The unthinkable has happened. Starting in 2006, the Macintosh will begin using Intel processors.
This is the end of the Macintosh and the end of Apple. Why? WINE. Microsoft Virtual PC. Within a year, probably by the time the first Intel-based Mac ships, it will be possible to run Windows apps at near-hardware speeds under Mac OS X, possibly as first-class citizens with Aqua UI widgets. The UI won't be as nice as a real Mac version of the application, but it'll be "good enough." Within two or three years, Adobe, Microsoft, and the rest of the biggies will stop making Macintosh versions of their apps. Instead you'll get a Windows version that comes bundled with WINE or a licensed version of Virtual PC. Microsoft will release a version of Longhorn that runs on Apple's hardware (assuming it is proprietary enough that it wouldn't "just work" anyway, which it probably will be) and price it competitively. The next time Apple wants $129 for a Mac OS X upgrade, or at the next hardware upgrade cycle, users will go, "well heck, most of my software is already Windows anyway, Longhorn is all right, and I'll get a slight speed boost by ditching the emulation," and they'll move over to Windows.
Mark my words: within five years, there will be no Macintosh. There will probably be no Apple. Bill Gates will have his last little sliver of marketshare. He's sitting in his office in Redmond, not ten miles from where I am right now, cackling with glee. Apple's only hope is to get out of the computer business entirely, and that's too speculative to hang their entire company on. The Macintosh today has been declared end-of-life and the userbase is being transitioned to Windows. I wouldn't be surprised to see many small Mac developers decide to jump to Windows development today.
I bleed six colors, but I've made my peace with Windows too. R.I.P. Macintosh, you had a good run. And goodbye Steve Jobs, the board will be ousting you again in the next few years. I think it might be the first time in history a company has fired the same CEO twice.
Addendum: I'm seeing a lot of "Apple won't sell any Macs for the next year or so" comments out there. "I can't think of a reason I'd buy a PowerPC Mac today." That, of course, is balderdash. If you were inclined to buy a Mac yesterday, there's no real reason not to buy one today. Sure, the first Intel-based Macs will probably be faster than the Mac you could buy today, but that's because they're a year away. Apple's demise is still several years out, I don't think in the short term there's any reason to abandon their products.
Addendum 2: Another line I'm hearing a lot of is "Well if they're still using proprietary hardware aside from the processor, they won't see any cost savings from going to Intel." This isn't about making Macs cheaper, it's about the fact that IBM can't deliver competitive performance.
Addendum 3: There's a lot for users to like about this plan in the short term. I certainly would love to be able to run Windows apps on my Mac at decent speeds. I will personally probably stick with the Mac as long as it's around and I expect my next machine, in 2007 or so, to be a Macintel. It's just that now, I don't think the Mac will be around indefinitely. I've already lost one beloved Apple platform and I'm saddened that I'll likely have to do so again. I made my peace with Windows long ago, but Apple will always have a piece of my heart.