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Cheers, jeers for Intel inside Apple

Depending on which side of the fence Apple's partners were sitting, Monday was either a banner day or a bummer day.

Apple Computer's decision to run with Intel chips is drawing cheers and jeers in its vendor community.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen and Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft's Macintosh business unit, all took their turns gushing over Apple CEO Steve Jobs as he explained to developers why a massive platform switch was not only beneficial but critical to Apple's success.

"What took you so long?"
--Adobe CEO
Bruce Chizen

"What took you so long?" Chizen quipped, but later added that Adobe wouldn't exist if it weren't for Apple. Chizen also announced plans to create future versions of Adobe's Creative Suite, including Photoshop for Macintosh, that support both PowerPC and Intel processors.

Apple said it will take a gradual approach to transitioning all Macs from IBM and Freescale Semiconductor's PowerPC processors to Intel chips by the end of 2007.

Ho said the folks back at Microsoft have been working with Apple on its developer tool Xcode and that the company is planning universal binaries of its products to support Apple's user base. Microsoft also said it expects to bring more Microsoft Exchange Server software features to the Mac platform based on Apple's new relationship with Intel.

However, things weren't as rosy over at AMD, as the chipmaker expressed mixed emotions at seeing its largest rival contracted to reshape the Macintosh landscape.

The move "is reaffirming that Apple has chosen to base the future of the Macintosh on a 64-bit x86 computing solution," an AMD spokeswoman said in an e-mail. She added that Apple did not make the best choice.

"We would welcome the opportunity to provide the most innovative processor solutions to Apple customers," AMD said. The spokeswoman declined to speculate why AMD was left off Apple's guest list, and Apple executives were not immediately available for comment.

Despite losing Apple, neither IBM nor Freescale appeared to be devastated by the news.

"It didn't come as much of a surprise to us as we've done business with Apple for more than 20 years," said Tim Doke, a vice president of communications at Freescale. "We understood that we may be reaching that point where our paths were not going in the same direction."

Apple only represents about 3 percent of Freescale's total revenue and only 2 percent of its wafer production, Doke said. The company is still committed to producing another batch of faster and low-power G4 processors for iBooks and Mac Minis, Doke added.

"There is a silver lining to this, because now we are able to reinvest that R&D investment as we look at the consumer space and trade that with more of our other products.

IBM, which was also fired by Apple, said it won't lose much sleep over losing the contract to build the G5 processor.

"IBM is aggressively moving the Power Architecture beyond the PC, as shown by our recent successes with the next-generation gaming systems announced by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo," IBM spokesman Glen Brandow said.

Both IBM and Freescale said they are looking at replacing lost Apple production and putting it into other growth areas such as telematics systems used in automobiles. Freescale said it was also particularly interested in its communications processors like those found in base stations.