"Andy Neff, an analyst with Bear Stearns, thinks Apple's future success will hinge less on iTunes than on whether it can revive growth in the core computer business. For several years now Neff has been arguing that Apple needs to take a radical step: Abandon the Power PC microprocessors produced by Motorola and IBM that lie at the heart of the Mac in favor of a standard processor from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. Neff thinks the shift to the OS X operating system has set the stage for a processor shift, since the new version is based on Unix, which runs comfortably on Intel chips.
Shifting to an Intel processor would allow Apple to offer faster hardware at lower prices, Neff says. That could be followed by a revival of Apple's licensing strategy for its operating-system software, essentially turning OS X into a Windows alternative for Intel-based PCs, Neff says. "It's a more logical way to do things," he observes. Neff thinks a processor change could come late this year or early next.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with Forrester Research in Santa Clara, Calif., contends Apple in fact has been talking with Intel about switching over. "It's a big problem: They are on noncompetitive technology," he says. "With Power PC, they don't have the economies of scale that Intel has. And they don't have Intel's co-op advertising dollars. So they can't maintain market share and margins. Some people think they already have made the decision to switch."