Year Of The Mac?

by Chris Seibold Feb 21, 2006

The other day, an interesting article entitled Ten Reasons To Buy Windows Vista made the rounds of the tech sites and linking blogs. Free tip for the author, Michael Desmond: with little more than the judicious use of Word’s find and replace feature (replace “Vista” with “OS X”) you can resell the article to MacWorld or some other Mac publication. Cash making tip noted, Michael Desmond is completely correct, Vista will be a compelling upgrade to Windows XP.

I can personally attest to the gulf that has opened between OS X and Windows XP after using a Windows machine as my primary computer for the past few weeks. To cite one example: Internet Explorer. Sure, at one time IE may have been the best browser around but at one time, most of North Dakota was ruled by dinosaurs. In comparison to any modern browser, IE is just horrible. There are, naturally, other examples of XP’s backwardness, but many of the things that would bother one user (have you seen Windows Movie Maker?) would be of little interest to most.

In any event, OS X is significantly ahead of XP. As alluded to earlier, much of what makes OS X better will be incorporated into Windows Vista. Sure, there will be shouts of Vista being a lame clone of OS X, but appropriating others innovations is a time honored method of product improvement. No one besides the executives at Ford called other carmakers thieves for also including intermittent wiper blades.

All this means that, for the market share obsessed, this is an interesting moment in time. Even with all the turmoil surrounding the switch to Intel, (big deal? not a big deal? you can’t get a straight answer from Apple) this is the biggest lead in operating systems since Microsoft users labored under the command line. Therefore, common wisdom would tell you, this should be the year of the Mac.

However, as long as Apple has been making computers, every year has been hailed as the year-o’-Apple by someone. In the days when Parker Lewis Can’t Lose entertained the three viewers of the fledgling Fox network the Mac Classic was going to propel Apple into the stratosphere. In the mid nineties, when The X-Files ruled the airwaves, it was the inherent superiority of the PowerPC that would rocket Apple to the top of the heap. When Survivor was smashing ratings records, it was apparent that iMovie and other iLife apps were the programs that would finally help Apple turn the corner. In the age of, gag, American Idol the Mac mini was thought to be Apple’s rocket ride to widespread acceptance. None of these years quite lived up to expectations. Can one reasonably expect 2006 to be anything more than another Mac-fan acclaimed year of the Mac that falls far short of those vaunted expectations?

Surprisingly, there are reasons for the perpetually hopeful to smile. Early reports by CENS relate that Apple is planning to sell over ten-million computers this year. To put a little perspective on that number, Apple sold 4.5 million computers in all of 2005. Will the iPod halo effect finally come to pass? Perhaps, but equally as likely is that all the coverage associated with the switch to Intel has given consumers an exact moment to buy.

If it is going to be the year of the Mac, there is one thing Apple needs to do as soon as possible: Get the Intel powered iBooks (undoubtedly dubbed MacBooks) out the door. The low-cost half of Apple’s laptop line, according to cited report, accounted for 70% of Apple’s laptop sales last year and, in the low-priced world of Dells, Apple has to have a semi-price-competitive Intel laptop as soon as possible.

When Vista ships it will generate a lot of coverage. People will rave about the new operating system and Mac users will snidely note that Widgets, tabbed browsing and other new Vista niceties are so 2005, while glibly pointing out that there is yet another revision to OS X on the horizon. Which is all true, but the distance between the two OSes will be considerably smaller. If Apple wants to strike, now is the time.

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  • At the end of Michael Desmond’s article:
    “Vista may not be perfect (but what piece of software is?)”

    Answer: OS X!

    Well, not quite…

    JJJJJ had this to say on Feb 21, 2006 Posts: 7
  • As you say, Chris, Apple has “turned the corner” so many times, the reality distortion field must resemble a dodecahedron by now.  I always listen with slightly curled lip as Mac users proclaim every new product as “the one” that’s finally going to bust Apple out of the single-digit marketshare.  It has yet to happen.

    That, of course, doesn’t mean it won’t ever, but I’m not sure that a move to Intel is really the answer either.  After all, the Mac is still a closed system for all practical purposes; and for the consumer, the chip inside has almost no more bearing on their decision now than it did before.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Feb 21, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • To be honest I’m not even sure what it means anymore. 10%? 51%? I think this is as good as any time in recent memory for Apple to make some gains though I doubt whatever number they manage to convert will satisfy folks.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Feb 21, 2006 Posts: 354
  • Woo! This year’s optimistic Mac article. Great read, Chris. I definitely agree that in the last 15 years, or so, this year has been the best opportunity for Apple to regain market shareon Macs.

    Imagine alone the huge difference it would make if Apple did sell 5 mil more Macs this year in comparison to last year; regardless of whether it was because of the Intel switch holding people back until this year, the news would spread far and wide. And imagine picking up your national newspaper to find a short article about it, where the author gives a little slight of tongue and says, “it looks like Apple Mac personal computers are becoming the more popular consumer choice in computing” - the impact of that would be huge alone.
    But if that news came out at a particularly good time for OS X Leopard making headlines with being so far ahead of Vista, and Windows vista also being in headlines for being a big over-expected mistake, and many release problems (hey, it’s within the realms of reality - we’re talking MS here,) then I think that, condensed into a small article for consumers to read about, would no-doubt make the public think twice about what they’ll get as their next computer.

    So Chris, you may be very right this time (maybe.) smile

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Feb 21, 2006 Posts: 299
  • This may be the best time in years for Mac to pickup more market share but I see a dark cloud slowly gathering over the Mac world too.

    Most people that I know switched platforms to get away from viruses and spyware. With all the recent talk of Mac viruses they’re now worried that their Mac’s will end up being trashed just like their old Windows machine and I’m now being asked if they should buy an anti-virus application for their Mac.

    It doesn’t make any difference that the viruses are impotent; it’s the doubt that’s been planted, OS X may not be any safer than a Windows. This is what could slow sales.

    I have to wonder if anti-virus software companies seeing that sales would drop as more and more customers move to Apple are hyping the Mac virus threat to plant a seed in the minds of Window users that they need to buy a anti-virus application for OS X too.

    TheOldMan had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 5
  • Haven’t we been waiting for too long for Apple to advertise OS X? They blew it, they had a good chance of snatching up some win-users but nooo! I still don’t understand why they don’t advertise.

    Emil had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 10
  • ^ It’s the same reason you don’t see BMW or Mercedes ads showing the cars actually driving around.

    Apple’s ads simply show what the product is. I doubt you’d ever see an Apple ad showing what the product does (with the very slight exception of the necessary iPod video ad.)

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 299
  • I’m waiting for an OS X ad, but I don’t think I’ll ever see one. BMW you say?

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 354
  • ^ Oh come on! we both know the equivalent Mac ad for that would be a guy sitting at a desk on his iMac and a girl sitting next to him making sexual gestures smile

    I thought it was a bad ad anyway. PLUS it was from the 80s or something.

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 299
  • Don’t forget all the ads BMW released that were net only

    Word is that they were fairly successful.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 354
  • ^ Ah. Those weren’t ads, they were short films used as a form of advertising. I analyzed them as part of a college essay. I love them, but some barely even feature the actual BMW cars, so I don’t call them relevant as actual advertising of the actual cars, but really I think the films are to encapsulate what a BMW is, not what it does. Like I already stated about Apple ads.

    But Apple do something similar all the time anyway. We frequently find Macs cropping up in TV and movies. I doubt they could go as far as to fund short internet films featuring some hero who uses a MacBook Pro to save the world :D

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Feb 22, 2006 Posts: 299
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