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.
Apple is MORE of a computer company than ever before.
Listening to consumers more than ever. Creating software that makes life easier and more fun. Making hardware that does the same.
The multibutton mouse? A typical Apple device, done better than all the rest on the market. Intel processors? People *seriously* care about that? It's a PROCESSOR, not a computer system! The switch to intel is NOT to make Macs generic. It's to make Macs more fun. Faster. More powerful. Every new Mac model seems to make the one it supersedes look like old fashioned crap. That's never happened before. Apple still thinks different.
A long time before the iPod. Think PowerCD, Apple Design Powered Speakers, Apple Set Top Box, General Magic... Apple has had an eye on the consumer electronics market for years but now they have products that appeal to the non-faithful too. (Interestingly, Sony have come from the opposite direction, formerly based in consumer and professional electronics, now applying their design skills to general purpose computers.)
Will the Mac become history? For the immediate future, the Mac remains Apple's cash cow. It sells for lots more than consumer products with a bigger profit margin. The relative profitability of Macs will increase because iPod sales prices are falling more quickly than the cost of manufacturing them. Don't despair: the Mac is far more important to Apple now than the Apple ][ was to them in the 1980's.
You're missing the point. The point is that the Mac is becoming less different and more of a generic PC with a cool OS. I was attempting to illustrate how their is very little distinction between modern Macintosh hardware and that of their PC counterpart.
I posted this because of the discussion many people seem to be having on the subject of the Macintosh becoming just another generic PC that runs Mac OS. The reality is that the Macintosh hardware is already pretty much a generic PC in a slick Apple branded case.
Does the processor matter? Yes, of course, it does; it's one of the last remaining Macintosh "differences" that sets Macintosh hardware apart from their counterparts, the generic PC.
I find it very difficult to accept the arguments of the people that claim Macintosh hardware has some superiority over the generic PC when the Macintosh is becoming more and more of a generic PC at every turn. There's gonna have to come a day when the Mac propagandists will have to let go of the fantasy that the Macintosh in any way other than the OS, is different.
Why is everybody going off the wall because apple is switching to intel? they are switching to intel for a reason, to get greater speeds and better computers on the market. I mean c'mon grow up everyone, its not like they stopped making mac os and went to microsoft.
Apple stopped being a computer company the day that John Scully assumed the role of CEO. That day marks the turn of Apple from being a computer company to being a marketing company.
John Scully couldn't hold a candle to the marketing savvy of Steve Jobs. Jobs is a god of marketing. He's so good at it that he has you thinking he isn't involved in it at all. That's a hoot. Jobs is *the* marketer. It's pretty much all he does.
Uhh... I believe the title of this thread is "When did Apple stop being a computer company?" so no, your point can't have been something about generic PCs...
And Macs are different. It's not just a stylish case... have you ever looked INSIDE the case? Do you see a weird-shaped motherboard bolted to whatever it'll stick to and tonnes of cabling running everywhere? Didn't think so...
Do I see a weird shaped motherboard? Are you serious? Most motherboards that I've seen in PCs are rectangular or square. Have you looked at the motherboards in the recent Macs? Tell me you don't think those are weird shapes.
I would have to agree with Williamahearn in is assertion that Steve Jobs is a marketing man. He knows what he can sell and what he can't. The Macintosh was not doing so hot in the nineties under the leadership of Gil Amelio and his predecessor. Jobs brought the iMac to market and turned things around. When Jobs brought the iPod to market, he really turned things around. Whether you're willing to admit it or not, Apple's big success was the iPod and iTunes and not the Macintosh. Apple would be in the doldrums today if it had not been for the iPod and iTunes; the love affair with the iMac would have ended and Apple would have wound up in pretty much the same boat that they were in back in the mid to late nineties.
Apple is what it is today because of the iPod and iTunes. You're kidding yourself if you think any different.
Sure, OS X is a great operating system, but was anybody really paying attention? I don't think so. Look at Apple's stock just a few short years ago. It was trading in the low teens and wall street was saying to stay away from Apple. The computer literate were saying some really nice things about OS X and the new Mac computers, but nobody was really listening. Then the iPod took off like a bat out of hell and people began to take notice of the little Cupertino company again. The stock climbed dramatically and split two-for-one and Macintosh sales began to gain momentum. I think there's a very definite cause and effect relationship here.
Where were the Mac fanatics during this time? Most of them had flown the coup and headed over to the Windows universe. They're coming back now, but that's only because Apple is "cool" again.
Is Apple still a computer company? I don't think so. Apple is a lifestyle company!
I don't see why it really matters. As long as Apple makes a quality computer system and operating system they can be the Vegetable division of Union Carbide as far as I care.
At the end of the day it does not matter what the company's primary function* is, all that matters is that there product gets the job done.
*Barring really bad stuff like launching baby seals into space and the like.
I have to admit that launching baby seals into space is much better than clubbing them over the head and leaving their rotting carcases to decay in the frozen arctic tundra. Clubbing seals is a Canadian passtime, apparently. Gosh, I just love this country. <--- Ever so slight hint of sarcasm.
Whoever said that Apple is a lifestyle company nailed it. The death of the conventional desktop has been predicted for years. To turn a phrase, one could ask Steve Jobs: "Do you want to sell fruit-colored desktops or do you want to be successful?" For Apple to be a success and a lifestyle force it has to be mainstream. In light of that the switch to Intel becomes clear. Or do I have to get out the hand puppets?
A weird-shaped motherboard is one that doesn't fit intelligently inside the case, I don't care how "regular" the shape is.
Now it's been said that Apple is a "lifestyle company".... they're still a computer company. iPods are small, not-so-capable computers, and iTunes is computer software.
When they start making deck chairs, coffee machines and televisions, let me know.
As to the "lifestyle" statements -- in some sense this is splitting hairs on the wrong end of the dog -- and I mean that from my side as well as yours. Technically, yes, with some exceptions Apple is still a computer company. Last night I watched season one of CSI on my Pismo. Not exactly a number crunching endeavor. The issue is that the business of computers is taking on numerous unpredicted uses that moves it closer and closer to a home appliance. Juke box, movie theater, mall . . . who knew this is where it would go? In that sense, Apple is becoming -- or will try and become -- a lifestyle company. Apple has been the premiere niche company but I don't believe they are happy with that.