The real reason why Apple has decided to use Intel chips is that Intel intends to buy Apple and take on Microsoft, according to Accidental Empires author and InfoWorld columnist Robert X. Cringely.

Before arriving at that theory Cringely, who boasts "twenty years in and around the PC business", looks at, and disqualifies, a number of potential reasons for Apple's move to Intel chips.

He also indicates that there are a number of reason that suggest there is more to the Intel chip switch than Apple CEO Steve Jobs is letting on in a very enlightening and informative article.

Cringely questions why Apple would reject the PowerPC's dedicated vector processor "that make them so fast at running applications like Adobe Photoshop and doing that vaunted H.264 video compression". Cringely recalls how "Apple loved to pull Phil Schiller onstage to do side-by-side speed tests showing how much faster in real life the G4s and G5s were than their Pentium equivalents".

He also asks: "What happened to Apple's 64-bit operating system?" He explains that Intel's 64-bit chips "are high buck items aimed at servers, not iMacs," and wonders: "Is Apple going to pretend that 64-bit never existed?"

Public announcement

Key to Cringely's argument is the fact that Jobs publicly announced the move. He wonders why such a public announcement was necessary, given that it could stop people buying new Macs in the next 12 to 18 months. "This announcement has to cost Apple billions in lost sales as customers inevitably decide to wait for Intel boxes," he writes.

"Apple's stated reason for pre-announcing the shift by a year is to allow third-party developers that amount of time to port their apps to Intel. But this makes no sense. For one thing, Apple went out of its way to show how easy the port could be with its Mathematica demonstration, so why give it a year?

"And companies typically make such announcements to their partners in private under NDA and get away with it," Cringely explains.

So why was it necessary to make the announcement publicly?

Cringely dismisses the argument that it was to placate Hollywood, suggesting that the built-in DRM features in the Intel chip that will disable pirating of music and movies could also be found in PowerPC chips.

Intel v Microsoft

He suggests that the reason for the move is "Intel hates Microsoft". He claims that in recent years "Microsoft has abused its relationship with Intel and used AMD as a cudgel against Intel".

He also suggests that "for Intel to keep growing, people have to replace their PCs more often and Microsoft's bloatware strategy just isn't making that happen, especially if they keep delaying Longhorn".

Cringely's conclusion is: "This isn't a story about Intel gaining another three per cent market share at the expense of IBM, it is about Intel taking back control of the desktop from Microsoft."

"Microsoft has no innovation that drives what Intel must have, which is a use for more processing power. And when they did have one with the Xbox, they went elsewhere," he writes.

"If Intel was able to own the Mac OS and make it available to all the OEMs, it could break the back of Microsoft. Apple could return Intel to its traditional role of being where all the value was in the PC world. And Apple/Intel could easily extend this to the consumer electronics world."

Where would this leave Steve Jobs? Well, according to Cringely, Jobs would finally beats Bill Gates, "and with the sale of Apple to Intel, Steve accepts the position of CEO of the Pixar/Disney/Sony Media Company".