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Old July 1st, 2010, 06:48 PM   #1
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What will become of Apple (Absolutely not a platform war!)

Seriously, I wonder how much longer Apple will be in the business of producing computers and software for them. And just for the record I'm an Apple user as well as a PC user. We have two of each., and as I write this I'm seriously considering a new iMac. And yet, my recent visit to an Apple store is giving me pause. I want Apple to be around as a serious player in the computer business, but...

OK - here's what's worrying me.

I drop by the local Apple store occasionaly to check out what's new. And it seems to me that each time I go, there is more space given over to iPhones and iPads etc, and less and less space given over to computers.

Also, I've begun to notice that the Apple employes who used to be so helpful and knowledgeable about computers and software just don't seem to be around anymore. I doubt that they're hiding in the back room or under the furniture! In the last two or three visits I just haven't seen any of them. Of course, maybe they've just been eaten by the wolves, but...

What I do see however are a lot of kids who don't seem to be able to answer any kind of question about computers beyond saying "I think there's one over there, somewhere."

What they do seem to know about are iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc.

And it isn't any secret that the majority of Apple's business lately is all about the consumption of content (iTunes,and the above mentioned iGadgets) and less and less about the production of content.

And of course, all their "sexiness" and "bling" and popularity seem to be coming from the aforementioned content consumption devices.

So I'm starting to worry that in a couple of year' time. computers will be gone from their product lineup just like "Computer" is gone from their name. And if not gone, not emphasized, not updated, etc etc.

Thoughts? (Is it possible to have a rational discussion on something like this. No platform wars, flames, etc, please!)
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Old July 1st, 2010, 07:17 PM   #2
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I suggested in another thread that we may be seeing a shift from "computers" to...

On the one end "home entertainment interfaces" with large screens, broadband connections and who knows what as a "human interface device"...

And on the other end of the spectrum "personal productivity devices" - with small screens, text/picture/video/audio capabilities, and designed to be highly portable.

You have to begin to contemplate that the majority of what most users actually DO with a computer can be done on a "smart" cell phone... the need for a "computer" in the sense of a traditional tower/monitor/keyboard/mouse, etc. may simply be coming to an end. A smallish device with internet access is probably more practical for the average "user".

Scary, but things do change over time, and technology is moving rapidly towards small, capable "microcomputers" designed to just be so stupid simple to use (there's an app for that!?), with touch interfaces instead of buttons/keys. While there are things that "require" a server farm, or a powerful desktop, how many people are really doing "those things"?

Take a look at the thread on the HD video from the new iPhone...
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Old July 1st, 2010, 07:19 PM   #3
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Seriously, could care less. I'll edit in Final Cut until it makes sense to leave. I love my iPod Touch and my iTunes. I make my living editing on Apples using Apple software. If they DO leave me hanging, I already have a planned migration path to AVID.

Any professional who DOESN'T have an exit strategy is ill prepared...

And for the record, I believe that at the retail level, you may have a point but I can't see Apple thowing in the content creation towel just yet...
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Old July 1st, 2010, 09:41 PM   #4
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Apple has gone consumer and is leaving the pros in the dust. It started with the iPod and went mainstream with the iPhone. Steve Jobs has said himself that CPU's are dead. Their MacPro (emphasis on Pro) has not been updated since March 2009. He has stated that Blu-Ray a professional video format (winner of the HD format war and top choice for video producers and Hollywood alike and it seems the only viable hard copy backup plan as of now) is not coming to Macs. Flash is dead? In whose head? From someone who has done more acid than Timothy Leary and Dr. Seuss combined..

I have been a HUGE Mac / Apple fan for at least 10+ years. The worst part about it? I can't get out of the Apple system. I (and our video company) want to so bad to move to PC's but we can't. The amount of money we have invested in Apple over the years on Pro gear, we simply cannot switch over to the PC without going broke. And of course their products are not compatible, so basically I heavily bought into a system that completely &*@^#$($*&#'d us.

I'm sorry I like Apple I really do, but they are totally ^*%*#&^$%'n over the professionals that make content for their products that make them billions. I'm sorry, contrary to Steve Job's beliefs, we cannot produce the content we currently produce on a touch ipad or iphone or even a high end iMac (we tried). No offense but for the content we produce and the workflow we need, these products absolutely suck.

Apple, Don't bite the hand that feeds. Jobs needs to get back on the acid, he's starting to see straight...
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Old July 1st, 2010, 10:54 PM   #5
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Exactly - they seem to be shiting to selling to consumers of conent vs creators of content.

It's a simple equation - follow the money. There's more money spent on consumption than on production so grab the consumers by the b-lls and forget about the producers.

The problem with what they seem to me to be doing is that everything looks rosy until the iPhone 6 just somehow fails to sell. Then the company goes down the tubes. And takes their "pro" systems with it.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 12:38 AM   #6
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You also need to consider what will happen to Apple once Jobs is out of the picture. If you think it is bad now ...
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 02:07 AM   #7
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Apple is just following the money. I don't accept the implied premise that Apple will fold up pc making. There's marketing value in having a product that's a favorite tool of media artists. It won't matter if they lose money on PC's if they're adding to their glam cache.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 10:43 AM   #8
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Well, I guess they could always outsource all the computer related stuff and just put their brand on it - which I suspect they're actually pretty much doing already - the structural design of the workstations is already well accepted and probably needs no updating, and MacOS (I think it's a modified FreeBSD Unix distro with an Apple windowing GUI on top of it) would run on any old Intel PC if they'd sell it separately from the hardware.

So you're probably right in that you'll be able to buy something called an Apple computer for a quite a while. And I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if they'd license the software independently of the hardware.

The big question in my mind actually has more to do with the software and its rate of innovation and updating. than the hardware

I've been around the computer industry more than 50 years and what I see happen over and over is that companies in some way lose interest in a segment of the business and the founders disappear and the bean counters triumph over the remaining idealists and they go into "stop spending money to feed the cow, just milk it until it dies" mode. And slowly the cow gets weaker and the customers sort of discover that the milk doesn't taste as good anymore and they leave, and everything collapses into the murk.

The other big fear I have is that the consumers who are propping up the iGadget market suddenly discover something sexier, and iPhone X is a Vista type flop and suddenly Apple goes into "retrench and save money" mode and then it's bye bye to the underperforming computer business. They'd probably just sell it off to an outfit like Hon Hai/Foxconn in China as a somewhat tarnished franchise. Sort of like what happened to Word Perfect if anyone here remembers it.

The content production piece of the business is pretty loyal (or just has high inertia!) so it's a pretty stable long term demand generator, but fashionistas are notoriously fickle and will switch in a heartbeat.

Remember how people used to swoon over the Sony Walkman? Maybe not - I suspect the majority of folks on this forum don't even remember the Walkman - the iPod of its time!
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 02:32 PM   #9
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I remember the pet rock... cabbage patch kids... etc.

Poiint being, things come and go, sometimes mercifully, sometimes sadly (personally I've got some things that don't work with Win7... things I really WANT to be able to use... so have to have an XP machine around... and one game that won't run on anything newer than WinME...)

Technology changes, tastes change, fashion changes. I know die hard Mac users, and I've always just used a PC - they have their reasons, I have mine. Lets just say M$ can abandon technology too...

In the end, tech "toys" are tools, find what works for you, use it until something better comes along (better often being somewhat subjective and perhaps problematic when on the "bleeding edge"). In the end, the market will determine what survives and what goes into the garbage dump of history.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 03:16 PM   #10
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Like any animal, Apple is following the food.

There's money to be made with iPads and iPhones, so put the resources where they'll pay off. Makes good business sense.

And I don't mind all that much: if that enables Apple to thrive, then it could benefit pro users as well. Because that means that Apple's not going to suddenly bite the dust and disappear.

While it doesn't guarantee Apple's participation in professional equipment and software development, it surely can't hurt. And so far their tools are doing the job well enough for me.

So even if they don't do a single thing more and continue to produce the status quo, it still works for a lot of users.

It might not be as slick as the competition in coming years, but it's far from being useless.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 03:22 PM   #11
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What? You still think Apple is a hardware company? Pish. It's an IDEAS company. They have ALWAYS manufactured their hardware in the SERVICE of their ideas.

The original Mac (and LISA for that matter) was merely the hardware/software necessary to properly run a user pleasing graphical interface.
The iPod was the hardware/software necessary to link well to the concept of an iTunes Music store.
The iPhone was the hardware/software necessary to link well to the wireless world where you can carry your data/work/life with you as you move about.

Apple's software is and always has been born of the company's vision of the need to facilitate human to human interactions. So they make software that lets you happily work with photos, videos, numbers, whatever.

In the future, it's a pretty safe bet that the hardware needed to accelerate data manipulation will slowly fade away. And that FCP and all other "applications" will reside on cloud servers somewhere, happy to allow you to temporarily log in and edit to your hearts content.

I used to need the BIG BOX on the floor to edit. Now I can do it on a laptop. How long until I can do it on an iPad, or an iPhone?

The key is that the SKILLS to edit - or even the skills to operate an editing user interface like FCP will remain as long as a significant group of people need to edit. And of course, if FCP lags too far behind, professionals will migrate to AVID or Adobe CS2 or whatever. What's new about that?

In the end, the industry goes where it will. The only thing that remains behind permanently for any of us are the personal skills we acquire and build on to manipulate our lives.

Apple fading away? HA! If I had a hundred bucks for every time some knucklehead has argued that with me over the years I'd own my own island.

Apple thrives through all the criticism precisely because they compete on the quality of their IDEAS rather than their STUFF.

We can either do things or not. We can do these things well or not. We can pick the things we do intelligently, or not.

Everything else is ephemeral. They know this.

More people and companies should.

And so it goes.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 04:50 PM   #12
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I'm a PC, as my initials will affirm. However, I don't think Apple is abandoning computers, or pros. They hit homeruns with the IPod and Iphone, which both produce monthly residuals from their owners. If I were a documentary producer and suddenly discovered I could make a thousand times more profit from shooting weddings, I'd still shoot docs as long as I didn't have a wedding to shoot.

Apple is an incredible company that has, through brilliance or dumb luck, been incredibly successful. I think it's mostly brilliance, but a little luck always helps.

The question I haven't seen raised is: does Apple shift from being perceived as the Good Guy, and now get viewed as the villian?
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 08:29 PM   #13
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Well, I guess it becomes an issue of how much you have to spend to keep on producing docs.

If you already have the equipment to do both why not? At least as long as it doesn 't cost you much to keep equipent capapble of doing both

But if you want to keep the resource to stay in or advance and innovate in the computer biz, the resouces you have to keep require care and feeding, ie the salaries, office space, etc of the guys and gals who develop, test, qualify the products ets. I'd be very surprised if Apple wasn't spending $200 or $300 million a year, or even significantly more on their computer business.

I think it would be very tempting to reduce this and spend the money on their content consumption business instead - after all they would probably get a much faster return on their investment in salaries and lab space etc etc etc by going that route.

Over and over again I've seen this play out, particularly after the original strong personalities leave/retire/pass away, and the bean counters finally take charge.
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