About the authors
Russell Shaw Russell Shaw is a specialist in mobile computing, telephony, networking and covers these fields regularly for numerous print and online publications. Russ writes the popular IP Telephony blog on ZDNet and contributes regularly to The Industry Standard blog as well. Author of seven books, Russ' latest book is Wireless Networking Made Easy.
John Yunker John Yunker is president of Byte Level Research. He closely tracks emerging wireless technologies and their impact on consumers and carriers alike. Over the years he has written a number of major reports on technologies such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX and cellular technologies.
About this blog
Unwired studies emerging wireless technologies and how they complement and conflict with one another. Technologies covered include: Wi-Fi, WiMAX, Ultra-Wideband, Zigbee, EV-DO, UMTS, HSDPA and whatever else comes along.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline


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May 24, 2005

Intel + Apple = WiMAX?

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Posted by John Yunker

So I have a few thoughts on why Apple is talking to Intel. First, let me quote this Reuters article to provide context:

    "To port to an x86 platform would be a massive undertaking and I'm highly suspicious of that," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, referring to Intel chips.

    Apple always has a lot of projects in the works and could be evaluating Intel chips for use in future products, Bajarin said, adding that when Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs was asked Sunday night at a Wall Street Journal technology conference whether Apple would use Intel chips, "Jobs basically said no."

So I'm going to assume that porting the Mac OS is not a high priority at Apple these days. What I think is a high priority is wireless. Apple launched its Wi-Fi-power Airport way back in 1997. Here we are eight years later and Wi-Fi is everywhere, particularly in the home.

There have been lots of speculation about Apple launching an A/V equivalent of iTunes. Now, connecting the cable or DSL modem to the TV is a hurdle we're seeing lots of companies tackle, with limited success.

I've spoken to a number of techs who see WiMAX as the next-generation home wireless technology. That's because only WiMAX can stream multiple streams of HDTV content in difficult RF environments to all ends of the home.

Apple is also rumored to be getting into the smart phone business. I'd certainly love to see how they could simplify my Palm Treo 650. But what wireless technology are they going to support if and when they do get into this business? I wouldn't bet on EV-DO and I don't think they want to bother with EDGE or HSDPA either. Apple likes to lead with wireless technology, not follow.

I think Apple sees a lot of opportunities with WiMAX. And I think Intel sees a lot of opportunity in getting Apple to support WiMAX. Because the applications that WiMAX will support don't really exist yet. Sure, we're going to see wireless last-mile proliferate using WiMAX, but that's the easy part.

Perhaps all that Apple and Intel are talking about right now is processors. But I have to believe that there are people on both sides of the room thinking WiMAX.

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Home Networking | Wi-Fi | WiMAX & Fixed Wireless


1. KD on May 25, 2005 11:50 AM writes...

Yours is the first article about Apple and Intel I've seen that makes sense. I think they are too committed to IBM right now to switch CPU's, but using them for WiMax could happen. I think all the talk right now is also a subtle dig to light a fire under IBM's butt. Jobs promised delivery of 3GHz over 11 Months ago. He's not known as a guy that is particularly patient! Perhaps this has something to do with todays announcement that IBM is "opening up" the Cell processor as well?

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2. Robert Boylin on May 25, 2005 12:42 PM writes...

Bravo! I've made the same suggestion in response to some of those intitial speculations regarding the x86 line. Apple doesn't need to pique IBM either. Their production is relatively small while the relationship is long lived. The coming CELL technology could be essential to an Apple mulitimedia web service using a BitTorrent style technology limited to Apple's hardware/software. Others would likely pay more for inferior download speeds. Perhaps it will wait for a CELL based server to appear as well as the user's TIVO style box. I'd also like to see a small handheld controller with previewing capabilties using WiMax.

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3. MJ on May 26, 2005 7:14 PM writes...

I totally agree with this article. There have been a lot of rumours about some sort of video device. I think the Intel story and the video story are the same. It's WiMax on a next gen Airport Xtreme that has a receiver that accepts the signal and converts it to HDV, AVC, or Svideo. The only question is at which end the video is converted to an acceptable for TV signal (receiver or computer).

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4. TD on June 1, 2005 4:14 PM writes...

Apple launched Airport in 1999, not 1997. Apple launched it at the Boston Macworld show, alongside Apple's launching of the iBook.

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5. JI on June 1, 2005 4:30 PM writes...

FWIW, it should be noted that Apple does use Intel chips in its xRAID product.

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6. Jer on June 1, 2005 5:28 PM writes...

I am surprised given your background which I just read that you would spread such rumors. I've been in the wireless industry for quite some time and will give a quick lesson on next generation wireless technologies and their uses:

WiMax (802.16) is an alternative for last mile access - i.e. a replacement for DSL, Cable, T-1s, etc.

802.11n is highspeed wireless in the home which *could be* the next generation of Airport Extreme (802.11g) - combine this with 802.11e (QoS) and streaming HD using MPEG-4 H.264 is not an issue.

UWB - UltraWideBand is for high speed USB-like wireless connections

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7. Jason on June 1, 2005 5:55 PM writes...

Jer, you are right on. Like you, I have been in this side for a while and continue to be surprised how fast these technologies get confused by people, but what we have to remember is that the average public does not understand what some of us do. To them means nothing, nor does wimax, or last mile access. Most people think they have dsl because it is so-called high-speed.

Great description for the technologies. I wish journalists would make a point of helping to teach the public the RIGHT terms and technologies, rather than just throwing them out like popular acronyms. If journalists are going to throw around terms on non-pro sites, they need to clearly explain them. Otherwise, the end-users are only left to guess what is going on. I know there are a lot of very smart consumers, but they often get lost in the crowd as they already have found their solution, meanwhile the others are walking around bantering acronyms that have nothing to do with what they actually need or have.

What a funny world we live in.

As a side note, WiMax would not be affordable for an everyday technology. Heck, Alvarion, one of the largest players in the game does not hardly sell anything less than $1000, with the exception of their low-end access units. But, then again, Alvarion is pretty proud of their equipment, no matter what it is...

Again, thanks Jer for jumping in to clarify things.

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8. Jer on June 1, 2005 8:01 PM writes...

Thanks Jason for another voice of reason and technical understanding! It's too bad I just found this article today to clear it up as it looks like it has been up for a week spreading false claims. Oh well...let me see if the other Mac rumor sites have started spreading the dis-information train yet...

P.S. I haven't used the Alvarion stuff but have worked with the Aperto schwag recently....not too shabby muxing multiple channels together and getting T-3 speeds!

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9. Jason on June 1, 2005 8:31 PM writes...

Jer, shoot me your e-mail if you have a chance. It is always great to have others out there to share ideas and resources with. The NOC address here is just noc at

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10. Dav on June 1, 2005 8:40 PM writes...

Guys, .... get a room already.

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11. Moe on June 2, 2005 10:31 AM writes...

Honestly, listen to Jason and Jer. If and when WiMAX is standardized, it will not be used in the home. It is designed to work over ranges from 5 to 50 km as a replacement for a wired link. Can you say "overkill" for home networking? 802.11n is designed as the successor to the current 802.11b/g standards. And with speeds up to 100 Mbps, it is faster than WiMAX, which is 70 Mbps. Just because WiMAX is a "new" technology, does not mean Apple will adopt it, especially if it is the wrong tool for the job.

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12. hellcats on June 4, 2005 8:23 PM writes...

I think the problem is the PowerBook. Laptop sales have just surpassed desktop units worldwide. And Apple has nothing better than a G4 in its PowerBooks. Intel has the Centrino and is about to announce the dual core Yonah. There is also the possibility of running VMWare under OS X just like it currently runs under linux. VMWare is a much faster virtualization technology than Virtual PC since it doesn't have to emulate the CPU. Fullscreen VMWare is practically as fast as a native PC when running office and developer applications (not 3D games of course, but 3D CAD actually works quite well).

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13. TomkOx on June 6, 2005 5:42 AM writes...

I don't need emulation mechanism like VMWare or Virtual PC etc.
I don't need to emaulate or run PC-Windows-Based stuffs.
I am happy and I belive in Mac and Mac OS X. This ROX.
I can't (and I don't wanna) work with Windows and with
smelling PCs.
If Mac will be the same as (for eg.) Dell-PC, Compaq-PC,
I will not use computers.
Becouse in this world will not exist any computer.
TomkOx from Poland.

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14. Nic on June 6, 2005 12:13 PM writes...

2 words. East Fork.

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15. Marc Erickson on June 6, 2005 3:19 PM writes...

The New York Times reported today that Jobs will announce "...Apple's intention to shift to Intel chips beginning in 2006..." at WWDC2005 today. (free registration required)

Update - it's now on the Apple site:

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