Our colleagues at Keep an Open Eye Eye Sir are declaring that the Apple Mac is dead … in the process of being replaced by the iPad and other iDevices with their iOS4 operating system. Here is the crux of the arguments:
The past year has been a very, very good one for Apple – and particularly its iDevices – iPhone, iPad, iPod line of products. Apple has now passed Microsoft in stock value and is approaching the highest valued company in the World, ExxonMobil. And next years prospects are even better:
In effect one can see the huge value that the iDevices are to Apple – the Mac line-up of desktops and notebooks makes just over 18% of the value of the stock while the iPhone is more than 50%. The $dollar writing is on the wall – Apple is making the transition from MacOS to iOS4 devices. The signs of the transition are everywhere:
2)For the past three years, Apple has had an opportunity to take over a much bigger share of the PC Desktop and laptop markets with its Mac and MacBook line of products offering a superior experience to Microsoft’s Vista and virus plagued PCs. True, Apple cannot come close by an order of magnitude to the number of apps/programs written for the PC but virtual technology allowed a bypass. But Apple has priced its Mac hardware at 2 and often 3 times the price of the equivalent PC. And they are equivalent because the computers often use the same parts/components: CPU, disk drive, RAM, graphics processors, and other basic components. Why keep the price of Macs so high – when PC market share is low hanging fruit – easy for the taking? Perhaps because Steve Jobs is laying most of his marbles on the next generation of client devices – or should I say iDevices. So, by pricing high Steve gives his iDevices much wider profit margin room – and iPhones and iPads sell for 2-3 times the price of Netbooks and EEE-PCs at $250-350. But Steve Jobs has seen what Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates failed to see for 10 years – most consumers want light, highly-portable, mobile-connected, long-battery life devices which draw a small set of apps from a huge stable/store of Apps. And they want a drag/drop/touch and swpe easy to use and to remember how to operate interface. Most users definitely do not want theot huge 3 level deep menuing systems or dozens of hieroglyphic icon drivenprograms and apps with huge learning curves.
3)This in turn allows Steve to lead the parade on the next dominant client platforms – his iDevices. In every case from iPod as media container through iPhone as the pioneering smartphone to iPad as the dominant tablet, Apple has a first start lead of nearly a year or more and an App lead of more than 50%. In effect, Steve is betting that Apple can replace Microsoft as the client platform of choice among consumers – and with iPad not the Macs.
4)For the sake of launching a new platform to replace Microsoft-dominated PCs, Steve has been willing to sacrifice his Mac line-up and in many ways beyond pricing. For example, 3 years after the iPhone and its multi-touch interface brilliance, Mac users can only use multi-touch through a “Magic Pad”, no direct on-screen multi-touch operations[conceding that advantage to a growing number of Windows full-screen, multi-touch laptops and PCs]. In addition, Apple did not repair the performance of its Mac’s with respect to graphics speed of processing . For example, Windows 7 running on Apple Mac hardware is anywhere from 10-40% faster than the MacOS powered units. Another small but telling instance of the change-over to iOS4, is that the Worldwide Developers Conference in August 2010 was devoted to iOS4 with NO MacOS developers sessions. In short, MacOS is consistently
5)Historically, Steve has abandoned his older technologies. Apple II and III for Lisa and Macs. Motorola Macs for power PC Macs. Power PC Macs for Intel Macs, etc. And now the Apple Servers are being cut out yet again. So Steve, if not his customers, is always willing to move onto something innovatively [and perhaps also market share too] promising. Its called Creative Destruction.
Ye Editor does not argue the logic – it is just derives nonsense. First, the Mac line up is alive and doing well – a 32% increase in Mac sales this last year as seen in the MacWorld chart.
Second, the new Mac OS Lion provides a wealth of iOS4 features like Mac AppStore, Full Screen apps done natively, LaunchPad fixes and many others; this is hardly the stuff of abandonment. Third, there is a renaissance in Mac software and the new Mac AppStore is expected to boost that. Finally, knowledge of Objective C, Macs native programming language, can only improve with iOS4 developers using the same basic language.In sum, why kill off $18B of your business ? And that $18B is used by some of the best and brightest in Graphic Design and Web + Software Development – why antagonize them by desertion or forcing loyal users to a new platform really not-ready-for-compute intensive graphics and development?
Apple tested multi-touch screens for their practicality and ergonomics in a number of settings – and users complained of arm and other fatigue except when in close proximity to the user as in an iDevice. And as for graphis speed of Macs versus PCs, its overrated – just wait and see what the next refresh of Macs brings. Steve will get much better drivers from the graphic chip providers. In sum, throw this baby notion of Macs being dead out with the bathwater …. Ohhh and Keep an Open Eye is all wet on this one.
3 thoughts on ““The Mac is Dead, Long Live iPad and iOS4!” :Yeah, Right”
The only difficulty with the argument that it is a matter of simply waiting for improved graphics drivers is the fact that for MacOS it is Apple who writes the drivers. The claim from Apple for so long is that their speed in their OS is that you have one company integrating the hardware and software, one company writing all the drivers. Again, it is then Apple who is actually dragging their own computers behind in graphics tests, but this is nothing new. Since 2003 Apple has consistently been plagued by lower performance in Adobe applications, and this became only more apparent with the huge amount of benchmarking capabilities you can now see of Windows running on Mac hardware and then testing games or Adobe render times. Multiply this by the added advantage of performance to price that PC users usually benefit from, and you have a hands-down win for Windows over Mac. If you also look at the current trend of 3d rendering programs many of them are running with more plugins, at faster render times on a PC than an equivalently stocked Mac Pro (which is still one of the most expensive Workstations someone can waste their money on).
As far as the article goes, I agree that the Mac is Dead. Even Steve Jobs admitted to losing the Desktop wars. But I think it goes beyond getting people on iDevices, it is more about getting people on iServices, and the iDevices just give an outlet for people to do that. But why would Apple restrict themselves to their own, often fanatical, laptop/desktop customer base? They go after Windows users equally well, today there are more iPhone/iPod users than there are MacOSX users, meaning they get a huge chunk of business from Windows users. Many Mac users tout the advantages of their system and almost always include the fact that they can run Windows making them just as compatible as any PC. That’s like shooting yourself in the foot to prove you can aim. Mac desktop platform is Dead, it does not mean that it is unprofitable.
I have heard mixed messages about who is responsible for Apple’s MacOS drivers – can you point me to the links which show that Apple has taken lead/sole resposnsibility for its Mac Drivers? Likewise -since the Phoronix study and one other I have not been able to find any second half 2010 benchmarks measuring comparative graphics performance of Adobe and other graphics software ON MacOS vs PCs. again if you have any benchmark links – send them this way.
I agree completely with you about the push for iServices – not just iTunes, AppStore and MacStore but a hug, still secret set of Cloud based Server farms. Whats to be on these ? Cloud based video and graphics services tied closely with Final Cut Pro and Aperture. Obviously Steve would love to shed his dependence on Adobe- the largely False attacks on Flash reveal that
I see Steve trying to establish a proprietary monpoly bastion using iDevices and iServices – and the reputation of always delivering the best first. Like Bill Gates throughout the 1990’s Steve has been largely successful in being first and creative but also teflon slick on avoiding criticism on short- changing customers when Steve and Apple decide it is necessary. Poor Graphics performance, no Java or Flash on iDevices, extortionate prices and no-multitouch on Macs, Verizon iPhone with no major improvements in software or hardware and no attempt to take advantage of new Verizon 4G/LTE, highly proprietary iDevices – yet the Apple fans keep coming back for more. A few more missteps like these and there are lots of players like Moto with Atrix and Xoom, Samsung with a ton of devices, RIM with new Storm and Playbook that will be glad to take advantage of the miscues as Android already has done in the smartphone market with leading marketshare.
So, the issue is this… and I should of not said Apple makes their own drivers because that is just the easy way of saying it. Instead I should say that Apple micromanages all of their drivers in their systems. This is what leads to most of the confusion. So, some drivers, they make, but mostly they work with the vendors of each of their components and have somewhat high standards for drivers but also have built in requirements that they do not pass. For nvidia the process is likely that Nvidia is given leeway so long as they pass the normal stringent requirements of Apple (none of which is based around performance really, simply stability).
In addition, some of their discovered limitations are also due in part to the stringent requirements (the tighter the fence the less land it can cover) and also likely due in part to some decided movements away from other products (the hardware of nvidia and ati cards they use have hardware acceleration of flash on the chipset but the drivers lack the support to make that happen and software emulation must take place causing the decrepit performance we see with respect to flash on modern Mac systems).
As far as modern benchmarks are concerned there are far too many people who take one side of the Mac vs PC debate to have too many comparisons. We know that Adobe in some conference mentioned that Adobe products still, meaning CS5, perform better on PC than Mac by about 3-5% the reason likely being Apple’s late to arrive at modern drivers (the stringent requirements for their drivers also slow down the develop cycle). Apple has a mentality of ‘as long as it works let’s just leave it alone’ over ‘let’s push the system to see what we can get’ of Windows developers who want to showcase their own products.
That is one benchmark I found a while ago, it’s outdated now, but since about 2003 it is a consistent trend that Adobe was announcing working with PC more, and then it became pretty apparent with tests above, and now in CS5 with Mac finally closing the 64-bit gap there is only marginal speed differences but huge cost differences making even more compelling reasons to use PCs for Adobe products. Also you can see from the OpenGL tests that 3d performance of OpenGL is amazingly better in Windows, and this is the same rendering engine Maya uses for their renderer (most of the time, you can also do others including DirectX which does not exist for Macs) and in addition a huge amount of plugins are available for the Windows side of things that is not available on Mac. The edition we have, 2010, is also not available in 64-bit on Mac, which aids even more in the push towards Windows for graphic design software of all varieties.
Even Apple leaves this whole debate open as they claim to make their own hardware and software, but they certainly do use Vendors (however restricted) to build most of their drivers. That part to me, is still the same result, because Apple puts such stringent controls on everything it results in a lag time that has outpaced stability (meaning even with the focus of windows drivers being performance they still have gained enough stability to be 99% of what Apple has and yet still win in performance). That divide of performance will continue to expand in the years to come, but the stability gap will also close even more to where they are virtually identical (if we have not already hit that venture).
Okay, enough about drivers and benchmarks. I think I’m ran off the deep end with that topic, onto other things you’ve brought up.
What I see for Apple in the coming years is replacing Flash Player with something of their own, just like viewer can do video/pictures/pdfs it will in the future also do Flash. They will move more heavily into the markets that support their highly limited versus highly open mentality (iDevices) and they will begin to offer their own internet services, perhaps through Mobile Me. As far as off-site server rendering for FCP or Aperature, I doubt they would do it, Amazon has attempted that as well as a few others, and with exception of the @home projects, we don’t see a huge benefit over renting or using off-site services for huge file manipulations or renders. Since FCP still doesn’t use the graphics card in the machine for rendering I doubt I would see them to be enough modern-thinking to use dispersed rendering.
As for your last point I would make one change. Instead of mentioning Steve being first and creative, I would say Steve having the reputation of being first and creative. Few people remember the firsts in the case of Apple. Many times Apple comes in second, or far late to the game, but they always come in with a profitable device, amazing marketing, and the claim to fame which the populace mostly rolls over and gives them. I believe this marketing strategy to be inherently tied to their misinformation tactics that sell their products. They call something magical, instead of saying it is fast, they call it revolutionary when it is devolution, and they always claim first place when getting the silver.
Even recently they withdrew their own comments about being immune to viruses from their own website, but avoided to tell any of their sales people or make a media advertisement about it. They also word it in such a way that it sounds like they’ve been talking this way all along.
My apologies for not including more performance benchmarks, again they are tricky to find, most of the information I have is from Apple employees, forums on Maya’s website as well as a history of information from the 20+ years I’ve been dealing with the computer industry. It is tricky, especially with Apple, to find an old article about their performance or not being king of the hill in graphic design anymore… it’s almost spooky sometimes.
Part of this was written while I was half asleep, please be kind. But any questions or comments, please feel free to respond.
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