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Just a Thought - Ch-Ch-Changes

by

- June 21st, 2005

"Change is the one true constant of the universe."
My version of a quote from the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus.

"Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine."
Robert C. Gallagher

What fun times we live, eh? Ten-twenty years ago, who would have thought that Apple and IBM would be buddies, that Microsoft would make a movie of a game that was originally intended for the Mac, that Steve Jobs would lose Apple, create a new company, start making movies, then return to Apple to save it from the inept management of many of the very people who canned him in the first place...and who woulda thought that there would ever be a Mac that sports the Intel Inside logo?

I seriously would have bet my pinkie that none of these things would have ever taken place. Of course, if the events in the past 2 weeks bear any real fruit, a year from now I would be pinkie-less and chuckling at the trueness of Mr. Gallagher's quote.

Good thing I don't bet.

Change is inevitable (if we ignore vending machines); I absolutely believe that. It is the Tao of the universe, and the one and only thing we can ever truly depend on.

If you have any belief that change occupies some portion of the foundation on which our reality exists, then the events of the last few weeks may be surprising, but it should not be too hard to accept.

We Shoulda Been In Pictures

When Microsoft bought Bungie, man, I was fit to be tied, gagged, and hauled off to an asylum. In 1999, at a Macworld convention, Bungie had shown a kickin' trailer of the game they were working on for the Mac platform called 'Halo'. It was to be THE game for the Mac, one that would make PC folks green with envy.

Then, in true Big Redmond style, Microsoft came in and bought Bungie, lock, stock, and Halo; they wanted the game to be the centerpiece of their new gaming system, the Xbox.

Well, William Gates made a good purchase because Halo did, indeed, become the system-selling game he envisioned it would be. Now, with the apparent success of Halo 2, Microsoft has a little franchise on its hands, and we know that Microsoft is not one to waste an opportunity to get as much mileage ( and money) as possible out of something popular. So, striking a Halo movie deal with Universal Studios should be as inevitable as, well, change.

To date, game to movie conversions have not gone over very big; there are a few notable exceptions, of course: Resident Evil did well in the box office, its follow-up did not. The same can be said for Tomb Raider and its sequel. But even with the best EFX available at the time, movies based on video games have routinely scored depressingly low on the big screen. But, who knows; all of that might change with the Halo movie, due out in 2007.

I have not played Halo or Halo 2, I don't own an X-Box, and have no intention of buying one. When the movie comes out I won't be standing in line to see it. I might rent it on DVD, depending on how well it does in the box office. That may change too, but I doubt it.

It's not that I'm so anti-Microsoft that I refuse to occupy the same line in front of the theater as an X-Box junkie, it's just that I currently don't believe much will come of the movie. That also may change, but I also doubt it.

Mactel Anyone?

I have gone on record to say that there was no truth in the notion that Apple would ever consider offering a computer that featured an Intel processor; it seemed as wrong as putting a small wet glove on a large hand, mixing oil and water, or peanut butter and bacon. It just didn't seem right, somehow; unnatural.

However, if there is one man on this planet who not only must believe in change, but embraces it, it's Steve Jobs. Heck, the man's life is a textbook example of how to view change as an opportunity to be exploited, instead of a dead end to a dark alley.

Jobs and the crew at 1 Infinite Loop have been the primary instrument of change to the computer industry for the last 20 or so years. While they have not always created the technologies they made popular, they were the ones who showed the rest of the industry, and the world, that the consequence of change is not always a bad thing.

When you think about browsers, wireless networking, USB and FireWire connectivity, and now efficient and effective searching, the marriage of the Web and the music industry, and the notion of non-intrusive computing, you should also think about how things were before those notions and technologies were popularized by Apple. It's tough being a leader; you are always left wondering what to do for an encore.

So, when I heard that Jobs, himself, announced the Mac processor switch, I had to wonder about the situation that would cause such a thing to happen. After giving it some thought, I realized that to make such a decision, Mr. Jobs must have taken more than a few things into consideration, and must have been doing so for a while. I also realized that he could not make such a decision lightly.

However, from my lofty position as armchair-CEO-wannabe-in-training, I still wonder if it is a good idea. I'll admit that much of my reluctance to accept the notion of Mactel stems from my dislike of Intel. Why do I dislike Intel?

I dunno, and I'm man enough to say it!

It could be because Intel does have a history of alignment with Big Redmond. Of course, that may not be by their design. It could be that my dislike stems from my years with IBM, during which time the two companies shared chip making technologies, but eventually parted ways. (Few know it, but it was an Intel process that helped IBM produce early processors and memory. ) It could also be that I'm envious that Intel has the foresight to advertise its chips while IBM, and Apple, refuse to.

What really could be bothering me about this Mactel notion is the thought that the PowerPC RISC architecture may ultimately prove to be inferior to Intel's CISC architecture. Which means little to the average Joe, who just wants something that works fast and reliably. I know that for the vast majority of the computer buying public, today's processors, regardless of manufacturer, exceeds their needs. Gamers and high-end graphics jockeys need the extra horsepower the bleeding edge processors provide.

And it is a matter of perception, bragging rights. It sells hardware.

It could be either one of those reasons, or all of them, but whatever the reason, it is from there that I say that going exclusively Intel might be a mistake, and that Apple may find that it will have to settle for what's available from the chip making giant, just as it had to do with IBM and Motorola.

Will I buy a Mactel? Sure. I might put on rubber gloves when I handle it so as not to get Intel kooties, but if Apple makes it, I'll buy it. Because in the end, it isn't so much about whether the processor inside changed, it's what I get out of the box that counts.

Say Whaaaa?

Steve Jobs and Apple have proven that they are industry leaders, trend setters, innovators, instruments of change, and so on, and so on; you get the idea.

One of the most telling indicators that the above statement is true is the pronouncement from the Dell camp that they wouldn't be adverse to licensing OS X.

When I read that I had to do a double take; Mister Michael "I loved Toy Story 2" Dell admitting that he'd sell a Dell with OS X inside: What's this world coming to? Heck! Next I'd expect to see cats getting busy with dogs, the Government admitting that the Roswell Saucer Crash was real, and Big Foot taking out a class action lawsuit against timber companies.

Then again; why wouldn't Michael Dell want Apple inside?

It might be a tough one to see, but if you roll the thought around in your mind awhile, like a wine connoisseur judging a newly opened aged chablis, you might find that it is not so hard to understand: Dell makes hardware, and like any hardware maker, he wants his hardware to work as best it can.

OS X running on Apple hardware runs well. It runs so well, and is so secure, and is so malware free compared to Brand Y OS (Y as in 'Y bother') running on any PC that one would have to wonder if OS X would as effective and problem free if the hardware were different. I can see Michael Dell thinking, "OS X on different hardware,... OS X on Dell hardware,... hmmm..."

OK, so Mr. Michael secretly harbors a crush for OS X. That's cool. If you ask 10 PC users, at least 7 of them will admit to secretly liking Macs and OS X. (Of course, on some of them you'd have to use a blow torch, needle nose Vice-Grips, and a vat of concentrated cow dung to get them to admit it, but hey; whatever works.)

The real question is whether Steve Jobs would do such a thing. He's surprised us before by letting Dell sell iPods, so why not let Dell sell OS X powered Dells?

BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE STUPID, THAT'S WHY!!!

Apple is, was, and always will be a hardware company; that why the iPod has iTunes, and that's why Macs has OS X. Hardware is complimented and enhanced by the quality of software it runs. Forget all of that crap about Macs not being Macs if they have Intel inside; that's a ladle full of the aforementioned cow dung. It's the software that completes that picture; it is a part of an intricate puzzle for which Apple holds all the pieces.

If Apple licensed OS X to Dell then the experience of using OS X would be weakened, not because Dell sells less than the best computers (notice how tactfully I put that), but because the pieces -- the OS and the hardware -- would not mesh well, and you'd ultimately wind up with something that works like Windows; and for the life of me I can't see why anyone would want another Windows.

Apple products are good because they are Apple products, from beginning to end; from kernel to keyboard. Anything else would be less, and I bet my remaining digits that Steve Jobs won't settle for less.

Then again, this is an article about change, isn't it? And something at Apple could cause Mr. Jobs to change his mind and license OS X.

Funny thing about change; it is neither good or bad, it just is. It is the results of change that can be good or bad.

Apple going with Intel processors can be a good thing, but it remains to be seen if that's true. Apple licensing OS X to Dell is a change that Apple would do well to avoid like the Plague. Else Mr. Jobs might see the fortunes of the company he built, and built again change, this time for the worse.

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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