Is Apple Planning Another Processor Switch?

Rumors persist that Cupertino may abandon Intel

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

This rumor is an oldie, but a goodie. But now there’s legitimate talk that Apple is exploring leaving the Intel platform on future generations of Mac computers.  This wouldn’t be the first time that Cupertino has decided to abandon their current chip platforms, not is it the first time these rumors have been floating around.  But with Apple doing so well with their ARM processors in mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, it’s not surprising that Cupertino may be seriously considering streamlining things.  Especially after investing the lion’s share of their 117 billion war chest on them.

 “Apple has also deliberated over moving away from Intel (INTC) chips in the Macintosh, say two people familiar with these discussions. Such a shift would be difficult and isn’t imminent, but it would allow Apple to further distinguish its laptops and desktops from those of competitors that run Intel’s chips and Microsoft’s Windows software.” – Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Apple has got a lot of money in the A series ARM processors, and with that technology maturing and becoming faster and more powerful, Apple would be crazy not to take their devoted customer and developer base, who already have invested in their mobile products and move them to a platform that allows them to customize features and streamline software development.

It would also move them a bit closer to that holy grail of technology – convergence, that merging of television and computer that we’re on the verge of seeing completely.  We know that Apple wants to make AppleTV the central hub of a user’s digital life, and if you can merge that with computing and wrap it up in a nice package of, say, a large screen LED TV, toss in a wireless keyboard, and suddenly desktop computers officially become like 8 track tape players.  And with iCloud, users can move seamlessly between one platform and another with nearly no downtime.

There’s also talk that Apple may renew their talks with AMD and keep with on the same path, but with a different chip provider.  AMD has always been able to keep Intel honest, but it’s been quite a long time since the rival chip maker was a serious competitor that could cut into Intel’s market share.  And an alliance with Apple would certainly be a godsend.  But that would also necessitate Apple abandon it’s long time alliance with nVidia, since AMD is owned by ATI.

Either way, users and developers may not go gently along with any such game plan.  Not because they wouldn’t believe in Apple’s ability to crack open new markets or create cool form and function, but because they’re so invested in the Intel platform.  Many prefer to dual boot Windows and OS X. And in our industry, many left the OS X platform after the debacle with Final Cut Pro X and reinvested in other editing and effects suites.   Such a move would signal once again Apple’s plan to abandon professional users in favor of a more lucrative consumer market.

But the old adage is often a true one – evolve or die.  And if it’s true that Steve Jobs finally cracked the television paradigm, and it’s his swan song, then Apple’s course is likely set and it’s only a matter of time before a dramatic refresh comes full circle and Apple abandons Intel altogether.

Hat Tip – Apple Insider

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.