I’ve written a little bit about the first Intel iMac in the past, while discussing the iMac G5 (iSight). That machine was very short lived, and the original Intel iMac ate its lunch in terms of speed and power.
The MacBook Pro was a little more interesting. Apple took the opportunity to slightly redesign the PowerBook G4’s case, making it thinner and adding things like MagSafe and an IR port for use with the Apple remote. With Apple never being able to squeeze the hot and power-hungry G5 into a notebook, the new machine was a really nice upgrade for customers who wanted both power and portability.
Having come to the Mac toward the end of the OS 9 to OS X transition, this was the fist major change I lived through as a Mac user. I remember all the chatter than Intel Macs wouldn’t feel like Macs running on the trusted PowerPC architecture. Onlookers mocked the idea of Apple slapping “Intel Inside” stickers on their computers. People scrambled to run Windows natively on the hardware before Apple announced Boot Camp.
Now of course, there’s talk of Apple putting ARM chipsets into Macs. I’m not sure how that will pan out, but the last decade of Macs have been pretty great. While a lot of Core2Duo machines are stuck on OS X Lion, Apple is supporting older machines longer than ever, thanks to the power Intel provides these machines. If you buy an i5 or an i7 machine with a good bit of RAM, it’s amazing how long it will be viable computer. That’s not something that could be said so confidently during the PowerPC era.