SAN FRANCISCO -- Top executives of Apple Computer Inc. will be visiting IBM headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., today to discuss a far-ranging technology alliance that could have a major impact on the computer industry, industry executives say.
One part of the talks, according to these executives, is a proposal for International Business Machines to license from Apple, and perhaps even to help develop, basic software for a new line of Apple computers that will be a successor to its Macintosh family.
The companies will also discuss whether Apple will use a powerful IBM microprocessor that IBM uses in some of its computers.
An alliance between the two biggest manufacturers of personal computers would present a united front against other alliances in the computer industry. While the discussions might not lead to any agreement, the mere fact the two fierce rivals are talking attests to changes in the industry and would have been unthinkable even a year ago.
At Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., in the Silicon Valley, hatred of IBM is almost a religion, one executive there said, and the idea of cooperation with IBM still strikes some Apple employees as heresy.
But executives say the computer industry is changing in a way that allows for strange bedfellows. Few companies can afford to develop all their technology alone anymore.
And customers are trying to avoid being dependent on a single supplier, which forces companies to team up to offer interchangeable computers that can be linked together in networks to increase computing power.
IBM and Apple are also being drawn together by their perception that Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., which dominates the personal computer software business, is a common enemy.
IBM has been trying to reduce its dependence on Microsoft for the basic operating system software that runs IBM personal computers. Using Apple software could be one way to do it.
Spokesmen for Apple and IBM declined to comment yesterday on the talks between the companies. They said their companies talked to many others about technology exchanges all the time and that often nothing came of such discussions.