Non-Intel chips
Non-Intel chips

Apple's "road-less-traveled-by" approach didn't always pan out. One of Apple's biggest strategic blunders of all time was its failure to embrace the Intel architecture for its PC chipsets.

Apple chose Motorola's chips early on for cost considerations. But even when it was apparent that Intel, through its Windows partnership, was emerging as the standard PC chip architecture, Apple stuck to its guns.

Apple eventually formed an alliance with Motorola and IBM in 1991, which resulted in the inclusion of PowerPC processors in Apple computers for 15 years. Apple boasted that PowerPCs were faster than Intel's, but that never resulted in any significant sales increase.

That decision also meant that for decades, there was far less software being written for Apple's PCs, since software developers had to write the software for two different chip architectures. Apple computers also had to emulate Windows, since they couldn't run Microsoft's OS natively.

Sales swooned. Mac sales only finally began to pick up when Apple ultimately relented in 2006, switching to the Intel architecture. Apple is now the third-biggest seller of PCs in the United States.


By David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech - Last updated January 27 2012: 7:21 AM ET
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