Is Apple slowly getting out of personal computers?

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Joined: Jan 20 2005
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In my previous thread about the current CPU chip wars:

http://www.applefritter.com/node/10621

the idea was proposed by one poster that the Macintel is the first indication that Apple is slowly getting out of the computer business, hardware and even software. I've read others on Applefritter make similar predictions at different times on different threads recently, or at least hints of such predictions, so maybe it's time to pose the question here, how many of you actually foresee the end of Macintosh and the Mac OS? Are the barbarians at the gates? Is there simply too much competition fast arising in both hardware and system software for Apple to remain viable in the personal computer market? And how many of you would see this as a good thing?

What would happen to Apple without Macintosh? Where would the logo go? The iPod's market share must certainly diminish soon enough, but will Apple find a way to design itself into our lives in other ways? Any ideas on how it should? Or is the inevitable end of the big bitten Apple foreseeable as well?

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Competition

As I theorized in the other thread I'm positive that the Intel transition is Apple's exit strategy from the *design* aspect of personal computers.

(And, sadly by extension it also marks the end non-x86 personal computers in general, really, as the Macintosh was the last "mass-market" machine not using the x86 platform. For all their warts and quirks and theoretical inefficencies direct descendants of the original IBM PC 5150 are now the only things sold as "Personal Computers". R.I.P. everything else. It's true that other architectures shall continue on in everything from cell phones and video games to supercomputers, but unless you consider PDAs "personal computers" the non-x86 era is over.)

As for Apple's future in *selling* computers and writing OSes for said computers they're going to do it as long as it's profitable. As for how long that will be, well... I think it depends a lot on whether Microsoft continues to manage to alienate its customers, and whether or not those alienated by them continue to consider Apple a reasonable alternative. Linux has been making some *big* strides in usability lately and runs on a *lot* more computers, including the ones the poor alienated Microsoft customer already bought, so I imagine that it's the biggest threat to Apple's continued existence as a strict "computer company".

I fully expect Apple is going to lose marketshare during this transition. The diahard "Classic" OS program users, of which there are still a substantial number, are going to cling to their existing machines for as long as possible, and then they're going to have to make a choice about whether they want to repurchase all their applications in OS X-86 or Windows versions. And I suspect some of them are going to take stock and find it's easier to just quit worrying and love the bomb, since they'll be able to buy a Windows machine and the software they need for well under the price of the new Macintosh. The transition is also going to hurt Apple's chances in the few scientific and number-crunching applications Macs are used for, since an x86 Xserve is now going to be *directly* comparable to a Dell or other white-box server. You're not going to be able to point to PowerPC advantages like a nicer ISA or Altivec to sell them anymore. It'll just be "bang for the buck", and whether your application *needs* OS X, or will run on some other Unix-oid. I think the real question is whether OS X is going to lose *enough* marketshare that it loses the one big advantage it has over "free" Unixes, which is the availability of commercial software. Even that "advantage" is going to be a hard sell for the next year or more, since it's going to take a *long* time for some of the biggest vendors to convert their software. And if they see Apple's sales going into the toilet they may just drag their feet even more, which could pretty much put the nail in the coffin.

The next year is going to be interesting, to say the least. Apple's going to have to sell people on the idea that that Macs are the perfect "information appliance", and that they don't need those other things (like games) that Windows machines have, at least right away. Good luck to them.

--Peace

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Joined: Dec 19 2003
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Factors forgotten . . . the best of both worlds

I think that the views about Apple closing up its personal computer division are premature, to say the least. Think about it. With the MacIntel architecture, a full speed PC emulator is now not only feasible, but probable. Think that this is a coincidence? When/if this scenario comes to pass, think of the number of people that will switch over to the Mac platform. MicroSoft will also benefit, as their market share will just increase.

Mutant_Pie

astro_rob's picture
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The End Of The Personal Computer?

It's not just Apple that I'm thinking about here, it's every computer manufacturer. The day is coming when PC's (and the MacIntel descendants) evolve into nothing more than souped up "dumb terminals", I fear. Already, a trend is underway to port some applications to the Internet; there are already some sites that will allow you to do word processing, for instance.
Imagine, if you will, your home, circa 2025. You have a large, flat screen, perhaps less than a centimeter in depth, that measures over a meter and a half across. This is your main source for entertainment and communications, hanging like a painting, replete with a clear plastic frame. Behind this panel are a multitude of circuits; its brain. There is no comparing the computers we use today to it, it is simply that much further ahead. But, it's not a true computer. While it has a keyboard and pointer device, it isn't a true computer, it's a thin, thin client. The OS doesn't matter (a UNIX descendant, most likely).
When you're not watching CNN, Fox or American Idol 2025, your entertainment hub allows you to access your applications. Well, actually, not your applications per se. You rent time for some, while other, more mundane applications are free (your word processor, for instance). You're charged monthly for your communications and entertainment in one package, since this is your hub, your connection to the outside world. Everything you ever wanted to do with a home computer, it does, for a fraction of the outlay... more or less (or so we're told). Your personal information (you'll still have that, somewhat), is stored in removable memory cards capable of holding near terrabytes of information, but the way the hub is set up, you cannot own applications due to vicious levels of DRM. Only documents and other files. I mean, after all, you only access your applications from anywhere already, right?
Let's face it, folks. We're dinosaurs here. We love computers that we can get into. More and more computers are not allowing that as an option. Need to add something? Gotta take it in. Oh, yes, PC's still have this archaic model, but trust me, it'll slowly give way to closed architectures, ones with more hardware level DRM-like schemes than you care for. Since the machines are designed to be networked, the guys on the other end of the network will know who's been naughty or nice. Tampered with your Intellix 2020 PMMC (Personal Multimedia Center)? The folks in New Delhi, who manage the network for company HQ out of Albany, NY, will detect it, and POOF!, like magic, you're off network.
Not a big deal to true hackers. We'll always be around, sniffing for new ways to get what we want and to have the level of control that we desire. But let's face it - Jon/Jane Public only wants something that works, and the less fussing they have to do with it, the better. The demand for ease of operation will sacrifice autonomy. So, yes, Apple will probably be getting out of this end of the business.

Just a guess, mind you.

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