Admittedly, I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately about all the hype surrounding the new MacIntels. Rather than just being viewed as the nice machines they are, and a logical upgrade path for Apple development and Apple customers, anymore they’re being viewed as practically the Second Coming. With an Intel chip stuffed inside the box FINALLY the Mac will take its rightful place at the top of the computer world and Windows-based computers will be relegated to the ash heap of history. Or so we’re lead to believe.
I’ve tried to point out that one common hysteria point is the ability of a MacIntel to be able to run Windows natively and why that didn’t matter. I’ve also pointed out that even the ability to run Windows applications under Mac OS is a bad idea. There are just a few more things about the Mac left I’d like to talk about.
Should OS X be Open Sourced?
I read an article by famed computer pundit John Dvorak where he said that what Apple needs to do is to open-source Mac OS X. The theory was basically that with the Mac being able to run Windows, Mac users may decide to run Windows on their Macs rather than OS X. Therefore the only way to save OS X was to release it into Open Source where it would take hold, be rewritten to run on PCs, and squash both Linux and Windows in the process because it was so much better.
Missing in the article is any reason why doing so would benefit Apple at all. At its core, (no pun intended) Apple is a hardware company, not a software company. Mac OS X provides the proprietary operating system that Apple needs to justify the higher prices for its computers over anyone else. As I’ve said before, if Apple is put on a level playing field with Dell (or HP, or Lenovo, or Toshiba for that matter), it will be squashed. Apple’s profit margins would have a bigger bite taken out of them that its logo.
This is the main reason why you’ll never see MacIntosh clones as was suggested by someone who commented on of my blog posts. Don’t forget that once upon a time there were indeed Mac clones such as Umax, Radius, and DayStar. In the mid-90’s Apple hoped to grow market share on the backs of clones making the Mac OS more acceptable. What really happened was that Apple’s profits crashed because they couldn’t charge enough for royalties to offset the lost hardware sales. One of the first things that Steve Jobs did when he returned was to pull the plug on Mac clones. He won’t be revisiting that any time soon.
Steve Jobs is no Michael Dell
Steve Jobs doesn’t want to be Michael Dell. Dell creates large profits, but does so by selling large quantities of machines with a slim profit margin. Jobs wants those profits too, but he wants a larger profit margin on each machine to do so. In order to have a larger margin, he must differentiate the Mac enough to
justify the higher price point.
That’s why you have Macs running different hardware, a different OS, and constantly being redesigned to be eye-catching. Yes, they’re probably even engineered better than your run of the mill Dell under the hood too, but they HAVE to be in order to justify the price.
The Mac is always going to be a niche machine. As such, Apple can command a higher price for it and a higher profit margin. Doing anything to make the Mac more mainstream, whether it’s running Windows, Windows apps, creating clones, or open-sourcing OS X, threatens the bottom line and risks pulling Apple down to Dell’s level.
Margin over Market share
Steve Jobs knows better and wouldn’t let that happen to his baby. He’d much rather have Apple command 5 - 10% of the marketplace, keep what he views as Apple’s high standards, and let everyone else fight for the rest.