Has Apple forgotten about the Mac? With all the focus on iDevices (iPod, iPhone, iPad), the Mac seems to have fallen out of favor at Apple.
What features and functions can our favorite Mac maker add to improve the Mac? Lower prices might improve market share, but that would reduce margins and profits. Quality may suffer. Or, does Apple have a long term plan that marginalizes the Mac?
The Marginal Mac As Cash Cow
Make no mistake. The Mac is a cash cow for Apple. Sales are booming, and profits are up, even in the early days of the iPad craze. The iPad is already causing waves in the PC industry, particularly among the once fast-growing netbook segment, now under assault from another Apple product.
Is the Mac the next victim of Apple’s iDevice future?
Or, does Apple have something in store for the Mac that will perpetuate the line, add increased valuation and differentiation from PCs, iPads, tablets, and mobile devices?
To some, it appears that Apple’s iDevice mania has begun to marginalize the Mac. Try to find the Macs on Apple’s home page (littered with iPod, iPhone, iPad propaganda). To be fair, the Mac line has never been better, faster, more durable and stable, or more feature laden. Market share is growing, but especially in the highly lucrative above $1,000 market segment where the Mac is the market leader.
Is the Mac marginalized or ready for a rebirth?
What The Mac Needs To Continue To Grow
Count me among those that worry about how Apple thinks different. Steve Jobs and Company are not afraid to walk away from the past and move quickly toward the future (whatever that may be).
iPod nano? It’s now an iPod shuffle with a touch screen. Apple TV? Completely reborn, completely different, price slashed. iPhones? Models just two or three years old barely work with new iOS and apps.
First and foremost, what the Mac needs is Apple’s attention. There doesn’t seem to be much that’s truly revolutionary about the Mac anymore. Second, Apple needs to accelerate market share growth. Sure, the growth rate is higher than Windows PCs, but most of that is due to three similar effects—iPod halo, iPhone halo, iPad halo—and one circumstance. Historical security and performance problems with Windows PCs.
The Mac, Apple has taken the high road—high price, high margins, high profits, but no longer a highly visible profile.
The Mac needs attention. If the world is going even more mobile than a notebook, how about a hybrid Mac—keyboard and touch screen—in a MacBook Air-like form factor?
How about a hybrid OS—iOS for Mac, which runs traditional Mac OS X, and iOS apps onscreen? It could be a clamshell design with a screen that slides up and over the keyboard to form an iPad-like device, with a keyboard underneath.
All the notebook revolutions have been embedded already into today’s Mac. It’s no longer revolutionary. It’s evolutionary. Thin, lightweight, sturdy, great screens, powerful CPUs, good graphics, longer battery life, dependable and secure, tens of thousands of apps, beloved by millions of customers.
The problem? That describes the iPad as much as a Mac.
The Mac will continue to evolve, but Apple recognizes the future, and the future is in mobile devices. The market is much larger for portable media players, smart phones, and tablet devices than for notebooks and desktops, where Windows reigns supreme. Apple won’t ditch the Mac any time soon, but don’t expect any revolutionary changes, either. Apple rolls with the flow and the flow isn’t toward notebooks and desktops.
Apple didn’t get rich off the Mac. It got rich off the iPod and iPhone and the built-in ecosystem of iTunes catering to many tens of millions of Windows PC owners. The Mac has merely benefited from the new iDevice mentality at Apple, but only incidentally.
Computer users will still need—and want—powerful desktop and notebook Macs and PCs. The glory days of those devices are not in the future. They’re in the past. Microsoft is struggling in an iDevice world, while Apple thrives and prospers. As PCs and Macs become less relevant, Apple becomes more relevant. Microsoft? Less so.