Backstage: Apple switches to Intel; iPod impact, zero (for now)

imageIt’s over—the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, delivered by Steve Jobs. And the “news” for iPod fans is good: none. iTunes will support podcasting, a revelation made two weeks ago, while iPods and iTunes continue to steamroll their competitors in market share. No new iPods were announced, no new version of iTunes is shipping – it’s all quiet on the music front.

And the biggest announcement of the day, Apple’s switch to Intel chips for its Macintosh computers, appears set to have zero impact on current-generation iPod owners. Apple’s Mac applications—as well as third-party ones—won’t run any differently on the new Mac computers, and that process won’t begin until next year, anyway. iTunes will continue to be cross-platform, etc., etc.

The real issue is whether reports from Wired and the like regarding Apple’s interest in specific Intel chips, namely ones with advanced (and potentially consumer-unfriendly) digital rights management hardware, are accurate. If so, the next generation of Intel Macs could be perfectly poised to permit fair use transferring of, say, DVD content onto Apple-developed portable devices. But what about current PowerPC-based Macs? Surely Apple wouldn’t leave all of its current Mac customers behind? And owners of non-DRM equipped PCs, for that matter?

So the net effect for iPod music lovers appears to be basically nothing. Next-generation iPods, though? We’ll see.

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