"Does Apple plan to abandon the Mac?" asks noted tech-pundit Robert Cringely on his personal site.

Cringely speculates that Apple's iPod division is a move toward shutting down its less profitable business areas. He speculates that Apple may plan spinning-off its iPod division in future, but offers a personal observation designed to send shivers down Mac users' spines.

"I recalled something I was told more than 20 years ago by a much younger Steve Jobs. Back then Apple had three divisions – Apple II, Lisa, and Macintosh. Why have separate divisions? 'Because it's easier to shut one down,' said Steve," he writes.

Cringely thinks "something is stirring" at Apple. He cites Apple's move to outsource much of its manufacturing, and the company's move to put its head of hardware engineering in charge of the iPod division.

The tech writer adds a little rumour to fan the flames of speculation: "What most people don't know is that Apple, with the assistance of Intel, a few years ago ported all its software to run on Intel's Pentium processors," he claims, adding that "bold and in charge" CEO Steve Jobs pulled the plug.

He also speculates Apple may "eliminate non-specialized resellers and try to keep the retail business for itself."

"But what if sales don't rise significantly, or they rise for a few quarters and then plateau or even decline? Under that scenario, I can imagine that Apple might stop Mac sales entirely and become a consumer electronics and software company," he writes.

He speculates about new alliances with PC makers to get OS X installed on new desktops: "Voilà, Apple becomes a software company".

Cringely's personal opinions are available here.