Why The Keynote Was Good News

The Macworld Keynote given by Steve Jobs disappointed many loyal Mac fans. Part of it was due to the fact that the rumor sites had spilled virtual *all* the beans. Part of it was sticker shock from the newly rebranded Mac service. And part of it was because it really wasn’t that exciting. But imagine you’re not a Macintosh user for a moment. Imagine that instead, you are an investor who either doesn’t own a Mac, or doesn’t even use a computer if you can help it. Imagine you have no feelings for Apple and their products outside of what it means as far as potential growth in the stock.

Microsoft and others have made some noise to the effect that Apple isn’t promoting Mac OS X to the existing user base hard enough. Microsoft of course is merely reacting because Apple is finally targeting Windows users. However, there is some truth to the claim that Apple has done little or nothing to publicly promote Mac OS X to existing Mac users. But they don’t have to. Why? Because Apple has Digital Smack? iPhoto. iTunes 3. iSync. iCal. And more and more Apple goodness will be quickly upgraded with new features for Mac OS X, and no additional updates for Mac OS 9. Why spend money on marketing? If you gotta have the latest Apple iProduct, then you have to get Mac OS X. Even some features of .Mac are Mac OS X exclusive.

Then, there’s Apple’s announcement converting the free iTools services into a commercial Mac service. Many Mac insiders have screamed “when will Apple get a real Internet strategy?” Now they have. But it’s going to cost you. You see, while iTools was free, any Mac user could create as many iTools account as he wanted. I personally had at least 7, not counting the ones that were shut down by Apple for obvious reasons. And this cost Apple money. So even though this isn’t the best of news for Mac fans who rarely let Apple’s bottom line enter into their Mac filled fantasies, those who own Apple stock will be very excited that Apple isn’t giving EVERYTHING away for free. Look at all the free iSoftware.

That’s a lot of functionality for free. Did you really expect Apple to be able to give quality products for free in a depressed economy and not charge for something? Stockholders will definitely welcome this move. And personally, I find it affordable for my uses, since I am actually hosting my website off of .Mac. I can stay ISP independent, support Apple, and keep my costs down. True, my website isn’t a commercial grade one as of this time, but it definitely works for me.

Then, we have the other announcements including Mac OS X “Jaguar”, the 17″ LCD iMac G4, and the new 20GB iPod. These are not spectacular announcements like a 21 PCI slot 16 processor G5 laptop that’s 1/2″ thick, but instead are solid products with a real demand in the marketplace that will generate a real amount of revenue. And, they serve to break Mac users of expecting Apple to deliver the impossible or to even deliver on a Keynote schedule. It’s nice when Apple can make big announcements during a Macworld Keynote, but there are very real limitations of product development cycles that need to be honored. Investors definitely would not like Apple perpetuating this kind of vicious circle of thinking that leads to inevitable disappointment.

So while the Macworld Expo keynote may not have been the most exciting keynote in recent history, it does look to be a lot more profitable in the long term. And with the challenges Apple is facing in our current economy, every advantage they can get in the marketplace will secure a better competing position in the future.

Mark A. Collins

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