Thursday, April 24, 2008

Move to Intel chips helped Mac hit the jackpot

When the Mac's move to Intel chips was announced almost three years ago, it seemed like a good, practical move. The PowerPC chip was falling behind Intel, performance-wise, and Apple wanted to leverage Intel's much larger investment in performance and capability. Intel, for its part, wanted the sexiness of being associated with a cooler brand than Dell, Lenovo, etc.

But the full impact of the processor swap is only now becoming apparent. Yesterday Apple stated that its latest quarterly earnings rose 36% over the same period last year, powered by a 51% increase in Mac sales. The Wall Street Journal buried this telling passage into its article on Apple's earnings release:

Apple's computers now also easily run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, which has helped Apple in a long-running campaign to persuade Windows users to switch to Macs.

Precisely. The Intel processor was a Trojan Horse hiding Windows compatibility--the real value of the switch from PowerPC. Eons ago, people in companies used Macs all the time (it was on my desktop in 1989). Then Windows 3.1 swept through the business world, and Macs retreated to schools, graphic designers and filmmakers.

Now, people who require some Windows programs (because of work or other reasons) can retain that compatibility and get the benefits of OS X and all the interesting applications that run on it.

One of those people is me. The Mac returned to my desktop in August 2007 after a 12-year hiatus. It's good to be back.

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