Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
Apple’s “blockbuster” announcement was more like a “bunker buster” attack on crazed wannabes, including Microsoft (and its Zune also-to-run) and other delusional entrants in the digital media wars. With the iTV product now confirmed on the Q1 ’07 horizon, I just can’t see anyone in the entire IT landscape able to put more than a cosmetic scratch on the all-terrain armored battle platform that is Apple’s iTunes/Mac ecosystem. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, this mega-machine has been crushing opposition quarter after quarter, causing tremendous turmoil in all the companies we love to loathe. Even a yesteryear titan like Intel has been bent to the will of Jobs, embroiled in petty price wars that ultimately benefit only Apple and its consumers.
It is becoming infinitely improbable that Apple isn’t on track to completely dominate the new digital playground. In this new age of the Web 2.0, Google, Skype, and YouTube, the real game changer is that disruptive “little” company in Cupertino. What Apple’s done in recent years is basically run circles around the 800-pound gorillas (who are looking more like chimps these days).
Speaking of monkey business, did any of you catch those photos of the Zune? You gotta hand it to the Redmond boys to make something look super sexy. Against Microsoft’s “killa” product, the new 8 GB black iPod nano is mighty hot. My level of amazement at Microsoft’s appalling execution is at record levels. It almost feels like the company is deliberately fencing cheap looking products (at expensive prices) just to humor the market. (“Lookit! Hahahaha!”) Either its marketing geniuses have come up with some outta-da-world brilliant marketing strategy, or they just are as clueless as ever (or perhaps I should say, just as clueless as Sony).
“What’s changed?” Barring legalities, I think that Microsoft was “successful” for some 15 years because the market was (mostly) just as clueless. But stars collide, empires crumble, markets evolve, and people who have tasted the superior usability of the iPod are starting to realize that maybe there are better products out there if only they just tried them out. While the decision to go with Intel paved the way, it is really Boot Camp and Parallels that are enabling a new paradigm of computing experience. The chasm is being crossed by the masses.
And what of the larger Apple ecosystem? iTV will be mind-bogglingly huge. iTV is not so much about an entertainment console that many of us are going to put in our living rooms as it is about the whole concept of Apple in almost every aspect of our lives, and I’m not even counting the potential ramifications of the rumored iPhone.
Apple will, essentially, be what Microsoft tried to be. Like Steve Jobs said, Apple is now in our dens, living rooms, cars, and pockets. But Apple is also online (.Mac), on our streets (retail stores), in our offices (Xserve), and on our desks (Macs). It is with Apple that we spend our work time and our free time. Our collective digital identities are going to be enmeshed into the fabric of the upcoming duopoly that is Apple/Google. Have we chosen a brighter future compared to the alternative universe ruled by Microsoft/Intel? Only the Time Machine will tell.
I do know one thing, though. While I can no longer joke about “Longhorn” being a cow, someone recently told me “Vista” means “chicken” in Latvia.
I think Leopards eat chickens too.