eWeek is reporting that at the Apple developers conference this morning, Steve Jobs demonstrated a Power Mac… running on a 3.6Ghz P4.
Yup, Mr. Apple has indicated that future Macs will be running on Intel hardware. The Apple Skunkworks has been working on this for five years, and it looks like it’s paying off.
So I just bought an obsolete box, right?
Well, not so quick with that. It’s still two years until the transition is complete, and frankly, that’ll be about the right time to start looking at the state of the Mac union.
And truthfully, Apple’s not gonna make OS X run on just any hardware. They can’t. If they did that, then suddenly they’d have to support every Itchy & Scratchy brand of mouse, joystick, hot dog broiler and anything else that can connect to a commodity-based PC. That’s not their gig, and I don’t think they can be successful doing that.
So where do they go?
The same place they are now — a carefully controlled configuration, requiring some specific and special hardware in order for OS X to work. It’d probably be hardware you won’t easily be able to piece together at home, and I think that’s good.
If Apple puts OS X on any ol’ PC, then the advantage — and significant revenue stream — that is delivered with the hardware vaporizes, and Apple as we know them will be dealing iPods, and competing with the million-pound gorilla of OS… Microsoft. They can’t win that fight.
So all the developers are hosed, right?
Wrong. The current codebase will be able to run on the new hardware using a cool new tool called Rosetta. So, at least for a while, you can develop for the G5 platform, knowing that it’ll run on the new Intel-based boxes. That’ll give developers time to move code over, recompile — allegedly real easy to port from G5 to Intel — and get their products out.
Is it inconvenient? Sure. And yeah, there’s gonna be a sunset date out there for my shiny new iMac G5. Then again, with any hardware, that’s true. The sunset date for some is just better defined than others! 🙂
So, no worries here. I think the Mac OS will survive, despite the hardware change. And I don’t think that Apple will wither because of this change. At the end of the day, I think it’ll be a good thing, delivery faster hardware, perhaps a skosh cheaper, and still a rock solid performer for the kind of work I do.