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January 10, 2007

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Jared Hanson

I'm an Apple loyalist, so consider this defensive if you want, but I'd like to raise an issue with the following quote:

"Computer users want more power, options, and flexibility."

Who, specifically, do you mean by "computer users?" I've got numerous friends and family, who are computer users, but have zero technical inclination. Give them a web browser and a jukebox, and they are happy. More and more, and without my provocation, they are asking me about switching to a Mac. Their eyes would glaze over the second you launch into a open vs. proprietary spiel. They want something that "just works."

Now, if you consider computer users people found in cublicles who have decisions mandated by an IT department, you've got a point. However, the people developing IT (engineers, developers, etc.), are increasingly using and being influenced by the Mac. (Ironically, its often these people who are most vocal about open and non-proprietary.)

This change is interesting. You've got the early adopters evangelizing the Mac, and consumers starting to switch. Its largely the middle, IT and management, who remain loyal to the PC. I wonder how far these two ends will encroach?

Jack

Indeed, and if you look at Microsoft's PR for the Zune, you will find it did not just launch a music player. The heading was "Microsoft to Put Zune Experience in Consumers' Hands on Nov 14" and it launched "an end-to-end solution for connected entertainment" ;-)

Excuse the plug, but I got a whole article out of that one!
http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1892773,00.html

There's some Forrester Research info too.

fiat lux

"People love the iPod but they grumble about not being able to get music from other sources."

The copy of iTunes sitting on my Windows XP box at home has more than 2,000 song tracks in it ... roughly 96% of which were not purchased from Apple. In fact, you don't ever need to buy music from Apple in order to use the iPod and iTunes. All you need to do is to open your CD drive, place a music CD in, and hit the 'rip' button.

True, you cannot play music files that you purchased from other DRM-ed services (such as Rhapsody) on an iPod. However, saying that you're completely locked into the iTunes store isn't quite correct.

Ewan

The extensibility side of the iPhone, surely the built in Safari client will let you use any web based RSS reader, and if it's as complete as Apple say, it'll come with Java support to run applets that developers come up with.

Binnur Al-Kazily

I certainly would consider myself an Apple fan -- the more I use their products, the more I love them. I also use Microsoft Office and Entourage on my Mac. I recently blogged on the innovation ingredients that contributes to Apple's success -- yet another perspective to consider.

As previous comments indicate, people switch to Macs because "it just works". Just yesterday, my new Motorola Pebl synchronized with my Entourage contact data over Bluetooth, with just few clicks. Nice!

"The larger marketplace wants open devices (computers, music players, phones) built on industry standards, or at least "de facto" standards."
This is an interesting point, especially given OS X is built on open software. Not to forget, Apple has demonstrated running Windows on the Mac/Intel platforms (which is a brilliant move on Apple's part). At the end of the day, the approach Apple has taken works better than WHQL certification process, as the end product just works (and if it doesn't, you have only one place to go to for support). Btw, given your focus on the openness of the platform, when can we discuss Microsoft Office product support plans for Mac?

"This competition keeps prices low and drives innovation."
One of the key purposes of innovation is the ability to charge a premium over your competitors. As Dell found out, the low cost strategy can go so far. Apple does utilize their learning curve to drive their product prices down (example: shuffle started at $150 and now is at $79).

Gerald Buckley

I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the attachments claim from Jupiter just yet. If it's running a mod'd OSX it's likely going to ship with the Preview app. THAT can open and display Word docs at least. It can also do a ton of PDF related stuff.

There's also Leopard (OS 10.5) on the horizon. So, there's no telling what's between now and June to make Jupiter's claims flimsy.

To Ewan's points above. Safari is based on WebKit. WebKit's and OSX have a ton of support for Java (as is evidenced in the running of the widgets which are simply Java applets). It's yet to be seen or heard how Apple intends to open this new platform up to us developers though... time will tell.

Chris Gervais

Sorry, I'm late to the conversation, but I just found your blog. I'm not an Apple apologist, but since I do buy their products, I guess that makes me a loyalist by some measure. I do have to disagree with some of your points:

The myth of the Apple 20% premium -- my MacBook Pro cost a little less than $2400. A similarly configured Dell Latitude D820 costs $2956 and that doesn't include a built-in video camera or software that's equivalent to Apple's iLife '06 suite. So where's the premium?

Apple builds closed, proprietary devices. I can see how that was true in the past, but how can you really say that today? Apple's desktops are based on Intel motherboards (and even upgradable) and use all industry-standard connectors. True, I can't swap out the power supply for something I can buy at Fry's, but that's not what constitutes and open system. Apple's Mac OS X has abundant developer frameworks and there are many open source options that compile effortlessly on Mac OS X. How is that closed and proprietary? How is the Zune not closed and proprietary in comparison to the iPod? The story hasn't been told on the iPhone yet, so it's too early to make a judgement. Otherwise, you haven't really made a compelling case based on your blog entry.

Don Dodge

Thanks for all the comments. I have great respect for Apple and all their products. Beautiful design and intuitive user interfaces are hallmarks of all their products. The iPod and iPhone are beautiful works of art.

I agree that the Mac has opened up over time, and perhaps as a result the price premium no longer exists. To be honest I hadn't checked the prices in recent years and was just going on memory. Thanks for correcting me on that and providing real examples.

Interestingly, the Xbox and Zune both follow the Apple iPod /iTunes and iPhone examples of delivering a total user experience and doing all the pieces in house.

The easiest way to deliver a "it just works" user experience is to build all the pieces yourself to ensure they work together elegantly.

Microsoft has always been a platform company where lots of other companies built applications, utilities, hardware peripherals, games, etc on top. Each one of these products has their own install procedures, and many of them change registry settings or other parameters. After a while the configuration gets messed up and things fail. That is a downside to the open PC platform.

I think the Xbox and Zune teams decided that, at least initially, they had to build the whole system (hardware, software, applications) to ensure a great user experience. Over time this may change. I think we are starting to see that with Xbox 360.

Lloyd Budd

How 'bout that iPod market share?

Steve Job's Thoughs on Music is quite provocative http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

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