June 25, 2003

The Reality Distortion Field

Ars Technica's Hannibal voluntarily enters Steven Jobs's Reality Distortion Field:


Ars Technica: Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference - Page 1 - (6/2003): At about noon yesterday, I phoned Deffexor to see if he wanted to head out to the Apple store in Cambridge and catch the WWDC keynote.... I'll be back again.... The Apple UI team's ability to use Quartz's rendering model to stunning visual effect was on full display. Exposť, a new UI feature that allows you to take in your entire desktop at a glance... knocked everyone's socks off.... The changes to the Finder were nice, and long overdue, but I was ultimately disappointed.... Apple's new digital camera... will be something that sells Macs... "network marketing"... the G5 towers are very nice machines for the money. You can now get a dual-processor, 64-bit Unix workstation with great consumer features, plenty of next-gen I/O capabilities (USB 2.0, Firewire 800, Bluetooth, etc.), a Superdrive, and excellent performance for less than the price of a dual-Xeon and significantly less than the price of a comparable Unix workstation from one of the other workstation vendors... the Mac a superior platform for creative professionals. That last point is actually kind of hard for me to admit, because I haven't really covered Apple technology during a time when I thought the Mac was a better choice for professionals than a PC with NT/Win2K/WinXP... I can actually recommend an Apple tower to someone with compute-intensive work to do. This is a new thing for me, and it hasn't completely sunk in... all of the speculation... in my previous two 970 articles so far appears to have been 100% correct. This means two things: 1) I rule, and 2) I don't have to update any of my 970 articles... The Adobe, Emagic and Mathematica benchmark bakeoffs were a bit more believable and relevant. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the dual-G5 really did out-do the P4* on these apps, because they're very bandwidth intensive and they give the G5's excellent frontside bus and memory subsystem a chance to shine. What makes a media workstation is bandwidth, and not just raw CPU power. In fact, high-end Unix workstations from SGI and Sun have always been beefier on the bandwidth side than on the CPU horsepower side--this is one reason why they're so expensive. The G5 tower looks like a real contender when it comes to moving data around, and that's what counts for pro applications... a new era for Mac users... the last time Apple was arguably in a position of hardware and software dominance the PC landscape looked a lot different than it does, now... as Apple well knows, we're now in an era of consumer-oriented gadgets and gizmos, where what you can do with your computer is no longer contingent on how fast it is. Speed just isn't an issue anymore for the mass market, but cost and functionality are. Apple is uniquely poised to take advantage of this... while Apple's strong return to the creative professional market is a welcome move, I hope that it paves the way for a return to the company's real roots--providing computers for "the rest of us."...

Posted by DeLong at June 25, 2003 10:35 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Hmm; I had to go to the original to find out that the author was not ellipsis happy...no problem there.

In any case, I think everybody should experience the RDF (reality distortion field) at least once in while, so if you want to do so as well, go to:

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc03/

(Quicktime 6 required; free download available.)

Once you see this, you will realize that if Bill Gates could do a convincing Steve Jobs imitation, he would already be the emperor of the planet. The power of the RDF should not be under-estimated.

With the reality distortion factor duly noted, it should be pointed out that this was in fact a *very* impressive set of introductions, for Apple or anybody else. It's clear that corporate America isn't going to be moving very quickly away from Windows anytime soon, but there should be little question about whose today computing innovators are (Apple and the open source world) and who they are not (Microsoft, the unpunishable monopoly). Many of the Alpha Geeks have already figured this out, although to be sure not all of them are Apple fans.

Posted by: Jonathan King on June 25, 2003 12:53 PM

Jonathon,
I would have to disagree. I think the majority of innovation in software is happening on the Microsoft side of the fence, and their future plans( Longhorn, Whidbey, Palladium, Media2Go, TabletPCs ) are way beyond the capabilities of Apple or Open Source.

We shall see, clearly, I think, in the 2006-2007 timeframe.

What has apple and open source innovated?

Posted by: theCoach on June 25, 2003 02:22 PM

How exactly is Longhorn "innovative", given that it isn't available for public examination yet, its' feature set is far from settled, and all we think we know about it is a lot of rumors floating about on the Internet? How is Palladium an "innovation" any sort of end user would willingly take up? And if the TabletPC isn't an obvious extension of developments already underway, what is?

Methinks you mistake a lack of focus, and a monopolist's desperate search for new growth opportunities, for "innovation". Apple have definitely lifted their game with these new machines, and Sun Microsystems ought to be feeling pretty uncomfortable. What we see when we look at the G5 boxes are full-fledged 64-bit Unix workstations masquerading as mere desktop machines.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 25, 2003 02:32 PM

Abiola,
We shall see.
Sun should have been nervous in 1999 as their business model never made sense. So should Oracle, as Microsoft and IBM begin to make better products cheaper.
I think you do not understand Palladium- it has obvious benefits for the non-paranoid ( and has someone who I believe is a fairly avid freemarketer, why do you not like choice?). We do know quite a bit about Longhorn, actually, but you are right it may be too early to tell ( Our first really good look should be in October). It would not be the first time Microsoft was overly ambitious and failed, but they now have smarter, more-driven people working for them, and a lot more money than anyone else.
Again, we shall see.
I do hope that you are correct- that Apple can produce viable competition ( I think they are head and shoulders ahead of any PC box makers in design- I even like the cheese grater), but I am afraid they are about to get steam-rolled by better, faster products.

Posted by: theCoach on June 25, 2003 03:19 PM

On the contrary, I understand Palladium (now called NGSCB, or "Next Generation Secure Computing Base") all too well - I've read the actual technical papers, so I'm not just being paranoid. There is indeed plenty to be worried about.

Here is the paper in which the concept originally appeared.

http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~waa/aegis.ps

It's called "A Secure and Reliable Bootstrap Architecture", and it was written by Bill Arbaugh, David Farber and Jonathan Smith.

Following is a link to the contents of the patent application filed by Microsoft, for a "Digital Rights Management Operating System":

http://cryptome.org/ms-drm-os.htm

Following is a FAQ with all of the information you need to make up your own mind as to the desirability of this particular "innovation":

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on June 25, 2003 04:00 PM

Abiola,
I have browsed those links before- the inclusion of Cringley and The Register creates a lack of credibility.
Can you give a scenario that you think will be a problem?

Posted by: theCoach on June 25, 2003 04:13 PM

"I hope that it paves the way for a return to the company's real roots--providing computers for "the rest of us."

Apple as the populist computer is pretty funny at this point.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on June 25, 2003 04:48 PM

Hmm... faster machines, optimized for the kind of stuff Apple's core market does and that it's held off spending on for a long time (walk around an ad agency and even G3s are relatively rare, let alone the ability to edit and then burn a DVD at your desk instead of using a $Bazillion-an-hour Avid suite), featuring super-friendly interfaces on gotta-have products like iTunes, all at a competitive price...

No question, Apple's doomed. Jane Galt and Steven Den Beste said so.

Posted by: Mike G on June 25, 2003 05:19 PM

Mike G,

The ability to edit and burn DVD at your desktop is commonplace now, there's no reason to rent a bazillion dollar an hour Avid suite to do it. Both Mac and PC's can do it now. The software is a few hundred bucks and works on current machines. There's no reason to buy a G5 to do so!!!!!

OH, now I get it, you demostrating the reality-distortion-field. Good example, I should have noticed that before.

Posted by: KevinNYC on June 25, 2003 06:17 PM

MikeG,
All well and good, but here is the problem:

"Apple's core market"

Is that a subset of the total Apple market? Is that above or below 3%? And on servers, database servers, etc. Who is going to pay for the innovation?

Posted by: theCoach on June 25, 2003 06:25 PM

Mmmmm...must get Dual 2 Ghz G5......

You Apple bashers are crazy. What is it to you if they own 5% of the market? Don't worry, Microsoft isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and as long as Apple keeps coming out with neat new stuff, then Microsoft will have something to copy and give to you (as opposed to just charging you for an "upgrade" that does nothing, which they are of course perfectly content to do as well). It's a win-win situation for both platforms.

Posted by: BigMig on June 25, 2003 07:41 PM

Mmmmm...must get Dual 2 Ghz G5......

You Apple bashers are crazy. What is it to you if they own 5% of the market? Don't worry, Microsoft isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and as long as Apple keeps coming out with neat new stuff, then Microsoft will have something to copy and give to you (as opposed to just charging you for an "upgrade" that does nothing, which they are of course perfectly content to do as well). It's a win-win situation for both platforms.

Posted by: BigMig on June 25, 2003 07:43 PM

Kevin, have you really used Premiere on a modren Windows desktop? It's still terrible, slow, crashy. I've seen Final Cut in action and it's a LOT slicker than Premiere.

For somebody doing advertising on a tight deadline with constant requests for reedits, those problems are deal killers. Mostly, they still use those expensive Avid suites.

This looks a lot like a Microsoft strategy - pick an expensive competitor (Avid), copy all their functionality, better it, make it cheaper, and SQUEEZE. All power to them but it's hardly revolutionary.

Posted by: bobdobba on June 25, 2003 07:49 PM

The coach writes:

> I would have to disagree. I think the majority of
> innovation in software is happening on the Microsoft side
> of the fence, and their future plans( Longhorn, Whidbey,
> Palladium, Media2Go, TabletPCs ) are way beyond the
> capabilities of Apple or Open Source.

OK, so I am completely baffled here. Longhorn and Palladium will not appear before 2005, so they cannot count as current innovations. In addition, Palladium is a heavy-handed solution to whatever problem it solves this week. The TabletPC is not an innovation; the virtually identical idea was killed in the early 90s by a vaporware announcement by Microsoft of "Windows for pen-based computing". I do not know enough about Widbey or Media2Go to comment on these.

I also have no idea what you mean by "the capabilities of Apple or Open Source". I have followed the history of Linux (in particular) quite closely over the past 12 years, and the only constant in that time is that most people have vastly under-estimated what it could do or where it would be now. Apple is a more interesting case, in that it is clear now that they went through a horrific relative dry spell in the 1990-1997 timeframe. Before that time, however, they invented or popularized technologies including the pervasive GUI on a PC, WYSIWIG on a PC, PostScript, TrueType fonts and QuickTime, the intellectual ancestor of streaming media formats. Berners-Lee has also acknowledge the influence of HyperCard in his work to develop the WWW. Since 1997, we have seen Apple re-invent its entire approach to the OS, popularize USB, push Firewire, re-unite printing and screen display via PDF (okay, so NeXT had DisplayPostscript first, but the current work is better), embrace Open standards wherever possible and open source in many instances...I could go on and on. Really, I do not know what you are thinking about when you describe any of the recent MS efforst as innovative.

> We shall see, clearly, I think, in the 2006-2007
> timeframe.

I don't think innovation is the same thing as market success. I have no reason to believe that MS will dip below a 70% market share in this decade even given a nightmare scenario for them. But the fact of the matter is that their next OS offering is 2 years away; they won't even be shipping an updated version of Explorer until then. It will be intereting to see how many people wait for them to catch up. What MS has going for it is a monopoly market share with lock-in and some price advantage on hardware. That is nothing to sneeze at, but theirs is a position that does not require innovation, which makes me dubious about claims for their future.

Posted by: Jonathan King on June 25, 2003 08:34 PM

>The ability to edit and burn DVD at your desktop is
>commonplace now, there's no reason to rent a bazillion
>dollar an hour Avid suite to do it. Both Mac and PC's can
>do it now. The software is a few hundred bucks and works
>on current machines. There's no reason to buy a G5 to do
>so!!!!!

You are absolutely correct that you don't need to buy a G5 to burn DVDs. But it is also the case that the software to burn DVDs costs zero if you buy an Apple machine with a SuperDrive in it. In terms of video-editing software, the PC solution is Adobe Premiere, while there are 3 tiers of Apple solutions. Having used *all* of these to some extent, I can give you the informed opinion that the best deal on the planet is iMovie (free with any Mac), the best software overall is Final Cut Pro, and the product that is least likely to leave you with fond memories is Adobe Premiere (although it is certainly a capable package). If somebody asked me today what to buy to do consumer-level video and DVD stuff, I'd tell them to get an eMac with a superdrive for $1300, spend $200 on additional RAM and the tilt stand, and to call me back if they had any issues. In all likelihood, they would have no issues. The importance of the G5 isn't, as you point out, for this kind of stuff, but for the pros, and for anybody who lives or dies by Illustrator, Photoshop, or Mathematica. You sure as heck don't need this kind of horsepower to run MS Word...we hope. :-)

Posted by: Jonathan King on June 25, 2003 08:44 PM

> Sun should have been nervous in 1999 as their business
> model never made sense. So should Oracle, as Microsoft
> and IBM begin to make better products cheaper.

Actually, the idea of server farms (and render farms) makes perfect sense. Sun had two problems. The first is that they (like others) loaned money to companies who bought their equipment, only to see the hardware blown out at bargain prices after the bubble burst. The second Sun problem is that, while there is a market for server farms, there is no essential reason it had to be a farm full of machines as pricey as Sun wanted and needed to sell. Hey, the fact that *Apple* is significantly under-cutting them for low end solutions is very meaningful.

As far a Oracle is concerned, only IBM can sell you an RDBMS for a huge enterprise that can really compete. I don't see them going away. What I do see, however, is a lot of places realizing that, however wonderful Oracle service and support may be, they don't need the ultra-deluxe solution. The open source PostgreSQL can actually handle for free what a lot of people shell out thousands per year to Oracle for; I think this kind of thinking is likely to affect all major database solution providers in the next 5 years.

Posted by: Jonathan King on June 25, 2003 08:58 PM

Ahh... the acrid burning smell of a good Mac vs. PC flamefest :0) The discussion threads attached to four out of our last five Apple-related posts have turned into exactly this sort of thing, which in itself tells you something (as Caesar pointed out on Ars): Apple is back in the game.

Back when the G4 towers were a price/performance travesty and everyone knew it, it was hard to get anyone from either side of the fence riled up enough to get a full-on flame war going with an Apple-related post. But now that the G5 is out so are the knives, and Mac and PC users are finally at it again like cats and dogs.

As a tech journalist, I'm glad, because it was no fun reporting on what was effectively a one-horse race (at least where the desktop was concerned).

(BTW, thanks for the link, Brad! Now if I could just get my other favorite blog, Talkingpointsmemo.com, to give me some love, I'd feel like my life was complete :0)

Posted by: Hannibal on June 25, 2003 08:59 PM

Something tells me, Hannibal, that although I may read all three of you, and you and DeLong may read each other, that JMM almost certainly doesn't read Ars and probably doesn't read DeLong. Well, maybe he does. But he's so very much east-coast politico-journalism.

I thought it was kinda neat to see Brad mention you, though. Ars is the tech site par excellence.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 26, 2003 01:30 AM

(Except that I might mention that I find the OS wars either incredibly boring or incredibly annoying and I wasn't happy to slog through some Ars news threads of that nature, nor to see it here. But I did. Perhaps I'm a masochist.)

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 26, 2003 01:33 AM

If not OS wars, how about bandwidth wars? All together now... Bandwidth! Bandwidth! Bandwidth! ...

Matt

Posted by: Matt on June 26, 2003 07:24 AM

"JMM almost certainly doesn't read Ars and probably doesn't read DeLong. Well, maybe he does. But he's so very much east-coast politico-journalism."

Yeah, this is definitely true, and I don't realistically expect him to ever link up Ars for any reason. He pretty well stays on-topic, so I doubt we'll ever come onto his radar. In fact, with the kind of stuff he covers, I sincerely hope that we never come onto his radar..haha.

However, Ars isn't really my main gig. I'm actually a humanities grad student (in history, like JMM), and I'm about to head to U. of Chicago to do a PhD at their divinity school. Since my area of focus is in apocalypticism, both early Christian and Jewish and modern apocaltypic movements, there may concievably come a time when he'll find something that I write relevant enough to link to.

Also, reading Brad's website has inspired me to want to sneak off and take some econ classes at Chicago while I'm there. Chicago seems to be really big on the interdisciplinary thing, so I'm sure I could sell it to my advisor somehow :0)

Posted by: Hannibal on June 26, 2003 09:14 AM

Hannibal, you wrote: "...and I'm about to head to U. of Chicago to do a PhD at their divinity school. Since my area of focus is in apocalypticism..."

Ah. Well, then, the OS Wars are clearly within your area of expertise.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 26, 2003 01:17 PM

"Ah. Well, then, the OS Wars are clearly within your area of expertise."

Yes indeed. In fact, this is the one article that I wish I'd written for Ars but that I didn't write:

http://arstechnica.com/wankerdesk/1q99/millennium.html

The article was written by Ben Rota, a fellow Ars writer and Divinity school student. I think he's on to something.

Posted by: Hannibal on June 26, 2003 01:32 PM

Although Ator's analogy may be partly flawed in that it seems (to me, anyway) that Apple with OS X has perhaps for the first truly satisfied (or come close to satisfying) those millenialist hopes. I always felt that in the case of Apple pre-OS X, the emperor *did* have clothes--except that they were beautifully tailored but made with very shoddy materials. Now Apple has the best UI coupled with a fine underlying, modern OS architecture. The only thing that has been weak has been the lag behind Intel's and AMD's incessant CPU performance enhancements. The 970 seems to answer that issue, as well. Maybe. For a while.

On the other hand, I think that MS took an enormous step when it finally moved from the 95 codebase to the NT codebase with its consumer OS. And they've consistently learned from Apple--many of the UI weaknesses of Windows relative to the Mac have been corrected. So...I don't know.

It's interesting. But not so interesting that I enjoy rants about it.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on June 26, 2003 02:55 PM

Kevin NYC sayeth:

"The ability to edit and burn DVD at your desktop is commonplace now, there's no reason to rent a bazillion dollar an hour Avid suite to do it... oH, now I get it, you demostrating the reality-distortion-field."

Actually more of a joke at the expense of ad agencies, or their clients, who still pay through the nose to do such things at editing houses because they haven't replaced the Quadra 650s on all their creatives' desks. I exaggerate, but only slightly; I can edit and burn DVDs at home, but you'd be surprised how few creatives at ad agencies have a good enough computer on their desks to be able to do so. (In fact, it's pretty much a standard joke that most creatives have a much better personal computer than the one they have at work.) I believe there is a fair amount of pentup demand/spending, which the G5s are coming out at just the right moment to unlock.

I'll give you another clue. I know an editor who recently went out on his own from a famous editing house. He said "a Mac and Final Cut is all I need." Here's a guy going out on his own and spending his own money when he doesn't necessarily know where his next paycheck will come from. But he wasn't about to touch Windows and other cutting programs-- not when he's responsible for his own tech support....

Coach spake:

"Apple's core market"--Is that a subset of the total Apple market? Is that above or below 3%? And on servers, database servers, etc. Who is going to pay for the innovation?

I am sorry this seems so baffling to you. It's all those ad agencies, design firms, photo retouchers, publishers, etc. etc. who already have Mac systems in place (which is the vast majority of those vertical markets) and have pentup demand (see above). It is just about all of Apple's business market, whatever portion that represents of whatever. Beyond that, you've lost me in incoherence.

By the way, in reference to Jonathan King's comments, I know how to use Final Cut and I use iMovie whenever what I'm doing is straightforward enough to allow it. It's a great little program (actually I prefer 2 to 3, even), amazingly well thought out to the actual habits of the home movie maker who wants to do a little tightening up of his home movies, and so simple you don't need any form of manual or instructions. It alone is a reason to go Mac if you want to do that with your computer.

Posted by: Mike G on June 26, 2003 07:32 PM

Kevin, have you really used Premiere on a modren Windows desktop? It's still terrible, slow, crashy. I've seen Final Cut in action and it's a LOT slicker than Premiere.
For somebody doing advertising on a tight deadline with constant requests for reedits, those problems are deal killers. Mostly, they still use those expensive Avid suites.

Bobdobba,

Yes, I have used Premiere. But why would you assume that editing on a PC = Premiere? I prefer is Vegas 4 from Sonic Foundry (soon to be from Sony Pictures Digital which just bought Sonic Foundry's desktop multimeda applications). It's way slick and incredibly stable. It runs fine on an $800 machine, it kicks ass on a $3000 mahcine. Apple knows about it because some of the new features of Final Cut Pro 4 are trying to catch up to Sonic Foundry. The ability to preview an effect on a real video monitor via firewire (not your computer monitor) is new to Final Cut (even then they can't do full screen, multiple layer playback. Sonic Foundry had that back in 2002. This "true real time" ability is one reason why advertising folks on deadlines use Avids. Also not having to render the final output helps with deadlines. Also once you are editing some kind of video other than DV your machine costs are going way up. You are not using a $5,000 Final Cut Pro system to edit DigitalBetacam video. Just the card to get that in and out of your system is a few grand.
I also like Vegas 4's interface and workflow better. Vegas also has killer audio tools built in, Apple just beefed up theirs, but they are still short.
How do I know Apple wants Final Cut Pro to catch up? Well it's Apple stategy, Just like when Apple hired the guy who created Premiere away from Adobe to create Final Cut Pro, the new "Soundtrack" feature was created some of the folks who wrote Sonic Foundry's ACID music program. It specifically designed to work with ACID media. They also just bought a killer titling program from India Pro ( and killed the windows support for it).
I think Final Cut Pro is a great product and version 4 is a fantastic upgrade, but it's not the only great product and this busines of "you can only do this on a Mac" is pure myth. Part of this Apple marketing, part of this is most Mac people don't pay attention to the PC software market which is understandable, but it often leaves them with a myopic picture of state of the art in software. If was doing high end work that had to interface with online AVID systems, I would choose Final Cut Pro, but for my professional productions, I am missing nothing.

Jonathan,
The PC solution is not just Premiere, that was three years ago, see Vegas above, but also note ulead, avid and pinnacle all make professional quality non-linear editors.
The Apple Superdrive is the perfect example of Apple mythology. It's great that Apple bundles them with a Mac, but it's not an Apple product. It is made by Pioneer, it's the DVR-A05, they are widely available for any PC. They are down to $200 bucks and DVD authoring/burning software is included. If you're talking price as a factor. I can get you set up with a fast computer, monitor, excellent video editor, DVD burner, burning software and excellent DVD authoring software for $1200. So is it true that the Apple DVD burning software costs $0? (remember, there are economists about) So since, we do not have to choose one or the other, it comes down to which one you prefer. They are just tools. If you want to choose Apple, fine, but most of justifications are just not there any more.

Posted by: KevinNYC on June 27, 2003 10:16 AM

MikeG,
Sorry for the incoherency. The point I was trying to make is that it costs money to develop software, generally, and Microsoft has it, and has a great way of continuing to get it. Apple, has a lot less money coming in. For what it is worth, I think Apple could probably salvage a niche market in graphics design markets, but I think their general pc market share will be diminishing, even with the new and much better OSX. Of course, I could be wrong.

Jonathon King,
If you go back and read the post you quoted you will see that I referred genericly to Microsoft's current innovations (which for the record, I consider to be their work on the .NET Framework, and the CLR), and that I believe those future innovations ( Longhorn, etc.) will be ones Apple and Open Source do not have the capabilities to duplicate.

Posted by: theCoach on June 27, 2003 10:24 AM

MikeG,
Sorry for the incoherency. The point I was trying to make is that it costs money to develop software, generally, and Microsoft has it, and has a great way of continuing to get it. Apple, has a lot less money coming in. For what it is worth, I think Apple could probably salvage a niche market in graphics design markets, but I think their general pc market share will be diminishing, even with the new and much better OSX. Of course, I could be wrong.

Jonathon King,
If you go back and read the post you quoted you will see that I referred genericly to Microsoft's current innovations (which for the record, I consider to be their work on the .NET Framework, and the CLR), and that I believe those future innovations ( Longhorn, etc.) will be ones Apple and Open Source do not have the capabilities to duplicate.

Posted by: theCoach on June 27, 2003 10:29 AM

"The point I was trying to make is that it costs money to develop software, generally, and Microsoft has it, and has a great way of continuing to get it. Apple, has a lot less money coming in."

And yet somehow Apple comes out with one slick piece of version 1.0 software after another, where Microsoft takes 3 versions to get to tolerable and they're still weird, counterintuitive, buggy programs (hands down the 2 most irritating, why-the-F-did-it-do-THAT programs I use on a semi-regular basis are Word and Powerpoint). Maybe money isn't everything?

Posted by: Mike G on June 27, 2003 12:07 PM

MikeG,
Again I was incoherent. Let me try an example. I want to start a company and I have the best software developers in the world. Which market am I going to target- the one with 95% of the users or the one with 3% of the users?
As far as version 1 of Apple, it seems to me that X stands for 10, and that the version before OSX was really way behind, and that this version is based on FreeBSD, whose roots go back a little bit. And the most popular software on a Mac, I thought, was Office and IE, but even if it is not, do you see the structure of the problem they face?

Posted by: theCoach on June 27, 2003 08:48 PM

I see the structure of the problem. They've had the same problem for nigh on 20 years, I don't see why it should suddenly prove fatal this year. In reality, the problem with your problem is that it ignores the verticality of markets. If you make a payroll system, odds are you would never ever ever make one for Mac even if they had 20% or 40%, because accounting is so vertically Windows. If you make a design program, you will certainly make it Mac, you may or may not make it Windows, because so much of that vertical industry is Mac. To use the Porsche analogy again, as self-serving as it is for Mac, it's sort of like saying no one would ever make leather gearshift knob covers for Porsches, because there are so many more automatic Toyota Corollas out there. Yes, there are, but...

The whole software development issue is a bit of a red herring. In a lot of ways it boils down to "there are 20 different MP3 programs for the PC and all you have is iTunes." Yes, but iTunes works better than at least 19 of them and it's free, so what's the issue? (And don't say but Apple can't make money giving away software. iTunes shows they most certainly can...) The sheer number of programs out there tells you very little about how well the average user can function. In all the time I've had Macs, there has been exactly ONE thing I've ever been tempted to run Virtual PC for-- Broderbund's CD-ROM of the complete Mad magazine. That's literally it; I've written novels, edited films, published newsletters, made birthday cards, played games, burned music CDs, balanced my check book, shared info with people in Finland, and a million other things without ever wishing I had a Windows machine. That's not a sign of superiority, just of personal preference-- but what it proves is that for almost 20 years they've managed to keep the day when I'm forced to go PC at bay. In fact, it's surely further away now than it was 7-8 years ago.

What I mean by Version 1 is how well thought out from a functionality/user-friendliness standpoint programs like iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie etc. were in their first iterations-- though 2, or at least 1.1, always seems to have significant speed improvements and include the two things that every review said was missing. Where the first version of whatever MS releases is always a bungled mess. And even later versions are not that great-- you can say Safari is faster than IE because Apple has secrets it won't share with outsiders, but then why are Mozilla and Camino faster than IE too?

Posted by: Mike G on June 28, 2003 06:36 AM
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