What's the real scoop about the Intel iMac

There's a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) going around, and not a small number of benchmarks. Frankly, the two benchmarks I've cited in previous posts are a good example of the two ends of the spectrum, with MacWorld's being pretty shallow and Ars Technica's being well thought out. But, what's the real scoop? Did Apple, as ThinkSecret indicates in this article, release the Intel iMac early? Or was it actually a well- orchestrated plan to get the machines into the channel before people stopped buying the G5 versions?

You can imagine that my opinion is the latter. For developers, Apple's done an amazing job of getting early access equipment and tools available to us. Any developer with $1000 could have spent that last summer and had an Intel-based Macintosh by July, 2005, giving almost 6 months to try out the tools and get the software running. As it stands, my current project/product has been running on both platforms from day one. Not without incident, but with few problems.

Apple's OS has been rock-solid since it debuted on Intel in June and I haven't run into any more difficulty using it than I have using the G5 and G4 based Macs that I have been using for years. It integrates into Open Directory just fine, manages like my other Macs, and runs quite fast.

I will soon have a chance to try a production iMac here (as Apple chose to provide one in exchange for each of the test units returned to them) and will use it for testing while our software reaches release.

It's important to note that many developers had their software running natively on the x86 platform at the Apple WorldWide Developer's Conference in June of 2005. Thanks to an abundance (>400 as I remember) of Intel Macs and abundant assistance from engineering at the conference, there was a ton of opportunity to get things working. Further, Apple's plan to release the Intel machines at a time that they are not putting out a new OS release (such as 10.5) was a boon in terms of keeping the focus of the conference and people's efforts on the Intel transition.

There are, of course, notable exceptions to the applications that are coming over quickly. Apple lists 337 applications that are Universal as of this morning, and that doesn't count the software that isn't on their list. However, Adobe's products and Microsoft's products are not on that list and are unlikely to be on it any time soon. Neither are products from Alias (makers of Maya) are available for the Intel Macs yet, either. Of these, Adobe's products are probably the most problematic, as it is not uncommon for professional photographers to want to use Photoshop on the road on a PowerBook, and that's not going to be very viable until the Universal versions of Photoshop are shipping, and they're not yet announced. Of course, the PowerBooks are still available, but who would buy a PowerBook when something better is in the wings. Admittedly, I haven't run side-by-side comparisons of a MacBook Pro against a PowerBook with the MBP running Photoshop under Rosetta. The substantial increase in CPU may pay off on the laptop side, where it doesn't appear to on the iMac side.

Even with Adobe slow to move to Universal, Apple's moving the "Pro" line of applications over in March, which should provide a substantial basis for people who want to do serious work (at least in the video area and RAW photo- without editing-area).

Rumors of Apple's prematurity may be... well... premature. But, I guess it's a bit early to tell.

More from me on the subject after I get ram for my Intel iMac, so I can do some comparisons of my G4 1.5GHz PowerBook and my G5 Quad against the iMac Core Duo.