Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yeah, this sounds more reasonable

So, maybe,Apple won't rule the world.

Bob Crossley addresses Why Apple won't put Dell out of Business:
There’s a big population of users out there who want to own Macs but can’t for a variety of reasons. Might be they need Windows for some key applications. Might be that the family ‘computer guru’ is a Windows user (likely) and won’t be able to support them if they own a Mac. For whatever reason, they sit on the fence, usually owning a PC, but looking longingly at the greener grass on the OS X side. A Windows compatible Mac would push them right off the fence.

So why won’t Apple put Dell out of business once those users flee? Because they don’t buy the majority of computers. Most computers are sold into corporate environments, and those will remain a Windows stronghold, no matter how sexy the new Apple machines are.

The name of the game in the IT world is manageability. There’s a multi-billion dollar industry built around managing the PC infrastructure of the modern business. Look at the problem of rolling a new version of an office suite out to 10,000 users. You can’t have the IT people visit 10,000 desktops with a CD in hand. You can’t even have all 10,000 users run the install themselves from a network share. You’d wind up with 10,000 variant copies as everyone chose different installation options. This is a support and management nightmare. When a user calls the helpdesk for support, you’d never know how their version of the suite was installed.

Sounds correct. I do think the landscape is changing, but the bigger the support issues, the slower a company will be to change. With individual home users, not tied down to Windows for work, there are fewer and fewer reasons to stay with Windows. Which is not to dismiss Microsoft. Despite my absolute stroke-inducing hatred of MS Word, they really do some superb software development. I think, in many cases, they've grown so huge, it's hard to make the changes they should make because they've too much of a legacy to support. Apple was small enough to tell everyone "OS 9 - it's pretty much dead. Better switch to OS X." Pissed a number of people off, but it let Apple move forward.

The maybe not so reasonable section
Speaking of changing landscapes, there's the Po Bronson book The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest, published in 1997. An entrepreneurial fairytale about the attempt to build the first sub $300 computer. Their software is based on the idea of the "network computer." This keeps popping up every couple years and I think we're close to seeing someone get it to work (cough Google Office cough). Computers and memory are cheap and getting cheaper. The money is in the software. Why not have a generic box that you plug in or WAP and access any software you want? I don't have the need to pay $649 for Photoshop, but maybe I'd pay $30 to rent it for a month. Download what you need to work when not connected and no longer worry about keeping up with updates and new plugins. It's all new everytime you access it.


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