Apple Gets Serious About The Mac

by Chris Howard Jan 11, 2006

It’s hard to be surprised at a MacWorld as the rumor sites (besides O’Grady’s PowerPage) are usually pretty accurate. This time around they were way off, with Apple surprising most people updating their flagship products to Intel first, the iMac with a heritage that goes right back to the original Mac, and the PowerBook also with a long and distinguished heritage. These are the two Macs (and we can now finally put to rest the argument “Is a PowerBook a Mac?”) you also suspect are Steve’s favorites. And there’s no doubt he was impatient to see the PowerBooks go Intel.

Like all good MacWorlds, some people are disappointed. The rumor sites don’t make it any easier, generating hubbub over certain likely announcements. But by going for the iMac and PowerBook first, and most importantly, naming the new notebook “MacBook”, Apple are demonstrating they are getting serious about the Mac’s place in the world. I’m always amazed what key snippets of information get missed in the live keynote feeds and the early post-keynote analysis. Even before watching the keynote, I was of the opinion that the MacBook name was a strategic decision to help raise the Mac profile. This was confirmed when I watched the keynote and Steve said:

We want Mac in the name of our products.

What’s that say to you? To me that says “We don’t want any confusion. People know us for Macs so we need to leverage off that.” I know with my PowerBook, more often than not, I tell people it’s a Mac because they wouldn’t have a clue who makes PowerBooks. Now if I say “MacBook” (sure it sounds corny) but they’ll know it’s from Apple.

Mac branding
Apple have three iconic brands (Apple, iPod and Mac) and they need to take full advantage of them. This move to brand all computer hardware with the Mac monicker makes a lot of marketing sense and streamlines their product range. Expect even the XServe to be rebranded MacServe.

Some will argue for the sake of argument that it’ll all start sounding like McDonalds - but really, that’s an insignificant and irrelevant argument from people clutching at straws who like the sound of their own fingers on their Windows keyboards.

The Year of the Media Center
With 2006 looking like “The Year of the Media Center” Apple have quickly put two of their key players onto the new processor so they can start putting the runs on the board - and in the Macbook’s case, added media centre capabilities in Front Row and Remote Control. The Mac mini will undoubtedly follow before long. Apple are also showing they’re serious about competing in the media center market.

Some thoughts
Looking at some other events from the keynote did provoke some thought:

  • Does the absence of an iWork spreadsheet and the inclusion of calculations in tables indicate that Apple may be going to make the spreadsheeting integrated into tables? Afterall, to the majority, spreadsheets are just tables with formulas in them.
  • The Mac Intel ad is amusing but relies on negative advertising (i.e. put down the opposition), something that hasn’t previously worked for Apple. The next ads should show what Macs can do. iMovie animations look amazing - and it was OS X and iMovie that got me to switch 3 years ago , not the machine or its processor. Advertise “the possibilities” the Intel asks us to imagine.
  • When will iPhoto get the full range of Core Image effects?
  • Creative were ‘Best of CES” for the fourth year running…  iPod goes from 4.5 to 14 million in holiday quarter… Creative? pfft!
  • Paul Otellini… hmm? Wasn’t he the guy who talked about cleaning his daughter’s PC every weekend of viruses and spyware? He also looked very uncomfortable in the “bunny suit” - giving the impression that Apple are calling the shots in this relationship.

Way cool
A few things that stood out for me were
- Podcast studio in Garage Band
- 3rd party DVD burner support in iDVD
- Magnetic power adapter for MacBooks (I so know that problem!)
- Stunning 3D charts
- Microsoft’s five year committment to Macs
- Photocasting
- iMovie animations

Before every MacWorld, I tell myself, “It doesn’t matter what Apple releases, I’ll sit back and wait a few weeks. I’m not here to be an early adopter.” Of course, two hours later I’m clambering over other web surfers, credit card in hand, knocking down the door of the online store. “One iMac, one MacBook, one iLife 06 and one iWork 06 family pack please” - lucky I’ve got a holiday next week or so to cool off. (Can’t risk it being delivered while I’m away, can I?)

2006: Apple get serious
But as I began, this MacWorld was about Apple’s stars and going after home runs from the outset and making the opposition play catch up. Apple have started the year aggressively and with clear indication that they’re up for a fight - including in the media center market - and even their ad shows they’re happy to throw the first punch.

2006 is really looking like the year Apple gets serious about Mac marketshare.


  • I think the good folks at Apple did a great job getting products ready for the market.  Those waiting for iBooks (soon to be named MacBook?) or Mac Minis will be unhappy that they have to wait, as will those (me included) who wanted Front Row as past of iLife 06 or at least a stand alone app I could get.

    But Apple hit the nail on the head with the MacBook Pro - 4 times faster is nothing so gripe about.  The new iMac is also a winner at 2 - 3 times faster.

    For the iMac (and to a lesser degree the MacBook Pro) the key selling features will be iLife and Front Row - and Office being available.  Let a potential switcher see a demo of iLife and they are going to get excited.  That, I believe, is the main reason why Steve J spent the time on it.

    MacKen had this to say on Jan 11, 2006 Posts: 88
  • I enjoy reading Apple Matters because it is usually insightful, but after reading this I have one major comment.


    I lost track of how many are/is, have/has, and were/was mistakes there were. It caused me to be distracted so much that I had to reread much of the article. Good article, just need to read what you write.

    macjunkie82 had this to say on Jan 11, 2006 Posts: 1
  • MacJunkie82, I could only find a few possible mistakes. Should it be:

    - “Apple is demonstrating it is getting serious” rather than “Apple are demonstrating they are getting serious”?
    - “Apple is showing…” rather than “Apple are showing…”?
    - “it were OS X and iMovie” rather than “it was OS X and iMovie”? (That’s probably a passive sentence that I should have rewritten: “and OS X and iMovie were the reason I switched 3 years ago”)
    - “Creative was the Best of Show” rather than “Creative were the Best of Show”?
    - “Apple is calling the shots” rather than “Apple are calling the shots”?
    - “Apple has started the year aggressively and with clear indication that it is up for a fight - including in the media center market - and even their ad shows it is happy to throw the first punch.” rather than “Apple have started the year aggressively and with clear indication that they’re up for a fight - including in the media center market - and even their ad shows they’re happy to throw the first punch.”

    Businesses are for mine are treated like a plural so I use “are”. i.e. “Apple are…”;  “They are…”; “Apple have”. But if Strunk’s Style Guide says otherwise, I’m happy to comply. (And I’m happy for someone to donate a copy to me too!)

    I guess part of it is whether saying “Apple” is shorthand for saying “The people at Apple”

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 11, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • (“It were OS X and iMovie that did blah” isn’t passive, it’s just wrong raspberry )

    Benji had this to say on Jan 11, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Since when has anyone seriously thought that the Powerbook isn’t a Mac? That is just plain ridiculous.

    rogueprof had this to say on Jan 13, 2006 Posts: 17
  • Front Row should be included w/iLife. Maybe an iLife/universal doc/Apple remote combo platter deal.

    MacNuggets had this to say on Jan 13, 2006 Posts: 17
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