Apple's Paradox - Go Intel and Keep the Hardware

by Derrick Story

Since WWDC I've been thinking about this. There are many ramifications involved with Apple moving to Intel. But one that confounds me, and certainly concerns Apple, is how to preserve its grip on hardware sales while doing so.



Apple has always been about the hardware. Mac OS X is about selling computers. iTunes is about selling iPods. This might seem cold at first, but I think it keeps them on track. Many of us have a passion for Apple's software. To me this means they've done a good job of analyzing the situation and executing upon it.



But how's this equation going to hold up with the Intel switch? One solution seems to be creating tamper-resistant code. Whew. That's a steep mountain to climb. And how much resource will it require?



At a time when Apple hardware sales are on the rise, the Intel switch seems, well, shall we say "bold"? Of course, dumping the iPod mini for the nano took some cajones. Maybe they can get away with this one too.


11 Comments

ghiebert
2005-11-10 10:28:37
It's actually a *good* thing
My boss isn't the only person I've heard say he will buy a Mac the moment he can Windows (or at least the odd Windows application) on it.


People have wanted to buy Apple hardware for years. The only thing holding many of them back was the perceived loss of use of their existing applications and data. If they know they can install Windows on a new Mac as a fallback, we might actually see Apple becoming one of the top Wintel sellers.

JulesLt
2005-11-10 11:58:24
How will Apple keep a hardware advantage
I think one of the most frustrating things about the PC market has been the fact that people think computers are 'just' a collection of standard components, when of course us techies know that the same graphics card and CPU can behave differently in different machines.


Of course, people look at memory size, CPU and now graphics RAM and think that tells them everything. As a rough guide I guess it isn't bad. It certainly tells you how one machine from the same supplier stacks up against another.


Even aside from issues like RAM speed and front-side-bus and PCI-X, your bog standard PC may contain a random mix of drivers in a combination that's not been tested by Microsoft - and if you're really unlucky, not even been tested by the company making the PC.


Provided Apple can maintain that 'end-to-end' quality a lot of people will continue to pay the premium.


The funniest thing though are those people who would buy an Apple machine JUST to run Windows on it - they just want the 'designer'-ness of it. The crazy thing is that it might actually turn out to be a total dog at running Windows. Compare the minimum specs for Tiger and Vista. Are Apple really going to compromise their design to stick in a beefier graphics card for Vista users?

michael98
2005-11-10 12:01:12
Oh, I'm the other way round
That's interesting. I have very severe doubts about Apple hardware, but would not like to use Win XP at all. So I'm just the opposite way round from your boss.


I think some of the Apple hardware designs leave a lot to be desired. Worse, the *cost* of the hardware is a pain. That's not only what you pay for a new machine (in most cases, though not right across the range), but the *ongoing* cost. It's the cost of repairs as much as anything. The parts cost more; the labor costs more. You're not meant to get into Apple hardware yourself, and neither will most repair places touch it. The parts are expensive; and Apple has tied the whole deal up with its registered dealers.


I can do without Apple hardawre, but I'd love a robust well-engineered X86 machine like a ThinkPad - but running OS X.

macrat
2005-11-10 12:12:07
Few will notice
Most of Apple's customer base now wouldn't have a clue of what you are talking about.


They go to the store and buy a Mac. They don't care what's in it. They only care about surfing the web and using the iLife suite.

p.k.
2005-11-10 13:21:16
Oh, I'm the other way round
"You're not meant to get into Apple hardware yourself, and neither will most repair places touch it."


It's funny you state this. With the iMac G4, you can even replace the screen among other parts. The G5 towers are tooless chassis. The only one I know of that you can't upgrade yourself is the Mini.

p.k.
2005-11-10 13:21:59
Oh, I'm the other way round
oops, I meant iMac G5. Sorry.
ghiebert
2005-11-10 13:50:50
Oh, I'm the other way round
With the exception of the old iMacs, I've found every Mac I've had -- a Cube, a G4 tower, and two PowerBooks -- easier to repair/upgrade than the PCs's I've had. The parts are the exact same parts (memory, hard drives, CD/DVD burners) that I would have needed to put inside a similar PC as well.
mattfein
2005-11-10 14:32:30
Apple is a systems company
No, not just hardware or software, but the combination. I know that companies that say they 'design systems' is a cliche, but Apple is the real thing. It's not just the iPod-- it's the iPod, iTunes and the music store. Hardware + software + data.
derrick
2005-11-10 14:54:23
Bad Spanish
Just got this note from a kind reader:


"The Spanish word 'cajones' actually means drawers! The word you wanted to use is 'cojones'."


That will teach me to attempt cleverness...

macrat
2005-11-10 16:15:18
Bad Spanish
You could also use huevos. ;-)
KroSha
2005-11-14 03:51:36
Oh, I'm the other way round
I'm am Apple IT guy. I've worked for several firms, looking after between 30 and 120 Macs, by myself. As most are Pro machines, I seldom need to send them out for repair. My reseller supplies me with parts and I do the upgrades myself.


Back when they were mostly G4s, I used to find the Haynes Mac Manual ( http://www.haynes.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&productId=14501&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=32503 ) invaluable.