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Apple's shift to Intel

We took ownership today of a brand spankin' new Apple Powerbook. Normally, we'd be ecstatic to have such a sweet piece of machinery in our hands. But we're feeling a bit like a fool today. That's because the laptop arrived on our doorstep about two hours after Steve Jobs announced Apple's shift to Intel processors. Even before we cracked open the box, our shiny new Powerbook was a legacy machine.

A machine that we hoped would last us three, four, maybe five years will officially be obsolete in two, when the new Intel-powered Powerbooks land in Apple stores. Oh sure, the laptop itself will still work fine. But chances are, all the relevant software updates we need to keep the laptop current (from both Apple and independent developers) will begin to disappear, and our Apple flag will be firmly planted in the land of the old.

We're not blaming Apple; we're all about innovation here at SiliconBeat. But we wonder how Apple consumers will respond to the latest news. Had we known what we know today, we probably would have invested much less in our newest computer, perhaps buying a far less-expensive iBook laptop or even a used Powerbook to see us through the next couple of years (Osborne Effect, anyone?). It was hard enough to justify the Powerbook's premium pricing to our iBook-toting wife. But now, knowing that its days are officially numbered? Ouch.


Any new machine is purchased with the explicit understanding that you're not actually buying the machine at all. Rather, you're buying the USE of said machine for a defined amount of time; a slice of utility, if you will.

This amount of time used to be long - like five years. It has gradually been reduced to around three. Some would argue it's closer to two, but I hardly know anyone person or company so flush that he/she/they can afford to chuck perfectly good hardware after 24 months.

(Besides, laptops live tough lives. Three-year-old machines don't look or work pretty. If they do, you're not mobile enough to justify a mobile machine.)

So you'll still have that utility from your machine. But the five years was just a dream - and it wouldn't have changed no matter what Mr. Jobs said.

Carmi on June 6, 2005 9:43 PM
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Well, my kids have inherited a Symmetric 375 Berkeley Unix (Symmetrix) system that is turning 20 years old, and it runs great, has all the Unix utilities, and has the best version of rogue ever. Just a few bad blocks on the disk, but we mapped those out (yes, you can fix a disk drive!).

No, these machines don't need to be obsolete so rapidly. The bit rot is intentional (as is the broken versioning and updates). Otherwise, folks wouldn't migrate to new software. But the hardware is actually very reliable and remarkably easy to upgrade from when I started in workstations.

Can you imagine if people couldn't fix their cars after 3 years? Wow, GM and Ford would love that, but you'd have a rebellion on your hands!

Of course, one could argue that we don't live, we only buy the USE of life for a time. But I would hope that becoming obsolete according to a corporation's best interests won't mean we all end up on "Logans Run" soon after. :-)

Lynne Jolitz on June 7, 2005 8:43 AM
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I'm with Lynne -- you people are making way too much of this. I expect it will be pretty transparent for users. In fact, if I should decide I need a new Powerbook in a year, I won't hesitate to buy a G4 model. Chill! You have a nice new toy! Enjoy it!

Scott L. Burson on June 7, 2005 11:23 AM
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I think I will agree with you Carmi. Beyond this whole sensalization the mere truth is that on the individual level you buy a piece of equipment, get the best value for money out of it and like an old broken car, when it cannot go no more you ditch it for something better.

Trying to catch up with not just the technological changes, most times not that drastically relevant for the end user, but with the results of corporate politics can be detrimental to one's pocket.

I bought my powerbook three months ago and I am not planning to change it soon for something supposedly better. When you come from a place like South Africa where technology costs twice as it does in the rest of the world you learn to shop wisely and look ahead.

Technology always moves forward and whatever the name on the box, be it apple, windows, intel, ibm or whatever who really cares? Does the bloody thing do the work? That's what matters.

Two, three or five years down the line when I have to get a new machine I'll simply check what's the best around. If it's apple, apple will be, if old Billy boy comes up with something better so be it. As far as am concerned am a consumer, not the owner of any of these multinationals.

phivos on June 7, 2005 11:58 AM
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Oh my God! This is horrible! Yes, your new Powerbook is worse than obsolete! The very idea of a manufacturer publicly announcing that it will announce an improved product in two years!

Seriously, they handled your only legit complaint: software releases will be fat binaries for the foreseeable future. How exactly does that make your Powerbook obsolete? Does that mean that my 1GHz Powerbook was "obsoleted" by the new shiny 1.5 GHz Powerbook that came out a few months later?

It's not obsolete until it's unable to handle some necessary task. The rest is just tail fins, vinyl Landau roofs, and opera windows to make your old Chevy seem outdated.

Bounds on June 8, 2005 8:05 AM
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Points taken. We're enjoying our new Powerbook. Moving on.

Michael Bazeley on June 8, 2005 8:27 AM
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"A machine that we hoped would last us three, four, maybe five years will officially be obsolete in two"
Actually I think you just really becoming a fashion victim, feeling poorer because you won't have the latest thing - quite honestly even if Apple stayed with PPC I think in 5 years you'd be running into serious limitations.

My local university has 10 year old macs that are very useful for a lot of people but could I run my business on one, hell no. In fact I switched to PC two years ago because of industry specific software I had to use. I am excited about the Intel move as maybe I can go back to Mac.

Get a grip man, you are journalist, you probably just word process on the thing! (just teasing)

Guy on August 4, 2005 4:44 PM
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