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Can Apple Take Microsoft on the Desktop? 528

Posted by Zonk
from the put-em-up-put-em-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "RDM asks Can Apple Take Microsoft on the Desktop?, a comparison of recent sales and profits and the future outlook for Macs and PCs. It's the opinion of the article's author that Apple doesn't have to take a majority share of the desktop market to win. The key is to take the most valuable segments of the market. They show via a few quick financial numbers that even though Apple is selling fewer machines, they're making more money per machine than your Dells or your Gateways. Not being beholden to Microsoft gives them a big advantage when competing with traditional PC sellers. Once Apple is positioned, Microsoft will be forced to choose whether it wants to battle Mac OS X for control of the slick consumer desktop, or repurpose Windows as a cheaper, mass market alternative to Linux in corporate sales. If it doesn't make a choice, the company will face difficult battles on two fronts.""
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Can Apple Take Microsoft on the Desktop?

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  • incorrect title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:37PM (#18228630) Homepage
    RDM asks Can Apple Take Microsoft on the Desktop? ... They show via a few quick financial numbers that even though Apple is selling fewer machines, they're making more money per machine than your Dells or your Gateways.

    So then the proper title should be "Can Apple take Dell or Gateway on the Desktop". With the release of bootcamp, Apple's competing against Dell and Gateway in the Premium consumer hardware space (which Dell/Gateway suck at anyway) so it's no wonder Apple's winning.

    The flip side of that is that as commodity beigeboxes, Dell and Gateway do great in the corporate world, which is a space Apple has yet to penetrate to any large degree, because the customer doesn't fit their product space.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:45PM (#18228692)
    they need to fix this real fast! the mini has laptop parts, is not that easy to open and has POS gma 950.
    The Mac pro is nice but the cost is high apple could add quad-core cpus at the top end and drop the price of the low end dual-cores as well as lower the video card prices.
    The I-macs have laptop parts and don't work that well for people that have good screens. Also they force you to get a bigger screen if you want a better video, faster cpu, or bigger HD.
  • by jorghis (1000092) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:46PM (#18228700)
    So the article is saying that because Apple charges more for their computers, resulting in higher profit margins, MS is doomed? The article tries to make it sound like Apple is making more because they arent paying license fees to MS, but in reality they are charging a HUGE premium for their operating system. Compare the price differential of a mac with an equivalent hardware dell, its quite large.

    There are so many things in this article that make no sense.

    The author claims that the ipod and iphone are going to be major factors in killing the windows monopoly.

    The author actually claims that consumers are willing to pay more for laptops because of resale value. I reread that like 5 times to make sure I wasnt reading it wrong.

    This sounds like just another fanboy who wants to see Apple win and is grasping at straws for reasons why it will happen.
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:56PM (#18228790)
    First of all, Apple is in the entertainment business as well, so the profits need to be spread over more than just computers; although they do make more per machine than most PC manufacturers.

    But even if Vista stumbles - as the author points out - users stay with an existing MS OS rather than dump MS altogether as Apple owners did when the ][ line dies (I was one to the bitter end) or when Apple failed to keep pace. What Apple has to overcome (as does Linux) is the huge installed base and apps that run on it. The switch to x86 architecture made it even tougher to move to the Mac given the lack of native binary apps for it; such as Photoshop whose CS2 is a bit slow on the newer Macs (CS3 is nice but not yet out).
    iPhone - that looks to be a questionable product; given Apple has apparently hobbled it from the get go.

    And this is my perspective as a Mac (and Windows) user.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:04PM (#18228878) Homepage Journal
    Actually, no, this article drives home the point that from Apple's point of view, they SHOULDNT release Osx86. They are making more per box then Dell. If they came out with OSX86, most of the people that would buy it would probably be people that would buy Apple hardware anyway. I'm sure there are a small percentage of people that refuse to buy Apple hardware, but the losses in profits in other areas would dwarf this small gain. So really they would be losing a ton of money for a small increase in market share. They went through this before with the clones. I hate to break it to you, but Apple exists to make a profit. They do that by making things people want to buy at prices that people are willing to pay. I'm sure they have thought about doing so, and came to the conclusion that it would be folly. Apple isn't exactly bleeding cash if you noticed....
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:07PM (#18228892)
    I think Apple's in a good position for the next generation of end-user computing. Once all the "fat client" applications migrate fully online, it won't matter what the user interface on the desktop is like. As long as a web browser is there, it shouldn't matter. Right now, they have a lot of work to do. There's a whole generation of software developers who are used to the Windows platform, and the majority of businesses use Windows as their core desktop computing environment.

    Once people sit down and poke around with a Mac, they're usually happy with it. The interface isn't as much of a stretch from Windows, and the OS is designed to keep the user unaware of what's going on under the hood.

    Desktop PCs are going away, and eventually full laptops might follow. The only things that remain to be solved are: (1) Web applications need a user interface that's as fast as a desktop one, and (2) Either people have to give up their privacy and let third parties hold all their data, or local storage needs to be merged with these connected apps.

    I'd love to use Macs at work, but our industry uses custom Windows applications that won't be ported in the near future. Getting people to develop for MacOS would be a big step toward business acceptance. Virtualization is great, but it needs to be simple. MacOS did this by placing "Classic" (Mac OS 9) apps in a seamless virtual environment. Users didn't even need to think about it, and that was important. There were _a lot_ of classic apps that needed to be emulated. It would be cool to do that for Windows apps, but I doubt it's ever going to happen.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mattsson (105422) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:09PM (#18228902) Homepage Journal
    Exactly.
    Apple does not compete directly with Microsoft and won't do until they release an OS that run on industry-standard x86-boxes instead of just Apple-proprietary x86-boxes.

    As people who run Apple often tell me when I whine about OSX not running on standard hardware; Apple is a hardware-company who makes an OS so that their customers can have something to run on their boxes, and they put a lot of effort into making it not run on non-apple hardware.
    Microsoft is a software-company that make an OS so that their customers have something to run MS-software on.

    If Apple had been smart, they would have made a version of OSX that could run fine on last generation hardware, the one corporations are using right now, so that when the question of upgrading the corporate OS comes, it stands between upgrading the OS on every workstation to OSX or upgrading the hardware *and* upgrade to Vista on every single workstation.
  • Close but wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:13PM (#18228940)
    Linux requires less support from people with more knowledge. Which is more expensive, I do not know.
  • by avalys (221114) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:33PM (#18229096)
    "Once all the "fat client" applications migrate fully online, it won't matter what the user interface on the desktop is like"

    And when is this going to happen? The web is a terrible platform for application development. HTML is a joke, Javascript is a joke, Ajax is a joke. Every time I am forced to dabble in web development, I am amazed that people keep talking about web-based operating systems, where the browser is the only software you need to run locally.

    Developing an application for the web means you are trying to using a poorly-specified, poorly-implemented document-formatting system with some bolted-on scripting and ugly hacks (like Ajax) to write your software. It is slow, tedious, incompatible, error-prone, and completely devoid of anything resembling good software engineering. I can't imagine how much pain Google went through to write their little online office apps. The HTML-based web will never replace a desktop operating system - mark my words. If it does, it will us back ten years relative to what could be achieved on the desktop.

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cavtroop (859432) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:36PM (#18229124)
    You'd be able to pitch this to the high-end customer (upper execs, etc), but you'll lose them when the find out that the Mac won't work with Exchange (no, Office for Mac doesn't count, they need full-blown Outlook). Along with the other Exchange-centric plugins, suchs as Meestingplace, Blackberries, etc. MS it way too entrenched on the back end, so making the choice of MS for the desktop is a no brainer.
  • But Not Necessary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang (1023425) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:41PM (#18229150) Journal
    The problem I see is that people think that all companies buy top-of-line PCs. A Decked-out MacBook Pro? I don't think so.

    I have a feeling that a lot of companies are like the one I work for. We don't have a huge I.T. budget, so we have to be creative with our computer purchases (ie, eBay). This also means we are n-1 to n-2 generations or more on hardware, and n-1 on the operating system. Though, I should note that I work at a factory where we still have production PCs running DOS. (If it ain't broke, don't rewrite it.)

    If Apple brought their system prices down to that of the common beige box, then and only then could they hope to truly capture the corporate market at large. But, that would mean less profit per box. And, in the end, Apple doesn't seem to really be suffering, so why would they want to hamstring their bottom line? The last time I read about Apple's bottom line, it was very healthy.

    Thus, I does it really matter that Apple only has 5% (or whatever it is) of system sales?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:20PM (#18229506)
    Are you high? From your link:

    http://www.systemshootouts.org/shootouts/laptop/20 06/1115_lt1100.html [systemshootouts.org]

    The Dell has TWICE the RAM of the Apple laptop. I wouldn't want to use OS X or Windows with 512 MB of RAM, which is what the Macbook comes with. Oh yeah, the 60Gb hard drive in the Macbook is also pathetic. The Dell has twice that. As well as twice the number of USB ports (I routinely use all 4 of mine so that's a requirement) and a bigger screen. The flash memory slot is also very useful for anyone with a digicam.
    All the other piddling differences are inconsequential. I don't give a crap about the webcam and the 6 pin firewire. The software differences that the author says are the Mac's advantage are a matter of preference. Although I'm not a Windows fan, you can't just declare a winner between the two OS's as easily as saying that a faster processor is better than a slower one.

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by calciphus (968890) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:25PM (#18229564)
    I think you're right in a lot of ways. I work for a software consulting company. We go in to big corporations and write custom apps to do internal process things - like workflow management. We write everything as an online app, and the entire office codes on Linux and OSX. Nevertheless, I'd say about 99% of the machines at our customer's places (especially for running things like shipping/inventory) are desktops that were cheap 5 years ago. But they run the one app they need to (and it happens to be a Windows app) and there's no need to replace them with even a $500 machine, no matter who makes it.

    And while some exec might get a MacBookPro and just love it, the tech guy (who's made a living the last 10 years) will push back just as hard, even harder, because he doesn't know how to / is biased against supporting Macs. And who do you think they're going to listen to on a tech decision? The tech guy. Upper management makes bad suggestions on technology all the time. Tech guys rein them back in. That's their job. Otherwise the whole office would be "Grape" ;)
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:34PM (#18229662)
    While I agree that Apple doesn't necessarily fit the generic corp desktop, I wonder if it might just be a matter of grabbing the executives who are always in the market for premium computing hardware.

    Although I very much agree that many execs would love a notebook like the Macbook, specs and look & feel are often not the overriding considerations. The biggest factor Apple would have to deal with is, "is it a business computer?"

    It's not just that businesses are only ignoring Macs for large-scale purchases, they also avoid Dell and HP consumer lines like the plaque. They ignore high-end boutique shops like Alienware as well (yes, I do know they were bought by Dell). There are a lot of reasons for this. Specialty pricing oriented toward business needs; longer life-cycles; business-oriented technologies like disk encryption and fingerprint readers; and business tools like RMA streamlining and specialty deployment tools all combine to make business lines much more desirable to businesses, even though they might look quite a lot like consumer computers on the surface.

    Macs may have some feature that certain businesses like. They've obviously aligned their high-end desktops to the needs of the design and graphics arts communities and those business appear to be quite happy. Even many big business buy Macs for a very small percentage of their employees, usually in marketing. But Apple is very far from being able to offer the kind of packages that will be compelling to most large business for large-scale deployment. Unless Apple makes a concerted effort to give these kinds of customers what they feel they need, they're going to find it very hard to move into this space.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locutus (9039) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:44PM (#18229788)
    Let me get this straight, you expect the same execs who are currently dictating down to the masses that they must use Microsoft toothpicks, MS toilet paper, and all the other Microsoft crap but somehow they are going to want to get Apple Macs on THEIR desktops? Not sure what world you live in but it ain't gonna happen in the one I live in. These people don't read anything but the "One Microsoft Way" journal and are already telling their underlings to start planning to move to MS Windows Vista cause it's everything they need and wanted.

    And like someone else already mentioned, Apple is but one PC seller. Microsoft has Dell, HP/Compaq, Lenovo, etc tied to MS Windows with service contracts and advertising $$$. They aren't leaving MS Windows and Joe Public takes what's provided and wants it because it's on everyone elses computer too. So thinking Apple is going anywhere outside its niche is a pipe dream. They might grow in areas outside of MS Windows( everything non-PC centric ) but NOT on the Desktop or server. IMO.

    LoB
  • Re:Cheaper? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dfghjk (711126) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:49PM (#18229870)
    "If the Mac reached a 20% market share, that could be the critical mass. It would make more developers make apps for it, which would make even more people get Macs, which would make more developers make apps for it, which... well, you get the idea." ...but none of that will help Apple penetrate a huge portion of the overall market--the corporate desktop. Large businesses and government frequently will not accept sole source suppliers, so until Apple opens up the platform to others it will be locked out. Apple accepts this, at least publicly.

    Don't know what all this talk is about anyway. There's an assumption that Aple's grand strategy is to undermine the Windows monopoly and I don't see that as being the case. The author says "Apple doesn't have to take a majority share of the desktop market to win, it only needs to take the most valuable segments of the market." but the question is "win what?" Apple, by his own arguments, is already winning. It is maintaining its brand image, it has a number of successful products, it is very profitable, and its stock is highly valued.

    The article is written with the characteristic Apple slant. The history told is incomplete and overinflates Apple's relevance in the PC world while ignoring the fact that Microsoft had significant competitors. It denigrates PCs, calling them "e-waste" and claiming there's no innovation in them while ignoring that all the R&D that produces them is what makes Mac hardware today. It claims that Macs, though lower volume, represent the cream of the crop even though the true "cream of the crop" is the business PC that Apple doesn't produce. It consistently confuses Apple's competitors and uses improper metrics to argue that Apple is "large enough". All in all, it's an Apple-centric view of the world and history---not especially accurate, not offering any new or interesting insight, and not built on a sound premise in the first place. A worthless waste of time.
  • Insightful Troll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:49PM (#18229874) Journal
    Grandparent is an insightful troll.

    Apple controls the hardware, and prevents anyone from making other hardware on which to run Mac OS X. It's not just a matter of saying it's "unsupported", they actually go out of their way to make sure it does not happen.

    You'll also notice many of the same strange practices as Microsoft, only moreso. Where is the option to set the default web browser? Why, it's in the Safari control panel! Just like similar options -- email client, HTML editor, etc -- are on the "Internet Options" control panel on Windows -- but that is actually in Control Panel, not just in IE.

    Upgrades are more frequent and cost more, and are less compatible with previous versions than any Microsoft OS -- except Vista, maybe, but that seems likely to change.

    And look at how they are handling the iPhone. NO third-party apps, the end. I don't like Windows Mobile either -- I'd prefer a nice Linux handheld (and these do exist) -- but at least Windows Mobile encourages third-party development. Even my cell phone, a Java piece of shit, allows me to download third-party apps to it.

    And as much as I wanted to thank Apple for supporting standards (Safari passes Acid2) and open source (they sent patches back to Konqueror), I've found that I actually have more freedom on Windows than I do on OS X.

    I still run Linux as my main desktop, and I might even still use OS X on my Powerbook (if I got it fixed), but that's because OS X is a good OS, not because I like Apple or wish them to take over the world. They strike me as somewhat less evil than Microsoft (their stuff actually works, and they do actually innovate), but far, far more proprietary.
  • by earnest murderer (888716) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @06:01PM (#18230030)
    I've got Karma to burn, so I'll say it...

    As someone who has used a mac daily for 20 years and liked it, I'd also like to see Apple gain significant ground. But it isn't going to happen until some changes are made. At a fundamental level Apple culture is in opposition to what the mass market and corporations need. Frankly OS X is not as polished as XP in many important area's. Certainly OS X has groovy features, but a surprising amount of really basic stuff is problematic. Today alone I bumped up against window management inconsistency, finder cock-ups, and plain old reproducible bugs. I'm not talking matters of taste, I'm specifically talking about fuck-ups. Windows certainly has it's share of bugs, but here is a key difference...

    Microsoft documents problems, workarounds and limitations in their "knowledge base". It's not perfect, it doesn't get everything right but it's a sight better than posting manuals on the support web site and calling the job done. Refusing to talk about failure does not make you a success any more than wearing a merkin cures syphilis. Apple would have you believe that they are the panacea while ignoring buggy/broken features between major releases. As if to say "Our software is perfect until we charge you for a perfecter version".

  • Terminal Server (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amsr (125191) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:02PM (#18230852)
    Terminal Server/Citrix solves the problem of having to run Windows apps. Just get a beast Dell server and give everyone a login. Problem solved... :-)
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:08PM (#18230918) Homepage Journal
    Also, it's occasionally argued that it's good for developers to have underpowered machines, forcing them to avoid bloat.
  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:46PM (#18231310)

    Once all the "fat client" applications migrate fully online

    You know, this sounds just like what they were saying 10 years or so ago.

    You'll notice that it hasn't yet happened. Google would love for you to think it has, but as long as things remain broken in Safari and Opera, we aren't there yet. That's not even beginning to address the features that Google Documents is missing that we take for granted in a modern word processor.
  • by nilbog (732352) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:17PM (#18231650) Homepage Journal
    It's so difficult for me to understand why people are still making this argument. It's as if they lack even a basic understanding of how computer manufacturers work.

    CASE: I worked for a major computer manufacturer (HP). They have basically two lines of notebooks, each with several options: Consumer grade and Business Class. Consumer grade notebooks come with all the bells and whistles - built in cameras - extra media controlling buttons, glossy screens, etc. etc. etc. These were your run of the mill $500-$1500 computers. The business class machines had far fewer features. They were very basic in nature, lacked what HP deemed as modern styling, and only had basic hardware. Yet the business class machines were much more expensive.

    How could this be? The same is true of Dell, by the way, and any manufacturer that makes both grades of notebooks. Do you really think there is no difference between a $500 notebook and a $2000 notebook that have the same amount of ram and the same size hard drive? You would have to be mentally handicapped to think that your $600 Acer even compares in terms of quality to any machine that costs 3x as much. Sure, it had all the specs that make it sound great, but the fact is it's a piece of shit.

    You see manufacturers use whatever hardware is available for the cheapest price THAT DAY when making consumer grade laptops. That's why they are much less reliable and prone to problems. The quality control that goes into them is limited compared to what goes into a business class machine. You could buy two of the same model Acer computer, and find they have different internal components. One is a lemon, and one works great. With a business class HP, Dell, or Apple computer (yes, Apple's would be compared to a business class machine - not your shitty $600 computer) a run of computers all use the best hardware they were designed for and are the same across the line. Businesses are willing to pay more for the reliability and the ability to use one disk image across all the machines. You can't get that with your $600 notebook.

    The bottom line is this: You get what you pay for. There are $50k cars with smaller engines than $20k cars, but do you really think they compare? If you're a naive consumer you'll buy whatever is sold to you. You'll shop based on price and always end up with shit. If you're a discerning consumer you'll make decisions based on things that actually matter and end up getting what you paid for.

    Apples, Sonys, and other high end laptops are not overpriced. They simply lack all the cut corners that make your piece of shit $600 acer possible.
  • by fishboy (81833) <pieter&blokker,ca> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:05PM (#18232122) Homepage

    At a fundamental level Apple culture is in opposition to what the mass market and corporations need. Frankly OS X is not as polished as XP in many important area's. Certainly OS X has groovy features, but a surprising amount of really basic stuff is problematic. Today alone I bumped up against window management inconsistency, finder cock-ups, and plain old reproducible bugs. I'm not talking matters of taste, I'm specifically talking about fuck-ups. Windows certainly has it's share of bugs, but here is a key difference...
    I think that perhaps you have a differing set of criteria for "window management inconsistency", "finder cock-ups", "bugs", and what the "mass market and corporations need" than a lot of other people.

    I certainly know that one thing I treasure about the OS X experience is how much more consistent the window management is over, say, XP. Yes there are inconsistencies, but compared to windows? I get more done on programs I've never used before because the development tools on OS X allow programmers to make rational, conistent, and powerful user interfaces across the board. Yes, OS X 10.4.8 is in the middle of some sort of decision-making process about what the standard window should look like and function, but mentally I seem to be able to handle it over, say, the junk that shows up in XP.

    Finder cock-ups? Yes, they exist, but relative to windows my OS X is far more predictable. For the most part it does what it says it's going to do and stays under the radar. I don't consider being bothered by countless query dialogs a non-cock-up. In fact, it gets my cock down quite frankly.

    And let's just pretend that you didn't mention bugs. Or polish. Just how is it that you never hear Mac users bitching about their buggy OS and how nothing seems to work seamlessly?

    As for what the mass market or corporations "need", I think that an important underlying reason they don't know that they "need" a system that is intuitive, does 95% of what any PC does far better and spends less time screwing things up, is because they haven't had the opportunity to try one. Breaking into a business market that runs a lot of proprietary windows-only software is not going to happen easily for Apple with an entrenched competitor like Miscrosoft. But for common office chores the Mac excels, is cheaper to run and maintain, provides superior security, and offers higher productivity all around.

    And as far as that mass market goes, you could certainly make the argument that not only does the hardware fit what Joe six-pack is actually looking for, but the software (iLife suite) easily trumps whatever else there is out there. The iMac and the iBook are not the best selling computers ever in their class because Apple has somehow fallen off of the price point / marketing mix bus. Again, it takes time to reach a consumer sector-- but to argue that Microsoft understands the mass market better than Apple does just isn't borne out by the data or anecdotal evidence.

    Apple would have you believe that they are the panacea while ignoring buggy/broken features between major releases. As if to say "Our software is perfect until we charge you for a perfecter version".
    At least Apple is producing major releases every 18 months (not five+ years) with six-month point updates that not only fix the broken bits but actually make older machines run faster. If there is one major company out there that is at least trying to get it right, don't choose Microsoft as your answer. And don't think that M$ somehow updates their operating systems for free either.

    Refusing to talk about failure? Which company are we talking about? Personally, I think you've got the whole thing ass-backwards.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:07PM (#18233148)

    A secondary issue is that Apple probably wouldn't be able to keep up with demand for such a machine.
    As a former boss of mine used to say, "Those are problems you want to have."

    I would posit that Apple doesn't want to challenge Micros~1 yet in the work arena yet. If Microso~1 starts to feel that Macs are a threat to their cash cows, they'll start playing dirty with products that companies need that have no Apple alternative (Exchange, Office, IE, etc). Right now, Macs are great for home use because they can be used to connect to work resources, but if Microso~1 starts to sabotage that ability to inter-operate with their products, it will be a huge setback for Apple.

    Give Apple time to develop viable competitors to Microsoft in those key arenas (iCal server + Postfix/Qmail/etc to compete with Exchange, iWork to challenge Office and Safari to challenge IE) and then you'll see Apple start to provide a serious alternative for businesses. It'll only help matters if the iPhone can gain traction in the smart phone market.

    But in their current incarnations, none of those solutions is mature enough to convince anyone to switch. You have to breed out your Zerg swarm, as it were, before you mount a serious offensive. Attacking too early will only end badly.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DECS (891519) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:41PM (#18233400) Homepage Journal
    Rest assured that Mac OS X won't be selling on the shelf for PCs.

    Windows XP wasn't sold on the shelf! 80% of Microsoft's revenues come from OEM licensing, despite the fact than an OEM license costs ~$30 in volume, while a full version has been priced around $300-400. Microsoft's retail sales are low, partly because nobody needs to buy it (its on every PC), and partly because its overpriced.

    Nobody else has ever been able to sell an aftermarket PC OS: not IBM, not NeXT, not Be. Linux can't seem to give away its OS on the desktop. Why not? All are competing against the bundled Windows. It's the Windows Price Paradox [roughlydrafted.com]: nobody can compete with a product that appears to be free--while actually being massively overpriced.

    Apple is not going to trade its booming hardware sales for the chance at being the first company to ever be able to sell an OS at retail against the "free" Windows that was purchased for ~$30 by the OEM.

    Apple has absolutely no reason to be even slightly interested in replacing Windows on other maker's PCs. It wants to replace those PCs with Macs. Sales have jumped from a steady ~800k per quarter to 1600k per quarter in the last year, earning Apple a billion last quarter. With that kind of hardware growth, a retail version of Mac OS X is never going to happen.
  • What's to "win"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Odineye (989253) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:52PM (#18233464)
    I find articles like this frustrating because they miss the point of business.

     

    It's the opinion of the article's author that Apple doesn't have to take a majority share of the desktop market to win....


    What's to win? The objective of a business is to turn a profit for the stockholders. Apple is doing that, and has been doing that for some time. The only time that gaining market share is really relevant is if it contributes to the bottom line. It does not always do so. In Microsoft's case, having a large market share seems to work for them. In the case of General Motors, for example, it does not. The company has a huge (if shrinking) market share, but has not reliably turned a profit for some time.

    Thinking that gaining broad market share is the goal shows a general misunderstanding of the function of a business.
  • In any case (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:02AM (#18233524)
    In any case, if Apple really wanted to take on Microsoft, they already have everything they need. All they would have to do is drop the idea of insisting on the customer using their own hardware. If people were allowed to buy a copy of OS X to run on generic Intel or AMD hardware, I wouldn't be surprised if people flocked to it.

    There are enough people out there who groan at the constant necessity to prop up a sagging defective-by-design OS, who aren't ready to try Linux, but who have seen enough exposure to Macs to accept them as an alternative. Although I'm not a Mac fanboy, this is a situation I'd be very happy to see.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jamesmrankinjr (536093) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:24AM (#18234102) Homepage

    The company just can't ignore such a massive swath of the market and expect to really break out.

    Why should AAPL want to "break out", when they make as much profit as Dell and HP selling far fewer machines and taking on less risk?

    At this point in time, with massive commoditization of PC hardware, ignoring massive swaths of the market seems to be the right business call.

    -jimbo

  • by Tom (822) on Monday March 05, 2007 @06:57AM (#18235680) Homepage Journal

    Make iWork a competent and interoperable competitor to MS Office,
    For crying out loud, no! please no!.

    iWork is great the way it is. I don't want another overblown, feature-creeping, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink gargantuan application suite when all I need to do is write a letter or make a few slides.

    There's a place for multiple sulutions on the market. I have NeoOffice for when I need all the crap, and the more I use iWork the more I realize that I don't, most of the time.
  • Re:In any case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LKM (227954) on Monday March 05, 2007 @08:44AM (#18236120) Homepage

    Selling retail versions of operating systems has never worked. Not once. NeXT couldn't do it. Be couldn't do it. Hell, even IBM couldn't do it. And actually, Microsoft can't do it either, if you check out retail sales of Vista. Even if the OS is essentially free, most people don't want it, see Linux.

    PC owners would not buy OS X even if they could. The only people who would buy this (apart from us geeks) are current Mac owners which want to buy hardware from other manufacturers than Apple. And guess what, Apple makes more money if it sells these people hardware.

    Apple would essentially cannibalize its own hardware sales without being able to make it up due to a higher volume of software sales.

    Here's a fun fact: Most people don't buy Apple's stuff due to the marketing. They buy Apple's stuff because it works and because it's easy to use. Guess what, installing a third-party OS on a generic PC quite often doesn't work and never ends up being easy to use. Macs work because Apple controls the software as well as the hardware. Apple is able to leapfrog Microsoft with a comparably tiny budget because they don't have to be compatible with DOS software or include drivers for 10-years-old hardware and hundreds of different computer manufacturers.

  • by dick johnson (660154) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:23PM (#18239202)
    Either most posters here have missed the point of the article, or didn't bother to read it.

    He's not saying Apple will win larger market share than Microsoft.

    He's saying that Apple could capture the most valuable part of it, those willing to pay a high-end premium for their machines.

    The premise of the article is that Dell and other pc makers would be left selling very, very low-profit computers. (which from a business stand-point, is not a good business to be in)

    This has nothing to do with game computers or those willing to build their own boxes.

    It's a business story.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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