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Apple Businesses

Apple's Focus is Still Software 146

Posted by Zonk
from the coulda-fooled-me dept.
bonch writes "Via a Forbes interview, Steve Jobs reassures Apple faithful that despite the runaway success of products like the iPod they are still a committed software company. He also talks about the real motivations behind negotiating Microsoft's 1997 $150 million investment in Apple, the development that went into the original iTunes (only four months!), their future expected revenues, and much more. MacObserver provides an overview, and Fortune has excerpts here."
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Apple's Focus is Still Software

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  • Gee (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wizbit (122290) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:03PM (#11611687)
    the development that went into the original iTunes (only four months!)

    That couldn't be because they cannibalized another product and its development staff, and pretty much produced a half-baked "brushed steel" version of the same, now could it?

    I remember the original iTunes, and I far preferred the product they'd based it on, Casady & Greene's SoundJam MP.
  • Re:Gee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizbit (122290) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:14PM (#11611850)
    Wow, record time. Mods got an itchy trigger finger today?

    Listen, the original iTunes was crap - I'm sorry. I'm a long-time Mac user and today's iTunes is worlds ahead of the original incarnation they put out.

    Here's an old review [macworld.com]. They didn't even add an equalizer (standard on MP) until the second release! Everything that makes the program useful today was lacking when they first released it. The only thing this had going for it was the fact that it was free - and, thankfully, that it got a lot better.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:27PM (#11611995) Homepage
    I watched Steve's kenyote speech, and he spent fiteen times as much time demo'ing software than talking about the Mac mini -- which I thought was the big event of the night....I ended up thinking "wow, Apple is really a software company that happens to make hardware".

    The Mac mini is kinda neat, in that it's so small and all, but it's not really selling as well as it is just because of its small size. In general, Apple hardware is impressively engineered, but people often aren't buying Apple hardware for the Apple hardware. They buy Apple hardware for the Apple software. The real reason the mini was the "big event of the night" is that it was a sub-$500 way to get OSX.

  • Re:OS X on Intel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:51PM (#11612270)

    Jobs keeps claiming Apple is a software company.

    He does?

    Microsoft seems to be doing just fine living off of the OS market, why couldn't Apple?

    Apple currently makes 95% of its money on hardware. They use that money to fund software development, including OS X. If Apple made a version for Intel, they would be competing head to head with MS's monopoly. MS has partnerships with all the hardware vendors, software developers, and peripheral manufacturer's. All of those companies and the PC manufacturers are completely dependent upon MS's goodwill to survive. How many do you think will agree to ship OS X by default when it means they are suddenly paying double or triple the software cost to their competitors not only on those boxes, but also on the rest of their boxes? Do you know how small the margins are right now?

    They could sell independent of the PC manufacturers, but really how many boxed OS's are sold? Almost all OS sales are pre-installs. Basically, you can't fight an established monopoly with more money than god. Especially while destroying what is currently your main revenue stream.

  • Re:OS X on Intel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggetman (242645) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:51PM (#11612276) Homepage
    So then we have an operating system which has zero programs, save misc Linux apps that run under OS X. But even those would have to be recompiled for x86(-64) OS X vs PPC OS X.
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @06:57PM (#11612347)
    "If they're so focused on software they should release OS X for the x86."

    I see this argument based in two points.
    * PC hardware is so much cheaper than Mac hardware that users can't afford to buy a Mac to try it
    * PC users want the operating system (and maybe iLife apps) from Apple because it's so good.

    The first point is rebutted nicely by the Mac Mini. Now it's relatively cheap to buy a new Mac. Sure, it's not the most powerful Apple available, but if I wanted to try out something to see if I like it, I wouldn't buy the top of the line and hope that I *really* like it a lot; I'd buy a cheap model and test it.

    So Mac hardware isn't that expensive for users wanting to try out the Mac Mini. With resale values being reasonably good, a user could buy a Mac Mini, use it for three months and sell it at a total loss of maybe US$100.

    The second point is a 'grass is greener' point. Although I happen to believe that the grass actually is greener on the Mac side, I wonder how users will go when they realise that not a single application they own or use will be available for OS X on x86 for some time.

    That's right - even if Apple release OS X for PC hardware tomorrow, you won't be able to run anything with it. There's no software at all for it. Every single app will have to be recompiled to x86 binaries.

    Sure, we might have a 'fat' binary like we used to with 680X0/PPC and now do with PPC32/PPC64, but there'd be precious few of them around. Adobe took over a year (from memory) to get Photoshop to OS X. Carbonising was a process a single engineer did in a weekend, but the company waited until they had a full release before they moved.

    Over time, apps would be released. Apple would include a full development IDE with the OS to increase uptake. That's all fine, but it doesn't change the fact that it'd be a long wait for commercial software.

    And then - why should a company like Adobe release PhotoShop for OS X PPC, OS X x86 and Windows? If a user already has the PC hardware, why code up a new version for the same hardware? Every version costs money to develop and maintain, and what would be the return? The new platform would be a new thing, and it's success would be entirely unknown. Any developer looking to make money from it might conclude that there's no market there. After all - business users already buy the hardware that runs the software they want. Wouldn't the customers of Adobe already be happy with the hardware?

    And would Apple put this out for x86, or for AMD64 only? Why worry about an old technology? I suspect they'd just go for 64-bit on the PC and not even try to support 32-bit x86. The PC industry will move from 32-bit to 64-bit completely over the next few years, so why bother supporting technology that is being obseleted (rhymes with 'deleted')?

    What about the average users? They're sold on the idea that Windows has everything they need. It's got Office, games, just about anything they want. Why should they buy into OS X on PC hardware? It gives them nothing new. They won't have Office or any games. They'll have Apple's iLife, Mail, Safari and Chess, but what else? Why should non-hobbyists (ie the vast majority) buy this?

    I don't know who would buy OS X for PC hardware. I don't know what software developers would sell software for that platform, and I don't know why the average user should switch. I see lots of questions, but no answers. I don't believe this idea will work very well at all.
  • by wtmcgee (113309) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @07:06PM (#11612435) Homepage
    I think that while marketshare may go up a few percentage points (maybe nearing 10% at best), profits would actually shrink.

    Moreover, companies like Macromedia, Adobe, etc would have to port their Mac software BACK to the x86 platform and provide updates for the ppc and x86 versions of their software.

    I just don't see it happening. If OS X ever goes to the x86 platform, Apple will be switching over full force as well. But you're not going to ever be able to just pick up a copy of OS X for your Dell PC.
  • Re:OS X on Intel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artifex2004 (766107) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @07:51PM (#11612916) Journal
    Cameras are nothing without iLife.


    I was with you until this point. I've never seen an Apple-branded camera, and I've certainly never used my digital still or digital video cameras with iLife or any other Apple product. I might in the future, if Apple supports them (they're getting old), but they're certainly quite capable without Apple's software.


  • maybe that's a sign that OS X could make an x86 debut?? (doubtful, but hopeful)

    And what apps would you run on it? Think there's a lot of "OS X on Intel" developers just waiting for their chance? If there's any at all, there'd be fewer than OS X-developers-on-PPC, which are already pretty scarce.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:19PM (#11614392)

    In the normal world, "x86-based systems" are "open" in the sense that anybody can build them

    Umm, anyone can buy them from Intel or AMD and resell them. With PPC anyone can build them and sell them.

    Apple systems are "proprietary" in that there aren't multiple vendors of OS X-compatible systems

    Gee that's great, but we weren't talking about OS X systems, we were talking about PPC and x86. Your statement is like saying x86 is proprietary because MS is the only vendor of Windows.

  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @01:38AM (#11615647) Journal
    ... shrewd business strategist ... Job's is positioning Apple as an entire Industry (ie. airlines) where a hub & spoke architecture enables Apple to gateway user services, products and partnership opportunities...
  • Re:OS X on Intel (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2005 @07:16AM (#11628204)

    Article:
    ...Apple's computer hardware business, which still accounts for 60% of annual sales.

    You:
    Well, you are partially right. The 95% was an estimate off the top of my head, and was probably too high. 60% of profit is from computer sales.

    Me:
    NO! Sales are not the same thing as profits, you fuckwit. If you buy a $2000 computer from Apple, their sales increase by $2000. Their profits increase by (I have no fucking clue, but let's say) $100. This is because the computer does not merely manifest itself out of aether, but instead has a cost associated with it, paid by Apple to both their own labour for assembling it, to various companies for the components that go into said hardware, and a bunch of other things that don't really matter.

    So when we say that 60% of Apple's sales come from hardware (a notoriously low margin business, in which even Apple can't command a high markup), we are intimating that a significantly lower percentage of their profit came from that source than the percentage of sales. This is because Apple also sells higher margin goods, such as iPods. $2000 spent on iPods probably yield $400 in profit, if not more. I honestly don't feel like reading their financial statements for a post on Slashdot.

    Your lesson in this basic economical concept should now be complete. If you still don't understand, read it a couple more times. Failing that, grab any introductory textbook on microeconomics. It's almost time to spend your time on better things than squeezing pimples, anyway.

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