When we write about free software utilities for the Mac, our site gets tons of hits. Mac users love a bargain. When we write about the politics of the Mac market, including Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Motorola, Adobe, Macromedia, lawsuits, et al, the article gets fewer hits.
This opinon may not be any different but it will expose The New Personal Computing Landscape™ of 2005 which will affect millions of Mac users (current and future), and perhaps tens of millions of Microsoft Windows users (current and soon-to-be former).
How and why?
First, Microsoft owns the desktop. Not the heart, soul and mind of the desktop user. Just the operating system and all the profits that go with that territory. Even Steven Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and CEO, said Microsoft won those wars. Get over it. Move on.
And move on is what Apple has done. In spades.
Second, Microsoft is very vulnerable right now. They’re faced with millons of disgruntled users who’ve battled their desktop PC’s pop up ads, spy ware, mal ware, worms, viruses, blue-screen-of-death, email mayhem, and quality problems.
Windows users are very unhappy with Windows, PCs, and Microsoft. Yet, they stick in that rut because there’s no place to go, right? As they say, “Macs are more expensive and there’s no software available.” Knowledge of an acceptable alternative isn’t common.
The stock market seems to recognize the gloom slowly building over Microsoft, too. While Apple’s stock the past few years has gone from the low teens to the low $60s (look it up), Microsoft’s stock has languished in the mid-to-upper $20s. No real change.
To be fair, Microsoft and Intel are cash machines and sales behemoths. They own their respective markets and have plenty of momentum. Remember, though, what goes around comes around. The Titanic had plenty of “momentum,” too, and we know what happened to the world’s largest and fastest oceanliner.
Like a star athlete, Microsoft and Intel have been weakened by their own riches. Intel is no longer able to double the clock speed of their chips every two years (I have a two year old Sony Vaio at 2.6 ghz—where’s the 5 ghz machine?).
In fact, clock speed is not a big deal to the average consumer anymore. So long as it runs fast enough, and costs little, they’re happy. That makes it tougher to sell the more expensive (and profitable) higher speed chips. Enter IBM.
Microsoft’s problems continue to grow, though there’s no shortage of profits just yet. Linux has made market inroads for servers and noise on some government and large corporation desktops, but hasn’t popped Redmond’s balloon yet. Microsoft seems on the defensive more and more.
Add up the list. Viruses hit the streets faster than Bush cabinet members could leave office. Worms, malware, and security problems plague Windows XP and XP SP2. People are fed up.
Meanwhile, what’s Microsoft do to combat the plague and Linux? The software Goliath complains about David’s problems, and dismisses the inability to bring about a successor to Windows XP.
That’s right, no successor in sight. “Longhorn” is a day late (or a few years) and no longer “long.” Shorthorn is more appropriate as the long-awaited Longhorn reigns in feature set after feature set.
Problems abound with the Microsoft and Intel juggernaut. There are leaks everywhere and the ships are slowing down, even taking on water.
The computer industry is hard-nosed, competitive, and bloodthirsty. And what goes around comes around.
Apple is readying a series of product marketing “bombs” that will change the landscape of personal computer. No, Microsoft and Intel will not go away. Dominance will continue for a long time. Even the monopoly of each won’t be compromised.
The winds? They are a changing.
Here’s a view of the “bombs” Apple is preparing to drop on the personal computing world.
First, the Cupertino Mac maker will target the mid range of the portable music industry with a few flash-based iPods, probably called iPod flash (I made that up—hire me). Expect them to start out at $149 for a 1 gigabyte flash iPod, and $199 for a 2 gigabyte flash iPod.
Cool rules, and Apple, for now, owns both cool and the portable music and the online legal downloads market. They own it.
Second, Apple will sweeten the Mac pie by introducing updated versions of the iLife suite of applications. iLife ‘05 makes sense, doesn’t it? iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, Garageband. There’s nothing quite like that package in the Windows world (for free or otherwise).
Next is a healthy torpedo aimed squarely at Microsoft. iWork. Expect iWork ‘05 to be a suite of productivity applications that include word processing, a spreadsheet (with database), and the Keynote presentation app. Think of it as Microsoft Office for the rest of us.
iWork will be bundled with every new low and mid-range Mac.
Can Microsoft withstand such an explosion? Certainly. Mac Office is good, however, it’s slow, bloated, expensive, and contains more features that most of us don’t need, don’t want, would prefer not to pay for.
Next, while Microsoft licks wounds and tends to sores from that explosion, Apple brings in a bomb from the sky (or, left field—your choice). A $500 entry-level Mac (could be $499, could be $599, $699; whatever). No monitor. Just a decently equipped Mac that even Windows users can have up and running in minutes using their own formerly Windows-only monitors.
Was that one huge bomb from the sky? Look under the water. Torpedo on the starboard bow. Apple will release Mac OS X Tiger on every new Mac, including the $500 xMac (I like that name).
Available now (soon), OS X Tiger does everything that Windows cannot. It’s secure, stable, dependable. It’s free of viruses, malware, worms, spyware. Tiger plays well with the Internet and plays well with Windows office networks.
Better yet, Mac OS X Tiger and the $500 xMac come with a royal flush of software, a bucket of cool applications that most Windows users could never dream of (except games). Go down the list with me. iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, Garageband, iCal, iSync, Address Book, i Work Pages, iWork Numbers, iWork Keynote, iChat AV (with multiple audio/video channels).
It all just works.
Millions of Windows-using iPod owners will begin to consider a Mac in ways they’ve never considered before (hell, a $500 Mac costs less than those iPods and accessories they’ve been loading up on the past year—what’s another $500?).
Not only will the Mac be cool and fashionable, dependable and secure. It’ll just work. Once Windows users realize that in sufficient numbers, the only Mac virus you’ll hear about will be the word-of-mouth virus that gets Windows users to flock to Apple’s retail stores.
Will Apple’s bombs damage Microsoft and Intel? Yes. Sink them? No. Will Apple benefit? Yes. To the victor go the spoils (if not the whole war, then a few colonies and territories).
Assume Apple’s overall home and business market share at, say 3-percent or 4-percent (depends on who’s counting and what they’re counting). A market share increase of 1-percent is enormous for Apple. That’s a 25-percent to 33-percent increase. A 2-percent market share increase doubles those numbers.
2005 will be a monumental turning point in Apple’s rebirth. The string of “bombs” and resulting successes will not cripple the competition, but the landscape will change.
Hold your heads high, Mac users. You’re about to get more “friends.”
one more thing Did we get this one right, or what? I’m of the opinion that Apple is in the best marketing position they’ve been in since the 80s (when they failed to license Mac OS to other manufacturers). What’s your opinion?
How many $500 Macs will you buy? Do you know Windows users who’d switch to a $500 Mac that has iLife, iWork, and Mac OS X Tiger? Share you comments and perspective with other readers. Click on the Comments link below.