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Can Apple Take Microsoft on the Desktop? 528

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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  • Re:Cheaper? (Score:3, Informative)

    by spikexyz ( 403776 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:42PM (#18228668)
    The cost of a product is not just the cost of the box but the cost of the people to support it. Linux requires more support from people with more knowledge and hence the support is more expensive.
  • by wodgy7 ( 850851 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:50PM (#18228746)
    Interesting. The fairly large medical clinic at my university is also an all-Apple environment. (Even the TV screens in the lobby run a looped Keynote presentation.) There must be a good set of patient-management apps in the medical space for OS X. I've seen the login screen my doctor uses, but I can't remember the name of the app offhand.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:56PM (#18228798) Homepage Journal
    I for one though, do not like Apple and its OSX as a platform and wonder why people say it's very good as a platform.

    I don't like their hardware strategy, but I like OS X because it requires far less effort to maintain it than anything else I've used. I like it that there's no registry that can get corrupted such that one installer can ruin everything, and most programs don't need an installer or uninstaller (drop the program icon to trash & empty usually removes the program), and that there's nowhere nearly the dependency hell of any other OS I've used. I also like the fact that I can actually force a user account to have no admin priviledges and the software would actually work. This works under UNIX, but for my family, there's always one program that they need that pukes when it doesn't have admin priviledges.
  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:33PM (#18229090)
    I question any kind of technical superiority below the window dressing

    As a desktop system, I'd say OS X is technically superior to Linux. As far as UNIX's go, Darwin state of the art circa 1995, but its perfectly adequate for a desktop machine that doesn't need to saturate a 400 MB/sec RAID array or handle a server with a thousand concurrent threads.

    On the other hand, the graphical infrastructure is really superior. Quartz is a couple of years ahead of Cairo in maturity and performance, which is not so surprising given that its several years older. The compositing infrastructure is really mature in OS X, while its immature enough in Linux that Ubuntu still doesn't see fit to ship a compositing manger by default in Feisty Fawn. And HIView/HIToolbox (the view/control framework that's been slotted underneath Carbon and Cocoa) is miles ahead of GTK+, although the latter has a much cleaner API with less historical baggage. And DRI is just now getting some crucial features (management of GPU memory, virtualization of GPU resources) that OS X's GL stack has had for a while now.

    As for slowing down, there is really no indication that Apple is moving more slowly than Linux. It'll still be a couple of years yet before the DRI/X.org/GTK+ stack catch up with OS X 10.4, much less what's in 10.5. And there are some really fundamental problems with XRender that would keep it, without a significant redesign, from being able to support features past what Apple introduced in OS X 10.2.
  • by AaronPSU777 ( 938553 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:41PM (#18229164)
    The thing is with Apple you only have one supplier, Apple, and one price, what they say is what you pay, you can't shop around at all. With PC's you have dozens of supplier to choose from. So finding a PC maker that is selling a system at a similar price to a similar Apple system is not difficult. However it is also not difficult to find PC makers selling systems at a lower price than Apple, it's called shopping around, something you are unable to do when buying from Apple.

    So yes, you can show me plenty of examples of expensive PC's and say Apple is on par with pricing. But I can reply right back; I just bought an Acer Aspire 5102: dual-core AMD processor, 1 gig of ram, 120 gig harddrive, 15.4" screen, dvd-burner, built in webcam and ati graphics. All of it for 675 bucks, delivered to my door, for just an hour or two shopping around on the internet. Show me an Apple laptop even close to that configuration for that price and I'll eat my hat.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Informative)

    by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:56PM (#18229306)
    "It coudl cause a push for some companies to adopt cheap Macs on the desktop. Maybe if Apple can bring the price of the Mini back down."

    It is not a question of cost. Mac are quite competitive compared to equivalent machine. The problem is the range of available machine. You have a *very* limited subset of hardware you can choose from Apple, and all of them are designed either for home ( cheap one ) or for very top of the range professional ( MacBook Pro, MacPro )

    There is no average common machine. Example: The mac mini is slightly underspec for a developer ( mainly: harddisk sucks, only 2 GB memory max ) and the design is completely irrelevant: we have all plenty of lost space under the desk. My company buys beige ibm/dell boxes with the same spec as the mini and roughly the same price, but the fact that the dell/ibm come with standard disk in a standard ugly box is seen as a benefit, unlike in my livingroom.
    Off course, there is the mac pro, but it is completely overkill, both in cost and performance. ( Again, not saying it is not competitive against similar spec machine, but that's the equivalent of 'if a knife is not good enough for hunting, we also sell machine guns' )

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:2, Informative)

    by UnxMully ( 805504 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:16PM (#18229472)
    Because first you need to find a computer user who "just wants email/browsing/office and access to some apps through a browser".

    The grand parent was talking about the corporate market and so was I. You're correct about the home market, but not a locked down business.

    Among home users this excludes games; among corporate users this excludes most of business software that is out there (assuming MS Office for Mac is procured and tested for compatibility.) Training of the employees is a problem as well. Myself, I have an old PowerBook 5300ce somewhere, and it still works, but when I tried to use it the experience was far from intuitive. That was with MacOS 9.x IIRC, I can't say if the modern OSX is more Windows-like (to appease the Windows users.)

    The corporate I work far has all it's business apps written in Java. Theoretically there's nothing to stop them switching to OSX.

    In other words, nobody is interested in the limited choice that you offer. But you are not the first to offer it; a number of "thin computing" companies, starting with Sun, tried to promote this concept.

    Except that it wasn't what I was suggesting.

    They all failed so far, because hardly any modern app (like Outlook 2007) can run in a browser. In a pinch you can use Webmail, but it is light years behind the native, local code. If you own a computer you might as well use it to its full potential.

    Have you tried OWA recently? I realise it's not the argument I was making but it works extremely well. Even using Safari. And like I said, I wasn't suggesting a thin client.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:22PM (#18229528)
    Everytime I compare Apple to Dell for purchasing buisness equipment I find the Apple gear is more expensive. Sure, if you go ahead and look on Dell's site and pick something you think 'exactly matches' the Apple you can maybe convince yourself that the price is OK. But that is not how buisnesses shop.

    Case in point, last year I bought a bunch of new workstations from Dell. The requirement was simple: least expensive Core 2 Duo with 2G RAM and dual DVI video (external monitor). Dell sold them to me for ~1100$ CAN. Apple's cheapest comparable is a Mac Pro starting at over 2.5k!

    This years purchase is going to be least expensive core 2 duo with 1GB ram and 1600x1200 LCD display. Dell will sell me that configuration for around 1300-1400$. Where is apple? 1600$ CAN for a 20" imac with an inferior display or 2400$ for a good 1920x1200 display. No thanks.

    How about least expensive system for light use? Dell will sell me an Optiplex for 429$ CAN while the cheapest possible Apple is 679$.

    What about a workstation for technical computing with 16 GB of RAM and dual 2GHz Xeons? Dell: ~5000$ CAN, Apple: 9200$ - In what world is this a comparable price? Apple's prices for RAM upgrades are insane.

    For Apple to have a chance they need to either provide greater customization at a fair price, or choose market segmentations that make more sense to business customers not home users.

    As long as Apple continues to segment their market like this they will loose out on price to the likes of Dell that will give you exactly what you need and charge a fair price for it.
  • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:31PM (#18229626)
    Instead taking an Apple computer, and then trying to configure a PC to be similar, turn it the other way. Take a bunch of random PC's, and try to get an Apple computer with the same features. Due to Apple's limited selection of hardware, almost always, the Apple computer is going to be more expensive (though you will end up with features the PC doesn't have, that doesn't mean I want to pay for them). This is especially due to the fact that you have to move up pretty far into Apple's line up to get features found on basic and mid-range PCs, like a 3.5" harddrives, expansion slots, and non-integrated graphics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @06:25PM (#18230344)
    This story and thread is another fanboy fest. Apple does cost more and any consumer who goes out and comparison shops, instead of reading some carefully prepared "comparison" written by some fanboy with an agenda, knows it. That's why Apple doesn't set industry standards and has single digit market share and it's why they will always be in that position.

    And for every fanboy who mentions it - other than apple fanboys and a relative handful of people who have specific needs, nobody gives a shit about firewire. most people have no clue what it is and no desire for it, and if they had it, they probably wouldn't use it anyway.
  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @06:57PM (#18230770)
    The E1505 is a completely different class of machine. It's a full pound heaver, a third of an inch thicker, an inch and a quarter wider, and an inch and a half deeper.

    In the laptop market, the price of the machine isn't just proportional to the specifications, but to the size, weight, and build materials. Smaller machines cost more to build, and they sell for more. The E1505 is bigger, heavier, and (from direct experience), more cheaply built. No surprise that its cheaper. Indeed, its no surprise that its cheaper than Dell's own Latitude, which is more expensive than the E1505 precisely because its smaller and better-built.

    The MacBook's closest competitors, from the point of view of specifications and form-factor, are the Vaio C series, ThinkPad T 14.1", the Latitude D620, and Asus's 13.3" model. Relative to the Vaio, the MacBook has more features for the same price and similar build quality. Relative to the ThinkPad, it is heavier and a bit less sturdy, but with a better screen and more features at a slightly lower price. Relative to the D620 its better built and has a better screen for a slightly higher price. And its almost identical to the Asus model at the same price.

    When I bought my MacBook, I did some comparison shopping. In its size/weight category, its really hard to find a better notebook at the price. You can get bigger features by going to a bigger form-factor, but lugging around a 15" laptop is a PITA. You can also save money by going with less performance (in particular, dropping the dual core or going to an AMD chip will save you a lot of money). However, if you want a fast dual-core machine in a mid-sized form-factor, the MB is a great choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:25PM (#18231086)
    Mac and Linux are fine, if the apps you use run on them. So for those few web/graphics people and those who only need email and internet and some word processing, it's fine. For those who need pretty much anything else, in pretty much most other industries, they need Windows.

    At my work, Mac or Linux would be fine if our CRM software ran on it. Along with the 12+ different document viewing packages we need in interact with customers and clients oh and our accounting software. Sorry Mac and Linux loose out on 90% of the software we use. The same can be said about all other companies working in the financial/insurance/real estate industry.

    At my old job, Mac or Linux would be fine if the most widely used, popular CAD package in existence ran on them as well as the different document viewing packages needed.

    Mac and Linux have decades to wait until they get any more penetration than they have in the corporate environment. They both blew their chance when the computing world was small and fast and quick to change. Now it's big and slow and one company has the majority of the desktop OS and thus the majority of applications developed run on that OS as it's more cost effective. Thus corporations choose that OS and the apps that run on that OS because it's more prolific and better supported. Install Linux on your desktop and try to find someone on your street that can help with problems, probably not going to happen. Though you may end up talking to Vlad 2000 miles away because he's the only other person on the planet whose ran into the same problem you have. Install Windows and you will likely find someone with at least 1/2 a clue to be able to help with your problem or over pay at CompUSA or Best Buy for "support". You may even hit the internet where 1000s of other people have had your problem and found a solution. Either way support is close at hand. Install Mac and do what 99% of all Mac users do when they run into problems, go to the one and only store that supports Mac within a 600 mile radius and over pay for someone to fix your problem. Why would you search on how to fix it yourself? That's the the Mac user asks themselves as they have money to burn.
  • by AISI ( 1071774 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:16AM (#18234040) Homepage

    According to Intel and IDC, the HOME pc market is only 10% of the total PC market...

    The consumer market is 40-50 percent of the total PC market [idctracker.org].

    if apple has 3-4% marketshare and we know they dont sell much to the business market.

    You think that Apple is mostly selling to consumers? You're wrong.

    "Apple's Macs are primarily targeted at three core markets: consumer segment (25% of Apple's PC business), education (33%), and SMB with a strong focus on creative professionals." (Deutsche Bank report citing IDC figures [paisdigital.org])

    Apple is selling hundred thousands of Macs in the education sector, in this earnings call transcript [seekingalpha.com] Tim Cook mentions two large contracts totaling 50,000 units and this is not an uncommon occurrence.

    "Ten percent of the Company's net sales in 2006 were through its U.S. education channel, including sales to elementary and secondary schools, higher education institutions, and individual customers." (Annual annual report 2006 [corporate-ir.net])

    Apple is also doing well outside of the U.S., last year a Gartner analyst told Macworld: "For the first time, Apple is number one in the EMEA education market with 11.6 per cent of the market in Q3/2006 against 9.6 per cent in Q3/2005."

    they might have at least a 1/3 or more right now of the home market.

    Apple is gaining market share in the consumer segment, in Q2 2005 Apple's share increased to 5.5 percent in the U.S. and 3.1 percent worldwide (Deutsche Bank report citing IDC figures [paisdigital.org]). It must be higher by now, but nowhere near 33 percent!

  • Re:Insightful Troll (Score:5, Informative)

    by gig ( 78408 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @02:33AM (#18234550)
    > Where is the option to set the default web browser? Why, it's in the Safari control panel!

    Similarly, the option to set Firefox as the default Web browser is in Firefox.

    If you don't like Safari, follow these steps:

    1) drag the Safari icon to the Trash
    2) optionally, empty the Trash
    3) no step 3

    Compare to "uninstalling IE" on Windows.

    > 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.

    On the Mac, this is decentralized. Rather than tell the system what is your default editor for files that end in ".html", you tell the actual files. So if you want to always open ".html" files with Dreamweaver, then select an ".html" file and choose File > Get Info and in the inspector that appears, under Open With you can choose Dreamweaver and then click the button right next to that: "use this application to open all documents like this".

    When you open a document on the Mac, the document tells the system what app to use. This enables you to have the freedom to set different HTML files to open in different applications. For example you could have the files on your Web server all set to open in BBEdit for editing, but the files that are floating around your Desktop could be set to Firefox for viewing.

    > And look at how they are handling the iPhone. NO third-party apps, the end

    You are wrong in a number of ways:

    1) third-party apps will be available for purchase through iTunes just like iPod games, Steve said this himself the day of the announcement, the main point regarding third-party apps is that the user will not be able to download-and-install on the iPhone itself as a security measure ... everything executable gets onto the iPhone through iTunes, same as iPod

    2) iPhone has a standard Web browser in it with HTML 4, CSS 2.1, JavaScript 1.5 therefore it runs every application on the Web right out of the box with no installing, e.g. you have Flickr and eBay ready to go instead of being able to install Tic Tac Toe

    3) most of the third-party apps for current smart phones are either built into the iPhone (e.g. audio/video player) or the iPhone doesn't need them (e.g. memory optimizers that help you get more out of your 128 MB)

    4) iPhone has an iPod dock connector, therefore it runs over 3000 iPod accessories and more to come ... rather than "installing software" with iPod accessories you just hook them on and they work because the software part is already in the iPod like a driver ... imagine if hardware makers gave their drivers to Microsoft and you the user just plugged stuff in and it works ... that's how Apple does it

    So the iPhone is not going to be empty at all. You are going to have Web applications, you are going to have all kinds of stuff coming over from your iTunes (your audio/video, iPhone apps, Contacts, etc.) and you are going to have iPod accessories. And with 8 GB of storage it is going to make the "freedom" of other smart phones look ludicrous.

    > Apple controls the hardware, and prevents anyone from making other hardware on which to run Mac OS X.

    No, they don't. Mac OS X itself requires Apple hardware because that is what it was designed for. Apple is not under any obligation to imitate Microsoft's business practices or licensing customs. Now that HP has destroyed its own OS projects it does not have a right to Apple's OS on the same terms it made with Microsoft.
  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @06:34AM (#18235608)

    Microsoft invented the "Virtualized Desktop"? Perhaps you forgot about the webserver
    I'm not really sure where to start replying to this. Not only have you completely misunderstood what I was talking about, but you don't seem to know anything about virtualisation or thin clients. Thin clients (effectively a display server) + a virtualised OS is not the same as a webserver serving web based applications. They are completely different technologies.

    It was invented on NeXTSTEP by a guy named Tim
    Yes I know who Tim Berners-Lee is. I was already using the internet for email and ftp access to remote files before the Tim did that work, and remember the birth of the web as we know it today very well. Not that there was much internet access from Corporate networks back then. We had to run TCP/IP over DECnet on a MIPS box running Ultrix to hook up to the wider internet.

    Seriously, how can you be so ignorant? You're impressed by old technology and think the world is doing well under the thumb of an incompetent monopoly?
    You know you really should read up on things before you dis 'em. You have no clue what the problem is that Athena was created to tackle, and 16 years later HP have done the same with VDI. It's about management overhead. Not access to information/apps.

    You seem to think the worlds IT problems can be fixed by putting everything onto web servers providing anywhere access. All well and good, but what that doesn't address is the thousands of desktops in an organisation that have to be installed, patched and tailored to the configuration the user of that PC needs, i.e. fat clients. The big problem with this model is that it requires a huge investment in manpower and time to make it work. Plus in many cases it ties people to just one PC/workstation, or a small group of PCs/workstations with the same config. There's no flexibility and it's an expensive management headache.

    Project Athena fixed this by having the workstation do an extremely fast network boot that loaded a root f/s and a skinny OS, with the usr and var filesystems remotely mounted on centrally controlled servers. Data and applications (if I remember right) were provided using AFS (the Andrews Filesystem) and bundled into containers. The whole thing was centrally managed and at its height there were 20,000 campus workstations supported by just 6 members of staff. Any student could use any one of the 20,000 workstations and guarantee their environment would be the same. This should have been a smash hit, but it was the 15K to 5K price difference between RISC workstations .vs. cheaper PCs that killed it.

    HP's VDI solves the same problem. The thin desktop clients are cheap and dumb. They connect to generic Windows instances running under VMware and the user environment is layered on top at login time. The thin desktop clients can be deployed en-mass as throw away items, which means you don't need a small army of support staff in your remote offices to manage them. It solves a very real management problem in the Enterprise today, one that's not solved by just converting all your apps to web based apps.

    Do Apple have anything like this today? No. Do I wish they did? Yes. But Apple are not targeting the Enterprise (yet) and you should know that in your position. You don't do Apple any favors by pretending otherwise.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"