Sunday, June 05, 2005

Macs moving to Intel? Why that's a BAD idea

MactelAfter a very quiet start, rumors are now flying preceding this year's WWDC. Apple will be moving Macs to Intel both CNet and The Wall Street Journal claim. Does this make any sense?

From a small developer perspective, and really, a LOT the best Mac software comes from the ranks of small developers, this is a potential nightmare. What does this mean to us? First, instead of having to build and test on one line of CPUs, and one line of Macs, we'll now be forced to test on two. This doubles the amount of hardware required and could double the time as well. And don't give me that "All you have to do is just recompile" crap, because any software engineer worth their salt will tell you it just ain't that simple. This could double our costs, and might even make the old "why develop for the Mac over Wintel?" question center stage again. And what about emulation of older software? You mean to tell me that somehow they are going to emulate a G4 or G5 at acceptable speeds on a CPU that has been proven to not be THAT much faster (if any faster) then the CPU it's supposed to emulate? If you believe that, I've got some copies of CherryOS I'll sell you.

Two, why would Apple make this kind of switch, when they have JUST finally started building momentum? I just don't see the value-add, unless the cost savings is HUGE (unlikely). It's not like Intel is increasing clock speeds by leaps and bounds, hardly. While the G5 may be "stuck" in the upper 2's for speed, the latest Intel CPUs haven't made much progress either, and of course there is the age old RISC vs. CISC argument. How does this make sense? Intel has been downplaying the GHz thing lately, moving to dual cores, just like IBM with the G5. Do they even have their 64 bit CPUs ready? I don't think so. I just don't see the big advantage.

Personally, the thought of my Mac being powered by an Intel CPU makes my skin crawl. The "Mactel" platform has absolutely no appeal to me. Maybe I'll get over it. Maybe the CPU in the box, as long as the box is the same, and maybe cheaper, shouldn't matter. But to me, it's almost like (and I think I've seen a similar analogy elsewhere) buying a Ferrari, ripping out the engine, and putting in a Dodge Hemi. Again, I just don't see the value-add there. Maybe I'm just overreacting to mostly groundless rumors that will be proven wrong tomorrow.

But what if they rumors are right? What kind of reaction can Jobs expect from the audience of some of their most loyal developers and supporters (unfortunately we can't be there this year)? Applause? Cheers? More like the sound of crickets and maybe a dry cough from the back of the room. I just don't see how even the great Steve Jobs (and I love the guy) can spin this in a way that makes people stand up and cheer, at least initially, before there's been time to digest the news.

One way or another, all will be revealed tomorrow, whether we like it or not. Stay tuned...


Post a Comment

<< Home