This is an amazing development in and of itself. A major PC manufacturer has agreed to sell what amounts to be an iPod clone. Apple has definitely won a major victory here. First and most obvious, Apple is winning the war of platforms when it comes to digital music players. Not only are they winning but they’re making money at it at the same time, another first for Apple. Second, Apple is putting their brand front and center of a lot of computer buyers. And finally, with HP behind the iPod format and therefore the iTunes Music Store and AAC encoding, it gives a big thumb to nose, directed right at Redmond and their Widows Media Format.
Apple is serious about winning with the iPod, very serious.
It’s no mistake that Apple partnered with HP. Each quarter, HP is fighting it out with Dell to be the #1 PC manufacturer. More than that, HP has the vast majority of mind share in the public’s opinion. 26% of John Q. Public thinks that the brand of computer is the most important factor when deciding on a PC. 31%, by far the most of any brand, cite HP as the brand they favor.
Now we get to the little epiphany I had while driving to work just the other morning. Apple’s experience licensing the iPod with HP could serve as a wonderful blueprint for how they could reintroduce Macintosh Clones!
What is an HP branded iPod after all if not an Apple clone? And if HP is willing to give Microsoft a big thumb to nose over this who’s to say they wouldn’t mind offering an even bigger Bronx cheer in a few more years with a Macintosh Clone?
You may not agree but I believe that Apple is a software company, plain and simple. They’re a software company with freaking 800lb hardware albatross hung ’round their necks! With innovations like iLife, with great software like Final Cut Pro, iSync, iCalendar, they freaking rock as a software company. A GREAT software company that also has to produce the hardware.
Apple has most definitely learned from past mistakes, including the original clone debacle. Obviously, this deal with HP is a moneymaker for Apple and if they can pull it off on the small scale with HP, who’s to say they can’t pull it off on the large scale with the Macintosh platform?
HP, like Gateway, like all the PC manufacturers, makes no innovations of their own in the PC segment. Redmond tightly controls the hardware. If you come up with a new processor, a new motherboard, a new chipset and Redmond doesn’t put it on their list of supported hardware, it’s useless.
That being true, why couldn’t Apple control the hardware designs just like Microsoft does? They could then license them as well as Mac OS X to HP, Gateway, or anyone. There is now more than 10,000 applications for the Mac OS. HP has millions of customers, including corporate customers that, although they may not consider Apple but buying HP is a no brainer. Imagine the reaction of HP’s corporate customers if they were offer them an HP branded PC that was virtually immune to viruses, seamlessly connects to their HP (Unix and Windows) servers and just happens to run MS Office. HP’s corporate customers would definitely take notice!
HP would be happy, as they would reap the benefits of selling the hardware and having a real alternative to Microsoft’s total control. Apple would be happy because they’d gain much needed respect in the corporate world (not to mention the licensing fees). Suddenly, the Macintosh has a real chance on the corporate desktop. And finally, after much posturing and threats, Microsoft is happy because they’re selling TONS of software, Mac Software.
Oh yes, this press release has sent shock waves around the digital world but I believe it has much deeper repercussions. If Apple and HP do this right, we could finally see how Apple could remove their hardware albatross and become the truly great software (only) company they already are.