PBS | I, Cringely: Divide and Conquer: Why Apple Has an iPod Division "Apple is being ravaged from both ends of the market. The U.S. Government has told them they can't claim to be the fastest PC because they aren't. So Intel and AMD are nibbling away. Even Pixar uses Intel-based hardware in its rendering farm. Now imagine IBM and Sony attacking from the other end with inexpensive Cell hardware that beats the heck out of Pentium AND PowerPC. Well, the best reaction to that is to follow the Microsoft model, and target a high-margin OS and applications at the low-margin hardware platform built by a third party. Voila, Apple becomes a software company that also sells little hardware devices, again following the Microsoft model.
I'm not saying this is going to happen, but I think it will happen if Apple has any trouble at all maintaining its margins under the current strategy. Absolutely look for the rape of the resellers, and then MAYBE look for the end of Macintosh hardware. But iPods and iTunes will be everywhere, even here in Charleston, which has a Target store, but is more than 100 miles from the nearest Macintosh dealer."
Read the entire essay if you care about Apple's future