Q - If Apple's iPod is the PC for my kid's generation (and it may be), then who is the Intel in this story?
A - Portal Player.
As Om Malik explains, Portal Player created the reference design for the incredibly sucessful iPod and makes much of the guts of it.
I remember when Portal Player was an idea hatched by John Mallard. It's been a great venture investment. It almost crashed and burned a couple times. But its survived and now its doing great. I hope Apple and Portal Player find a way to live together as well as Microsoft and Intel have.