…which are legion and hardly confined to the world of Macintosh, as any of my family or friends can attest. Nonetheless…
1. How does Steve Jobs’ announcement of Intel-based Macs in 2006 and 2007 do anything but “Osborne” the entire existing Mac product line? I’m not buying a Mac until it has Intel inside. Are you? (In fact, have you considered that your next “Mac” might be a Dell?)
2. Will the new Intel-based Macs run Microsoft Windows (XP, Longhorn or what have you)? Contrary to what I wrote last night, one would actually assume that the answer is yes. Apple would be nuts to keep you from running Microsoft’s bug-ridden, virus-plagued, electronic house of horrors. Because if you can run Longhorn on your “Mac” it means the reverse is true: You can run Tiger on your PC.
3. Is this the end of Apple Macintosh hardware development? Indeed, I think it is in the traditional sense. I pictured a Mac clone business restart like the previous Mac era of Power Computing, etc. But why re-invent the wheel? License Mac OS X to Dell, Gateway, etc. and be done with it. A clone market already exists. Henceforth I think Apple’s hardware division will be doing a lot of platform design work and licensing the results.
4. Is this the most dangerous maneuver Apple’s ever made? I’d say yes, but the rewards if successful are substantial. Microsoft’s market capitalization is about $275 billion compared to Apple’s $31 billion. Becoming primarily a software company that also puts out small, successful gadgets (i.e., iPod) means substantially lower overhead and much higher profit margins. Especially if your hardware division is simply creating and licensing platform designs, not actually building, shipping, etc. a lot of costs disappear.
5. Is Apple nuts to so directly challenge Microsoft? I don’t think so, particularly having looked at the key financial statistics for both companies (Apple, Microsoft). Check out those profit margins, and then tell me it’s nuts to try to emulate what Microsoft has done. With Mac sales in the 2-3% range, what’s the loss ultimately? So you knife your hardware division. If you can license out your OS to almost 100% of the PC market and if it’s a better OS to begin with, profits should soar.
So this is either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. I think the latter.