One of the biggest problems with the Intel Transition is the possibility of marginalisation of PowerPC-based computers. This didn’t occur much with the transition from MOT 680×0 processors. It took time for applications to be PowerPC-only and there were very few that appeared to be PowerPC-only and completely changed the face of the market.
With the Mac OS X transition, there were immediately a lot of apps that were simply not possible on Mac OS 9. But these were the features that we wanted Mac OS X for and we saw it as “cheap” because it was just software. Nevermind that we had to eventually re-buy most of our software and for some people it was very expensive.
Now we have PPC-based and Intel-based Macs in the channel and we’re seeing all sorts of new software appearing. We have x86 virtualisation from Parallels, statements from VMWare that they will be supporting the Mac, Apple producing Boot Camp software which permits Intel-based Macs to boot into Windows XP.
There will be more and more applications which will be Intel-only. This isn’t a bad thing per se – there were lots of apps that were Mac OS X-only though we didn’t see this as bad with the PPC transition just over a decade ago.
All of this fuels new hardware purchases. It fuels upgrades. Apple loves transitions as a result. What is more evident is that Apple attracts people who enjoy having the latest and greatest. Intel has said they enjoy working with Apple because even with 5% of the market, Apple customers buy new hardware. Look at the sales of Intel-based machines. They’re flying out the door. I’m looking forward to the Apple Earnings Conference Call on April 19th. We’ll know then how many have shipped. And I’l bet that just after that, we’ll see the replacement for the iBook.
It is important for developers to target the PPC market as well. For the last 5 years, Apple has been selling between 3-4 million computers a year, all running Mac OS X. Ignoring upgrade customers, that’s a market of nearly 20 million computers and, unlike the Windows market, very few of them are dumb terminals, cash registers, automated teller machines and word processing appliances. In comparison, the Intel Mac market is going to be a twentieth of the size this quarter. It’ll increase quickly but we’ll see growth limited by demand for the chips. I’d love to see figures for Intel shipping their Core Solo/Duo chip range to find out what percentage of their Core business is going to Apple. Just like it will be interesting to see the adoption of their next-generation dual-core/quad-core/64-bit chips.
Anyway, it’s Sunday morning. I need to get out of bed