There has been a lot of discussion about why Apple decided to switch to Intel for CPUs and I think I’ve come across one more reason. Over the years I’ve known a few folks working for Apple and others who have worked at Intel. For some reason last night I was reminded of a conversation I had quite awhile ago with someone who was working for Apple at the time. He mentioned that vendors who come into Apple to pitch their product or service had better be using an Apple notebook when making their presentation. Generally those who use notebook systems from those other vendors (HP, Dell, IBM, etc) running that other OS (Windows) on that other CPU (Intel) are quickly frowned upon. This wasn’t really surprising, who wants to support the competition by using vendors that purchase their products.
Some time later I’d mentioned this to someone who at the time was working at Intel and he reported that they had pretty much the same attitude. If you were making a sales pitch to Intel you better not be using a notebook from that other vendor (Apple) running that other OS (Mac OS) on that other CPU (PPC). Even though Intel itself doesn’t make notebook systems or the OS that goes on top of them, no one wanted to be seen as helping the competition by buying from vendors that didn’t use their product. So we had a good laugh about how similiar Apple and Intel were in this regard and I hadn’t really thought about it since, until last night.
Last night the thought popped into my head that went something like this: now that Apple will be selling Intel based systems they’ll be able to sell those systems to Intel for use in their own infrastructure. Once Apple starts selling products with Intel CPUs the folks at Intel will be free to order PowerBooks, Xserves, Power Macs and Mac Minis; which I’m sure is taboo for PPC based products. So Apple may have made this switch in part because they felt that the road map with Intel was more appealing than with IBM, but they also opened themselves up to a very large new potential client, one with very deep pockets: Intel. This of course begs the question, will they loose IBM as a potential client? In general I think yes, but because IBM made their own systems (at least until they started selling those divisions to China) I don’t think they were ever much of a potential client in the first place. Overall I think they’ll get more out having Intel as a client than they have with IBM.
This line of thinking would also explain why they went with Intel instead of AMD. I can’t imagine that Intel would be very happy to purchase AMD based systems for their internal IT use, just like they wouldn’t be too happy to buy PPC based hardware. If Apple had gone with AMD they would have perhaps gained AMD as a potential client, but still be out in the cold when it comes to Intel.
The only way for Apple to gain Intel as a client was to sell systems that used their CPUs.