(edited for typos) Intel has put two Apple sessions at the top of its Featured Sessions list for the upcoming Intel Developer Forum. That isn't Apple doing Intel a favor by filling a couple of empty slots in the schedule. Intel is touching a toe to that third rail for component manufacturers: Endorsement. And while people at Intel and Apple are scrambling right now to get their denials in a row, I want to drain this issue of its intrigue while at the same time highlighting its importance and pointing out that at least a little endorsement is overdue. After all, among first tier OEMs in the U.S., Apple is the only one remaining that buys CPUs exclusively from Intel. That deserves more than a cupcake. Intel should greet Steve Jobs' visits to the Intel campus by scattering rose petals before him.
Steve Jobs has been lionizing Intel for over a year. He and Apple's PR and Marketing have been making public mockery of Apple's PowerPC systems as they're replaced by x86, even though some of those PowerPC boxes were fewer than six months old at the time of their replacement. Apple redesigned Macs' packaging and on-line collateral to play up Intel's logo and technology. Although the story has never been told, Jobs (certainly not single-handedly) brought Apple to the brink of meltdown to ship Intel Macs way ahead of schedule, seizing the opportunity presented by Core Duo, a CPU that Intel had relegated to the low-volume embedded market. Apple created a broad market among Intel notebook OEMs for Core Duo.
How did Intel say "thanks?" In a press release dated more than a month after the 2006 Macworld where delivery dates for the first Intel Macs--iMac and MacBook Pro--were set, the Intel press release announcing Core Duo (linked above) had nothing to say about Apple. Then three weeks after that, at the 2006 Spring IDF, Intel not only had absolutely nothing to say, once again, about Apple, it punted Core Duo in a speech by Intel's Justin Rattner that, to my recollection, celebrated two Apple competitors (Sony and IBM). Intel was absent for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, where Mac Pro and Xserve systems based on Intel's flagship X86s, Woodcrest Xeon, were rolled out. Intel should have been all over that. Apple has handed Intel a strategy for putting itself back on the map, hitting a younger audience, pushing upscale media-rich systems, and so much more.
Returning to the simple matter that brought all of this to mind, take a look at this session list for Intel Developer Forum. To me, it shows that Intel is, albeit quietly and cautiously, letting the world know that it has a thing for Apple. Note that Apple's sessions are placed #1 and #2 in a non-alphabetical, non-temporal list. Note as well that no other OEMs get a shot at a session podium, and that Apple alone scored a non-rotating plug on the IDF event's front page.