Originally posted by sc_markt
I wonder is this is the start of the Microsoft model: Writing software for hardware built by other companies...
Well, in reality...it is all shades of gray. Is Apple a hardware company? Software company? Both?
First...Apple doesn't (really) build
computers. They design, package and market them. Apple has outsourced manufacturing for some time now. Recently they got out of the business of designing (or at least co-designing) CPUs. This latest news suggests that Apple is experimenting with outsourcing the design of motherboards, etc. If it goes well, what would stop Apple from contracting Intel to design even more of their boards? Probably nothing. So, then...Apple isn't doing anything but specing
the hardware design, creating the packaging (nice looking cases) and creating the software (OS, et al).
Second...hardware is worthless without software. So, from a certain point of view (and not really a "tortured" one either), Apple is a software company that simply packages and sells their software (primarily an OS) differently than Microsoft does.
Third, it is not unheard of for Microsoft to "dictate" (or at least strongly suggest) a base level of PC (hardware) features and functions. You could say that Microsoft has outsourced everything
(below the OS).
So...Apple really is a software company...with a unique approach to packaging and selling their software. The Mac mini really drove this concept home for me. I mean look at it. Look at the box at the stores. It is hardly distinguishable from a software box. And, truth be told, it is
a software box...you just don't need to install the software from a CD. Just plug in power, keyboard, mouse and display. Laptops remove even those last three steps.
Apple's approach has a number of disadvantages to be sure...but some advantages as well:
- controlling the hardware execution environment can help make sure everything "just works"
- shipping software with only your hardware can reduce piracy
Apple is probably moving the direction you suggest. But it will be done in a controlled manner. Steve has a lot of experience behind him on this from both Apple and NeXT. It will likely begin with only some authorized vendors (Sony at first would be my guess, then Lenevo. After that, thanks to the nature of market consolidation, Apple has only two choices HP/Compaq and Dell...each of which controls about 40% of the PC market).