In my not so humble opinion, Steve Jobs' announcement this week that Apple Computer will power future computer systems with Intel processors bodes ill for the device software marketplace.
It may not be terrible news for IBM and Freescale, Apple's current processor providers. According to this New York Times article, IBM barely breaks even on producing processors for Apple. They may even be sighing with relief.
But what's inside the box does matter. Apple has been exhorting customers to "think different," and to an amazing degree, they have. Apple customers love their machines--and their supplier--in a way that no sensible Windows user can imagine.
But with this move, a major source of "thinking different" between Apple and Windows systems will be eliminated. That leaves Apple with slick packaging and an attractive OS interface. True, Windows hardware vendors have shown no real interest in competing with Apple on case design. But what's to stop Microsoft from adopting many of the UI innovations of Apple's Tiger OS, just as Microsoft did with Windows XP?
A company can't position a component as a competitive advantage one day, and then replace it glibly the next. Devices matter. So does device software. For today's DSO marketplace, that's the real lesson behind Apple's processor switch.