The dust is slowly settling, Apple stock is behaving normally, and everybody and their dog have emitted opinions about the MacIntel story. So who may win, and who may lose in the next 12 months?


  • Apple, of course. As I commented below, they’re free (or will be, in a year) of the CPU-architecture-as-a-religion meme. They get a literally cool CPU/chipset for their PowerBooks; although I suppose they won’t use that name in the future; how about IBook icon_wink.gif? They get dual-core CPUs right now, and a 64-bit version in the future. Even the stock analysts are liking this, though for mostly the wrong reasons. Also, switching processors did establish a precedent for Apple: Intel knows they’re not captive clients, and they’ll have to treat Steve Jobs with kid gloves lest he switches away again. Finally, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) will come out simultaneously, or even some weeks before, Longhorn, and with smaller minimum requirements. The new low-end Intel Macs may even take a goodly part of the low-end market away from Microsoft.
  • Intel. They were certainly getting tired of being perceived as just the evil tail end of the evil Wintel dragon. Intel’s not very pleased with Microsoft these days and they were being pressed on other fronts. Getting Apple’s business is a glamorous endorsement which has far more weight than Apple’s smaller marketshare leads outsiders to believe. They’ll certainly be pleased to have a partner which actually will insist on getting the latest and greatest stuff, without being concerned about backwards compatibility issues like, say, legacy BIOS support. By the way, Intel will now be free to cut away, say, the 50% of the Pentium that still support all those legacy modes and compatibility instructions, and supply Apple with an optimized-for-Mac OS X chip. With all the silicon saved, they could double the number of cores, put in more cache, support Altivec instructions or whatever they fancy; after all, it won’t really have to boot Windows anyway, right? Finally, Intel’s attempts to produce new PC designs were, let’s be charitable, not much good. They now have the best design team in the industry to showcase their new technology.
  • Developers. At least the Cocoa developers, the Open Source developers, and the Carbon developers that already were using Xcode. For most vanilla apps, it’s just a recompile and some tweaking. The added discipline will be good for people, and the market will grow a lot. This is a great time to be a Cocoa developer, and I for one intend to take advantage of it.
  • Stockholders. Both Apple and Intel stock will benefit from the new synergy between the two companies. I’m an Apple stockholder, and I’ll be looking at Intel stock very carefully soon.
  • Gamers. Let’s face it, most full-screen games usually push aside the underlying OS when they come in, have their own user interface, talk directly to the graphics card and deign to let the OS do something only for mundane stuff like saving scores files. So many developers didn’t even bother to port to the Mac. When Virtual PC or a similar product comes out, gamers will have access to all Windows games at full speed; and it’s almost certain that the Intel Macs will have some virtualization facility built in, but won’t dual-boot. As long as Mac OS X will be whatever the new machines boot into, Apple will certainly allow other OSes to run under its control; that way, the user will always have the Mac OS X GUI visible somewhere. The effect of this on game developers is debatable. Some will be relieved not to have to do dual versions anymore. Mac-only developers will lose the Altivec advantage, so this may have some impact.


  • Metrowerks. CodeWarrior has, unfortunately, been going downhill since they were acquired by Motorola, and is now officially dead. Apparently their Intel compilers have been bought by Nokia, a move so outside my field of expertise that I’m not going to comment further on it, but they’re out of the picture now. Apparently they’re concentrating on the embedded market now, where they may still do well.
  • Microsoft. Or at least partially. Windows is the new Classic; Windows apps will run in a “Red Box” and will look quaint and old-fashioned. As I said above, Leopard may well eat into Microsoft’s low-end marketshare. And the Wintel meme is dead; people now know that there are alternatives to Microsoft, and are actively looking for them. Defecting to the Mac will now appear easier and more natural for non-techies. Yes, Microsoft will keep a finger in the pie; their sales of Office won’t go down, as any Windows sale lost will be compensated by a Mac sale, and they’ll certainly be selling much more copies of Virtual PC, if they can bring the cost down. Still, this is a philosophical defeat for Microsoft in several aspects.
  • Adobe et al. Adobe are publicly committed to port their stuff to Xcode and Intel. From what I heard from inside sources, the Xcode transition will take several times as much effort and time as the Intel transition per se. Adobe and other companies with huge codebases that used CodeWarrior have their own software workflow and converting this may take up much, maybe all, of the next 12 months. What this will do to the apps they bought from MacroMedia is anyone’s guess; I’ll say that some of them may not survive. From past experiences the move may be altogether too much for Quark, who’ve taken years to do a not-so-good Carbon port.
  • AMD. The consensus seems to be that AMD, even though they might seem at first glance a better fit to Apple than Intel, apparently didn’t have the necessary product line depth to fit the new Apple. Still, nothing says they couldn’t supply chips for future high-end Apple products.
  • AV developers. Apple’s Pro AV products already had the market pretty well sewn up, and now they’ll be running well-optimized on the new Macs from day one. Competitors will be at least a year behind; not an enviable position.
  • Cluster users. The whole G5/Altivec hype was really justified for these guys; Xserve clusters have been building a well-deserved reputation for very high-end scientific computing. I don’t see a comparable Intel-based machine coming out from Apple before 2007. The same applies to 64-bit computing. Steve Jobs hinted that new PowerPC machines are still in the pipeline, so this may be moot, but the folks I’ve talked to here are quite nervous.