A Bumpy Start For Intel Macs; VARs' Main Focus Solutions, Not Hardware

The initial rollout in January to some consumers and small-business customers included systems that haven't delivered the heightened performance Apple executives have promised, channel sources say.

"The customers that we've shipped the iMacs to, a lot of them have said their applications are not running properly," said David Salav, president of Webistix, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider and Apple partner. "They're running very slow, and I've had customers say that if they had a gigabyte of memory in a PowerPC machine, they've actually had to shift to two to three times that amount of memory to get the applications to run in the compatibility mode."

Earlier, developers including Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems' James Gosling indicated they had no trouble transitioning technology over to the Apple-Intel platform.

The good news for Salav: More of his business is on the solutions sidekeeping business customers efficiently running with digital media applicationsthan on volume sales of Mac hardware.

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Most solution providers contacted have said they are remaining patient in the face of slim supplies and slow performance, noting that past processor transitions by Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple have ultimately worked out fine. But where previous chip transitions primarily focused on moves to newer versions of PowerPC-based chips, the most recent move to Intel Core Duo processors was assisted by Apple's Rosetta programming engine.

"Some products running under Rosetta are not going to be optimized," said Tommy Turner, president of AIS Computers, a Fayetteville, Ga.-based solution provider and Apple partner. "Hopefully most of that stuff will be universal by the time the [professional] product ships. I think the user base understands that."

Last week, Apple also began shipping new versions of its compact Mac mini desktop based on Intel's Core Duo processor and Core Solo chip.

The dual-core Mac mini, priced at $799, comes with a 1.66GHz processor, 512 Mbytes of memory, an 80-Gbyte Serial ATA hard drive, built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth, among other features. Starting at $599, the single-core Mac mini has a 1.5GHz processor and sports the same features as the dual-core model, except it houses a 60-Gbyte hard drive.