iPod = Apple 2.0?

by Chris Seibold Oct 26, 2006

When Apple first became a legal partnership just over thirty years ago, few would have suspected that the next thirty years would end up being little more than a prelude to being the next big thing. Most surprised would be the founders, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula, they thought they were just going to be making a really profitable personal computer.

The personal computer they had in mind was, of course, the Apple II. The trio’s instincts were correct, the Apple II was a monster hit. For a time, until the IBM PC was introduced, Apple was the player in the personal market. Once the PC got around to being the PC, well, Apple took a quick backseat.

This seems confusing, how could Apple go from dominant computer maker with scads of software, software that included Oregon Trail, go from dominance to irrelevance? The chain of events seemingly defies rationality. If the Apple II was markedly inferior to the PC, why hadn’t some other computer maker made a machine demonstrably better than the Apple II? The truth is that plenty of people made better machines than the Apple II, and plenty of companies made equivalent computers that cost substantially less. Unfortunately, for the competitors, they got their product to market after Apple.

Thus, Apple had the huge advantage of being first to market. How big of an advantage is being first to market? Take pharmaceuticals, every so often some key piece of research will be suddenly uncovered and a drug will be pulled from the market. Usually the drug pulled is the first one in some supposedly new class. The interesting thing is that before the drug is pulled from the market, generally, it is still the best selling product in that segment of the market. This despite the fact that when drugs are pulled from the market it isn’t because of concerns over efficacy, it is because they tend to cause the adverse reaction known as death. It is easy to conclude at this point that being the first to market is of the utmost importance. The idea makes sense, a void for a product exists and the first company to fulfill said void naturally has a huge advantage.

Of course, the first to market advantage doesn’t last forever, Penicillin isn’t the world’s go to antibiotic anymore not because it is dangerous but because it has been outclassed by other drugs. Apple wasn’t stupid, it knew that the reign of the Apple II couldn’t last forever so they tried to be first to the market again with the Lisa and the Mac. The company might have had the edge in tech and usability but Apple lacked the legitimizing force of three important letters: IBM.

In truth, there was little Apple could do to actually compete with IBM and later the clones, short of giving up on the hardware side of things and start licensing the software. The move was suggested but by the time it was taken as a serious option it was far too late. Apple shouldn’t be seen as shortsighted, no one expected the eventual winner to be a software company and there was nothing in Apple’s previous experience that would indicate that massive profits and world shaking power would be found in something as fleeting as software.

By 1983 the days of Apple dominance were fading quickly and the long slide to “beleaguered” and “dying” had begun. The Mac only broke into double digit market share for a single year and most people, including the board of directors, saw Apple as a company that needed to be bought out by a company that could actually get something right.

While pundits, CEOs and the stock market all saw Apple with one foot in the grave Apple employees went about doing their jobs and trying to make some great stuff. Year after year, the company did crank out enticing, if not always successful, products. The Newton spawned the PDA market, Apple had one of the first digital cameras, and came out with a very early videoconferencing camera. These products and others kept Apple in the public mind as a company capable of making cool and cutting edge stuff.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple he quickly realized that Apple couldn’t beat Microsoft Windows on features alone. The power of Apple wasn’t in their gizmos, the power off Apple was in the company name. The public did have a positive image of Apple, the average person would say (incorrectly) that Apple invented the personal computer. They would also likely opine that Macs were in some intangible way better than PCs but that they were also very, very expensive.

Apple’s reputation for ease of use, the perception that Apple made an inherently higher quality than other manufacturers spurred the adoption of the iPod. What started life as a Mac only, FireWire portable hard drive with a headphone jack and a few extra chips took the .mp3 player market by storm. Actually, saying the iPod took the digital audio player market “by storm” actually understates the influence. The iPod created a huge chunk of the market.

The iPod yearns to be much more than an .mp3 player. In the ideal world of Steve Jobs all your media will come to you through Apple branded products. The concept makes sense, is there something inherently better about watching a cable TV show via the cable? Is there something that makes a physical CD superior to an iTunes purchase? Is there a legitimate reason why a DVD is preferable to a download? While the answer to the questions may be “yes” for the moment, in the long term the answer is a resounding “no”.

Apple wants to be the company that manages all of the previously mentioned information and, what the heck, the company wouldn’t mind being the one to sell all of the digital goodness to the consumer as well. The iPod is the perfect way to achieve that goal, a perfect way to take Apple to the market dominating company Mac fans are so desirous of seeing. Can Apple pull it off, will Zunes “squirt”* feature derail Apple’s plans? The next six months will tell and it will be a very interesting half-year.

*Sometimes it is better to let the market come up with a name for a feature. The Zune’s wireless transfer feature has been dubbed “squirt” by Microsoft. As in “I’ll squirt you a video of my vacation.” The name sounds forced and incredibly lame. Below I present 20 better terms for “squirting.”

Ooze, push, transfer, WiFile, zip, jump, slap, slam, spurt, side load, slide, barf, splooge, spill, drive, zing, breathe, blow, charm, infect your Zune with a virus


  • They WEREN’T even going to update it before Vista, is what I meant to type.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 243
  • Their revenue is still wholly based on leveraging the Windows monopoly.

    And yet, when one makes such an assertion about Apple:

    I’m certain Apple engineers watch the competition carefully and unless Beeb knows a bunch of Apple insiders, that opinion has no basis.

    Typical Mac-tard hypocrisy.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Internet Explorer does nothing for their bottom line since it comes with the OS.

    I beg to differ. Do you know how many websites work best with IE? How many developers develop first for IE?

    That locks people further into using Windows.

    So IE may be free, but it sure as heck does its bit to help maintain Windows dominance and perception of Windows/Microsoft compatibility being essential for trouble free computing.

    Remember that law guy a couple of weeks ago who said he was switching back? One of his main complaints was Mac browsers not being compatible enough with websites. He needed IE.

    So IE has just made him buy Windows (again). That’s added quite clearly to MS’s bottom line.

    And this is a prime example of how MS can leverage the Zune off Windows.

    All MS has to do is find ways to make the Zune more compatible with Windows than iPods - or at least create that perception, sow those doubts - and the tide will turn against the iPod.

    It’s the same thing MS did in the PDA market.

    If for instance, MS could include a Powerpoint player in the Zune, that’ll have a big impact. Or a Word viewer, or Excel viewer.

    Or a way to put your Windows home directory on your Zune.

    There’s so many things MS can do to make the Zune more Windows friendly than the iPod.

    Again, the same thing they did in the PDA market.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • The only threat to MS gaining significant market share with the Zune is their own gross stupidity. But even then, MS seem to succeed despite themselves.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • when you can call minus four billion dollars a success, is it suprising?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 927
  • So IE has just made him buy Windows (again). That’s added quite clearly to MS’s bottom line.

    And then there’s iLife, which Apple gives away for free (at first) in order to sell Macs.  It’s not like this is a new concept.  Vb_baysider, like most Mac partisans, is full of contradictions, double-standards, delusions, and hypocrisy in regards to the numerous parallels between Apple and Microsoft.

    I repeatedly bring this up because I don’t think Apple is at all helped by its horde of blind Mac-tard automatons who are perfectly happy with everything Apple does.

    Apple at this point needs a swift kick in the pants.  And MS is just the one to do it.

    If for instance, MS could include a Powerpoint player in the Zune, that’ll have a big impact.

    Those are all good ideas.  It remains to be seen whether MS will actually do these things.  The mistake they are making now, which they always seem to do in their rev 1.0 products, is to make a product that’s either equivalent to or just ahead of the current market leader.  The Zune has a few advanced features, but Apple could easily trump it with a new iPod similar to the one currently in the rumor-mills.  MS could have made THAT product.  They could have made a player that was more or less trump-proof, but they didn’t.

    I do agree with you, however, that the perceived compatibility with Windows is a big plus in their column.  I’m not much of a prognosticator, but if they succeed, I think this will be a big reason why.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Beeb, I’m getting this vision of what your first big feature film will be about.. horde of blind Mac-tard automatons

    Make a great ‘50s style B-grade horror.


    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 27, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Chris, there are some horrors audiences just aren’t ready for.  wink

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 2220

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • ———————
    CHRIS said:
    Let me tell ya a story…
    - Palm/PocketPC
    - Netscape/Internet Explorer
    - PSP/Xbox
    - Word Perfect/Word
    - Lotus 123/Excel
    - Turbo Pascal/Visual Basic

    Wrong: Turbo Pascal by Borland beat Microsoft Pascal.  Currently Borland’s Delphi is behind Visual Basic, but not beaten either.

    2 of your items are really just Office.  Lotus vs Word Perfect vs Office and Clearly Office has won this battle.

    -Palm’s not beaten either. It’s still a strong competitor.
    -Netscape is now Firefox is again pressuring IE (down but not out).

    -PlayStation is SONY - Don’t count them out! They battle with the likes of Sun, Oracle, and IBM.  The Game Console market is far from belonging to any one vendor and MS has paid Billions to be a player.  That said, the Live features stand to supporting Windows, so all they have to do is learn to break even on XBox to be ahead overall.


    Aren’t we talking about Apple and iPods?  So put a Power Point viewer on the Zune, and a PowerPoint Compatible Keynote viewer on the iPod.  Word viewer on Zone and Word Compatible Pages viewer on iPod.  The world would be a better place.

    Leveraging Windows is extremely important for MS, but I think Apple is about to play a trump card.  iWork with an Excel like Spreadsheet program. 

    I have a dream… iWork for Windows.  And a dual license so run it with one license on one install of MacOS and one Windows.  Use it at Work and Home, or MacOS and Windows in Parallels.

    I won’t try to say Office is bad, but let’s face it, there’s a ton of features that corporations don’t even use.  They were added for nitch markets or maybe some just to say they have more features, but a much simpler (but not simple) program would do everything a Corporation would need.

    With an Apple Office app, Apple can leverage the MacOS the same way MS has leveraged Windows.

    To say it another way, Window w/o Office couldn’t dominate.  Yes, MS Office is available for the mac, but it’s missing some key corporate features.  Apple seems on track to add the last big chunck to MacOS this spring (according to ThinkSecret.com and other rumor sites). 

    Word - Pages in iWork
    Excel - Coming in the Spring to iWork
    Outlook - Mail/Address Book/iCal in MacOS
    PowerPoint - Keynote in iWork
    Access - FileMaker available for Mac or Windows from FileMaker INC.

    And don’t forget Exchange Server - iCal Server.

    Video iPods can already show Keynote presentations, just export from Keynote to Quicktime and select iPod compatible.  You could also play PowerPoint on an iPod by opening with Keynote, but obviously it’s an extra step and extra program.


    IamWm had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 24
  • IamWm, iWork is not an Office competitor. it’s not in the same league.

    As you say, Yes, MS Office is available for the mac, but it’s missing some key corporate features. and iWork is missing the most critical feature of all - 100% compatibility with Office.

    Back in the old days, Word and Excel went head to head with Word Perfect and Lotus 123 as separate applications.

    The office suite concept succeeded more because of those successful battles, than for being an office suite.

    If WP and 123 had’ve won their battles, the office suite may never have taken off the way it has. Apple had one of the first true office suites with AppleWorks for Apple ][ in 1984, Lotus had already tried and failed with Symphony, but it took until Word and Excel’s success for the concept to be accepted.

    iWork will do reasonably well in the safe haven of Macdom, and couldn’t even make a few sales in the Windows market, but look at MS Works: the most popular version of MS Works is the one that includes Word, MS Works Suite.

    People want Word and Excel 100% compatibility

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • IamWm, iWork is not an Office competitor. it’s not in the same league.

    True. But Powerpoint is not in the same league as Keynote…

    Benji had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 927
  • I agree that for anything to compete fairly in the office suite market, microsoft would need to open its document format.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Ben said: I agree that for anything to compete fairly in the office suite market, microsoft would need to open its document format

    Ah! Yes! I’ve been hoping for years that MS would be forced to make the formats open and then controlled by an independent consortium. Kinda like what happens with HTML.

    Office is so ubiquitous that I don’t think it’s right that any company should control or own its formats.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • It’s funny how we argue.

    On the one hand some, like me, suggest that Windows with it’s 92% market share is impregnable and the iPod with 75% is vulnerable.

    On the other hand, some Mac fans say the Zune (with nothing yet) will fail while the Mac with 5% will take over the world.

    So why the contradictions? Who’s right?

    Who really knows. Time will tell. But there is one thing we haven’t mentioned: The Halo Affect.

    We all claim the iPod has it. Well guess what, Windows does too.

    As has been seen, the halo affect of the iPod on the Mac has been smallish so far. (depending on how you manipulate the statistics)

    But the halo affect of Windows on the Zune - I predict - will be large to massive, with again, MS’s stupidity their biggest threat.

    Hey and look, brown doesn’t exactly suggest MS won’t go stupid, but then again, bad publicity is good publicity, esp when there are alternative colors.

    I actually expect MS to do a ROKR.  The ROKR was Apple’s toe in the water, and now it appears they are about to “do it right”. And everyone will say “Yay! Apple has learned their lesson are doing it themselves, Let’s all buy one.”

    Ditto the Zune. If it fails, MS will sit quiet for a year and then bring out their own and everyone will say “Yay! MS has worked out how to do it right, let’s all buy one.”

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 28, 2006 Posts: 1209
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