Apple deliberated moving Macs away from Intel chips, say sources

“Like all companies, mighty Apple is not immune to bungling a new product, though its apologies haven’t always seemed heartfelt,” Brad Stone, Adam Satariano, and Peter Burrows report for BusinessWeek. “After slashing the price of the first iPhone by $200 only a few months after its debut in 2007, Apple tried to placate enraged early adopters with a $100 rebate that they could spend only on Apple products. When the iPhone 4 was introduced with a flawed antenna design in 2010, it took 39 days of complaints for Steve Jobs to hold a press conference—and offer dissatisfied users a free rubber case.”

“Considering that history, Tim Cook’s reaction to the outcry over the balky Maps application on the new iPhone 5 seemed positively penitent,” Stone, Satariano, and Burrows report. “Since Jobs’s death one year ago, many Apple observers have predicted the company would suffer from the loss of his internal authority and intuition about product design and features. Apple is undoubtedly a different company under Cook. It misses Jobs’s conspicuous creativity and entrepreneurial fervor, but it’s gaining in maturity, rationality, and, yes, value.”

“Much about the company’s direction and even its products still reflects Jobs’s decisions and design preferences—the iPhone 5 was the last model to receive detailed input from Jobs, say two people familiar with the phone’s development. The company has yet to release any products Jobs didn’t personally bless. But Cook has executed Jobs’s plan even better than expected,” Stone, Satariano, and Burrows report. “Apple has also deliberated over moving away from Intel chips in the Macintosh, say two people familiar with these discussions. Such a shift would be difficult and isn’t imminent, though it would allow Apple to further distinguish its laptops and desktops from competitors that run Intel’s (INTC) chips and Microsoft’s Windows software.”

Much more in the full article here.

51 Comments

    1. BootCamp or VMWare/Parallels to run Windows on Intel chips, along side Mac OS, is a compelling reason why many people switch. Yes they want Macs, but they get their Windows too, if they need it. It’s a pacifier. If Apple goes away from Windows, it will be disastrous for laying inroads to corporate and expansion in education.

      1. +1
        However, Apple is now designing its own processors (like the A6) and perhaps it could include a built-in emulator to run windows software.  That would remove the concern you voiced (and I feel).

    2. Interestingly enough, Windows 8 comes in an Intel and ARM (RT) flavor. As usual, it is a sideways and backwards attempt to copy Apple’s success with iOS (and Google/Android’s fairly successful copying attempt).

      Microsoft has been x86 since the beginning, and I strongly suspect that the company is primed for a big ol’ bag of hurt, as SJ was fond of saying. Apple has successfully handled a two OS transitions of this type with overlapping processors (Motorola to PPC and PPC to Intel) with fat binaries and Rosetta. More recently, Apple developed iOS to run on ARM while OS X evolved to an Intel-only version. Microsoft is going the opposite way, taking an x86-centric OS and trying to split it into two versions. I don’t anticipate that ending well for Microsoft.

  1. It will not happen in any near future, since Intel is years ahead of others in terms of implementing better manufacturing processes.

    While the likes of TSMC and Samsung only now started mass produce CPUs with 28-32 nm technology, Intel does 22 nm for quite time already.

    So no matter how good Apple’s own design for CPUs could be, there are no fabrics out there who could produce it in competitive — to Intel — manufacturing process.

    And Intel does not want to produce chips that are not designed by them.

    So no, for now there is no way to move away from Intel.

    1. Apple doesn’t need to COMPETE with Intel. They just need chips that will run OSX quickly and reliably. Intel and AMD are trying to one up each other in order to woo the same group of people into their camp. Apple doesn’t have to make the world’s smallest chips… Desktop and laptop chips don’t have the same space requirements as phones. If they make a chip that smokes AMD and Intel in sunspider and other generic benchmarks YET that allows them to use whatever graphics chip they want to use (Intel forces you to use their poorly performing integrated graphics chip even if you’d rather use the space for an Nvidia chip), then they win.

      It’ll first appear in a future “Air” laptop as space is at a premium already there, then work it’s way to desktops and pro laptops.

  2. I have always thought they had a long range goal of having some way to eliminate the Hackintosh crowd. It may be to move to their own chip design, or – if they keep going with Intel – to have some other chip they can pair with their hardware to make sure OSX in running on a real Mac device.

    1. I don’t think the hackintosh is big enough to even sweat. Certainly not worth moving the entire cpu platform over.

      So a few geeks run os-x on PC hardware. It hasn’t hurt the Mac in any meaningful way and is a gateway drug in its own right. I started with os-x on a dell gx270. I now have 2 MacBook pros. A mini and an iPod touch.

    1. We put a 427 out of a 68 Vette in a 75 half ton truck.
      with the turbo 400 it shifted into 2nd… and lifted the left front off the ground. at 65mph. 😉

      so yes.. people DO put engines from cars in trucks.
      and besides a few inner workings the engines in the trucks (any brand) are the same as those found in cars. (V8’s and V6’s both)

      but no, I don’t see a reason to go back to ARM myself.. Maybe Intel and Apple are working on a new more powerful intel chip.. that PC’s won’t get. but i doubt ARM will come back.

  3. Why not having the best processor for each individual purpose? Intel for Macs and ARM-based for iOS-devices?

    Apple should focus its energy on really important matters, not on a useless chip-switch. Things like a really new MacPro and a real update for Pages, amongst others. Plenty of work.

    1. Don’t take what this guy writes so seriously. It would be natural for engineers to consider the positives & negatives of an ARM based notebook. Apple would be negligent if they did not consider the possibilities and ramifications. Looking at an option from all sides is not the same as announcing an imminent change.

  4. The Macbook Airs could have gone over to AMD Fusion processors but now Intel has upped its game on integrated graphics it looks less likely. Also Apple has adopted Thunderbolt so another plus point for Intel.

  5. With some more development, I can certainly see ARM chips being used in MacBook Air portables; benchmark tests have put the iPhone 5 as fast as my G4 ’03 PowerBook!

  6. Apple’s Maps is so preferable to the clunky Google Maps for me, I don’t get the controversy. I’m sure for some it is worse and others better, but why does the press accept this as a disaster, other than the made up “disaster” causing the stock to be manipulated. This is not a 30 or 50 billion dollar blunder. It is a 1.0 product being used as an excuse to artificially lower a stock on the event of the most successful introduction of a new consumer product in the history of consumer product introductions. The opportunity to make profit off of this non-event has been nearly miraculous and the press just keeps propping up this straw man. The chip change rumor is yet another bit of hot air. Any fool can write about this, with no real knowledge of the matter, because any company in Apple’s position should be re-evaluating every vendor relationship all the time. Duh!

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