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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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  • On the Other hand (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:46PM (#18228702) Journal
    We have these PC vs Mac Spoof videos []

    all have some humor, and some have a point.

    nicely done.
  • MS Office (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:55PM (#18228786) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Apple is competing against Microsoft's offerings, but it's not a retail software battle. Apple is using its integrated software to eat up the prime portions of the PC hardware market.

    Nonsense. If they are chasing the corporate market, the key is MS Office, not one OS or the other. The minute that Office for the Mac starts to slip significantly behind in compatibility with the Windows version there will be few corporations that will chose Macs over PCs.

    Regardless of what the fanboys believe there's nothing in the Mac's "integrated software" that's a make or break Corporate feature.

    (ps - comment written on a G4 Powerbook)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:57PM (#18228802)

    Seriously, Linux may still not quite be there, but at the rate it is improving, it will exceed both Windows and OS X as a desktop platform within the next few years.

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Interesting)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @03:58PM (#18228826)

    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.

    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. A decked out MacBook Pro is nothing to scoff at and it may just be a matter of getting execs to try them. 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. Ultimately, I think it simply comes down to breaking the Windows addiction. Paralells is great and all, but does it really make sense for companies to run BOTH OS X and Windows on each desktop? Because you know they're still going to be using some Windows/DOS app that they just can't get rid of..


  • People are switching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ernst_mulder ( 166761 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:00PM (#18228844) Homepage
    For the past 12 years or so I work for a company providing IT support for Macs. For 11 and a half years the Mac world of our customer base this: Mac users bought more Macs and in some unfortunate cases switched to PC's (mostly because of corporate decisions high up in the company's hierarchy).

    Lately something strange is happening.

    Firstly for the first time in these 12 years I have to help customers switch over from PC's to Macs.

    Secondly I've had PC customers buy Macs for their looks and running Windows XP natively as if they were PC's.

    The first is happening mostly with small companies and home users, the latter also in bigger companies.

    So, Apple in the latter case does seem to gain on the desktop but not necessarily taking on Microsoft.

    Very strange.
  • by UnxMully ( 805504 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:22PM (#18229006)
    ...most programs don't need an installer or uninstaller (drop the program icon to trash & empty usually removes the program...

    And the odd applications that do require an installer I tend to look on with some level of suspicion. So what are you doing and why? How do I uninstall you when I decide I don't want you any more?

    TextWrangler has some method of enabling command line tools which doesn't have an equivalent disable which leaves me feeling edgy about what kind of cruft can be left behind. Not that OSX cares either way, I just get a touch of OCD about untidy systems.
  • by Slorv ( 841945 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:46PM (#18229206) Homepage
    >The I-macs have laptop parts

    We have about 40 of them, 17" and 20" mixed and they are more than fast enough for office use. MS Office for macs is not however...

    >and don't work that well for people that have good screens.

    The iMac screens are good enough for office use. I agree the 17" is a bit small but the 20" is great. My exprience is that in an office environment you need screen real state and speed not effects or calibrated colors. If you work with graphics (in an office) and need better precision, simply get a Mac Pro.

    >Also they force you to get a bigger screen if you want a better video, faster cpu, or bigger HD.
    I fully agree. This old and still very strange policy is one thing I don't like with Apple.

    Apples problem getting in to the office market has less to do with hw and more with sw and more importantly Apple own lack of interest in getting into this market.

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

    by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:46PM (#18229222) Homepage

    If Apple could even reach %20 market share, thats still less than a minor threat to Microsoft, and Linux hasnt even seen a 5% share of desktops.... So a loss of %25 market share for desktops would make microsoft angry, but by no means "bring the giant down".

    Well, not, but it's a start.

    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.

    And consider: these days, when people think "computer", they usually mean "Microsoft Windows". Why? Because Windows is so ubiquitous that they don't know anything else. If another system took a decent chunk of the market, people would know there's something else out there, and would look into it. And they'd end up checking other systems as well. Mostly Linux, but a few even daring tread into the "extreme nerd niche" of Solaris, QNX, Haiku, MenuetOS, SkyOS, Syllable...

    With Vista getting little praise from disappointed reviewers, Apple getting big bucks and high praise, Linux constantly improving, and the ubiquity and platform-agnosticism of the internet... maybe Microsoft won't just fall, but their slice could be about to get a lot smaller!
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:59PM (#18229328) Homepage Journal

    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.
    It gets scant mention in the article, but a valid point is made that, as far as the corporate world is concerned Linux is increasingly looking like a good option. When you don't have to worry about the latest webcams working, and have an IT staff to manage everything Linux on the desktop is very feasible. Indeed Novell and Redhat are making inroads in this area. What this means is that Microsoft could find itself getting squeezed if Dell and Gateway start co-operating with Novell, Redhat, and/or Canonical on desktop Linux for the corporate world and MacOS X takes over the home user market. The fact that, relatively speaking, Mac and Linux play nicely with each other (compared to Windows and Mac, or Windows and Linux) only makes such a scenario more interesting. In practice, of course, MS still has quite the stranglehold on the corporate desktop. Linux is, these days, good enough to take on MS toe to toe in market, but MS started with a massive advantage and aren't about to give an inch. It will take a long time before Linux makes enough of a dent in the corporate desktop market for ny of this to really matter.
  • by dudeX ( 78272 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:02PM (#18229350)
    and while I saw a lot of people in the store checking out the wares, one thing that I noticed was that on the line for the cash register was that most people had iPod related products and accessories. And as I was walking around the store looking at the prices, it made me realize that Apple has way too much of a premium for their products, except for their high end stuff which can actually be a good deal.

    What Apple needs is a desktop system that is in between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro. The so called xMac would be something I can see a lot of corporations adopting if they needed something that offers more flexibility than the Mac Mini, and as well as regular end users who wish to use beefier graphic cards to play their favorite games. The same goes for their laptop lines, they need Mac Books with larger screens without the speed range of the Mac Book Pro. And if they price it right, even with a small premium, many people will buy these middle of the road systems.

    This year I am going to switch to a Mac Pro system cause, frankly I am tired of Windows and its potential security problems like IE exploits and Vista's attempt to lock you into Microsoft further, and Linux feels too kludgy on the desktop for me to bother with. Plus I always have the option of running Windows when I feel like it with Parallels/BootCamp.

    There is one advantage to Apple products that PCs don't have. Because you pay a premium for their products, they depreciate a lot slower. You will find on eBay and other marketplaces that old Powerbooks and G5s still sell for about 60-80% of the original price. Some stores like PowerMax let you trade in old systems as well.

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:07PM (#18229396)
    "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."

    And Apple may not even want that market.

    But all this, _pace_ the gentleman who orginally said the title was incorrect, *is* still a problem for MS. It seems a fair bet that Apple will continue to expand in the premium desktop space, and if the OEMs like Gateway and Dell are losing in consequence, so is MS.

    In addition, as RDF hinted, in the corporate world and for commodity desktops the more time that passes the more attractive Linux looks. So MS stands to get squeezed from two directions.

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:14PM (#18229456)

    If Apple really wants to gain marketshare, they need to do two things:

    1. Make iWork a competent and interoperable competitor to MS Office, or throw their weight behind OOo. Either way, ODF needs to be supported on Macs, if only to push MS into a corner.
    2. Cozy up to game developers and make the Mac a viable gaming platform.

    Otherwise, Apple will continue to be stuck with their current demographic, which is largely based on creative-type users and a halo effect from them and the iPod. Mac sales will jump again in the next few months all due to Adobe finally releasing CS3.

    "Being cool" will only get Apple so far. They have to play the game and get the work done, and allow their users to do the same.

  • by TopSpin ( 753 ) * on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:14PM (#18229458) Journal
    License OS X to all comers. If Microsoft can get $399 for it's bloatware, Apple can get it too, and I'd pay it, as would a lot of you, even sans support. I can imagine by 2010 more than half the geek desktops on Earth running it as primary. At that point all the doors open.

    I am not buying Apple's (or anyone else's) proprietary stack. Reread that last sentence until it registers. It applies even if the platform is only proprietary in the legal sense, as is mostly the case with Apple's hardware. The full stack chip to terminal business model declined sometime in the mid 80s and it is not coming back. It persists in some boutique niches, where Apple lives today, and that is as far as it will ever get.

    No one vendor can scale well enough to satisfy the entire world of computing. AMD exists to make x86 scale to the market. Nvidia and ATI carry on because the market wants options. There has always been a plethora of storage vendors and that isn't going to change, because that is what the market insists on. The market has no trouble finding room for multiple competitive, successful game console vendors. The epiphany required to regress all of this back to the days of the One True Vendor is fantasy.

    There has never been a better time for a rebel to chuck a sledgehammer through the screen. Vista sucks and few of us really want it. Less than a quarter of Apple's revenue comes from desktop/laptop hardware (linky []). Why not risk some of that hardware revenue and take 50% of Microsoft's OS market?

  • Re:incorrect title (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CryBaby ( 679336 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:41PM (#18229766)
    Absolutely. It's the lack of Exchange integration that keeps Macs out of most offices. Apple's upcoming open source calendar server [] might change that. If Apple can make a compelling case for replacing Exchange with iCal Server in an all-Windows environment, then the door starts to open for Macs on the corporate desktop.
  • by furry_wookie ( 8361 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:44PM (#18229790)

    Well, there is the potential for Apple to take over the home market.

    According to Intel and IDC, the HOME pc market is only 10% of the total PC market... if apple has 3-4% marketshare and we know they dont sell much to the business market.... they might have at least a 1/3 or more right now of the home market.

    If they get to the 5% range, then they could start to approach even being the #1 home computer.

  • by trimbo ( 127919 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @05:44PM (#18229794) Homepage
    From the summary: 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.

    So by changing the definition of "win", Apple can "win." Meanwhile, back in reality, as long as there are hundreds of millions more machines being sold that run only Linux and Windows and can't run MacOS X, there's no way for Apple to "win" the desktop market.

    Why do Slashdot moderators post this Roughly Drafted guy's blog rants? He's an unapologetic Apple fanboy and pulls stuff out of his ass. Take this quote for example: "Just like Apple in 1990, Microsoft appeared untouchable in 2000.... Apple also didn't count on Microsoft offering much of a threat, since the company's Windows product had been an embarrassing joke until 1990, and was still laughably behind.". First of all, why does Windows seem any less touchable now than 7 years ago? They still dominate the desktop. And it must have been a different 1990 he was living in because Microsoft had already locked up the desktop business market by 1990. LOTUS 1-2-3 and Wordperfect were the #1 applications in their space, and they ran on DOS.

    Everyone seemed to know where Microsoft stood back then. Fall of 1990, not far from Apple's height of Mac sales as the percent of the total PC market (1991-2), Microsoft was already valued about 30% higher than Apple in market cap. In 1990, Apple was facing a market that did not want to pay a premium for commodity computer parts and they released the LC and Classic to get some steam. Yet this roughly drafted guy is trying to claim that a desire for low cost commodity parts somehow won't stop Apple in the future. That's just not how it works in a free market.

  • by jackjansen ( 898733 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @06:18PM (#18230242)
    I disagree that the design is "completely irrelevant" for developers. I have three machines in my workspace: 2 macs (PPC and Intel) and one generic PC (for Linux and Windows). The two macs together make less noise than the one PC. Moreover, with two towers under my desk the room there is getting rather limited, so if the third machine hadn't been an iMac I would have had to throw one machine out.

    Having three machines may be rather rare, but even with one machine it is really nice if it has a low noise level and a small footprint. It is indeed much more of an issue at home, but in the office it's definitely relevant too.

  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @06:51PM (#18230696)

    Apple have the potential to take on Microsoft in the consumer space. In many ways they have an advantage here in that Apple customers (currently) don't have to worry about security problems like viruses. That may change in the future but right now it's not an issue. There's very little your average Apple consumer can't do on OS X that they explicitly need a Windows PC for.

    Leopard server (when it ships) offers a lot more to the SMB crowd that Tiger currently doesn't, and Apple will be able to leverage some of this new strength to gain further traction into the SMB space.

    Where Apple stands no chance at all is in the Enterprise. The majority of Enterprise desktops have too much invested in MS workstations, plus Apple is not producing products targeting the Enterprise that would allow them to mass deploy OS X on the desktop with any advantage over MS Windows. Quite the opposite in fact. I'll give you an example. I was at a VMware presentation/seminar very recently and one products I saw demoed was HP's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure []. This allows you to have Active Directory controlled logins, a set of application servers and a suite of VMware servers virtualising the desktop OS with HP thin clients at the front end. The thin client selects a virtual desktop OS to connect to based on load balanced availability, which is then personalised at login time with the (served) apps and data that match the users profile. It's pretty impressive stuff.

    I'm not under any kind of NDA so I can quote a specific usage case given (in production today) as Prudential, who in the UK have moved their call center ops to somewhere in India. Only the thin client exists in the Indian call centers, all the virtual desktops, data and applications are in datacentres in the UK. Access to data and applications is centrally controlled on a per account basis and can be updated and (forcibly) refreshed at any time.

    The benefits to the Pru are obvious. The security of their data (SAN storage) virtual operating system instances, user accounts and app servers remain in their protected UK datacentres. And the thin remote client architecture means that implementing a remote desktop pretty much any where in the world is cheap, quick and flexible. If in future they want to move their call center ops to somewhere else in india, or eastern europe, or China or even back to the UK, they have the flexibility to do this cheaply, without disrupting their datacentres at all.

    Is this possible with Apple desktops? No! Hell, you can't even do it with any of the Linux desktop solutions. The only technology in Unix history that could have matched this solution was Project Athena from MIT, and that was officially retired 16 years ago in 1991 !!

    My point is that current *ix desktops (including Apple) are all about glitz and glamor and capturing the hearts and minds of the consumer, and the small footprint of academia. In the mean time, MS and its partners are listening to the Enterprise and building innovative solutions like virtualising desktops for remote, cheap, flexible access.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:29PM (#18231126)
    Show me a Mac notebook as huge, heavy, ugly, and with as many stickers on it as that Acer Aspire 5102 and I'll eat my hat. Did you buy a laptop, or an advertisement for AMD, ATi, and Microsoft? VGA out?

    Do you really think you're Acer compares to a MacBook? It might look good on paper, but I wouldn't want to lug that thing around.
  • Re:incorrect title (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:29PM (#18231784)

    Why can't come with a system with a single desktop cpu, desktop ram, desk top video card in a pci-e slot, and a desktop hd?

    Primarily because it would slaughter high-profitability Mac Pro sales. A secondary issue is that Apple probably wouldn't be able to keep up with demand for such a machine.

  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:48PM (#18231974)
    I'm curious if you've tried it? I find most people that dislike Macs and OSX haven't used them much. Most people that have find them addictive. The primary advantage is fewer hassles. It takes little or no configuring and updating and upgrading are painless. If you feel the need to fiddle then you are stuck with Windows and Linux but if you are into computers to use software with the fewest hassles then Mac wins hands down. There are also a lot of handy utilities built into the OS. I'm a sucker for widgets and I have dozens I can call up with one mouse click. Leopard looks amazing and has some intensely cool functions built in. For pure productivity there's no comparing the two. For hardware Mac is stunning. Yes you can't build your own system but I find with PCs it takes a while to settle them in. With a Mac it's called an "on" button. I upgraded the memory on mine and I didn't have to crack the case to do it. The pro towers are even more stunning. You can install secondary hard drives by opening the case and sliding them in. There are three words for Mac simple, painless and fun. For Windows I'd say complicated, annoying and a hassle. I've got three machines on my desk. Two are PCs and one is a Mac. The Mac is just more fun to use and far less stressful. If you approach Macs as a Mac hater you'll have a bad experience but if you sit down at one for an hour and just have some fun I think you'll be shocked. No one is trying to make you change religions here it's just a computer. The hardest thing I find is when I switch back to the PCs is remembering to be paranoid about viruses and spyware. I have a whole ritual involving Spybot and taking deep breathes when I down load files. Not to mention running defrag on a regular basis. The hard part is I do none of that with the Mac so I have to remind myself I'm on a PC now so I have to be careful and remember to do my maintainence.
  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) < minus berry> on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:16AM (#18234036)
    decent ad?

    The Apple ads are the most snide, smug, self congratulatory, condescending turds I've seen in a long time.

    With one exception, the security guy, "Cancel or Allow". That made me laugh.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley