Apple has finally completed the switch from Motorola/IBM PowerPC processors to Intel-based processors for all of its computers. Now, all of the Mac line are available in Intel-based versions.
The MacMini was among the first to be replaced, with an Intel version. The iMac was replaced by a very similar appearing Intel-based iMac. The 15“ PowerBook was the first of the portables replaced by the MacBook Pro. The iBooks and 17” PowerBook were replaced by the MacBook and a 17“ MacBook Pro, leaving only the two high-end machines—the XServes and PowerMacs. The recently announced MacPro and Xeon-based XServe replace the PowerMac G5 and the older G5-based XServe.
Apple has been very good at including many new features in the newer, Intel-based machines, as well as giving the new machines much more computing power than previously available. All of the notebooks have a widescreen format and integrated web camera, which was first introduced in the last G5 iMac. All of the new machines, with the exception of the XServe and MacPro, have a multimedia capable infrared remote, which can control programs including Apple’s DVD Player and iTunes.
With Apple’s BootCamp software, Parallels Workstation, and other WINE-based software coming out, running Windows applications and games should become easier, making the Intel-based Macs far more flexible than their Wintel counterparts.
However, with Microsoft’s upcoming Zune music player, we may see Apple develop new iPod-based products to deal with the possible threat. Unlike most of Apple’s competitors, Microsoft has the resources to develop a line of unsuccessful music players, until it comes up with a combination of hardware and software that rivals the current iPod. Microsoft’s past monopolistic practices predict that the Zune player will be tightly integrated into the new Vista operating system, and crowd out many of the existing MP3 players on the market currently.
The next generation of iPods is likely to be in a wide-screen format. The video capabilities of the current ”video“ iPods has started the next generation of digital media distribution. Of course, none of the current digital media distribution would have occurred without the wide availability of high-speed internet.
While rumors of an Apple cellphone/portable music player have been around for several years, it seems likely that Apple will come out with one sometime this year. The real issues with an iPhone, as the rumor mills call it, is battery life. Battery life is the Achilles’ Heel of most multifunction device, including the PocketPC and Palm-based smart phones. Without sufficient battery life, any multifunction device is effectively doomed.
As an example, I generally carry an iPod, a cell phone and a Palm-based PDA. Even though my phone could function as an MP3 player and a very low-end PDA, the reason I don’t do that is battery life. As it is, I generally have to re-charge the phone and iPod every other day, and the Tungsten C once a week. If I had all of these functions on a single device, it would have to have sufficient battery life to work as an MP3 player for at least four hours per day, as well as allow me to use the PDA for two hours a day and talk on the phone for at least three hours. Currently, none of the multifunction phones can approach these capabilities, but could do any one of the three…leaving me without a phone, PDA or MP3 player once the battery goes dead.
Right now, I have some redundancy between my iPod, which has a fair amount of contact info on, the Palm PDA, which can play MP3s and the phone, which has both contact information stored on it and can play MP3s. The only feature that I generally lose is if I kill off the battery in the cell phone, I have no back up for the phone’s telephone function. This is pretty unlikely though, as the phone has a very long talk time capacity.