The numbers game

Back in September 1999—ancient history in the computing world, I know—Apple announced the AGP Graphics Power Mac G4 (aka “Sawtooth” ). At the time it was an impressive system—in speeds of 400MHz, 450MHz, and 500MHz. Since I happened to be in the market for a new Mac back then, I decided to put down my hard-earned cash on the midrange model, placing an order.

Soon after, as then Macworld editor-in-chief Andy Gore chronicled in his Vision Thing column, Apple announced that, due to processor supply problems from chip maker Motorola, it would not be able deliver the systems it had promised. Instead, the Sawtooth Power Mac’s clock speeds would drop to 350MHz, 400MHz, and 450MHz configurations—for the same price as the faster systems they were replacing. Apple was, in essence, raising its prices after announcing products. (Because I placed my order before Apple made the switch, I got the original 450MHz model at the original price.)

In his column, Andy wrote, “I can understand Apple getting stuck and not being able to deliver 500MHz G4 Power Macs—they don’t control the production of the chips.” True, Apple doesn’t control the production of the chips, but it does control who controls the production of its chips. Among other things, such an ancient gaffe serves as a prime example of why Apple switched to Intel. Since Intel is such a huge chip maker (and a company that only focuses its attentions on making chips), supply shouldn’t be a problem. And because of that, Apple should never again have to make excuses for shipping something less than it promises.

Which brings me to Tuesday’s news. Apple announced it was shipping the first MacBook Pro models—a feat in itself, delivering the first Apple laptop with more than one processor. But the bigger news was that the MacBook Pro was actually shipping with faster processors than Apple originally promised. Instead of Intel Core Duo processors running at 1.67GHz for $1,999 or 1.83GHz for $2,499, the models now include 1.83GHz or 2.0GHz processors, but at the same respective prices. You can even custom configure the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro with a 2.16GHz Core Duo processor for $300 more.

Gigahertz myth aside, I hope Tuesday’s MacBook Pro news is just the start of a whole new world for the Mac, one in which a partnership with a company that’s actually dedicated to making better brains keeps Apple moving faster than any of us can reasonably expect. And for all the nay-sayers out there who’ve pooh-poohed Apple’s Intel switch, this latest MacBook development takes a little bit more out of your argument.

  
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