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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

More on WinMac

I've got to hand it to those folks over at Apple - they've always got a trick up their sleeves. The common zeitgeist was that Apple was going to let the hacker community solve the "run Windows on a Mac" problem, then judge its popularity, then respond with support for the idea only if it seemed viable. Well, the hackers did their part, but less than three weeks later, Apple released a beta version of the supported solution: Boot Camp. Obviously, they had this cooking while the hackers were doing their thing. In any case, Boot Camp, which is in beta now, but will be built into the next version of OS X (Leopard), allows users to select between the Mac OS and Windows XP at boot time - no emulation required. So, users who want/need a Windows environment, but prefer the Apple hardware will now be satisfied with just one machine.

As I mentioned earlier (WARNING: Link contains long, screed-like comments war between me and Jeff Porten), this is has the potential to be a huge financial win for Apple. Not only have studies predicted the potential sale of an additional one million machines (22% increase in sales, 80% increase in market share), but these studies don't even address the corporate market. If the architecture on these machines is pure (i.e,. the Windows environment is an exact duplicate of what you'd find on a Dell or Compaq machine), I believe Apple can expect to quickly capture some portion of the much larger, and more sustainable, corporate PC market. Wall Street seems to agree with me, sending Apple's stock up roughly 16% in just two days, increasing the company's market cap by more than $8 billion. Some analyst quotes:

"In short, we believe this news, more than any news in recent memory, provides a critical boost to Apple's ability to gain share in the PC market" - JPMorgan Chase

"By doing this, Apple has made a tacit acknowledgement of what many have already said, which basically is: If you're serious about home computing or small-enterprise computing, you need Windows. There's no way around it. . . . Apple machines are excellently manufactured, and the performance is far superior. Now you can go in, look at those gorgeous Mac Minis and MacBook (Pros) and view them as a normal PC. You can run XP and never touch OS X, if you don't want to." - Forrester Research

Ironically, the only sourpuss in all of this is Apple itself, who has taken a tack that lies somewhere between what I was saying and what Jeff was saying (big surprise there, huh?). They're positioning this as a way to "make the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch," as opposed to a way for Windows users to buy & use higher quality hardware. They're also clearly backing away from any association with Windows or its very public security concerns (perhaps to protect their brand identity, as Jeff suggested). Their website warns:

Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it'll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes.

Ultimately, I think the marketing will follow the market. If the majority of Boot Camp users are Mac users that use Windows sparingly (i.e., only when necessary), then we'll see the "Switch" ads again. If, however, the majority are Windows users that like the improved graphics, bigger & nicer monitors, etc., and pop over to MacOS occasionally to try something new, then I think we'll see "Apple is better than Dell or Compaq" ads.

In any case, we won't see any of this for a while now (mass market appeal won't happen until the Leopard release, and then it will take some time for corporate America to vette the platform and agree that it's fully compatible with what they have today). Maybe when all the '07 budgets come in???

posted by Brian at 6:09 PM


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