Apple’s Next Big Act

AppleEven though Steve Jobs has declared that we live in post PC world. But it is still a fact that majority of worlds computers run Microsoft Windows. A staggering 85% of world’s computers run Microsoft Windows. Having said that, Apple has not dominated the desktop space since early 1980s. Since that time Microsoft has only grown its lead and mercilessly crushed all opposition in the process.

Today, the space has little competition barring a few million Macs (5%) or a meager Linux (1%) install base. This can all change in an instant if Apple decides to change one thing. Offer their OS X Lion on PC Platform.

Already, Hackintosh (Bootlegged Macs running on PC hardware) are a craze among the underground community. Hackintoshes have shown the way that the hardware and software can work wonderfully together. It is just up to Apple to officially support it.

If Apple does decide to offer its Operating System for non Apple hardware, there will be a huge paradigm shift. A large number of computers, especially in the corporate world, will switch to Macs. And here is why:

  1. Better, stable and reliable Operating System than Windows.
  2. Viruses do not work/affect Mac as badly as they do on Microsoft Windows offering better security.
  3. Mac OS offers better quality products (app store, iLife, Facetime etc) that people will love to have on their PCs.
  4. Cheaper than buying a Mac hardware
  5. Steve Jobs stamp on the Operating System
Apple has never tried to sell just the Operating System. It has always thrived in selling a complete user experience coupled with out of this world innovations. Which is great but in today’s highly competitive world, selling the software in large numbers is the key to winning the race. Innovation can take you so far and sooner or later competitors catch on. Like Android did with iPhone. Like Windows did to Macintosh in 1980s. Now imagine, if Apple allowed its software to be available everywhere through HP, Dell and other hardware manufacturers, it will gain tremendous advantages. Here are the following advantages:
  1. Adding millions of new machines without needing to ramp up production within Apple factories. A cheaper and faster proposition
  2. Allowing even a larger number of computers access to its highly lucrative App store. The billions of downloads could simply become trillions in a matter of months.
  3. Allowing it to compete better with Google (with its ChromeOS and Android) and Microsoft  operating system
  4. With more users experiencing the power of Mac operating system, it will enable them to sell even more iPod, iPhone, iPads and even its hardware (Macbooks etc). Thus creating a hypergrowth in their various product segments.
  5. Sell the dream of Mac everywhere
Finally, Apple can once again be the king of its kingdom that it single handedly created in 1977 by inventing the PC. This strategy will help it compete better with Google on one side and Microsoft on the other. Otherwise, Apple will always be a niche hardware/software manufacturer which will die off once the innovation machine stops.
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Steve Jobs – Innovation Personified

Apple IIc
Apple IIc

I wrote my first line of code on an apple II machine in BASIC when I was probably 13. Surely, there were IBM PCs around, but they looked clunkier than my Apple. I learned my first desktop publishing lessons on a Macintosh Classic connected to a laser printer on an apple talk network (the crude 1980s networking introduced by Apple). Wow! They had it all even then.

Next Computer
Next Computer

I moved on from Apple to Commodores about the time Steve left Apple to pursue other adventures. But by the time I was in college, I had found my new love. The NeXT computers with their ingenious NeXTStep Operating Systems. Yes, Steve’s second company was Next Computers right after he left Apple. So for the next four years (early 1990s) I wrote my papers on it, learned how to program in languages like C, Objective C, Perl, used this platform to build my first websites and ofcourse surfed the web (yes before Netscape era), and most importantly learned the Unix operating system the core of my career ever since.

NeXTStep

NextStep Desktop

The hardware and the accompanying software were so advanced in their times that even today, they can hold their own against the best of Microsoft Windows. The little black boxes let us use Graphical WordPerfect to finish our documents in visually pleasing screen fonts and let us print them on laser printers with a click of a button. While IBM PCs still boasted textual green screen based word processors connected to clunky dot matrix printers that made more noise than did any useful printing. We used to send emails through (even voice mails to other NeXT Step users) to people across the world using its graphical and simple to use email client. It let us read classics including the complete works of Shakespeare and other great books in perfect fonts and styles (probably world’s first Kindle), let me surf the web (before the birth of Netscape or even the tech boom on (an obscure) omni-page browser) and yes, it was all graphical, many years ahead of Windows 95. Did I mention, in my spare time, we used to play beautifully written games on it too. And some of them were networked, so that friends on other computers could join in. Yes, I am talking early 1990s ten years before networked/online games became a craze.

Steve Jobs with Macintosh

The original Macintosh Computer

Today, all NeXT affectiandos know that Steve bought/merged his NeXT Computers into Apple upon his return in 1997 and then launched the revamped MacOS X, which is essentially the next generation of NeXTStep OS. MacOS X today powers all Apple computers and is one of the most stable Operating Systems out there.

Today, I cant think of life without my iPod when I go hiking or my iPad when I need to read the latest classic or just surf the web. And oh, I ditched my PS2 in favor of iPod/iPad games that are so cool and better.

Steve’s innovative creations through the ages have mimicked my love affair with computers. I still remember the goosebumps I used to get when my little BASIC programming codes would run perfectly on an Apple Iic. I still cant believe the ease with which we used to get desktop publishing done in late 1980s on a Macintosh. And I could have never finished college with so much fun had I not had my Next experience. And ofcourse, without iPad where will we be all today.

So Steve today, you stepped down from Apple and resigned as CEO, but to us, who have lived through your life with Apple, you will be missed. And we hope that you can still play a critical role as Chairman and Board member in many years to come.