Let’s face it. For the past 10 years, and really the whole lifetime of the Macintosh, the theme has always been "Think Different". Apple had painted this picture because the Macintosh used a completely different architecture to a PC, and a whole different microprocessor platform, so that it was drastically different. The basic differences in cursory detail; Apple used RISC (Reduced Instruction Set) chips (PowerPC, and other alternative chipsets) and the Intel/PC solution used CISC (Complex Instruction Set) solutions. These are two radically different methods to use a Microprocessor in a computer.
Why did Apple choose to switch? I think that there are a number of issues, most of which are speculation. I have my own theories, but it is more important to think about what will be the result of this shift rather than the cause. I think that one of their results will be users who are currently unfamiliar with Apple/ Macintosh computers, might be tempted to look into purchasing a Mac, because of one simple fact Â– that Apple will incorporate into their new machines. An Apple branded Intel chip computer could run both Macintosh, and PC software/Operating Systems! A non-Apple branded Intel platform computer will not be able to run the Mac OS.
While I think that all computers are pretty slick, and that my own opinions about which platform is preferred to me are mine to keep, this is a very timely bit of news, as many Windows users are frustrated at their constant vigil to maintain their computers and to keep them from falling prey to malware, spyware and viruses. These common pitfalls in Windows are problems that the Macintosh has been fortunate enough to avoid, not by design as much as by obscurity. Regardless, this easy option for one to slowly transition their computer into a new, more maintenance-free operating system, and still allow them to re-boot the computer in Windows-mode, or in a Windows window, is a powerful ability. A user could buy a computer that will effectively be two computers and both platforms in one. A user can boot into Mac OS mode for Media, iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, and the other free tools with the Mac OS, and then boot into Windows mode to run Windows specific tools, programs, and the same tools they run at work. I am increasingly asked by Windows users, if the Macintosh is worth looking into if it is easier to keep free from viruses etc. They usually want to look at one, because they got an iPod, and are learning what Apple is more about.
So, what this all boils down to, is that we in the media preparation business (that is, after all, the business that print has been a complicit partner in), may have a radically different look at the "audience" or "platform" demographics when planning to publish alternative media. With traditional print, we did not care what computer a person had, because it really did not matter, they were reading the ink on paper we had printed for them. Now, as our customers in the publishing community ask us for alternative media production such as CD-rom DVD-rom, and other electronic media, we will need to take into account the target platform as it may change over time. While a publisher may have not had to concern themselves with a Mac-tuned media in the past (with the Macintosh being a scant six per cent or less in mist markets.) That small Macintosh installed-base may change as users consider the newer, more PC-friendly Macintosh.
All the news is not so rosy however. The PowerPC platform that Apple is abandoning, has a lot of very powerful coding that takes advantage of the RISC platformÂ’s strengths, and will require a great deal of effort for the software development community to code for a new platform. Many of these coding implementations (often known as Â“AltivecÂ” for the G4 and G5 processors) can speed complex computation tasks incredibly, and many of these routines are written into applications such as Adobe’s Photoshop, and others. It will be no small task for software developers to re-write their applications to be able to run optimally on both types of computers, chipsets, and operating systems.
So, my goal in mentioning this is not to get too mired in technical details, but to look toward the increasingly electronic-based deliverables the print community is going to be asked to provide, for traditional media clients. We are not just expected to print paper anymore, we are expected to deliver media, and the media is dependent upon what platform the publisher intends to target. That former trend to look at the Macintosh OS as six per cent may well change due to this news. It is also important to watch these trends when considering offering alternative or electronic media deliverables in addition to ink-on-paper print. If your publisher client has not asked you for digital media production yet, they will. Knowing the tools and platform tools they will want will be key to offering future-minded services to our traditional clients. Once again, it is not going to just be ink on paper we are asked to provide in the future. That is why this matters to us, and why one should watch this recent shocking news.