It's likely that Apple took a hard look at how they could lower the price of the Mini/iMac/eMac, and they were having a rough time. They pruned every component down to the bone, found that any further cost-reduction wouldn't significantly increase their (likely razor-thin) profit margin on the machines, and looked at radical alternatives. After a couple of days, they ended up with a bunch of red arrows pointing at "Pentium processor and chipset will reduce our per-machine cost by $100" and realized that it was their best alternative.
One strategy that's going to fail, though, is to relegate the pentium processor to the cheap machines, keeping the dual PowerPC processors for the high-end stuff. And here's why.
1. Having two tiers like that, they're gonna have to constantly work to ensure that the top tier is running much faster than the lower tier, even though competing processors have never scaled in speed proportionally. If they're lucky, IBM will finally deliver on their faster processors, but what happens if IBM continues to have trouble speeding up the PowerPC while the Pentium hops past 4 and 5 Ghz? Then Apple's gotta keep using last year's Pentiums in their low-end machines. If that happens, sales of low-end machines will dry up because the (correct) perception would be that you can get a faster cheaper pentium elsewhere. Yeah OSX is different and is supposedly 18.2x more productive than XP, but that's never been an easy sell and will only get tougher.
2. When OSX-based Windows emulators like VirtualPC are updated to use native Pentium instructions, they'll gain an order of magnitude speed increase. Anyone who uses an emulator to run the occasional Windows app on their Mac will find that the $500 machine can do it much better than the $5000 machine. And that won't look good.
3. Apple's history with fat binaries is not good. Much as they like to think that OSX on PowerPC and OSX on a Pentium are 102% identical, they'll work slightly differently. Developers will have double the number of quirks they'll be working around. Tech support departments will have to deal with two different sets of applications, even though they're pretending to be one. Apple tried fat binaries when they went from 68k to PowerPC, and not many people bothered. More likely, installers will just detect your processor and install the binary that fits your machine.
Rather than keep the IBM for the high-end, Apple would've been smarter working with Intel on some kind of multi dual-core Xeon motherboard solution for the high-end, so they could still boast that 64-bit OS plus threading four processors makes 'em the top machine.
In any case, I don't envy Apple. I presume that right now somebody's digging up every quote Apple's ever made about the inferiority of the Pentium, and they're putting together a funny Flash video with that stoned-looking girl acting confused about the whole thing :)
On another note, I'm trying to figure out my friendships. I've got a few circles of friends and some close friendships with other families. I'm using two particular families as a case-study because I met with both of 'em this weekend. . .
One family has a really enjoyable wife and kids but a dad (my age) who, to put it succinctly, has trouble getting along with others. Over the past year or so I've grown progressively more annoyed by him that I'm reaching the point where I want nothing to do with the entire family just because of him. Shelly gets along famously with the wife and kids.
The dad (again, my age) of the other family is far more compatible with me. He's fairly irreverent and witty, and I always have an enjoyable time when we're together. Shelly also gets along well with the wife and kid.
What I can't figure out is why I end up spending so much time with family one and so little with family two. I seem to spend every weekend doing something with family one, but I see family two only every three months or so. I think part of the reason is that mom one is a "planner" type who's always putting together an outing or lunch of some time. Mom two does that sometime, but she's a tad more introverted and also is more informal, so we don't get frequent emails planning some kind of together-time.
Part of the reason I also think is because of their respective circles of friends. Family two, having a husband who plays well with others, always seems to have lots of opportunity to pal around with lots of friends. Far as I can tell, family one just has us.
Mind you, I'm not bitching about the whole thing. I'm just trying to figure out why some interactions work the way they do.