Apple saves Microsoft from Extinction

You may remember a few years ago that Apple was in such dire straights it had to run to Microsoft for some money or go bankrupt. Of course, Microsoft asked for some shares in exchange, and promptly became a 25% shareholder in Apple Computer. I haven’t checked whether they still are, but have been told this relationship ended years ago. But I still wonder…

Microsoft’s launch of Vista has been a big disappointment by all accounts – even Windows fanboys don’t like it. There have been reports of Microsoft haemorrhaging money, with the megalith’s cash reserves halving recently. Vista is causing huge problems for Microsoft, whose penchant for long legal wrangles is so strong they really need a huge inflow of money every month in order to fund just that.

But Microsoft’s problems have been seen as a B I G opportunity by Apple supporters. They want Leopard (the new version of Apple’s Operating System) to be launched at the moment of maximum weakness for Microsoft, thereby killing off their old adversary. Now that’s a bit optimistic.

However, with the announcement on the Apple Hot News website today of Leopard’s delay to October:

We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the (June WWDC) conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October.”

any talk of a favour being returned by Apple to Microsoft cannot be ignored. Which is both a bad and good thing. Bad, because it lets Windows off the hook. Good, because Apple can now release programs, applications and other stuff (such as a decent spreadsheet in iWork) to compete with MS without breaking a gentleman’s agreement, spoken or implied, not to directly compete with Microsoft – if you don’t believe me, look for an area in which Apple directly and aggressively competes with Microsoft: they don’t.

Apple’s TV ads always point to PCs being for work, and Macs for the home; their software is always for niche groups such as graphic artists and sound engineers, not mainstream businesses involving finance and accounting, databases, visual charting tools for organisations, or other everyday uses.

This stance is aided and abetted by MS whose current Office app excludes the popular Access database and the oft maligned but school recommended MS Publisher, while the new version of Office will exclude Visual Basic for Applications entirely, so the software will be even less useful for businesses looking for cross platform solutions. OK, Real Basic could step in here, but you get the picture?

Contrary to some expectations, I’m not completely against Microsoft. I believe there is a place for them in the computing world. I just don’t believe their dominance of any market they act in is good for that market, or ultimately, for the rest of us.

But how is the delay of Leopard going to affect Apple? Apart from giving the some-would-say “dying” Microsoft another lease of life, moving the launch of Apple’s major Vista competitor until after Vista’s first service pack can be launched will also severely impact sales.

Why? Many people – such as myself – were in the market for some new Macs, the ordering of which they were holding back until the new OS was launched. I was going to order four new Mac minis and four copies of the newly expected iWork ’07 for the office. On top of that I wanted to buy a new iMac 24″ plus a copy of Final Cut Studio, a family pack of iLife 07 and a family pack of iWork for home. Now I, like many others, am just going to have to wait. That will hit Apple revenues quite hard because the revenue won’t be coming in, but the goods will be being sold.

On top of that, with reports saying “New Mac Pro hobbled by memory, Tiger?”it seems a lot more is riding on this Leopard than was first thought.

Leopard was supposed to be a significant upgrade (we are already up to v 10.4.9 for the Mac OS so we shouldn’t really have any more incrementals). It was supposed to be capable of allowing a user to easily install Windows XP or Vista onto an Apple Mac computer, but Microsoft have changed the licencing requirements on Vista and announced that they will be removing Windows XP Pro OEM edition from the beginning of 2008, leaving Apple with just two months to get the “Switch to Mac” juggernaut moving and attempt to bring the Mac platform into dominance (OK, eat a little more into the Windows monopoly). It ain’t gonna happen.

So, it looks to me like when the seminal moment arrived, rather than stepping up to the plate and hitting a Home Run (I know what one of these is now, thanks to my fantastic Nintendo Wii) Apple wobbled, and instead of hitting Microsoft for six, they decided to play with a little hand toy of their own, the totally untested, untried marketing newbie of the iPhone rather than their solid and known product range. Apple had the choice of getting either the iPhone or Leopard ready for release in June, they chose the untried high risk option.

Maybe Apple as personified by Steve Jobs doesn’t want to be popular in the larger marketplace? If that is the case, Steve Jobs is heading for another fall at the hands of the professional shareholders, just as he did once before. Allowing Microsoft to lick it’s wounds and come back again, stronger and even more dangerous.

Nice move, Steve. That itty bitty toy the iPhone needs to be a pretty good distraction to make up for the other losses…


5 comments on “Apple saves Microsoft from Extinction

  1. Hi – I have my own reservations over the delaying of Leopard. I had assumed that Steve Jobs and Apple were going to wait and see how well or badly Microsoft’s Vista launch was received and whether they’d be positioning themselves as a viable alternative to any disaffected switchers. To me it would seem that all the resources are going into getting the iPhone out the door and that maybe Microsoft’s cut off date for the expiration of XP would be their preferred point for picking up the next wave of migrating Windows users. Probably Jobs doesn’t want the headaches of gaining a larger user market share on the back of Microsoft’s theoretical demise and would rather drive the figures for new adoptions from various portable device users.

  2. Thanks, always good posts on your blog!

  3. you forget that jobs and gates USED to be very good friends. those two have been playing footsie for years. we all need both platforms. the 2 of them have taken 2 niches.

    apple always wins. i bought their stock when it was $13 and experts only gave apple three weeks to live. hmmmmmm, it split and is up to $107 a share. nice.

  4. The Chinese have an old curse – may you live in interesting times. They also say Old Friends are their best enemies, and Jobs and Gates certainly fit into this mould.

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