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WHAT APPLE REALLY NEEDS

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
there are many discussions around with ideas similar to what is discussed in the thread "Could this be the future? Oh, I wish.."

<a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001827" target="_blank">http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001827</a>

what topics like this fail to take into account is the business sence in making such a move. i appreciate though the fact that the author of this thread went out of his way to spell out the business advantages (and engineering as well) of apple making such a purchase as sgi unlike most threads which spell out a wish list while disregarding other factors.

despite that, this thread goes to show how much many people (here and elsewhere, especially analysts) still do not realise the "almost perfect" way in which apple management is (AND HAS TO) running the company.

despite the ammount of cash they have in the bank, there is still a little bit of vulnerability (although it lessens everyday -witness the almost complete overhaul of the os in upcoming jagwire, xserve, etc.) thus everything has to be done just right with almost perfect execution.

by this i mean everything - profit margins, product releases, tech/corp. aquisitions, discounts/sales.

e.g. it is well known that there are dozens of prototypes (in some cases complete) at apple that have not been released for various reasons, most of which can ultimately be linked to what i have mentioned above (company performance).

other reasons include not sufficient performance/featureset lead over comptitors e.g. camera. apple already has (had) working models ready for market since last year that were better than anything that is currently out there but the difference was such that competitors could respond within a few months. case in point, look at how long it has taken competitors to respond to ipod - 6 months and still counting.

now a more direct rebutal to the sgi post and other similar ones - what i am trying to say with all the blabbering above is all moves that apple is making are highly strategic, they have to be for it to move out of the positions it is in right now (i.e. industry/public perception, market share, etc.). when they make a purchase, there are tangible advantges and strategic gains in that purchase.

many people are making the mistake of using a ms mindset to explain the advantages that apple gains. for example, this explains all the discussion about how apple is being like ms in its recent aquisitions, dropping ms future dev and making it mac only for competitive reasons.

this is far from the truth. what apple wants mostly from its recent aquistions is intellectual capital - both in the form of experienced developers and working products/code/algorithms. JUST LIKE THEY DID FOR OS X (went with unix == stable/mature/1000's of experienced developers, etc.).

while buying these companies and tecnology just to deprive windows for competitive purposes could have been the reason and is a legit (with a certain ammount of legal maneuvering), this is not the reason.

the second and most important factor is that when they make one of these purchases, it is because they have realised that no third party could produce the solutions they are seeking due to any one of many reasons:
=&gt; too slow for apple timeframe for product realeses to market
=&gt;apple is the master of empowerment through simplification i.e. no-one else can do it as well as they can
=&gt;they are a key part of the vision that apple have of the future ("digital hub") thus apple needs control of these resources so that they can be used when and where they want

now if you look at the second reasons (plus any more you can come up with), you will realise that the purchase of sgi, while advantageous, is not really strategic enough to warrant a purchase. i come to this conclusion after looking at the product offerings (microprocessors) from ibm and amd, nvdia and ati.

just in case moto is not up to standard apple could go with any of these to produce the type of hardware that is mentioned in the other thread, the most probable being ibm. note, i have included the graphics chip companies because according to the ceo/founder of nvidia (and i kinda side with him on this one) in the not too distant future the graphics/multimedia chip will become the dominant chip in computer with the regular cpu doing tasks such as AI, pattern recognition, etc.

...... gotta go, will be back with the 2 companies that i think would offer the most strategic advantage to apple and make it an immediate threat to ms.....
post #2 of 12
I know the two companies:

1. Adobe. Apple buys Adobe, kills M$ support within days.

2. Macintosh Business Unit at M$. Apple buys the MBU, immediately kills Wintel support...oh, wait...they only support Macs! Doeh!

3. M$ sees Apple attempting to play outside their "sandbox", and retaliates by pulling support for any and all M$ Mac apps. Apple is dead within a year.
post #3 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by Junkyard Dawg:
<strong>I know the two companies:

3. M$ sees Apple attempting to play outside their "sandbox", and retaliates by pulling support for any and all M$ Mac apps. Apple is dead within a year.</strong><hr></blockquote>

This would lead to MS being dead within a year. Apple is vital to MS's claim that it is not a monopoly (although already convicted). It is true that Apple is more important to MS than MS is to Apple.

Michael
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post #4 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by mmicist:
<strong>

This would lead to MS being dead within a year. Apple is vital to MS's claim that it is not a monopoly (although already convicted). It is true that Apple is more important to MS than MS is to Apple.

Michael</strong><hr></blockquote>

This assumes that the Bush White House is going to be terribly interested in getting into another dustup with Microsoft having just rid itself of the first (which a significant percentage of their voters probably felt should not have been pursued in the first place).

Also let's say Bill calls Steve and says "Steve, go to hell (which I am sure is run on a Linux platform). I've just cancelled Office and have removed all Mac networking support from all future MS Operating Systems (including Servers). Oh, I also took the liberty of shrinking the Mac IE team by half."

The DOJ leaps on the case and orders Microsoft to produce Office for the Mac for the foreseeable future. What kind of Office and IE will MS make in that situation? Remember Word 6? Of course, hey after a couple of years they request to be set free from the mandate since they just aren't selling enough copies to make any sort of business case.

All that being said, I don't really see Apple getting out of the "Sandbox" any time soon. Apple had ouble digit market share ages ago and M$ made products for the Mac back then. It would take an extraordinary effort for Apple at this point to take away 10% of Windows market share.

Extraordinary effort entails some extraordinary risks, which don't play well with Shareholders. Steve will probably keep going down the safe, steady course Apple is on. Assuming they keep making progress on the performance front and don't make any big mistakes, Apple will live on as a bit player for a long, long time.

Myself what I'd love to see is if Apple ever made a Hail Mary. Make 2 or 3 long term deals with clone makers for clearly defined market niches. Give the OS and reference designs away for free to these companies for machines that are in the assigned market niche. This could get Apple out of aome of the markets they don't want to be in. Bottom end iMacs are not a market Apple wants to be in, neither Apple nor the dealer make much (I remember the Mac shop I worked for wouldn't carry the 350 Mhz iMac because they made less than $10 on the thing). Apple gives a free license to an outfit for anything they sell for less than $750, everyone wins. There are more choices and Apple can keep margins on their kit at a level they can bear without losing market share. Other niches could be subnotebooks, PDAs/tablets, desktop replacement notebooks (over a certain weight), non-rackmountable servers, 6+ PCI alot Macs. f As long as the rules are clear to protect Apple and the agreement loophole free and long term enough (say five years) to protect the cloners I think everone could find something to gain.

Apple get to pick and choose where it plays and it gets the benefit of being able to offer more product niches (needd a six slot Mac with 16 DIMM slots and are willing to pay for it, have a schoold district that won't pay more than $700 a seat for the elementary school,etc). It doesn't make sense for Apple to do everything, but to keep customers in the spaces they want to play in they often need products in other places (IF Apple won't make a six slot box and I have to switch part of my operation I may find I like it over there or I may decide it makes more sense when I next update to switch my other machines over OR If a valid Mac solution for the 500 other machines in the building can be provided within the school district's budget constraints do you think that lessens or increases the chance of some shiny POwerMacs being bought for the Science, Art, and and Journalism departments).

Good God, I've written a stinking thread's worth of material on my own, I think I'll stop now.
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post #5 of 12
alot of thought here. Alot of it interesting.
I have a couple of things to say.
1. who needs a 6 PCI Mac bad enough that 2 5 PCI Macs won't cut it?
2.if apple doesn't make money on the cheap macs, how will a clone?
3.If MS could get rid of apple by dropping support (and they wanted too) they would. Bill isn't blind, he knows apple is trying to get market share from him. It's not like he is going to wake up one day and say "oh wow, apple doesn't like me! wow, I wonder what I can do to piss them off? Oh I know! I'll discontinue Office for mac!"
He hasn't done it, he won't do it. I hope.
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post #6 of 12
Apple can't be everything to everyone. However there are some things they could do to gain another 5% and get double digit marketshare.

First and foremost they could stop using the ability to support a second display as a means of keeping something consumer instead of pro. There are plenty of people that are interested in Mac's but there is no starting point that allows for you to grow into a machine. It is all or nothing. An iMac that could support an external display would ease their troubled minds. (Same thing for iBook and eMac)

A second issue is simply Apple's unwillingness to create any sort of inexpensive box that can drive an external monitor. In the past there were models like the IIsi, LC series, etc. However Apple WON'T build one now.

Nick

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post #7 of 12
What Apple needs is a simplified, remote boot terminal for education and business. Something cheap - without a hard drive or CD-ROM. Just built in ethernet, video card, audio, USB and FireWire. Having an external monitor would also be helpful as most potential users already have plenty of monitors available.

The devices would remote boot off of an xServe and run OSX. They would be very reliable (no moving parts) and require no software maintanence (no local hard drive.) Simply put, perfect for a school lab or possibly a business workstation.

So what do you think??

Willy
post #8 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by trumptman:
<strong>Apple can't be everything to everyone. However there are some things they could do to gain another 5% and get double digit marketshare.

First and foremost they could stop using the ability to support a second display as a means of keeping something consumer instead of pro.

A second issue is simply Apple's unwillingness to create any sort of inexpensive box that can drive an external monitor.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Those are short-term market share steps that ultimately will fail. While they would help bring in users, they would also erode price per unit, margins, and profits. Keep in mind that right now, Apple is not a highly profitable company. The penalties to becoming a money-losing company are harsh and immediate.

Apple's success depends on maintaining profitability in the near term. One small concern that I have is that Apple is using it's warchest to buy up high-margin products solely to maintain that profitability. I don't think this is what is happening based on the pattern of acquisitions, and their inclination to drop some product support so quickly.

Rather, Apple is preparing to grow marketshare by securing entire industries. In the same way so many of us are attracted to the Mac due to the comprehensive experience that they are building, Apple is preparing the same strategy for content markets.

What's not clear is exactly how they will pull this off. Sure, lining up key apps will help, but the discontinuation of Windows versions suggests that Apple is planning something for these products that simply won't be feasable on Windows. That might include support for unique hardware or integration with Mac OS X or other products that is untenable on Windows. Personally, I think it's the former.

If Apple can deliver a hardware/software solution that is decisively better than what *could be* offered (not what *is* offered, but what *could be* offered) at a price point that is no more than 50% higher, they'll make progressive market share advances and improve revenues and profitability. These market share gains will be long-lasting as well - longer than a single price cycle.

What most everyone seems to suggest as the solution is the destruction of some Windows market or market share at all costs. Surely after this dot-com bust and the cook-the-books debacle, we can recognize that the short view is not going to move Apple forward. Instead build real products that deliver real value. If you need to acquire some of those pieces, by all means do so.

I'm taking the timing of the acquisitions to be something more than taking advantage of a crappy market - after all, many of these companies would have been no more expensive to acquire a year ago than today. Instead, I think they are timed to a development in hardware or a software strategy that will reveal itself in the next 12 months or so.
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post #9 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by willy_me:
<strong>What Apple needs is a simplified, remote boot terminal for education and business. Something cheap - without a hard drive or CD-ROM. Just built in ethernet, video card, audio, USB and FireWire. Having an external monitor would also be helpful as most potential users already have plenty of monitors available.

The devices would remote boot off of an xServe and run OSX. They would be very reliable (no moving parts) and require no software maintanence (no local hard drive.) Simply put, perfect for a school lab or possibly a business workstation.

So what do you think??
</strong><hr></blockquote>

It's a great idea - but not now. The pieces aren't there yet. I disagree on the monitor, though. Sell it as a device, just wait for LCD prices to bottom.

The problem is that the software and some of the hardware is not ready, nor will it be until next year, IMO. As good as OS X is, and X Server, they need more maturing before a terminal will be ready to go successfully (more even than Jag will provide).

That said, I'm still selfishly looking for a tablet out of Apple that will serve as a thin client. 12" would be fine, thin, USB and Firewire on-board. Something that lets you sit on your sofa and upload and work with pictures, run a slide show, stream a qt movie. My staff would use them to access client information without having to turn their back on them to access the computer. MS's Mira comes dangerously close to this, but they'll choke it somehow, I'm sure.

Lots of bits still to come together, market segments aren't clearly defined, but I'd buy about a dozen of them.
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post #10 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by BobtheTomato:
<strong>

This assumes that the Bush White House is going to be terribly interested in getting into another dustup with Microsoft having just rid itself of the first (which a significant percentage of their voters probably felt should not have been pursued in the first place).

&lt;snip&gt;

Myself what I'd love to see is if Apple ever made a Hail Mary. Make 2 or 3 long term deals with clone makers for clearly defined market niches. Give the OS and reference designs away for free to these companies for machines that are in the assigned market niche. This could get Apple out of aome of the markets they don't want to be in. Bottom end iMacs are not a market Apple wants to be in, neither Apple nor the dealer make much (I remember the Mac shop I worked for wouldn't carry the 350 Mhz iMac because they made less than $10 on the thing). Apple gives a free license to an outfit for anything they sell for less than $750, everyone wins. There are more choices and Apple can keep margins on their kit at a level they can bear without losing market share. Other niches could be subnotebooks, PDAs/tablets, desktop replacement notebooks (over a certain weight), non-rackmountable servers, 6+ PCI alot Macs. f As long as the rules are clear to protect Apple and the agreement loophole free and long term enough (say five years) to protect the cloners I think everone could find something to gain.

Apple get to pick and choose where it plays and it gets the benefit of being able to offer more product niches (needd a six slot Mac with 16 DIMM slots and are willing to pay for it, have a schoold district that won't pay more than $700 a seat for the elementary school,etc). It doesn't make sense for Apple to do everything, but to keep customers in the spaces they want to play in they often need products in other places (IF Apple won't make a six slot box and I have to switch part of my operation I may find I like it over there or I may decide it makes more sense when I next update to switch my other machines over OR If a valid Mac solution for the 500 other machines in the building can be provided within the school district's budget constraints do you think that lessens or increases the chance of some shiny POwerMacs being bought for the Science, Art, and and Journalism departments).</strong><hr></blockquote>

First off, MS kills Apple, MS kills itself. See discussion in:

<a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001965" target="_blank">http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001965</a>

Second, Apple will never *ever* do the clone thing again. Have you noticed how there's nary an Apple press release or product announcement without gushing praise of Apple's hardware/software integration ("We're the only company in the world that makes the hardware, the operating system, and the software" etc)? Apple knows exactly the components in its machines, and in what combination they come. This allows them to have near perfect hardware/software solutions (iTunes, for example). No way would they let another clone company make even low-end machines because it would kill the magic. They might as well rename OS X "Pretty Windows" because it would start to suck like Windows.
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post #11 of 12
[quote]Originally posted by Bollaroid II:
<strong>WHAT APPLE REALLY NEEDS</strong><hr></blockquote>

A good spanking?
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post #12 of 12
A Caps Lock Off key? <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />

J :cool:
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