Attila the Pun
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Tunnel Vision

I realise that it may come across as somewhat of an odd thing to bang on about, but tech writers' love in with Apple continues apace:

Rivalry, intrigue, passion and not a little espionage have coloured Silicon Valley since it was founded by Hewlett and Packard in their Palo Alto garage just after World War II.


But nothing is hotter than the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple, between Windows and Macintosh.

Say it together kids - Apple has 3% of the home PC market. Microsoft has close to the other 97%.

Thus, the Valley and the computing world were shocked when Apple's charismatic and egotistical co-founder/chief executive and "visioneer", Steve Jobs, announced that, after a 14-year association, he was dumping IBM as his microprocessor supplier and moving to Intel, on whose chips the hated Windows runs.

Any one that "hates" an operating system really needs to have a good hard look at themselves.

As John Markoff of The New York Times observed this week, "Jobs is a legend in no small part because he defied the monster combination that is Wintel - as the digerati call the Windows and Intel alliance - and lived to talk about it."

Did he just say "digerati"?

More than that, Jobs and Apple have led personal computer innovation and design. In those increasingly important areas, the Microsoft Goliath has always walked in David's shadow and if Apple plays the move to Intel as the industry expects, the shadow could get a lot larger.

Want to provide an example there bub? Apple makes an OS which will work on a select group of proprietary components. If Windows was as restricted as the Mac OS then the problems that people ascribe to Windows would disappear. So would the huge growth in IT, as the continual decrease in prices would slow considerably. I find it endlessly amusing that Macs, so beloved of the latte set, attempt to create a monopoly over software and hardware - something the "hated" Windows have never been accused of.

Don't believe me? Lets look at the 20 inch cinema display sold by Apple compared to the Dell 2005. Exactly the same Samsung panel, though the Apple is technologically inferior as it lacks built in USB ports. Apple's price - $1250. Dell's price - $949, delivered. They will throw you a 24 inch monster for $1600 if you like, unless you prefer to pay $2249 for a 23 inch Apple?

But the notebook issue probably was not at the top of Jobs' mind when he talked with IBM. More likely he was thinking about his new battlefield, consumer electronics and, specifically, Microsoft's new Xbox 360 and Sony's even more powerful PlayStation 3. They are as much internet-enabled home media and entertainment centres as they are games consoles, and that puts them right in Apple's ballpark.

In what way? Apple have the mac mini and the err, umm? Their game software is also 12 months behind the PC as a minimum, and will be even more behind the next generation consoles.

Apple intends to challenge them both directly, right in the world's living rooms.

With what exactly? Its going to take more than a one button mouse and a great advertising campaign.

With Microsoft and Sony moved to IBM, Intel is keen to keep its place in the enormous home entertainment market and Apple, boosted by the runaway success of the iPod, is a good bet in a tough game.

The runaway sucess of the iPod provides a good bet against Microsoft and Sony, moving to their second and third generation consoles respectively?

If the Xbox and PlayStation turn out to be serious contenders as broad-based home entertainment centres, bringing video-on-demand over broadband and offering online services of many kinds, then an inexpensive but powerful Mac alternative, probably more broadly capable, flexible and powerful than the other two, would be very attractive.

bwahahaha. Ignoring the fact that he has absolutely no basis for suggesting that any Intel based Mac will be any of those things, he has also ignored the large elephant in the room - a windows based media centre PC. You know the one - the cheaper, more powerful and continually upgradeable one?

I am sorry, but watching any organisation receiving endless free advertising and uncritical analysis bugs me, and Apple sums up perfectly many of the smug, condescending types out there. Don't believe me? Check out the final paragraph, man:

"He is still committed to the idea of an Apple culture," said Peter Schwartz, the co-founder and chairman of the Global Business Network, a Californian consulting firm. "It is the counterculture to the dominant Windows culture."

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