Even the name sounds great and it seems that Apple first brought this to Intel.
It’s obviously has Apple’s stamp all over it, even the name sounds cool. If Intel had come up with this it would be called something like “cable no. XP13745G”.
Put simply, it’s a ‘super-hyper-OMGthatisfast’ connection technology that achieves speeds of up to 10Gps. That’s faster than Ethernet Firewire, USB and even monitor connections, and it maintains that speed over 100 metres.
Imagine your Mac with a simple, single connection technology that can be used for everything. As a side effect it means that your mobile device of choice will get smaller as well. And expect this on your Mac next near, with a low-power version a year later.
Apple brought this to Intel in 2007. Almost 3 years ago.
Why don’t we see Microsoft do this? It’s because they are happy with the way things are. Stagnant, unchanging. Innovation to them means dominating markets with inferior, me-too technology that fools just enough people so that they get it anointed a ‘standard’.
Apple on the other hand actually want things to change; they want things to get better, simpler, less complicated and easier FOR EVERYONE to use (assuming that this will be available for Windows PC’s also).
The hardware manufacturers want things to get cheaper, and, well… that’s about it.
Light Peak is a perfect example of this. I’m reminded of the first iMac commercial with the Bondi Blue iMac contrasting the morass of cables from the beige PC. It seems that that dream, although partly true at the time, is seeing it’s logical conclusion.
Every reason over the years that stood in the way of a Windows user to switch has been shot down.
Okay, it’s been a while, but after reading various viewpoints on the whole scenario of Bootcamp, Intel Mac’s and Apple’s true intentions, and after having commented on various forums about my viewpoints on the subject, I finally feel ready to get down on paper (well not paper exactly, erm… pixels maybe), what I feel is inside SJ’s head right now, and where he’s going with this.
I’ve thought long and hard, and those thoughts have been both positive and negative, and all the compass points in-between, but I’ve finally decided. Decided what? Well read on, but let me just say from the start that I am right, and you are wrong.
This article covers a lot. It covers Apple’s move to Intel chips, Boot Camp implications, Apple’s support (or lack thereof) of Windows XP, is Apple moving to Windows, adopting the Windows API, adopting the Windows Vista kernel and many other things in-between, so, it’s a ‘biggie’.
Apple’s move to Intel Chips – why?
The reasons for this were obvious. The Motorola/IBM team simply did not have the funds/will/intelligence to create a chip in sufficient quantities for Apple Computer to use in order to drive sales of the Mac, and to keep up with the Wintel camp. The mhz myth became the ghz myth and it was difficult to have to admit that maybe Intel had a point.
Although I think Steve Jobs’ plan from the start was to eventually move to Intel chips (the Marklar project is proof enough of this), he wanted to put it off for as long as possible.
Why? Well, Apple had to wait until they had decent emulation of the PowerPC chip, to ease the transition, and Apple was trying to encourage as many developers as possible to move to Xcode. They had been pushing this for years, way before Marklar was confirmed, and I think this is another clue that Apple had been planning to move to Intel eventually. The Xcode development suite started life at Next, and had always been binary compatible with Intel chips, and now, simply clicking a tick box compiles your app for Intel.
So you can argue the pros and cons of PowerPC/Intel, but I think it was inevitable. The recent problems that Sony is having with the Cell processor is proof enough that Steve Jobs was right. Apple are now in the enviable position of having a limitless supply of (relatively) cheap, fast chips. Historically, Apple have never been able to create Mac’s quickly enough to meet demand, now they can, it’s a win-win situation for them.
Boot Camp & Virtualization – why?
The inevitability of someone hacking the Intel Mac, in order to boot Windows was well, inevitable. What surprised everyone, was that Apple would come up with the technology themselves. The question is, did Apple plan this from the start, or did the quickly come up with this technology when they heard that some geek had hacked it together?
The answer is that this is all part of Apple’s long term goal.
Once Apple committed themselves to moving to Intel, then running Windows on Mac hardware was something they must have anticipated. They new that this was one of the aspects of the move that would have happened whether they liked it or not, so they must have planned to find a way to turn it to their advantage.
What is the advantage? Well, it all comes down to the series of decisions that any computer user must make when contemplating a switch. A PC user switching to Mac has to take into various costs, such as the move in hardware, software & peripherals.
This is why the switcher campaign did not return the numbers, peoples interested was captured, but on further investigation, they balked at the cost.
With the move to Intel, this has greatly smoothed the way. Hardware isn’t a cost anymore, they were going to buy a computer anyway, software cost has been lessened, because a lot of what the average computer user uses is already free on a Mac, and any software that isn’t can be run using BootCamp or virtualization which I guarantee will become part of Leopard. Peripherals have never been a problem anyway. Most USB based devices work out of the box.
For those of you who say that Mac’s are still expensive, then you are comparing bargain basement PC’s, or build your own – markets that Apple isn’t interested in. You cannot maintain the Apple experience on cheap or build your own PC’s, or maintain a decent profit margin.
Apple support (or lack thereof) of Windows
Apple will not stop you from running Windows on your Mac, they’ve even given Windows users an easy way to do it, but this isn’t because they are moving to Windows. It’s because it knocks away another reason that Windows users have cited as their reason for not moving to the Mac – can they run their Windows apps, just in case they don’t like OS X?
However, they will not support you, (maybe because the support calls alone would eat away at their billions in cash reserves in amount 10 minutes). They’ll let you to run Windows if you want, this is why they changed the name of the portables to MacBook & MacBook Pro – if you decide to run Windows, you are still reminded that you’re running Windows ON A MACINTOSH (it keeps the brand alive in their heads).
So why have they allowed this? Well in part, they couldn’t stop it, and it’s better to have a Windows user running Windows on a Mac reliably, instead of relying on a geeky hack that doesn’t work all the time. If Apple had not done this, and a Windows user installed Windows on a Mac using the geeky hack, any problems (and their would have been plenty) would be blamed on the Apple hardware, further damaging the brand in their eyes.
But Apple mainly did this because again, it’s all part of their grand plan. (More on this at the conclusion of this article).
Is Apple moving to Windows, adopting the Windows API or adopting the Windows Vista kernel – what?
This ball started rolling with Mr Dvorak. Other Mac users much more gifted than I have pointed out the flaws in this argument and pointed out that Dvorak and people like him know as much about technology as a cab driver knows about the Apple vs Apple court case, but let’s take them one by one.
Is Apple moving to Windows?
Avie (the guy who basically invented OS X) could not have left at a worse time. (Sometimes I think Apple does this because Steve gets a kick out of seeing users squirm – but it does create interest in Apple, so maybe THAT’S the point). Avie retired from active input at Apple years ago. This was just a coincidence.
Is Apple adopting the Windows API
No, nope, nein and every other way you can say something in the negative. It sounds easy – simply adopt the Windows API (call it the Red Box, Pink Box, Purple Box Environment if you like), and all Windows applications would run alongside Mac OSX, much like X11 & Classic apps do. Except it’s not easy, and although possible, it would take years of development (it took Apple 5 years to get Classic working and they own the source code), and even then most software would not work because there is no Windows API as such, most of it is hacks and undocumented hooks. So the Apple ‘it just works’ catchphrase would go out the window (no pun intended).
Is Apple adopting the Windows Vista kernel
Oh my god, somebody please shut Dvorak up! It just goes to show how little this guy understands computers, let alone why Apple has survived this long. His basic premise was that Apple could adopt Vista, and then simply run a Mac OS X ‘skin’ on top. Like, yes that’s the difference between the 2 OS’s, the way they look.
Apple’s ‘reason for being’ is the tight integration between hardware and software. It’s the reason they don’t crash, why they’re stable, why they work, and yes, why they are a little bit more expensive. If Apple did this, they would basically become an EOL supplier of Microsoft’s OS, competing directly with Dell, HP and the others. Where does this leave the Apple ‘it just works’ benefit. Why would you buy from Apple? I wouldn’t, they’d be too expensive. They’d be dead in the water.
If Dvorak doesn’t even grasp this simple premise and see why his ramblings are not only wrong but embarrassing for a mainstream tech-writer then he doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Anyway the only reason he writes things of this ‘calibre’ is to drive traffic to his blog. Have you heard how many times he mentions it on TWIT?
Conclusion – so what is Apple’s overall plan?
All these things are connected. Apple does NOTHING on the spur of the moment, they plan, they scheme, they anticipate. Apple are profitable and healthy, the one thing that eludes them is market share, at least big gains in market share.
So this is all about attracting people to the Mac. Which people? Well there is a saying that says that if you grab somebody while they’re young, you’ve got them for life. So that means consumers.
Aren’t Apple interested in the enterprise? Well, yes and no. They’re interested in being a ‘good citizen’ on Windows networks, and playing happy with PC’s, but the real attack is at the enterprises of the future and that future lies with consumers, they are the enterprise of tomorrow.
So how will Apple do it? This is the plan, taking into account all that’s been said above:
1) Apple moves the current customer base from PowerPC to Intel hardware, moving the software at the same time, having very good emulation software built in.
2) Apple makes this move a smoothly as possible, so as not to alienate current, loyal Mac customers.
3) In order to counteract piracy, Apple creates a stable, geek-free way of running Windows on Mac hardware. Either using BootCamp or virtualization, this satisfies 2 types of new user:
a) Bootcamp users: These are users who want to move away from Windows, but dare not. This gives them a safety blanket in case they don’t like the Mac OS. They will, and within 6 months they’ll wonder how they ever put up with Windows.
b) Virtualization users: These are users who are fed up with Windows, and want to move to Mac but cannot because there is a piece of software that they must use on Windows. Within 6 months they will find a replacement or learn to live without it and use the Mac full time.
4) Apple’s market share starts to go up. It is irrelevant that some people who have bought a Mac just to run Windows, it will show as a Mac sale, much as in the same way that a PC user who buys a Windows PC and install Linux on it, still shows as a Windows sale.
5) Apple now has a significant number of new users who run Windows on a computer that can easily run Mac OS X AT NO EXTRA COST.
6) Apple then encourages them to switch by offering incentives that mean they must boot into the Mac, such as movie store that is tied into .Mac. (You would stream the movies from your account, to your Mac, but only if you run OS X), and by pushing the benefits of iLife, buy releasing new hardware, iPod related devices that leverage iLife, such as the iPhone. More controversially, they would either cancel iTunes for Windows, or make an enhanced version for Mac users. BootCamp users would not have a problem here, it would encourage them to boot more into the Mac.
7) Apple market share continues to climb.
8) Apple releases an update to XCode that allows you to compile the application you just wrote for the Mac, to run on Windows, (a specific hardware configuration only, probably teaming up with Dell or HP). Apple now controls Microsoft application development for all apps that have both Mac & Windows versions. Companies such as Adobe would jump at the chance because of the development cost savings, and new developers would contemplate XCode as a way of entering the new market of increasing Mac users, whilst still selling to the bread and butter market of Windows users.
9) Apple now controls a significant portion of Windows application development.
10) Apple buys Microsoft, closes it down and gives the money back to the shareholders. Windows IT managers around the world scream and hang themselves with used USB cables, their last words being, “Our pointless livelihoods have just been destroyed and we would have got away with it to, if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids at Apple computer!”
Okay, those last 3 were BS, (well except the bit about USB cables maybe, I went a bit Dvorak, you know, by doing about the same amount of research), but this seems to me to be a logical process that I would take if I were running Apple, all perfectly feasible, and it would grow market share.
There’s a process of thought in marketing that outlines the different strategies in which businesses can operate. You can be ‘sales orientated’. This means that you go out to your customers and you target anyone who may want to buy your product, and hard sell them.
Another is ‘marketing oriented’. This means you perform extensive market research and find out what it is your customer wants and you fill that market. Another (and quite outdated) is ‘production oriented’. This means that you create a great product, regardless of whether you know the market wants it, and you advertise that product, hoping the market will come to you. This approach is commonly known as, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
Now, which approach do you think that Apple ought to follow?
Let’s face it, the first (sales) ain’t Apple strong point. They’re famous for making great ‘brand-awareness’ advertising, but when it comes to product, their adverts are strong on concept, but lacking in hard-sell. The reasons for that a partly down to the long-term plan they have for the brand. Put simply, they do not wish to cheapen the product line. I can see the idea behind this, as they are not a mass-market supplier, they fill a niche and fill it well. This isn’t the best approach to increase market share however.
What’s next – the marketing approach. Apple are famous for abhorring ‘focus groups’, instead relying on gut instinct. Interesting. You can argue the business sense of this, but hey, the are the original ‘crazy ones’.
Thirdly we have the ‘production’ orientatated approach. This approach is all but dead in modern business practices, but Apple generally follow this plan with good success. The idea being is that you create best-of-breed product and hope that the market will notice and beat a path to your door.
You’d think that this approach would not work as people simply buy what advertised to them strongly enough (i.e. Windows). It doesn’t matter if it’s an inferior product, there is a hugely strong ‘herd’ instinct in buying all high-tech products where a degree of knowledge is required to make an informed purchase. Most people lack the courage to go against the flow. Everybody else chooses this computer, so it must be right. It’s tragic I know, but Apple has something else up their sleeve that backs up this production orientated approach (hardware) and that’s SOFTWARE and it’s effective.
Let me impart a story that shows how it’s effective.
A work colleague of mine has used PC all his life. He’s never come across a Macintosh at all. His opinion is like most PC users – indifference, he’s no power user. He’s never used a Mac, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about and doesn’t have an opinion either way.
Anyway, this colleague was brought into my design department in order to help out with some simple graphics work. After a hasty crash course in Quark Xpress & InDesign, he’s pretty well up to speed, and has helped a great deal in the more mundane work in the studio.
After showing him the obvious, (such as how to do forward deletes, where all the applications are in the dock, the menubar is always at the top of the screen etc.), he, like most Mac newbies has picked up the Mac basics pretty quickly, and it’s been interesting to see a virgin Mac user up close, going through some of the trials & tribulations that most new switchers must go through.
It has taken him about 3-4 weeks to realise he can experiment with his system without breaking it. It’s taken him about 3-4 weeks to suddenly realise that his computer hasn’t crashed or frozen. It’s taken him about 3-4 weeks to realise that all the viruses we get sent via our company-wide emails don’t affect his computer at all. It’s taken him about 3-4 weeks to suddenly realise that he’s had no problems printing. I could go on, but you get the picture.
I first saw the glimmers of a switcher when he saw my iBook, which I bring into work. He asked the price, he asked what it could do, whether it could run Office, Adobe CS etc.
One day he brought in a DVD. This DVD was a DVD that a local company had created showing a wedding that a member of his family had attended. He wanted to know whether it could be copied as the company that created it was going to charge £200 for this, on top of the £1000 it took to create it.
His father (who owns his own PC-based photography business), had tried to copy it, but to no avail, and he said that it looked like ‘one of those Mac-DVD’s’. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that but I took a look at it.
Straight away I realised that it was created in iDVD. It used the ‘flowing curtains’ effect and looked really impressive to the layman. I realised that it was OK, but certainly didn’t push iDVD at all in the effects department, and was quite amateurish actually.
I pointed this out and showed my colleague iDVD. He was stunned. “So this DVD was created using software that comes free with all Mac’s?” he said. I answered in the positive. It turns out that his father had seen this DVD, and wanted a slice of this business. He had looked around for a PC-based program that could do this, but to no avail.
I left my colleague with this information and thought no more of it until a few weeks later when I was asked by my work colleague which Mac I would recommend to create these sort of wedding DVD’s. I gave a few suggestions and now his father is the proud owner of a top of the range iMac G5, with DVD Studio Pro. It doesn’t stop there however.
All this happened about 6-12 months ago, and at this point he has all but transferred his entire business over to Mac’s, and guess what gave him the final impetus to switch totally? it’s Apeture, the latest software from Apple that’s directly targeted at his sort of business.
And what of my work colleague? Well he’s just offered to buy my iBook from me for a very good price. It means I can replace this iBook with a brand new one for a couple of hundred pounds.
So there you have it. The reasons for these 2 PC-users switching were exposure to the hardware (my work colleague), and exposure to the software (his father). This approach by Apple is an approach that is unique in the computer industry and I can tell you now that it IS working.
Apple dropping the PPC platform and embracing Intel chips shocked a great number of people, and for several, quite different reasons.
Some people expected it all along. The Marklar project was one of the most talked about rumours for years, and although when you thought it through it did make sense, (Apple would have been very foolish not to have had this as a back-up plan), it still surprised numerous respected Apple commentators.
Next, (which is the OS that Mac OS X was based upon), was originally coded for Intel. Xcode is built from the ground up to be platform independent, (a simple tick box compiles you code for PPC or Intel) and Apple have been encouraging developers to embrace Xcode for years.
With these points in mind, in my opinion, Steve Jobs has been planning this ever since he came back to Apple. I think though that the failure of the PPC platform surprised even him. Failure? Yes that is a harsh word, but in terms of what matters, (i.e. consumer perception of your product), the PPC platform has been holding Apple back for years.
Yes, there are great things coming from IBM (apparently), but if the latest dual core chips are anything to go by, then all the old problems remain. We now have a dual core chip that is actually slower (in GHz terms) than the previous version. Yes I know it is faster in real terms, but try telling that to Joe Public. The portable version of this chip is non existent. Freescale just cannot deliver. Look at the latest offering for the Powerbook’s. For the very first time in the Powerbook’s history, there is NO speed increase in the latest refresh.
Freescale may have upped the speed a little if Apple had not announced the move to Intel, but I doubt it would have been by much.
No, what matters is speed & production volumes. IBM & Freescale do not have this and never will. Your only option is Intel and their roadmap looks very exciting indeed. Their speed increases look very impressive (especially for the laptops), and Apple will never have to worry about production volumes ever again.
One aspect of Apple that has astounded me, is that they cannot get their products produced quickly enough, there is always a holdup in getting chips from IBM, and they just cannot ramp up production quickly enough. Imagine how many sales have been lost due to this one annoying bottleneck. Imagine the lost sales and subsequent lost market share increase.
So, you can argue forever the finer points of IBM chips versus Intel chips, but it will happen anyway, we are all moving to Intel, and it looks like the transition will be swift and relatively painless now that Apple have decent emulation for the legacy PPC chip.
But the ramifications of this transition have not really been realised yet. Broadly speaking, is this positive or negative news for the Mac? Well I think it’s positive, very positive.
When Apple’s transition is complete and the whole product line has moved over to Intel and all major applications have been converted you will effectively have Apple branded hardware that comes installed with Mac OSX, all wrapped up in some sort of DRM that will make it difficult to transfer this OS to a standard Intel box.
You can purchase it as a normal Mac and not even realise that the chip inside is different.
You could if you wanted install either Linux or Windows on this Apple hardware and simply run it as you old Windows PC if you want, Apple will not prevent you (but they won’t support you either).
This isn’t as bad as it sounds because remember, it makes no difference what OS your running on this Mactel, the market share numbers will regsiter a Mac sale. I guarantee that a great number of Windows users will do this straight away (as I bet that the hardware will be very competitively priced) and Apple’s market share will skyrocket, even though a significant number of users will install Windows on it.
This will continue for a while until you have a situation where a large number of Windows users have hardware that is capable of running Mac OS X. All you then need to do to make these Windows users switch to the Mac, is convince them to move to the Mac partition – for free. This is much easier than it was before because there is no need to purchase new hardware or software.
But what will be the carrot to lure them to move to the Mac partition for good? One word – software.
This is why Apple has been beefing up its Applications Division since Steve Jobs took over. Apple make the best set of applications – bar none. the iLife suite, and their collection of Pro Apps are best of breed and will never be released for Windows.
This will encourage Windows users to come over, but the thing that will totally convince them is Office. Apple will either bundle Office with the Mactel’s or they will adapt Appleworks, cross it with the open source version of Office and bundle that for free.
And where is Microsoft in all this? Well they’ll be happy because they still get the OS sale and the Office sale (less happy if Apple release an Office competitor), but I’d worry more about Dell, HP & other hardware manufacturer’s. They are not in a very good position for future growth. Why would anyone buy their products when you can get similar priced hardware from Apple that runs more OS’s, more best of breed applications, looks better and is more reliable?
I look forward to the transition being complete and 5 years from now, the tech industry will look totally different. This really does change everything.