OK, unless you have been living under a rock or just plain don’t follow these things, Apple is planning on switching to Intel Processors within the next year. Not a special intel processor just for them but a regular old CISC based x86 processors just like the ones every PC manufacturer uses. The implications of this are huge. I am not entirely sure what Apple is thinking here and this all makes me very worried about Apple’s long term outlook. Why? Well, let me do the bullet point summary:

• Apple is a hardware company. Apple has always been a hardware company. Apple make the vast majority of it’s profits on the sales of it’s hardware. Apple has traditionally made software for one reason… To add value to (and, therefore, help sell) hardware. Take iTunes and the iTunes Music Store for example, Apple makes the player for Mac and PC and gives it away free. Apple sells songs on the iTunes Music Store that only work on the iPod and they make little to no profit on those sales (and by some accounts actually take a loss). Why? To sell iPods which have a huge profit margin and have been a huge hit. Mac OS X, while being an excellent piece of software, exists to add value and functionality and an operating system to the Macintosh hardware. That is where Apple makes it’s money.

• Running on special processors have allowed Apple to be a monopoly in their own little space that they have created. If you have wanted to use Mac OS X you have had to buy Mac Hardware as Mac OS X would not run on CISC based x86 hardware. They have not had to compete with Dell or any others in the PC space because, they did not make PC hardware.

• By switching to Intel based Macs they are now opening the doors for Mac OS X to run on Intel based hardware from any manufactures. No matter what hoodoo voodoo they try to do to prevent Mac OS X from running on anything other than Mac hardware, as soon as some enterprising hacker figures out a way to make it happen anyway (and they will) then there will be no reason for anyone to buy a Mac when they can buy a cheap PC from Dell and run Mac OS X on that.

• Since Apple can’t compete with Dell on price (they just plain can’t, I dare any arguments to the contrary) then Mac sales will plummet as Apple will no longer have a monopoly.

• Now, that they are no longer a hardware company they will have to compete with Microsoft in the OS/Software war. Once again, they can’t compete in tat spacer because of Microsoft’s dominance and monopoly. No matter how much better Mac OS X is, Microsoft gives it away for free. Apple can’t do that. Period. They can’t compete.

I am sure you can see where we are going with this. Apple, as a hardware and/or a software company is doomed if it has to compete in the same space it has stayed doggedly away from having to compete in and for good reason. It was inevitable I guess because IBM was just not able to give Apple the chip performance they promised. There is a lot of speculation about who dumped who in that marriage but it really does not matter. The future is coming and, for better or worse, it can’t be avoided. I guess we will see.