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Reports: Apple to switch to Intel chips

Apple will announce Monday that it intends to transition its computers to Intel Corp.’s architecture over the next few years, according to several published reports.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is expected to make the announcement during his keynote speech at the company’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference that begins on Monday in San Francisco, according to a report on Friday by CNet News.com. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times also reported over the weekend that Apple is planning a shift.

Apple plans to begin the shift with low-end PCs in mid-2006 and continue to high-end PCs in mid-2007, News.com reported quoting unnamed sources.

Intel declined comment on the reports and Apple and IBM could not be immediately reached for comment.

First reports of a possible deal surfaced in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Asked last week at the Computex trade show in Taipei about a deal with Apple, Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and general manager of Intel Corp.’s Mobile Platforms Group, said the company has long pursued a deal with Apple.

“We always talk to Apple,” he said. “Apple is a design win that we’ve coveted for 20 years and we continue to covet them as a design win. We will never give up on Apple.”

Should the reports prove true it would represent a major shift for Apple, which has been building computers based on the IBM Corp. Power PC architecture since the mid-nineties. It would also be a further shift in the processor industry that has recently seen Microsoft Corp. break with Intel in the game console sector and chose PowerPC for its Xbox 360 console that will be launched later this year.

Ever since the initial report in The Wall Street Journal online message boards have been abuzz with discussion of what such a deal could mean for Apple. Many comments have been negative with speculation about the possibility of software incompatibility between the two platforms and others wondering if Apple has anything to gain from such a move. Another sizeable batch of comments can be summed up as “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

The industry should know later Monday as Jobs takes to the stage of the Moscone Convention Center and delivers his speech.

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