June 7, 2005
For long-time Mac loyalists like me, yesterday's news that Apple is abandoning the IBM-Motorola PowerPC microprocessor line and is moving to adopt Intel chips came as a very disturbing shock. Remember Apple's ads making fun of how slow Pentium chips were compared to the state-of-the-art RISC technology embodied in the chips manufactured by IBM and Motorola? Never mind. At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Steve Jobs tried to downplay the momentous about-face, explaining that Intel's "roadmap" better fits Apple's own long-term plans. The main (unstated) reason seems to be that future Intel chips will include anti-piracy circuitry that will encourage the music industry (and the movie industry) to cooperate with Apple's online Music Store. See Apple for the official line and Mac Observer for a variety of analyses. There was no significant reaction on Wall Street. Mac techie Rudi Riet had a fairly neutral reaction, but says that the switch to Intel portends the impending definitive end of support for the Mac Classic environment. There are still a couple Classic programs I rely on every once in a while, so that will be an annoyance for me.
Apple has announced that folks who turn in their old iPods for recycling at Apple Stores will get a 10 percent discount if they buy a new iPod at the same time. This move may be aimed at dissuading those who have been demanding refunds for the iPod batteries, which are not user-replaceable. (Third-party manufacturers sell replacement batteries, but it's tricky to get those little things open.) This marks a sad but inevitable step toward an ever-more throw-away consumer culture.
UPDATE: By sheer coincidence, we got a complicated legal form from the Apple iPod Claims Administrator in the mail today. From what I can tell, folks whose iPod batteries died prematurely will get $25 cash or $50 in Apple Store credit. As for "the rest of us," I don't know. I just hope the liability crisis doesn't ruin the computer/high tech sector like it ruined the health care sector.
Being consumed by writing and research duties in grad school, I did not join the cyberuniverse until quite late in the game, a fact that may explain my overcompensation as evidenced by this Web sites and other Web sites I've done. One of the early adopters, Phil Faranda, provides an interesting insider's account of what went wrong at American Online, which was once so strong that it bought out the Time-Warner Corporation. The "AOL" part of that corporate name was deleted last year.