"I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do." -- Steve Jobs, 2004
There’s a thread that connects two recent reports about Apple — Jean-Louis Gassée’s MacIntel: The End Is Nigh and Dan Rayburn’s Apple’s CDN Now Live — and it’s the Steve Jobs quote above from a 2004 BusinessWeek interview about owning and controlling the underlying technology in everything Apple does.
Gassée, who took over Macintosh development after Jobs was ousted in 1985, once dismissed speculation that Apple’s A-series chips would someday power not just the iPhone and iPad, but the Mac as well.
In his current Monday Note, Gassée has come around. He now buys the argument put forward in 2011 by a precocious 16-year-old named Matt Richman that Apple would, within the next three years or so, wean itself from Intel’s x86 chips and switch to Apple’s home-grown ARM-based chip designs. (See Apple and ARM, sitting in a tree.)
Rayburn, an expert in the distributed content delivery networks (CDNs) that do most of the Internet’s heavy lifting, reported Thursday that the CDN Apple has been working went live last week and is now delivering some of its own content directly to end users.
This is no small thing.
By switching to ARM, Apple laptops and desktop machines might no longer be held hostage by the kind of production problems that have delayed Intel’s Broadwell processors.
Owning all layers of the stack includes, as Gassée points out, Swift — the new programming language Apple introduced in June.
There’s one more dependency that’s in Apple interest to move away from — as quickly as possible — and that’s on Samsung. Apple’s bitter enemy in patent court is also the chief supplier of those A-series chips. Matt Richman, now a 19-year-old student at Temple University, thinks he’s got the perfect company to replace Samsung: Intel.
Richman is in a good position to know. Having been turned down for the summer internship he really wanted in Cupertino with Apple, he took one in Portland with Intel INTC .