This is going to be a rather interesting post that will, no doubt, elicit some rather interesting responses.
When did Apple stop being a computer company?
On the surface, I suppose that some would argue that Apple stopped being a computer company the day they dropped the word 'computer' from their name. I suppose some others would say that Apple stopped being a computer company when they released the iPod or created iTunes. Some might even suggest that Apple is no longer a computer company due to reports of their pending entry into the cellular phone business. When it was that Apple ceased to be a computer company, is not quite clear. One thing is clear however, Apple is no longer a computer company.
There's been a reasonable amount of debate recently regarding whether Apple will license the Mac OS to clone vendors. Obviously, the decision by Apple to switch to Intel processors will make licensing the Mac OS much easier, should they adopt that path. What's not immediately certain is whether Apple will choose that path, or if Apple should choose that path.
Opinion among the Mac faithful varies greatly and discussion on the topic can become quite heated. Some Mac users insist that the Macintosh is more than just an operating system, while others will staunchly maintain that there's really very little left of the Macintosh. At least, there's not much of the Macintosh left as far as unique hardware is concerned.
I think, for the most part, most Mac users will agree that it's the Macintosh operating system that makes the Macintosh truly special. Some will heap superlatives upon superlatives in their praise of Apple's award winning designs and clean, aesthetically pleasing hardware, but looks really can be deceiving.
Is the Mac really much more than a generic PC in a pretty Apple branded case? There was a time when almost all Mac users would answer that question with a most resounding 'Yes!', but not today. Over the years we've watched the auto-eject floppy drive disappear from our beloved Macintosh computers. We've witnessed the loss of the NuBus and PDS expansion slots in favour of the more PC-like PCI slots. Gone is the Apple Desktop Bus; it too was replaced with an immigrant from the PC world, USB. What of the unique Apple monitor ports that required adapters in order to use third party monitors? Gone! The most quintessential Mac peripheral, the one-button mouse? It, too, is on its way out; being replaced by the new Apple Mighty Mouse. The last vestige of the Macintosh world, the Motorola/IBM processor? Soon to be history.
When did Apple cease being a computer company?
Apple has always been a computer company and they will probably always be a computer company. Is Apple still a company that builds computers for the rest of us? No, not anymore. There's the Macintosh computer and then there are companies like Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony, etc. that build computers for the rest. Whether we like it or not, the Macintosh is becoming a generic PC in a slick Apple branded case and Apple will always be a computer company as long as the Mac faithful are able to buy the Apple brand.