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If you haven’t read Robert Cringley’s recent commentary on Apple’s decision to switch from IBM to Intel as it’s CPU, it’s worth the read. While there has been much speculation about this move in the financial community and the Mac’ommunity, Cringley’s stands out from the crowd as one of the least plausible explanations.

Cringley asserts that this move by the two companies foreshadows a merger of the two. Although no time frame is indicated, one must assume that at the very least he expects the event to happen within the next year or two, which is the time it will take Apple to transition CPU platforms.

Without question, Cringley is an extremely knowledgeable industry pundit who has observed and foretold twists and turns. But this time, he must have been smoking something.

Why in the world would either of these companies want to merge? The fit is terrible.

For Intel, the world’s largest supplier of computing’s core technology, the move would be a disaster. Why would the Dell, HP and others continue to support Intel’s platform, if Intel/Apple is promoting a competing platform. Said differently, Intel is not going to anger its largest customers by promoting a platform that they do not sell. One could argue that perhaps Dell and HP would start selling Apple’s too — a not inconceivable notion considering the fact that HP already sells iPods. More likely, however, is that HP and Dell would prefer to sell Apple’s OS as an option on any of their machines. That is, why bother building a unique Apple machine, when ALL computers could be designed to run either or BOTH operating systems.

From Apple’s standpoint, the move is equally uncompelling, especially for an egocentric company like Apple. After surviving some very dark days, Apple is now experiencing phenomenal growth in a wide array of digital venues with a significant focus on well-polished, well-designed consumer products (unlike Intel’s “inside” focus).

To me the combination seems unlikely. Not in possible, of course. Years ago, industry watchers predicted that Intel would try to “GE” itself. They suggested that, not unlike GE that transformed itself from a narrowly-focused product developer into one of the most diversified financial powerhouses, Intel should move beyond its “parts” mentality. In fact, Intel has expanded its focus, but nothing as risky as this move. Nope. It’s not gonna happen.

So, why else would Apple make this decision. Two simple reasons.

First, compared to the current and expected IBM chips, Intel has plenty of processing power. In the past, Apple needed to more processing power, so that it could compete within its graphic-intensive user community. Today, and more so in months to come, there is plenty of processing power in a high-end Intel chip to run graphically intensive apps. And, with dual-core, hyper-threading and 64-bit processors rolling off the Intel line, the gap will continue to shrink (if not disappear completely).

Second, Apple needs to move to Intel so that it effectively compete with its future product lines. This is likely the key behind the move. If you look at Apple’s product lines today, there are a number of key devices missing from menu, not the least of which is an Apple PDA and an Apple smart phone. And, which processors are powering the majority of the world’s PDAs and smart phones? Intel, of course. And, if these products are to be seamlessly compatible (and converged) with the Apple’s computing product line, then switching to Intel just makes sense.

To me, this is a far more plausible scenario. But, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.