An Apple Move To Intel Chips? It's All Talk, VARs Say

The speculation was ignited early last week by a published report that said Apple was in discussions with Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., about using its chips in Macintosh computers.

Spokespeople for both companies declined to comment. Solution providers said the notion of Apple moving to the Intel platform is a long-running rumor and may just be a tactic to help the company gain more leverage with Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, maker of the PowerPC processor used in Macs.

George Swords, marketing manager at PowerMacPac, an Apple specialist in Portland Ore., said he believes there's "no chance in hell" that Apple will move Macs from the PowerPC G5 to Intel chips, at least in the near future.

"[Apple] would have to rewrite its entire operating system for it to work properly on an Intel processor, and they just brought out the new Tiger OS," Swords said. "The architecture is so radically different in the Intel processor that I don't see it happening. Somebody just whipped up a rumor mill."

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The Apple-to-Intel tale basically goes like this: By using Intel chips, which are made in far higher volumes, Apple could slash its manufacturing costs and sell cheaper Macs with faster gigahertz speeds, enabling the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to better compete with makers of less-expensive Wintel-based PCs.

But moving the Mac to an Intel processor would be a huge undertaking that could last several years, and Apple likely wouldn't want to get bogged down in a platform transition when its business is flying high, solution providers said.

Still, VARs say they wouldn't rule out the possibility of an Intel chip for a future, non-Mac Apple product. Current rumors—fueled by anticipation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' June 6 keynote at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference—point to a video-enabled iPod or some kind of multifunction mobile device.

"Current iPods use ARM processors, and it's very possible [Apple] could move to an Intel embedded processor," said Scott Schaefer, operating manager at Techknowsphere, an Apple solution provider in New York.