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An alternative for IT penetration...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Reading someone's idea of Apple forming a spin-off and selling "Mac-compatible" computers based around incredibly low-end parts got me to thinking.

I don't think this would be a good idea for Apple. It would hurt their reputation. On the other hand, what if we look at various threads in the complex web of Apple rumors and IT reality.
  • People want Apple to use processors aside from those offered by IBM and Motorola; most often x86 chips.
  • Apple can't reasonably port its own software platform to this architecture without alienating developers.
  • Apple has server hardware and software tha has been greeted warmly by IT, and which can be, for the most part, agnostic with regards to client platforms.
  • Linux is rapidly gaining acceptance in IT.
  • The Linux and open source community in general could use a company with Apple's taste to clean things up a bit, and they've already shownn themseves open to Apple's contributions.
  • The Linux community could contribute back the necessary drivers and such needed to support an operating system across a wide range of hardware. (something Apple does not have the resources to do alone)

So what I would suggest is a spin-off company, which we could for the sake of argument give the aforementioned name "Tomato". Such a company could produce Linux-based clients for IT in a nice pre-installed, warrantied package. Perhaps small ATX or Micro-ITX form factors. Available with a range of x86 processors, since Linux development is biased towards this architecture anyway, and using PPC doesn't give any OS X compatibility without significant caveats for Apple.

Couple the sales of them with Xserve machines on the back-end and perhaps Apple peripherals, and I think they would be presenting businesses with a more easily acceptable solution. It doesn't solve the problem of Apple's acceptance in IT in the long-run, but it does get their foot in the door and hopefully bring in some profit.

Besides, it's really the only way they can break out of their current business model, as far as computers go, anyway.

Or they could just bring back the NeXT name.
post #2 of 17
Heh...

First thing I thought of when seeing the subject of this thread was the common sight of an IT dept. screwing Mac users by forcing them to move to WinBloz machines...

Gives an entirely different spin on the phrase IT penetration...!

Cheers!

;^p
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post #3 of 17
Why would people run Mac OS X in a corporate environment when they could run Linux (free) or Windows (corporate default) on these cheap x86s you envision Apple making?

And why would anyone buy these cheap x86 boxes when businesses have literally hundreds of other choices for vendors?

I'd like to see Apple gain some market share. But going to the moribund x86 architecture and compromising the "Mac experience" is not the way to do it.
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post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by japh
Reading someone's idea of Apple forming a spin-off and sel
The Linux community could contribute back the necessary drivers and such needed to support an operating system across a wide range of hardware. (something Apple does not have the resources to do alone)

OS X's driver model is entirely different. The drivers would have to be rewritten more or less from the ground up anyway.
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
I agree that finding a way to differentiate such a product would be difficult. It would be the most difficult aspect of such a venture.

However, at the moment, the business market is remarkably closed to anything that doesn't run on cheap commodity hardware (except in the server room). I agree that Apple can't compete in this market. Their entire business model eschews the road of high-volume sales with low profit margins.

In order to get into such a business then, the problem demands that Apple's current business, and this type of business be distinctly separated, except at the bank account level.

As for drivers, I didn't intend to suggest that such development would benefit OS X. But I think that two operating systems could coexist, and that multiple hardware platforms could coexist. IBM and Sun already do this, and while Apple is not IBM or Sun, it is certainly more closely related to them than to the likes of Dell.

I have no idea if it would work, but it would open the window for Apple to experiment.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by japh
However, at the moment, the business market is remarkably closed to anything that doesn't run on cheap commodity hardware (except in the server room). I agree that Apple can't compete in this market. Their entire business model eschews the road of high-volume sales with low profit margins.

I doubt that there are very many IT drones who would wish to place Linux machines on the desktops of corporate office worker drones...

Could you imagine the headaches this would cause?!?

Folks screw up regular WinBloz machines enough as it is, what kind of snafu would they create with Linux boxes...?!?

Apple should be able to make inroads in the IT departments in the future, mainly riding on two factors...

1) The lower licensing costs associated with Mac OS X Server

2) The fact that their new machines are using IBM CPUs (don't discount this fact, the name IBM itself has a strong grip on the IT depts around the world / nobody ever got fired for buying IBM hardware, as the old saw goes)

Ten/Twenty years from now, folks may remember M$/WinBlows as well as the average computer user of today remembers OS/2 or BeOS...

And, in keeping with Steve Jobs' distast for television, the revolution will not be televised...!

Cheers!

;^p
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post #7 of 17
The day Apple goes X86 is the day I stop computing!
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by msantti
The day Apple goes X86 is the day I stop computing!

uh huh...
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post #9 of 17
If I were Steve and I _really_ wanted to enter business, I do it by starting from the phrase "Sell the WHOLE widget". Where in the business world that involves a lot of IT infrastructure sorts of things.

Off-site backups? Can do.
Web-hosting? Can do.
Mail-servers? Can do.
Your-desktop-follows-you-everywhere? Can do.
Database-server? Can do.
Calendar-server? Can do.

All these things cause 'big business' to have huge machine-room areas full of guaranteed power/cooling/etc/etc. But this is a lot tougher for small businesses to manage. 1) It's something Apple already does a fair piece of. (THEY have mongo server rooms, duh), 2) It is something that 'TCO' is supposed to be good for... 3) Ease-of-use...

All the arguements about TCO or ease of use turn into _lower_costs_ if they are actually true -> _IF_.

Note that there's a lot of web-banners floating around aimed at getting people/companies to sign up as 'Apple Consultants'. And that .Mac does 50% of the things I mentioned already on an individual basis.
post #10 of 17
what Apple needs is a simple system targeted for mass environments that can stand on it's own merits without mac evangilism.

That means it is economical with acceptable performance and quality.

Anything less will get apple nowhere,

xserve is something of a step in the right direction, but you have a server with nothing to serve.

The eMac and iMac are jokes, the G4 tower is a very expensive joke.
No one who isn't already tied to the Macintosh would give them anything more than a passing glance.

Unless Apple offers something that is in the same price range as the Dell and HP competition there is no point even having this discussion.

It has to be something where the Apple proposal can stand on it's own merits as a value proposition against competing bids from the big PC vendors. Waiting for customers to move from high performance and inexpensive PC's for anemic and ****ing expensive macs is like some 400 pound peice of trailer trash waiting for Brad Pitt to break down her door and sweep her away. It just isn't going to happen.
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post #11 of 17
Quote:
Reading someone's idea of Apple forming a spin-off and selling "Mac-compatible" computers based around incredibly low-end parts got me to thinking.

Not sure why, as Apple already uses pretty basic and cheap parts across it's entire line. In fact if you were to actually buy all the parts that make up a modern Powermac it will probably be no more then 600 bucks RETAIL! Maybe that poser DDR RAM is causing the high price.

[edit by Amorph: Changed CODE tag to QUOTE tag to restore board formatting]
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post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by Relic
Not sure why, as Apple already uses pretty basic and cheap parts across it's entire line. In fact if you were to actually buy all the parts that make up a modern Powermac it will probably be no more then 600 bucks RETAIL! Maybe that poser DDR RAM is causing the high price.

You're spot on. If Apple released a $600 headless desktop and pushed the license free nature of X it might make slow inroads into corporations. Believe me, a $99/year annual upgrade on X is far less than the MS per seat fee.

Ideally it would give companies 5 boxes free on 6 months trial and educate IT Managers. My experience is that Macs are seen as dangerous and cause PCs to crash (my work IT dept really said that!).

Also, remember corporates don't buy $399 boxes, they buy $1000+ compaq/dell/ibm so price isn't the issue, it's perceived incompatibility and unreliability.
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post #13 of 17
Partner with IBM on Darwin
~ It already runs on xx86 and would make a great hedge for the Linux IBM servers in light of all the M$-SCO FUD. Regardless of the merits, the case will be drug out (with M$'s money) for years. A Gartner report recommends holding off on Linux until the issues are resolved.

Think about it. IBM offers Windows, AIX and Linux now on their hardware, adding Darwin support and development would give their customers more choice, and a way to avoid the epic M$~proxy attacks on Linux for the rest of the decade.

Partner with IBM on OSX Server
Taking the IBM~Apple partnering to it's logical conclusion would bring OSX Panther, server version only, to IBM hardware, with Marklar versions for the xx86 crowd.

Partner with IBM on Aqua ~ lite
IBM could build the minimalist desktops and thin clients for the Fortune 500, perhaps with a licensed version of Aqua as a front end, but without the iApps. IBM could then port their own applications and office suite to their own chips (970's assumed).

As for Apple, having IBM's endorsement will open the doors to the Fortune 5000 and create a level playing field in business accounts with M$FT for the first time. Choice is a good thing.

Aphelion ...
OSX + Duals, Quads & Octos = World Domination
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post #14 of 17
Aphelion has a more realistic scenario, although I disagree about SCO's threat to Linux. IBM seemingly has a lot invested in the Linux platform, and I doubt they would be ready to throw much support behind an untested x86 port of OS X.

The original poster suggests Apple using Linux as a base, which doesn't seem very likely to me. Apple has no interest, I believe, in supporting two divergent Unix platforms. Just prior to OS X being announced, there was a MkLinux PPC project being hosted by Apple. Subsequent to the OS X unveiling, MkLinux vanished without much of a trace.
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post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by Big Mac
Aphelion has a more realistic scenario, although I disagree about SCO's threat to Linux. IBM seemingly has a lot invested in the Linux platform, and I doubt they would be ready to throw much support behind an untested x86 port of OS X.

The original poster suggests Apple using Linux as a base, which doesn't seem very likely to me. Apple has no interest, I believe, in supporting two divergent Unix platforms. Just prior to OS X being announced, there was a MkLinux PPC project being hosted by Apple. Subsequent to the OS X unveiling, MkLinux vanished without much of a trace.

Untested x86 port? Darwin, the open source base of MacOS X, is actively supported and by Apple on x86. Darwin is based on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD, all of which were in active development on x86 before they were ported to PPC. The front end of MacOS X is based on OpenSTEP. OpenSTEP not originate on x86. However, it was ported to x86 long before it was ported to PPC. It is true that there is no commercial release of MacOS X for x86, but most of the pieces required to build it have been readily available for years. If the rumors of Marklar are correct, then everything except Classic has already been ported and is working well on x86.

Make no mistake, I believe that it would be suicide for Apple to sell a commercial version of MacOS X for x86. However, I believe that if IBM, SGI, or Sun were to sell ports of MacOS X on their RISC hardware, it would benefit both them and Apple.

As for the disappearance of mkLinux, you can pick up the trail here.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally posted by Big Mac
Aphelion has a more realistic scenario, although I disagree about SCO's threat to Linux.

The threat to Linux is the FUD introduced by M$FT via SCO. With Bill Gates bankrolling the litigation it could last for years. This is a win for M$FT even when SCO loses. Even after SCO's disappearance, expect more disruption from the kind folks in Redmond.

Darwin offers IBM yet another *Nix for it's clients to choose from and the FreeBSD type licencing is more flexible for a corporate entity like IBM (and Apple) to build on than Linux.

A "Union" or partnership between Apple and IBM would be a great win for both of them, Not to mention a sharp stick in the eye for Mr. Gates. Paybacks are a bitch, and M$FT has earned it when they revealed themselves as the power (and money) behind the SCO attack on IBM.

I'd say that they should take it further with at least OSX Server being offered on IBM's servers and blades. This would put some serious iron for the high end business market, while still leaving plenty of market for Apple's Xserves and Xraids.

An announcement of a partnership with IBM would have more impact on Apple's fortunes (and stock price) than the announcement of the 970 in Apple's line-up. This is the good news I'd like to hear from the WWDC.

Aphelion ...
OSX + Duals, Quads & Octos = World Domination
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post #17 of 17
I just discovered this Link from Applelust.com which adds some credibility to the concept that IBM is interested in pursuing Darwin for their own use with the 970 chip.

Quote:
Although IBM has publicly proclaimed that they will use Linux on their PPC 970 based servers, IBM has also quietly mentioned that they will also make a version of BSD UNIX available for them as well. Why wait until September? Because that's when Apple has said that it will officially release Mac OS X 10.3 , Apple's new 64 bit optimized operating system to go along with the PPC 970. Since Darwin is the core of Mac OS X, that means the next major revision to Darwin will also be released at the same time. For those who aren't in the know... Darwin is based on FreeBSD, one of the BSD variants. IBM may choose to use Darwin as the preferred op system for their own servers or at least as the true UNIX option.

Consider the advantages of IBM choosing a 64 bit optimized version of Darwin for their own blade servers as well as the currently fashionable Linux. Like Linux, Darwin is Open Source and a free operating system. Like Linux, Darwin is GNU compatible. Unlike Linux, Darwin is supported and maintained by a multi-billion dollar corporation instead of a group of squabbling committees that can't even agree from one distribution to the next on how to maintain a file system. Unlike Linux, Darwin is a true UNIX complete with all of the robustness and power that a true UNIX can offer. Unlike Linux, the next generation of Darwin will be optimized for 64 bit PPC processors and have AltiVec support.

That IBM might be more than a "supplier" of CPU's for Apple doesn't seem to generate much interest here, but as I mentioned in my earlier post, a partnership between Apple and IBM will have more of an impact on Apple's fortunes than any new chip will.

I'm just as excited about the 970 on Apple's platform as anyone here, but an announcement of an Apple/IBM alliance will have a far more lasting effect on the future of Apple than anything hardware wise that could be reveled at WWDC or MacWorld this year or next.

Anybody think different?

Aphelion ...
OSX + Duals, Quads & Octos = World Domination
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