A few weeks after the Mac x86 project started, I’m became pretty impressed with what my friend has managed to accomplish on the Sony Vaio TR3A. Side-by-side, my 12″ Apple Powerbook looks huge and dated compared to the Vaio with its bright widescreen. Ultra-portable, running way longer (6hr battery life), cooler and faster than my real Powerbook, Mac x86 on the Vaio seems to work smoothly, with the exception of audio, wifi and the Vaio’s built-in web camera (still dealing with driver issues). Even though the Vaio is smaller, the screen resolution is at an insanely sharp 1280 by 768, which means you get the approximate desktop space of a 15″ Powerbook within Sony’s 10.6″ xBrite screen.
In some way as a Mac loyalist, I felt betrayed by Apple’s PowerPC processor marketing which long spread the belief that PPC was way faster than Intel chips. Even CrashOverride said that RISC was good; I thought CISC would soon reach a dead-end. After comparing general Finder operations and Safari rendering speeds between my 1.5Ghz Powerbook and the 1Ghz Vaio, I’m pretty blown away at the spring in the steps of the older Vaio. Looks like Intel has come a long way…
The real question now remains:
What does this mean for Apple?
While many Apple fans believe that the final Intel version of Mac OS X will have improved software/hardware protection, I won’t be surprised if the hacking community manage to crack it wide open. Will Apple be able to deal with the consequence of switching to the Intel chip? Can Apple survive as a software company as Microsoft has? From this case study, I believe a that a deeper strategy exists as to why Apple made the switch.
Conspiracy theorists in various x86 Mac forums suggest a popular belief that Apple is actually trying to discretely increase their share in the personal computing market. While Apple does make incredible hardware and software, the real seller is the holistic approach Apple takes they design a Mac. It would be exciting to see if consumers would still choose to buy an Apple-issued Macintosh over a competitive PC running Mac OS. What do you think?