Will Apple Be Sold?
During the month of February, many My Mac readers wrote in asking what I thought of the mess Apple was in. “Do you think Apple will be bought out?” was a very common question. My answer? Maybe. But truth be known, I don’t care. Why? Read on…
Ask yourself this: did you buy your computer because it was a Mac, or because it was made by Apple?
Software, Not Hardware
The Mac, when you get right down to it, is not the computer itself, but the way that computer works. How it does all the neat, easy, helpful things you use it for. Lets say you were going out to buy a new monitor, and your choices were between a 15″ Apple for $600 or a 17″ Radius for $450, and both work with your Mac. Which would you buy? No question, the Radius.
Does It Matter?
So, does it really matter who owns Apple? No. Why? Because no one would buy Apple if Apple did not own the MacOS. And any company that did buy Apple would continue to develop the Macintosh line. No question. When all the rumors were flying about Sun Microsystems buying Apple, do you think Sun was looking at the chance to market computers with the Apple name on them, or do you think they wanted to get their hands on the Macintosh Operating System?
The Macintosh is here to stay. Apple may not be, but the Mac is. And for now, Mr. Gil “Pay me ten million dollars because I am greedy” Amileo is in charge of Apple. Will he turn it around? Who knows? I hope so, but I tend to think that ‘ol Gil is really only looking out for himself. Why else the huge salary? I mean, come on! Ten Million? What does the Apple board think this guy can do? I read his book. I was not impressed. And to think, they (Apple’s board of directors) were thinking of bringing Steve Jobs back to run Apple. (He was interested). Then perhaps I would have more confidence in the future of Apple. Why? Steve Jobs really DOES care what happens to Apple. Does Mr. Amileo? Yeah, right, that is why he has a clause in his contract that states that if Apple is sold within his first year, he gets ten million bucks. He wins either way. So what does he care is Apple sinks or swims?
Apple makes computers. Apple sells computers. But what is Apple really known for? The Macintosh. (Forget the Apple II, that is history). And the Macintosh is software. Is a Power Computing Macintosh a true Mac even without the Apple brand name? Of course. If you went to Sears to buy a brand new Macintosh, and the Power Computing model was $500 cheaper, would you think twice? I would buy the Power Computing machine in a heart beat. (If Sears sold them!)
Apple is known for the Macintosh. As they well should be. It is by far the best computer operating system out there. (At least as far as the mainstream market goes). Any computer running the MacOS is much easier to use than any computer running Windows 95. Just take a compete computer novice, and tell them to log on to America Online. I bet they will figure it out twice as fast on a Mac than on Windows 95.
Should Apple sell computers, or move to become a software vendor instead? Well, lets look at facts:
Microsoft is a software company. They now sell more products in a year than Apple will in the next three. Sure, you can buy Windows 95 for less than a hundred bucks, and it will work with any PC built in the last year. Who cares if that PC is a Compaq or a Radio Shack model? Chances are, it will behave pretty much the same. But to run a Macintosh, you need an Apple. (Forget Power Computing and the other mac clones, none will make a dent in total market share).
If you were creating a new computer software program, which operating system would you first target? The Intel/Microsoft crowd with a 90% market share, or the Motorola/MacOS with less than 10% market share? Forget which computer is easier to use, and which computer you use at home. We are talking business, and making money. It would be suicide for a new company to market their new product to a Mac only crowd. Sure, you may also create a Mac version, but not before you roll out the PC software first.
Apple, in all their wisdom, choose for years not to license the Macintosh Operating System. Why? Well, they knew that by letting other manufacturers sell the MacOS, other manufacturers would most likely sell those computers at a lower price than Apple could, due to Research and development costs. That would seriously cut into Apple’s profit margin, and Apple board members, greedy, short sighted as they were (are), could not stand for that. Again, business.
Did anyone bother to explain to them how much MORE money they would make if they had 90% of the computer market? Or that producing only software is far more cheaper than the box they run on? Take the latest system update, for example. 7.5.3 was a free update. But lets pretend that Apple had a 90% market share (say 50 million users as an example). Now, lets say Apple, rather than giving 7.5 update 2 away for free, charged five bucks for it. Just five bucks. How much money would they have made if only 50% of the Mac users bought it? $125 million.
Hardware vs Software. Which way should Apple go? Should they continue to cautiously license the MacOS out as they are now doing? Or go all out and let anyone have it, providing Apple receives a cut from every unit sold running the MacOS? Which would benefit Apple more? Which would benefit the users? All the money Apple spends on hardware development, service, and distribution, would be gone. All that money would go to salaries and product development, thus your workers would be more happy and able to create better and more innovative products. And we as users would have a much more advanced operating system than we currently enjoy, with the benefit of buying our computers from almost any hardware vendor at a much lower price than we could today.
Would this signal the end of Microsoft? No, not a chance. In fact, I like it that Microsoft is here. Why? Well, if they weren’t, would Apple try to invent new, better OS’s, or be content to sit on its laurels and rake in the cash? Or would it try and reinvent the wheel every few years as it has done in the past?
Should Apple become a Microsoft, a pure software company?
Yes. I think so. Because, really, when it gets right down to it, who really cares if Apple makes the box? They don’t make the microprocessor. They don’t make most disk drives. They don’t make the add-on cards. They don’t make the monitors. No, they sublease all that out. In fact, I bet more than 90% of your Apple computer was not even made by Apple.
If Apple is sold, Apple is sold. I really don’t care. Perhaps I would if Apple was run by someone who actually cared about the company and its customers. But Apple hired someone who only cares about himself.
I welcome your thoughts, opinions, and comments.