It’s all about change, controlling change, managing the future. All companies try it. Not all succeed.
How is Apple handling the sea of change taking place in the computer, entertainment, technology areas? Here’s my view.
The list of headlines and changes surrounding our favorite Cupertino, CA computer maker is astounding. Reflecting over just the past four years, the changes are more than remarkable.
Five years ago Apple introduced Mac OS X, which continues to evolve, change, mature, improve. Four years ago Apple introduced iTunes, then the iPod, and nearly a year later, the iTunes Music Store.
The ecosystem is in place and Apple controls portable music. Now Apple embarks on more changes with a move to Intel-based Macs, an attempt to secure a place as the ‘digital hub’ of the home.
A look at the headlines of just the past few days reveals a stream of remarkable ‘changes.’
For example, Bear Stearns says Apple’s stock, AAPL, will ‘outperform’ and they’ve raised the stock’s target price to $70. At $70 a share, Apple’s market capitalization begins to near that of Dell Computer.
Apple’s iTunes and iTunes Music Store are open for business and running fast in a couple dozen countries, including Sony’s home turf, Japan.
What’s the story there? In a few short months, iTunes, iTunes Music Store are #1 in Japan and the iPod market share nears 60-percent.
And what of Sony? The once high flying king of gadgets is nowhere to be seen except in the nightmares of Sony PR officials who put out one disastrous fire after another.
Perhaps in a deal to secure Pixar’s future with Disney, Walt’s company, now without Steve Jobs’ nemesis Michael Eisner, provided the iTunes Music Store with hit TV shows for sale at $1.99. Now ‘Lost’ and ‘Desperate Houswives’ are the #1 and #2 hit downloads of iTMS.
On TV, both shows are losing ratings points and falling from previous days of glory. More change.
We should also expect change within iTMS itself, as record company EMI predicts the days of iTMS songs at 99-cents each may be limited. Pay more for what’s hot, pay less for what’s not. More change.
iPod porn is taking off with iPod ‘dating services’, iPod formatted pornography available online, and now the ‘iBuzz’—a vibrating sex toy accessory for the iPod. It vibrates in sync to the music coming from your iPod.
I read today that a Catholic cardinal is warning parents about buying iPods with video as Christmas presents. Why? Because of access to pornography for the iPod.
He may not know that pornography that runs on an iPod with video also runs on every Mac and PC already.
Apple announced a change to Intel chips in future Macs. So, what’s the hottest, most powerful, fastest Mac you can get? The PowerMac with new dual dual-core IBM PPC chips.
Meanwhile, the so-called ‘Osborn Effect’ where everyone expected Mac sales to slump while the Intel-based Macs rolled out over two years, never materialzed (for the younger among our readers, Adam Osborn’s old CP/M-based PCs died quickly when they announced an MS-DOS PC which didn’t ship for years).
Mac sales are through the roof and at record numbers. In fact, Apple’s revenue and profits are at record numbers. The company’s stock and sales have never been as high as today.
Market share for the Mac hovers at around 4-percent, down from a high of about 16-percent in the late 1980s, and 10-percent before Windows 95 was released just 10 years ago.
Who will be Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2005? Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ name is on the list.
Lawsuits are a fact of modern business life. Apple is always embroiled in a few suits here and there. One big one is with the Beatles’ old record company, Apple Corp, regarding the use of the name ‘Apple’ with music. It hasn’t been settled yet, but I’ll bet Apple could buy them out.
The file format for digital photos is JPEG. It’s a standard. There’s also a company that claims a patent on JPEG and they’re nip and tuck in lawsuits. Apple included. Now, another organization wants the courts to overturn that patent. Lots of wrestling takes place behind the scenes in business.
What of Apple’s battle with arch rival Microsoft? If PR was the battlefield, Microsoft lost a few years ago, as Apple gets fresh and free publicity on everything they do, while the giants in Redmond keep walking onto rakes in the yard.
It’s all about change and managing the future. Apple seems to be doing so, doing so quite well on numerous fronts. Microsoft has stumbled badly with their next generation of Windows and the stock is mired in a five year flat line.
What about Microsoft’s Media Center? Isn’t that proof that Microsoft is making change and ahead of the curve? After all, Apple doesn’t even have a media center and all technology pundits claim that’s where the future of computing and digital toys will converge.
Apple’s first attempt at anything resembling a media center is Front Row, which is a simple remote-controlled application on the Mac which controls iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, and DVD player. I suspect we’ll see more change take place at Macworld in January 2006.
The point of this reflective perspective is ‘change.’ Much has changed in Apple’s world in the past few years. Get used to it. Much will change in the next few years.
Here’s what I’m expecting: More software in the iLife suite at Macworld. A Mac mini with an Intel chip to be sold along with a Mac mini with a PPC chip. Apple has to work out kinks before plugging in Intel chips to the rest of the line.
Later, we can expect an Intel-based wirless tablet Mac; small, Mac OS X, hard drive, touch screen, built in camera (I know, I’m wishing now). Then we’ll see the rollout of other Intel Macs, one by one.
By early 2007 we’ll also the the rollout of Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Leopard.’ This will be the first head-to-head, full on, competition for Windows next version, Vista.
How? Why? Because future Macs with Intel chips will be able to run Mac OS X and Windows. At the same time. Faster User Switching takes on a whole new meaning when the switch is a click to Windows, then back to Mac OS X.
When that happens, the Mac will be back, and hotter than ever. That’s a change. And Apple is controlling the change these days.
What about you? What do you see coming from Apple?
Tops on my list and a requirement for the video portion of the digital hub is an Airport Express with AV; so audio and video can be streamed from a Mac to a TV.
Carol Mary Miller
I’m betting on a spreadsheet for iWork to go along with Keynote and Pages. The two together are not enough. Add a slim-version of FileMaker Pro, and there’s finally an Office Killer.
Who knows. All these changes are making me dizzy.
Jack D. Miller
I’m with Alexis, though most of what Tera says is accurate, especially about the ‘change’ aspect, not so much on the future products. That’s anybody’s guess.