Bear Stearns analyst Andrew Neff believes Apple Computer Inc. is over 80 per cent likely to start using Intel Corp. chips.

In a fifty-page report, the analyst – who predicted the Hewlett-Packard Co./Compaq Computer Corp. merger – claims the move will happen in two to four years.

Neff looks at the increased competition and softened demand in the PC sector. He says this may cause a number of changes in the market. He adds: “We believe it is time for company management to take steps toward concrete changes, as those that recognize the need for action first will get the best deals. There is no easy way out.”

Other predictions include a closer relationship between Dell Computer Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., and IBM Corp. reducing dependence on its hardware business in favour of a services-based approach.

At Macworld Expo, analysts quizzed Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs was asked if there was a possibility of the company switching to Intel chips. He said: “First of all, we have to complete the operating system transition. Then we would have options. And we like to have options.”