Apple Macs

Apple are back on my radar for a few reasons.

  1. The iPhone apps store – this has really taken off, like really taken off. Compare and contrast with Office Marketplace which seems like a ghost town. (especially from a Linux client!)
  2. Several small software vendors are suggesting the market is now 50:50 Mac and Windows in many application areas. Although Apple only make up 5% or whatever of the Pc market, owners seem more prepared to spend a few quid on software.
  3. I got my usual web mag the other day, I havent bothered for a few months, being somewhat tied up with non web stuff. Lo, its well geared to Macs, any software or article that does not apply to Macs has big warnings all over it. Incredible! its clear whilst I’ve been away Macs have really taken hold of that market.
  4. I read somewhere that some recent big Ruby conference was dominated by Macs, I already know many of the security ones are becoming Mac only affairs.
  5. I had a raging argument with some relly about how crap iPod +iTunes was compared to a normal player that works with a file explorer. His eyes burnt wide with the fervor of a fanatic. I left him fuming about how stupid I was for not being able to see how giving up all control to Apple was ‘A Good Thing (TM)’, I went and got some more manky undercooked chicken (I think?) from the barbey. I’m pretty confident he would have bought I am Rich! for his iPhone if he had seen it before it got pulled. (He’s probably traumatised for missing out)
  6. They come ready equipped with half decent developer tools.
  7. All the kewl kids have them.
  8. You can always triple boot into Wndows and Linux, or use VMs

Looking in from the outside it all looks a bit mad, but from a business opportunity POV I think it has legs. I think Apple make Microsoft look like a kindly Aunt from a corp POV. but hey thats business right?

Anyway if any of codematics clients actually ever pay up I may well buy a mac ‘for research purposes’.

Anyone else keeping an eye on developments in this area?

Anyone else looking at the IB world and wondering if they’ll ever get paid at all?



15 Responses to “Apple Macs”

  1. Tom Gleeson Says:

    App Store doesn’t sound that appealing…

  2. Rob Bruce Says:

    Apple are marketing geniuses, no doubt about that.

    The new iPod, for example, is able to spam you with information about similar artists to the one you have currently playing and to offer to sell you material by them from iTunes. If Microsoft tried this scam they would be crucified on the grounds of violation of privacy and sheer tacky pushiness. Apple are able to promote it as a ‘feature’.

  3. Viswakarma Says:

    I don’t use the Genius feature in iTunes 8!

    Rob Bruce, you don’t have to use it if it bothers you!!!!!

  4. Simon Says:

    Viswakarma, you’re right we don’t have to use it, but we can discuss it.

    However Robs point (I think) is the strength of Apples margeting allows them to do stuff few other companies could get away with.

    Compare and contrast with Microsofts continued pitiful attempts at almost any sort of margeting. And the widespread kicking they get for almost everything they do.

    Rob thats a good point about Apples stunning marketing performance, I should have thought of that and put it number 9. It gives me the impression that Apple will become a more and more appealing target for software authors, just as MS sink the head of the last nail in the still warm coffin of VB6, the most valuable development system ever conceived.

  5. Andy Cotgreave Says:

    I tried to avoid the iPod bandwagon for about five years. For all that time I convinced myself that Creative Zens were equal to the design simplicity and elegance of an iPod.

    I believed that the scroll “bar” of the Zen was as good as the scroll “wheel” of the iPod, despite it really difficult to be precise with the bar.

    I believed that podcasting with a Zen was as simple as with an iPod, despite the fact that synchronising podcasts to the Zen required about 15 mouse clicks and the iPod takes, um, zero (plug it in the USB slot, iTunes automatically synchronise the podcasts it has automatically downloaded).

    I tried and tried, but when my Zen finally broke, I moved to iPod and as a user with a big record collection who never buys anything from iTunes, the iPod is simply amazing. As a piece of design and a usable gadget, it can’t be beaten.

    Sure, Apple is as evil as MS, if you want to see it that way, but I just record everything as an MP3 from my CD purchases, and Apple’s marketing doesn’t get in my way.

    So – I’m not a fanboy, but as a gadget, the iPod beats the others…

  6. Simon Says:

    Great link Tom, thanks
    Sorry you got sent to the spam bin.
    Great to see him suggest evangelists – exactly what a few of us think MS need for Office/Excel/VBA dev.

    He also makes very good points, but also shows why Apple is so smart/doing so well. They have an official monopoly on getting software onto iphones – how neat is that? How much of a kicking would MS get for trying that, on any device?

    Its ‘your’ phone but Apple decide what software you can and can’t have, and they can remove stuff from it any time. And the users love it – what a market!

  7. Tom Dent Says:

    You know, all you peecee’ers try and dismiss Apple’s success as all due to marketing, but nobody can sell crappy product, at least not for long. Apple’s recent success is due to its excellent product, and the fact that more people are exposed to it via the iPhone and iPod. I see a very bright future for the little company from Cupertino, especially as opposed to the public reaction to Microsoft’s latest OS offering.

  8. Simon Says:

    Good point Tom, they do make nice stuff, and I think you are spot on that they will be able to leverage their strength in the ‘cheaper than a computer’ gadget world to boost their computer sales. Stellar margeting and the Jobs reality distortion field don’t do them any harm either.

    I have another post in this area coming up, this one is just highlighting I reckon software devs should look again at Apple as I see real potential there.

  9. Harlan Grove Says:

    A few different points.

    1. Microsoft getting pummeled no matter what they do is deserved payback for minimal change but full price upgrades over the years. And when they do introduce significant change, it usually seems more change for change’s sake than useful change. When was the last time Microsoft added more significant underlying features than eyewash?

    2. The market for 3rd party apps is going to favor Apple disproportionately. You need to remove Windows and OS X machines owned/leased by businesses and onto which users are formally prohibited from installing/using unapproved software. A much larger share of Windows machines than OS X machines fall into this category, so the actual market for 3rd party software is much less lopsided than 95% Windows machines, 5% OS X machines.

    3. The average Mac owner almost certainly has more disposable income and is more sophisticated about computers than the average Windows PC owner.

    4. Without any Unix background, the Mac dock is more fun to use than Windows’s stodgy start menu/task bar, even with Vista eyewash. With some Unix background, single user OS X machines are easier to secure and administer than single user Windows machines. [I have both kinds at home, so this based on my own first hand experience.]

    The simple fact is that Apple makes good hardware, and since they only try to support their own hardware (and have rigid specs that peripheral makers must follow), they don’t have the headaches Microsoft has trying to make Windows run on everything. Sometimes narrow focus is a good thing.

  10. Simon Says:

    Oh yeah and I think Vista is the best thing that ever happened to Apple and Linux. And I don’t see the 300M changing that.

    And a final point, its great to see several new posters here, demonstrating the powerful marketing that Rob B mentioned and the strong loyal fan base that I mentioned. You’ll notice on reading the post and comments no-one has suggested Apple make crappy products, or that their success is only due to marketing, or that we have to use certain features.

  11. Simon Says:

    1. agreed
    2. people are telling me 50% of their sales are Mac version
    3. I don’t disagree, but there is one thing I don’t understand:
    Macs are meant to be easier, or more natural or whatever to use than PCs, so why would they attract more sophisticated users? I’m sure you are right but I don’t understand the mechanism, are they easier AND more powerful than windows?
    4. I still remember my total blank at seeing windows 95, after the richness of program manager in 3.11.

    When you say eyewash it feels to me a bit like you could equally mean hogwash, would that be about right? ;-)

  12. Harlan Grove Says:

    Don’t get me started on Windows 3.1. I was an early user of Norton Desktop.

    As for #3, you have to distinguish between work and home users. OS X users at work either didn’t need to fight to use OS X, in which case it’s likely because they’re deep into digital publishing and know lots more about that than I’m going to hazard to guess, or they did have to fight, in which case if they succeeded they’re at least cleverer than the IT/IS types who would have opposed them (that may not be saying much).

    Among home users, even though OS X users may have more disposable income, they’re not going to throw money away. Simply justifying the purchase of more expensive Apple machines to themselves implies greater thought process than the average Windows machine buyer exhibits. Apple buyers are gadget-crazy wannabe (or ARE) techies. Windows buyers are primarily motivated by price in no small part because their needs are modest (web surfing, e-mail, maybe managing their digital camera photos). At least 75% of home Windows users wouldn’t notice if they booted Ubuntu preconfigured for their ISP (browser and e-mail). Actually, they’d probably welcome having more games to play.

  13. Paul Says:

    As a longtime Mac user, maybe I can briefly comment on Harlan’s thought that Mac users are “more sophisticated about computers than the average Windows PC owner.” I don’t think this means Mac users know more or are more competent or are more in the way of being “power users.” I see Mac sophistication in terms of simplicity combined with ease of use. Of course, Macs can do anything a PC can do and vice versa, but Macs seem to do it with a certain éclat and élan (to be a bit sophisticated in my choice of words : )

    From the anti-aliased fonts to the system-wide dictionary to the interconnectedness of the various Apple applications to the consistent interface there’s a certain “flair” to Macs. And they’re plain easier to use, IMHO, than PCs, though there is a significant learning curve for those switching from a PC.

    I hope I won’t be accused of Mac-user “smugness,” but there is a difference, though it’s often subtle. But then the subtlety is part of the experience.

  14. Simon Says:

    Hmm interesting Paul thanks
    I’d say the flow is just pick to up a beige box, with Windows on it. So anyone who does not do that has clearly done more/different thinking to the crowd.

    I guess I just need to get one and have a play around, one thing that put me off in the past is I found them a bit too stylised, and too much ‘flair’ and fuss. I’m just a blunt northerner. I could always give it to the mrs if I don’t like it, as long as I don’t get too many biscuit crumbs down the keyboard.

    Harlan I run my life on my Eee now I only use Windows for development, and some admin. I totally agree the vast majority of people could happily get by on any pre-installed and configured Linux distro. and thats the exciting bit – you can actually buy them this year, far more broadly than in the past.

  15. Brett Says:


    “Macs are meant to be easier, or more natural or whatever to use than PCs, so why would they attract more sophisticated users?”

    Of course, the Mac attracts all kinds of users for a variety of reasons. But I can think of three reasons off hand why someone well versed in computers might choose a Mac.

    1) The Mac’s ability to triple-boot (into Windows, Linux, and OS X) would appeal to those who do multi-platform development, or who just enjoy flexibility.

    2) Anyone knowledgeable about the risks and prevention of malware might consider avoiding the cess-pool of Windows altogether. After all, plenty of people who are capable of doing their auto-repairs still prefer to not to get their hands dirty.

    3) People who take the time to actually research the pros and cons of each platform are more likely (than the average MSWindows user) to overcome years of ingrained anti-Apple FUD.

    Finally, while many Mac users just accept simplicity and elegance without much thought, more knowledgeable users have the ability to really appreciate how hard it is to balance simplicity with functionality. Good design is more than skin deep.

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