Originally posted by shidoshi
Here's the problem that I have - if this were a recent thing, Motorola being worthless when it comes to pushing the G4, I'd be able to accept the current situation just fine. But this has been going on for YEARS now.
I don't know exactly what Apple could have done, because I'm not in that business. But I have trouble believing that their ONLY option was to wait around for the processor that would become the G5. Is there no way that they could have worked with Motorola to at least improve some factors of the G4, such as the bus speed?
If all else fails, and there really was no other hardware options out there, then Apple should at least price the PowerBooks properly, in my opinion.
I have had the same feelings when the G4s stagnated at 500 MHz and Intel and AMD where scaling into the GHz as if there was no tomorrow. Speedwise, the stagnation threw Apple's desktop line back almost 2 or 3 processor iterations.
The introduction and further development of the Pentium M (and AMD's soon to be released notebook processor) worsened Apple stand in the mobile market. Their offerings are not neccessarily obsolete, but the price/performance ratio gets worse everyday: You can now buy decent Centrino (rather Celeron M based) notebooks for the price of an iBook (which I still like better).
And the knowledge made by developing the M-series processors will finally make it into Intel's desktop line.
I still wonder why Apple is unable to put enough pressure onto their suppliers to improve certain aspects of their CPU designs (faster FSB in Freescales case, dynamic power and speed adjustments Ã* la Pentium M in both cases).
Realizing that the rate of improvements and innovation in the field of CPU development (which is much higher than in the beginning of personal computing and the beginning of the PC revolution in the mid 90s) is justified by the economics of scale coming from the high volume of the market and looking at Apple's ever decreasing share of that market should give the answer to why things are like they are: Neither IBM nor Freescale have any interest in producing the kick-ass high performance processors which on the other hand have the power conservation features neccessary for mobile applications because due to the comparably low volume of chips they would be able to sell they would never be able to recoup the cost of developing such a chip.
They basically face the same chellanges that Intel does in developing a chip (well, due to Patents held by Intel on the power conservation features of the Pentium M they are facing even bigger problems or licensing fees) but have on a budget (= marketable price of chip x number of sellable chips) far smaller than the competition's.
This is also the reason why Apple has to keep the pricepoints where they are; a Mac's costs of production (at least on the CPU side of things) cannot be lowered any further. The other option would be a chip as capable as the competition's leading to a significantly higher pricepoint.
The IBM G5 was made possible partly by IBM plans to use them in sever blades. I guess they did not sell to well due to the same supply problems that affected Apple. So one has to wonder how much effort IBM still puts into the development of the "low power" POWER processors. But there is hope coming from the fact that MS as well as Sony will be utilizing PPC technology in their upcoming game consoles as well as the development of PPC based Cell technology.
Where does that leave Apple? I don't really know. They can stick to the PPC platform and be subjected the crumbs that fall of the table of the next gen game box development and the scaling abilities of Cell. Or they can jump ship to the X86 platform (that, altough in need, will never change due to backwards compatibility needs) and deal with yet another complete transition and all its consequences.
Considering they really take the X86 plunge, they would only be able to offer the same as everyone else (for some, this sounds like an improvement, see above). And porting OS X to X86 would ultimately open the platform to other PC assemblers leading to the same problems Windows has due to the loss of control over the complete solution (hardware, OS, software) which I doubt Apple could handle (look at the problems every .-release of OS X even causes today).
I really hope that the current G4s and G5s get cheap enough for Apple to drive the cost the Mac mini down. This machine offers enough power for most markets and dependig on the price point they could (re)gain marketshare in business, education and regular households. And they should focus on the OS in order to keep it the most secure around.
Apple does however design their own I/O-ICs. They could easily implement things like SATA, PCIe, DDR2 and the like. But than again, you need a certain volume to achieve attractive price points and Macs are still compelling enough to sell with what they have to render this feasible.