Apple Computer is expected to announce that it will begin using Intel chips in
its Macintosh machines next year, ending a 14-year alliance with IBM and its
processors, according to US media reports.
The move is a major change in strategy for Apple, according to The Wall Street
Journal's online edition. The New York Times called it "an unprecedented
"This is a seismic shift in the world of personal computing and consumer
electronics," Richard Doherty, president of a computer and consumer electronics
industry consulting firm, told the Times.
"It is bound to rock the industry, but it will also be a phenomenal engineering
challenge for Apple," he said.
Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs is set to announce the switch Monday at
Apple's annual developer's conference in San Francisco, the reports said.
The change could cause disruptions for Macintosh users as software developers
scramble to make Apple programs run on Intel chips.
But it is a high-profile win for Intel, which is trying to adjust after the
erosion of its long-term partnership with Microsoft, the papers said.
"For IBM, the end of the Apple partnership means the loss of a prestigious
customer, but not one that is any longer very important to IBM's sales or
profits," according to The New York Times.
IBM has long since expanded beyond the personal computer market. It makes chips
for Sony and Nintendo's video game machines as well as specialized processors
for Internet routers and for cell phone technology.
Microsoft dealt Intel a blow last year when it said it would use an IBM
processor in its next generation video game console, the Xbox 360, due to hit
stores later this year.
"It is likely that Intel forged the alliance with Apple in an effort to counter
the powerful home entertainment and game systems coming from Microsoft and
Sony," the Times said.
Apple for its part had tried to counter the Microsoft-Intel partnership when it
forged the alliance in 1991 with IBM and Motorola.
Today, IBM supplies about half of the microprocessors used by Apple, and
Freescale Semiconductor, a spinoff of Motorola, supplies the rest.
But in recent times Apple has been alarmed by IBM's failure to update its Power
PC chip, the Times said, citing analysts.
The industry should know later Monday as Jobs takes to the stage of the Moscone
Convention Center and delivers his speech.