PowerPC camp looks beyond Apple

Apple Computer Inc. seems determined to go it alone in the Macintosh market, and its partners - whether CPU suppliers or clone makers - see no choice but to comply.Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), along with PowerPC partner IBM Microelectronics, is turning its attention to customers other than Apple. Motorola's Computer Group (MCG), meanwhile, this week discontinued its Mac clones.

Apple Computer Inc. seems determined to go it alone in the Macintosh market, and its partners - whether CPU suppliers or clone makers - see no choice but to comply.

Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), along with PowerPC partner IBM Microelectronics, is turning its attention to customers other than Apple. Motorola's Computer Group (MCG), meanwhile, this week discontinued its Mac clones.

"This was a tough decision for all of us, but given Apple's position, we had no choice," says Joe Guglielmi, corporate vice president and general manager at MCG.

MCG will continue to sell its StarMax clones until the end of the year but cannot sell its Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP)-architecture StarMax Pro 6000.

Guglielmi says development of an unannounced CHRP-based Mac notebook was also discontinued.

Umax Technologies, which is now the only Mac OS licensee, focuses on low-end and international sales, which are not Apple's strengths.

Meanwhile, Motorola and IBM will meet this week to hammer out the future of the PowerPC CPU.

Although Apple is still a valued customer, new PowerPC designs will target applications such as telecommunications, networking, and handheld products, the companies say.

Each company has produced embedded PowerPC chips, and under the new agreement, they will develop compatible devices, an IBM representative says.

According to an Apple representative, Apple buys more than US$300 million worth of semiconductors every year and will work closely with IBM and Motorola on future PowerPC chips.

However, Apple's change in market focus precipitated a deeper commitment from the other two Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance members to embedded applications, says Tom Beaver, corporate vice president of world marketing at SPS, in Phoenix.

Beaver says he understands Steve Jobs' aim is to concentrate on desktop publishing and education markets.

This means pulling out of enterprise computing, where Apple has not been successful, according to Beaver.

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