Apple Death Knell #32: Apple Must Move To Intel To Generate Demand
November 17th, 2003

Rob Enderle has done it yet again: Mr. Enderle will be the first pundit to make the Apple Death Knell Counter for the third time. One year ago he prognosticated that Apple would move to Intel by the end of 2003 as the company was being pushed out of every market except the consumer market. It's the end of 2003, of course, and Apple is still solidly in the PowerPC camp, and the company's sales are growing.

In October of this year, Mr. Enderle described Apple as being in "decline." It was less than two weeks later that Apple announced one of the best quarters it has had in years, and forecast that the current quarter would be even better.

Ironically, the newest Death Knell comes from a column from Mr. Enderle in which he spends almost half of his word count explaining all the ways he was right in 1994. At that time, he predicted the rise of Windows NT, vast shipments of Windows 95, and the decline of both the Mac and OS/2 platforms (note that those predictions were largely right at the time). How funny that he should crow about past victories while missing the boat today.

After having been wrong about Apple being forced to migrate to Intel right about now, Mr. Enderle now says that Apple will be forced to move to Intel by the time Longhorn comes out (in either 2005 or 2006, depending on who you listen to) in order generate any kind of demand. From Mr. Enderle's column as published by InternetWeek:

The lesson of Windows 95 is that the dominant vendor doesn't have to be better than competing platforms, it only has to be good enough. Windows 2005 is likely to be "good enough," with some potential advantages.

Those advantages will be development tools (Microsoft remains at its core a development tools company), performance (designed to use the Intel P5 and Athlon 64 platforms from scratch), partners, integration, and a built-in trust relationship (critical for on-line transactions, patching, services, and digital rights management). Linux can match Windows 2005 on performance and trust. Like Windows, Linux runs on Intel. And IBM is leading the effort, with Intel's support, to support Intel's trusted computing technology on Linux, the same technology that Microsoft is using in Windows 2005.

Apple will have some serious problems because the Apple hardware platform will not be able to create customer demand comparable to what Linux could do. To generate that kind of demand, Apple will need to either move to Intel, or get significant help from its hardware partner, IBM. IBM won't help broadly unless both the IBM PC business unit and IBM Microelectronics cooperate, and the PC company may not want to undercut its own sales of PC-based systems and they are strategically tied to Linux and Microsoft today.

One sustained advantage that Linux will have against Microsoft is pricing, and this will be most pronounced in the Third World. With the increase in outsourcing, which Linux accelerates, this Third World preference could nicely balance Microsoft's technical achievements worldwide. Apple is at much greater risk and, unless Microsoft stumbles badly, will have a great deal of difficulty competing with Windows 2005 and Linux based PCs in the critical 4th quarter of 2005. Being third of three in what likely is a two horse race is clearly problematic for them.

There's much more of this sort of thing in the full column.

Why, exactly, will moving to Intel generate demand for the Mac? The G5 is kicking some serious butt, and Panther, too, is garnering good press, despite some serious glitches. By the time Longhorn rolls out, Apple will have two more major Mac OS X updates, if Apple follows its current schedule of a new release every year. In his piece, Mr. Enderle dismisses those updates as being linear, but Panther already competes with Longhorn on most levels. So, what about Longhorn is going to cause Apple problems, and again, how will moving to Intel help with that? Why, exactly, is the Apple hardware platform not going to generate excitement? There's just nothing of substance behind his prediction that Apple will need to move to Intel. Nothing at all.

Lately it seems that a week doesn't go by without several people writing me about some new stupid thing Rob Enderle has said. Last week, for instance, he wrote a bunch of nonsense about neither Linux nor Mac OS X being better platforms than Windows, supported by half-baked rationalizations. I didn't give that piece any ink, simply because Enderle-bashing seems all but pointless any more, but when he lets ring a Death Knell, duty demands a bit of deconstruction.

Today's column from Mr. Enderle is really little more than an unsubstantiated fluff piece that relies on a lucky strike in 1994 to back up his current claims, despite the fact that he has already been proven wrong with similar predictions.