Developers Finding Their Feet After Apple-Intel Announcement

Apple's developer base was shaken by the company's announcement, but some developers are cautiously optimistic and call it "good news."

SAN FRANCISCO—The aftershocks of Apple Computer Inc.s plan to transition from IBM PowerPC processors to Intel Corp.s Pentium chips have begun rippling through the Mac makers software developer base.

Attendees at Apples Worldwide Developers Conference here—some of the first people outside of Cupertino, Calif., to learn that Intel processor Macs will debut in 2006—expressed a range of emotions.

Some were cautiously optimistic following the announcement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, here. But others reactions appeared to be near post-keynote traumatic stress disorders.

Either way, theres a lot of work to do. Applications might not be as easy to port to the new hardware as Jobs promised, some developers warned.

Others said that although the move would serve Apple well in the long run, the action could hurt the companys sales, and by extension their own, in the interim.

"Its certainly the right decision in the long run. In the short term, theres the worry that hardware sales will drop off," said Leonard Rosenthal, Chief Innovation Officer of Apago Inc., in Alpharetta, Ga.

"Its good news, but one of the scariest things Apple has announced in long time. Theres big-time uncertainty."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the outcry after Apples announcement that it will switch to Intel.

Eric Prentice, CEO of Dr. Bott LLC, a Wilsonville, Ore., maker of accessories for Macs and iPod music players, echoed the same concern.

"The majority of our sales are tied to Mac sales," Prentice said. "People who are on three- or four-year purchasing cycles are going to wait another 10 months."

The potential impact on sales, Prentice said, was what had Jobs repeatedly stating that Apple was in a strong position in his keynote.

"But I have faith in Steve," Prentice said. "The iPod could carry the company through the transition."

During his WWDC keynote, Jobs spoke directly to developers.

He distinguished four different classes of software that would make the transition.

The first, Java-based code plus scripts and widgets for Mac OS X 10.4s Dashboard feature, would "just work," Jobs said.

These are all built with either text files or cross-platform standards such as Java and HTML.

The second class, Jobs said, is code built in the Cocoa environment, which is a Mac OS X-native set of APIs that are closely related to the OpenStep operating system from which Mac OS X was created.

Developers working in Cocoa through Apples Xcode development tool should only have "small tweaks" and a recompile before seeing their applications work on the upcoming Intel-based Macs.

Next Page: Developers need further tweaking of code.