Apple to release its first Intel-powered machines

Apple is screaming ahead with its planned transition to the Intel platform, with the personal computer firm this month releasing its first machines based on Intel chips – nearly half a year ahead of schedule.

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By  Diana Milne Published  January 22, 2006

Apple is screaming ahead with its planned transition to the Intel platform, with the personal computer firm this month releasing its first machines based on Intel chips – nearly half a year ahead of schedule. The new products were unveiled at Apple’s showcase user event, Macworld, in San Francisco, US, on January 10. “We’re a little ahead of schedule,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, confessed during his keynote presentation, adding that “these things are screamers.” The lineup includes an iMac desktop machine and a high-end laptop, both of which feature Intel’s Core Duo processor. As its name suggests, the Duo is a dual-core processor, which allows it to handle multiple tasks more easily. “The iMac has already been praised as the ‘gold standard of desktop PCs’ so we hope customers really love the new iMac which is up to twice as fast,” said Jobs. “With Mac OS X plus Intel’s latest dual core processor under the hood, the new iMac delivers performance that will knock our customers’ socks off,” he went on to add. Previously, Apple had relied on the Power PC processor from IBM, but that platform had been facing growing performance issues, with Apple concerned that it would not develop quickly enough to support future products. When Jobs originally announced the switch to Intel processors last June, he had said the company would have Intel-based machines ready to ship by June this year (see IT Weekly 11 – 17 June 2005). Beating that shipment date so comfortably will go some way towards allaying the fears raised by the switch in platform. Such an architecture shift is generally considered to be a massive undertaking. Apple had been working with IBM on the PowerPC platform since 1994, although the relationship has had its share of problems before this move. Now it seems completely over, with Jobs saying that Apple would transition to an all-Intel lineup for its personal computers by the end of this year. Charlie Wolf, a financial analyst at the US firm Needham, told the CNet news service, “The critical thing they delivered on is what people, including analysts, were expecting. They have begun the Intel transition sooner rather than later,” he went on to add. A smooth transition to Intel processors should avoid any sales blips for the Mac, but it is sales of its iPod music player that is really driving Apple. Jobs said the company’s revenue for the quarter ended in December was US$5.7 billion, a figure boosted by sales of 14 million iPods in the quarter, and 32 million over the course of last year. The success of the iPod seems to be drawing users to the Mac platform, with analysts estimating that hundreds of thousands of users switched from Windows to the Mac last year, drawn in part by the “halo effect” of the iPod.

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