Apple appears to have frozen-out fans tired of waiting for an official Cupertino netbook, dropping support for Intel’s Atom processor from the latest build of Snow Leopard 10.6.2, according to reports. The move may signal Apple is clearing the way for its own netbook in tablet form.
For some time, Apple has dismissed the growth of small, low-powered notebook computers, refusing to join the army of computer makers producing so-called ‘netbooks.’ Apple COO Tim Cook described netbooks having “cramped keyboards, junky hardware, very small screens, bad software” and were not worthy of the Mac brand. In response to the lack of an official Apple entry, Mac fans have created hackintoshes able to run Mac OS X on netbooks using Intel’s Atom processor. Although 10.6.2 is currently only in the hands of developers, if the Atom omission is retained, the lack of support could either force OS X-based netbooks to vanish or restrict the hacked hardware to remain frozen at 10.6.1.
We may see Apple’s response to the netbook phenomena in early 2010. CEO Steve Jobs may announce Apple’s long-rumored tablet device Jan. 19, although the unit is described as being designed more to deliver media than as a general purpose computer. The Cupertino, Calif. company has always pointed to its iPhone or iPod touch as better alternatives to the netbook for Mac fans.