Apple and Intel: sheesh!

rejection-2One of the dafter silly season stories to cross our desk has been the bizarre claim that Apple will eventually drop Intel and use its own ARM based chips.

The source of this is a former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee who wrote in his bog that the end is nigh for Intel on the Mac.

To be fair Gassee did not come up with this theory on his own.  He was quoting Matt Richman in a 2011 blog post titled “Apple and ARM, Sitting in a Tree” where he said that  after a complicated but ultimately successful switch from PowerPC chips to Intel processors in 2005, Apple will make a similar switch, this time to ARM-based descendants of the A4  chip designed by Apple and manufactured by Samsung.

Of course that was a long time ago and Apple and Samsung are no longer friends. The reasons both blogs give for a switch are low power usage and price.

“Dumping Intel for ARM would therefore allow Apple to offer ultra-affordable Macs while at the same time preserving their precious margins. In this scenario, Apple would be able to steal away even more market share from Microsoft while generating boatloads of cash in the process,” Gassee claims.

The other advantage is that Apple is a complete control freak and loves to control as much of the underlying technology in its products as possible.

If Apple moved to ARM, it would not have to suffer the expected humiliation of having to delay its new Macbooks because Intel has not made its Broadwell chip on time. While Intel CEO Brian Krazanich initially claimed that Intel’s next-gen processor would launch in time for the 2014 holiday season, it now looks as if Apple will have to wait until 2015 for that.

That is where the logic in the argument fails completely. The ARM chips are not as good performers as the Intel versions. That is not an insult; they are mobile phone chips which are not designed to do the same thing as a PC.

If Apple were interested in creating low power, “cheap as chips PCs” then it might have a chance at pulling it off, but that has not been Jobs’ Mob’s model ever.

What is bizarre about this rumour is how it has been seized on by the Tame Apple Press keen to show some superiority for Apple even as the shine goes off the company. Having told us for years that the world was moving to mobile, because Steve Jobs said it was, and that the PC was dead, they are now in the uncomfortable position of having to eat their words. They are also finding that their favourite PC maker is not the final solution in some technology fields.

PC chip design is one of them.

What is more likely is that Apple will stick to its Mobile ARM chips and look to Intel to provide its PC chips at least for the foreseeable future. About the only thing that might change Apple’s mind is that if AMD suddenly came up with some super cool chips.  They, at least, would be cheaper – not that Apple really cares that much about price.