performance per watt. But the tactics described behind the scenes are pure Apple and even purer Jobs. Sounds spot on to me.

    Either way, long live the Mac. On whatever friggin chip they decide to go with.

  3. Jon “Hannibal” Stokes article is the most slanted slanted piece I have ever read at Ars Technica. He takes a posistion then uses annomus sorceses, amost zero facts and logic that lacks all proportionality.

    To the owners / editors of Ars Technica a few more articles like that and you will have lost all credibility.

  4. I think I smell a potential “Apple Death Knell” count … well, certainly a “Mac Death Knell” count.

    I don’t see Macintosh users going to Windows … and THAT is what this wackadoodle means when he says that the Macintosh is the past.

  5. I have a friend who worked for Moto but left with Freescale. He’s been telling me for years that Moto spent way too much money trying to keep up with Intel and the pressure Apple put on them was enormous.

    I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he implied that Freescale and Apple were better off parting.

  6. Of course Thurrott jumped in this, but I have to say, iPod and Mac are inseparable.

    As the iPod goes, so does the Mac, it’s only natural. The iPod may end up being the cash cow.. (kinda like Windows) but the Mac isn’t GOING AWAY as Thurrot would say

  7. So basically, Apple was putting pressure on it’s chip suppliers to give them better prices and better performance. I am shocked at such arrogance! Steve Jobs is a baby-eating monster.

  8. Seems like someone is contemplating his navel too much. Why does everybody have to come up with secret ulterior motives and hidden agendas? Is the simple answer that was provided too…… simple?

    The growth area for the computer market is Laptops and Apple saw much better performance per watt down the road with Intel.

  9. Steve is God. Please do not belittle our God´s wise decisions.

    As the Apple Bible says in book of Jobs 3:24 “iSteve is wiser than iBM.”

    And Jobs 5:18: “Thou shalt travel from Motorola to IBM to finally reach the Intel.”
    And so it was.

  10. In re-reading Stokes’ article for a third time, I’ve found a hint that demonstrates his bias and total misunderstanding of the iPod and Apple:

    “The XScale is plenty powerful enough to do video playback, and I have reason to believe that Apple is currently working on a video iPod to counter the Sony PSP. (My guess is that we might even see it in time for Christmas.) When the video iPod hits the streets, Apple will have an iPod product that plays each of the media formats (music, pictures, video) represented in its iLife suite.”

    So long as he continues to think that Apple is trying to COUNTER another company’s product — the sony PSP — in the production of newer versions of the iPod, he will forever misunderstand and “misunderestimate” Apple.

    Apple is NOT “countering” ANYTHING from Sony; indeed, the situation is precisely the reverse. What makes Stokes think that Apple hasn’t had in mind, all along, an iPod that plays music, pictures, and video as a companion to iLife? iLife came out a long time ago … LONG before Sony’s PSP … and I have ZERO doubt that Apple has LONG projected such products as part of the “digital hub.” Remember that term?

  11. Whiners, read his update.
    “UPDATE: If you read all the way to the bottom of this article, and you think that my basic thesis is that “the Mac is doomed and Apple is planning to quit selling personal computers,” or some other such fatuous nonsense, then you need serious remedial help with reading comprehension. I already made my point about Apple’s shift in focus from the desktop PC (as exemplefied by the Mac) to the post-PC gadget (as exemplefied by the iPod) in a previous article, where it didn’t occasion nearly this much contention and idiotic, defensive ranting. I have no idea why stating the exact same case a bit more strongly should induce such spasms and seizures of rage in the Mac Faithful, but there you go. (Ok, actually, I do have an idea. It’s because I published the blasphemous, vulgar, and generally irreligious suggestion that The Holy Steve (may peace be upon him) was high-handed and arrogant in his dealings with chip suppliers, and that he was less than forthright about the reasons behind the switch. For such impiety I’m sure I’ll be duly punished… assuming that The Steve even really exists, of course, and isn’t just a figment of our collective human imaginations…)”

  12. Not bad, Zeldorf … about on-par with the cries of Windows Evangelicals: “Macintrash is of the AntiChrist! Soon … by December, for sure … all Mac users will cast their Macintrash boxes into the junkyard of forgotten toys, where there will be much wailing and gnashing of hard drives. Then, only the “hole-y” Windows will remain as Lord of Master of all that is Digital. Bow down and worship the Holy Savior, Bill Gates … and his prophet, Michael Dell!”

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.