back to article 25 years of Macintosh - the Apple Computer report card

In two short months, Apple's Macintosh will turn 25 years old. My, how tempus doth fugit. To mark the awesome inevitability of January 24, 2009 following January 24, 1984 after exactly one quarter-century, tech pundits will bloviate, Apple-bashers will execrate, and Jobsian fanboyz will venerate the munificence that flows …


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  1. peter


    So the biggest challenge facing apple is how to survive the end of the Jobs era? Futurama-style head jars notwithstanding, there's going to come a time when even his Steveness will have to hand over the CEO badge.

    So who's going to succeed Jobs and keep the magic going (without going off the rails)? And will Steve be able to transfer ownership gently or will it have to be pried from his cold dead hands?

  2. s. pam Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    My Gawd, I remember the day the Mac...

    Started....I was just out of Uni working @ Intel in Austin Texas when someone came in with the first on in town....

    Of course we had to take it apart and figure it out....

    Lucky in those days you could still put stuff back together, before SMD's and the lot.

    Happy 25th Apple

  3. s
    Thumb Up

    Not a Mac Fan but...

    You can't argue against those figures...

    Whilst I think the machines and OS are over priced, the iPod suffers from terrible sound quality and basically not *wanting* to like the iPhone I have to say...

    No other company offers such a complete package as the iPod (I looked long and hard before buying my 80gb classic - I had to trade a little sound quality for avilability and storage but still think it's the best all rounder).

    I have tried a friends iPhone and it *works*. It's a treat to use - I hate myself for saying it but I'll be buying one next year when my current contract runs out...

    The biggest thing against it are the idiots that can hear no wrong said against thier favorite company (not all of them, but a ver vocal amount). Get rid of them and I'd like the company a while lot more :)

  4. jai


    you should have produced the graphs in Apple's Numbers app - they've have been far more shiny and snappier

  5. Ted Treen
    Paris Hilton

    @AC 01:28


    A MacPro is no more expensive (and frequently cheaper) than a similarly-configured PC. It also has superb build quality, consistency of components (Dells vary in their content according to whatever's cheapest during the day/week of construction), reliability and a solid secure OS which is produced by the manufacturer of the hardware, so they're effectively symbiotic.

    You however, are championing (with sophistry) items which are frequently cheap, inconsistent, shoddy, unstable and unreliable.

    Could it be it's like attracting like?

    Paris, so you can have an example of an IQ to which you can only evidently aspire.

  6. Vincent


    The guy on the left in that first picture (Jobs?) looks similar to me. In fact, if I let my beard grow a bit, we'd probably look almost exactly alike.

    I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing though.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Music metrics...

    So, Apple have sold a hundred and seventy five million ipods, but only five billion tracks sold? So on average, they've shifted, what, three albums per ipod? Doesn't sound like a terribly good business model there...

    Or could it be (whisper it!) people are getting their music elsewhere?

  8. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Ted Treen

    "....You however, are championing (with sophistry) items which are frequently cheap, inconsistent, shoddy, unstable and unreliable....." Really? So shoddy, unstable, etc, etc, that they just happened to become the number one choice and de fcato standard in business use? Ever tried to upgrade the graphics card in the over-engineered, over-priced Apple G4 Cube? Think carefully, mactard, there is a very good reason why PCs have won the war against the Mac, they just offer a better and more flexible solution. If that were not true then Apple would be the one being hunted by the DoJ and the European courts for monpolising the market.

    In fact, whilst I have great respect for Steve Jobs both as a businessman and innovator, I notice the article skips over the failure of Apple to penetrate beyond the marketing department after VisiCalc had been out-done. In fact, Apple at one point in the '80s was the de facto desktop choice for business, schools and many home users, only Microsoft out-competed them with a better offering, better business sense, and better marketing. One of Steve's smarter move was to announce Microsoft Office for Mac in 1997, but by then it was too late for Apple to re-capture the business desktop market. Their efforts to create a server business are also not considered in the article, probably because that also is not such a pretty picture. Steve Jobs is probably one of the most foremost computing industry geniuses that not only got computing but marketing as well, but he has also had his failures.

    And whilst the article disses Scully, remeber ttah his Aplle Newton and his other consumer-minded failures laid the groundwork for the Palm and the iPod and iPhone.

    /Still got a Blackberry in my pocket, UNIX, Windows and Linux in my datacenter, and three PCs on my desk at home - no Apple products in sight.

  9. Optymystic

    Category Mistake

    Gilbert Ryle a famous English philosopher used to have an entity called a category mistake and this is probably one of them. It is filed under hardware, but one of the principal issues about Apple is whether or not its hardware emphasis was an error. Is there not an argument that one of its key roles was bringing the benefits of XPARC research to market through its operating systems some aeons in advance of its competitor to the north.

    Since this is essentially a business history rather than a history of Apple's contribution to the development of technology and there will be readers born before System 7.1.1, should this not have been filed under business?

  10. Thomas

    @Neil Barnes

    I think most people are getting most of their music elsewhere, but probably quite a few - like me - are getting it by putting the CDs they've had for years into the computer for a few minutes.

    Vincent - maybe you could take over when Steve J inevitably goes? Do you own a black turtleneck and some blue jeans? Are you somehow able to inspire your workforce while reputedly having a major temper control problem? Are you able to convey a sense of geekish glee while onstage without doing anything so dull as discussing technical specifications?

  11. fishman

    RE: Music Metrics

    5 Billion tracks / 175 Million ipods is just over 28, not 3. And since you can take your CDs and put those songs on the ipod, not all of the rest of the ipods are filled with pirated music.

    Since my wife and kids got their ipods, the number of CDs that they buy has gone way up. They only use itunes when they want 1 or 2 tracks off of an album.

  12. Andy

    here's to another 25 years of apple

    while i may not entertain the use of any fruity themed apparatus myself, and i can definatly stand up and say "i'm a PC", i'm glad Apple is around to "stick it to the man". Otherwise this world would be a lot more boring without them.

    and as such, I hope the shining radiance of his jobsness also goes across when the mantle of Apple's guiding light is passed on...


  13. TeeCee Gold badge

    Update that spoil chicken.

    It's spelled "fanbois" around here FFS!

    (Bloody Americans. Assuming it's not a fucking useful word unless it has a "z" in it somewhere.)

    Great article though. Just the right balance of juicy factoids carefully glazed with a delicious, sticky layer of wry humour. Hmm, must be lunchtime....

  14. Thomas

    @Matt Bryant

    You make some good points, but your comments don't entirely stand up. Mostly, you don't seem to understand the idea of separate markets. Where Apple have been investigated at all for market distortion, it is related to their activities in the music markets, and even then it is for trade treaty reasons (ie, charging more in one country than another), not for the more traditional anticompetition stuff of excluding competition. Services like currently offer the exact same catalogue of music without DRM and are fully compatible with iTunes and the iPod.

    I can only assume that you're bringing up the music market in what is otherwise a post about the PC market because you think that PCs have already "won the war", i.e. past tense - the war is not currently ongoing. Which would make it a lot less interesting to talk about.

    In reality, I think it's probably fair to say that Linux is the go-to OS for backroom and server stuff, Windows is number one for the office and for home use and the Mac plays very well with creative types and is growing in the consumer space. But the desktop OS/PC market is not really some sort of global game of Risk where the system with the bigger numbers subsequently wipes out all competition, it's a series of different markets with different needs making different decisions and it's really difficult to please all of them. Microsoft are far ahead in total sales and deserve to be for the reasons you suggest - price and flexibility of hardware. Apple have a highly profitable niche and also deserve that.

    Re: Office, Jobs didn't announce it for the Mac in 1997. He announced that he'd made a deal with Microsoft such that they would resume actively updating Office for the Mac and guarantee to update it for the next few years. In fact Office was technically a Mac product before it was a Windows product, but not by a significant margin and this fits with your acknowledgement that Apple had a decent lead in education and offices and lost it to Microsoft.

    That deal long being over, Microsoft now continue to support the Mac purely because they make a lot of money from it. I think the logic is that overall volumes are substantially lower, but since every Office sale to a Mac user is through retail, they supply a disproportionate quantity of revenue. I'll bet that increased Mac sales actually increase revenues for the Office team.

    I genuinely don't see that any one solution is so much better than the others that you'd have to be stupid to pick an alternative, and I can't see any value in namecalling in any situation.

  15. Shakje

    @Ted Treen

    Actually it depends on how you define a "similarly configured" PC. If you mean buying it from Dell or PC World, yes you're right. But that sort of defeats the purpose. If you get a PC custom built from a smaller manufacturer (ie local PC shop), do it yourself, or even just look on market sellers on eBay you will get a far better deal. As I've posted before on a seperate story (in great detail), my entire PC package comes to £800ish with accessories and OS included. The equivalent Mac system is £1700. So no, a similarly configured PC does not cost the same. The thing is, there's an option of getting a PC a lot cheaper if you don't go through a big supplier, if you get a Mac you have to pay the stupid amounts of cash on top. I'm not going to call all Mac-users idiots (in fact my brother-in-law uses all-Apple products), but if you either a) don't have 2 grand to throw about on a good system and b) want to play games on your computer, you need a PC. Which is why I have a PC.

    As for MP3 players, I bought an iRiver H140 a few years ago, it has better sound quality, better storage for the price (did at the time) and better featuresets than the equivalent iPod, and it looks nice as well.

    Phones, I have an N95 8Gb, which, although doesn't have the best interface in the world, I use the 5 megapixel camera regularly, enjoy the fact that I have MMS, and generally also enjoy 3.5G + WiFi internet access. As I also play chess, I have Shredder mobile running happily on it, which I'm pretty sure doesn't work for the iPhone. Also, I assume that Route66 doesn't work for the iPhone either. If I'm wrong I'm quite happy to forget I ever said the above.

    Generally I just prefer a better solution to something shiny and expensive. But that's just me.

  16. Ted Treen

    @Matt Bryant

    Love the way you call me "Mactard" - if ever proof were needed that personal abuse is the last resort of those with no coherent or valid argument, then you Sir, personify that proof.

    When, in the early 1980's, IBM introduced their desktop machine - with the Chaplin advertising campaign, IBM's System 36 mini-computer was one of the most widely found small & medium business computers. Very few companies had any form of IT professional, and it was (too) often the bean-counter - or very occasionally, someone with a nascent interest in early hobby machines who became the specifier.

    It was virtually axiomatic in those days that "no-one ever got fired for buying IBM", the IBM PC became ubiquitous, first as an executive toy/status symbol.

    Other systems with an O/S from Digital Research, or Convergent Technology, inter alia, slowly died the death of a thousand cuts.

    IBM thought they had DOS (bought in from Gates - who'd bought it in from elsewhere) exclusively but as history shows, they were wrong - and with the immediate advent of cheap (and sometimes very nasty) IBM "compatibles", the presence of DOS machines began to trickle down to the hoi-polloi.

    With their ever-increasing presence, early developers concentrated their efforts on what was the largest market for simple economic reasons which should be apparent to even you.

    The subsequent omnipresence of PCs is based in the 1980's mini/mainframe wars and has absolutely nothing to do with the relative merits or demerits of any particular platform. I would also remind you that greater numbers do not necessarily denote superiority - cockroaches outnumber humans by many thousands or even millions to 1.

    Apple were never "out-competed" by Microsoft who never offered hardware:- It was the old adage quoted earlier, plus cheaper offerings from Compaq, Toshiba and many others who offered cheap machines.

    That, and Gates' willingness to license DOS to any manufacturer/assembler is what gave rise to the PC dominance which was continued up to the present day by Microsoft's (alleged) dirty and illegal business practices, and their (alleged) theft of software from others, if they thought it could be valuable.

    As someone who lived through those times as a software engineer for Burroughs, I do have an inkling of what I'm talking about - and yes, I have upgraded the Graphics card in a cube - which I agree was overpriced. But the cube was discontinued in July 2001 - over seven years ago!

    I have found that the G3, G4, G5 and now MacPro towers are unbeatable for working upon, but if you really wish to continue with your "I'm so clever that I can use cheap generic" boasts, please remember that very few BMW, Lexus or Jaguar owners have been converted by owners of the admittedly much cheaper Yugo cars.

  17. Vincent


    "Vincent - maybe you could take over when Steve J inevitably goes? Do you own a black turtleneck and some blue jeans? Are you somehow able to inspire your workforce while reputedly having a major temper control problem? Are you able to convey a sense of geekish glee while onstage without doing anything so dull as discussing technical specifications?"

    1- I have some jeans but am currently lacking a black turtleneck.

    2- I wouldn't describe myself as "inspirational". :p

    3- Unfortunately not, well, it depends what it is exactly I suppose.

    But hey, this is stuff I can work on, right? =p


    "Yep! I got a Mac because I was fed up to the teeth downloading and buying anti-virus stuff. I just wanted to get on with what I wanted to do ... is that stupid?"

    You do know that there is some (albeit, not as much as there is for Windows) malware for Macs right? It's why software like ClamXav and stuff exists.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    25 years Apple? Polite applause

    <polite applause>

    </polite applause>

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rules of engagement

    The name calling in this thread was getting far too tedious. So I have deleted one abusive comment and others reacting to this comment.

    If you want your comment published, be a little civil.

  20. Mark

    re: Not a Mac Fan but..

    I refuse to buy an iPod, due to the massively inferior sound quality. I simply love my music too much. I have never owned a binatone cassette deck, likewise I will never own an iPod (until Apple sort out the quality of their DAC and other components).

    It seems like a HUGE oppertunity to miss, and I can't understand why other companies are not taking advantage of it.

    The closest anyone IMHO has got to bettering the iPod, is Sony with the latest NWZ-A829, which sounds amazing, great battery life, pretty usable, no reliance on any 3rd party software (drag/drop explorer support). The only problem being, they only go upto 16GB. If Sony make a 32GB one, and better still stick a MS-StickDuo slot on there, I would sell my mother to a eastern europe prostitution racket to own one...

    Until then, Sony and Apple can do without my cash it seems...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We can all speculate

    However I think Apple have reached their peak (I bought in 2000). I love Apple and have a Mac Book Pro and iPhone however....

    1) They're luxury items marketed towards 10-20% of the market. A market that they are close to exhausting.

    2) The iPod is on life support with the new phones that are coming out.

    3) Basically the whole future of Apple is resting on the success of the iPhone. If they don't open it up to other networks then they will have a hard time getting anywhere close to the sales of iPod. They also run the risk that someone will release a phone with much better hardware and an OS that's almost as usable as theirs (my money is on Google).

    Basically sales of iPod will drop faster than sales of iPhone will rise and Mac will increase slightly but not enough.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or to put things more into perspective...

    "To put that number into perspective, enough iPods have been sold to provide a personal 'Pod to every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Greece, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Chile, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Greenland. And you'd still have enough leftover to give one to each fan attending Super Bowl XLIII eight days after the Mac turns 25."

    Or to just give one to every 1 in 8 people in China and nowhere else in the world. Doesn't sound quite so impressive when you don't pick low population countries though I suppose does it?

    Regarding iPhone sales, it's also sold less than Nokia's 5310 before the comes with music store opened up, not even one of Nokia's more popular phones either. The N95 also dwarfs it's sales as do some other Nokia handsets, the same goes for many other phone manufacturers. Effectively the iPhone is still a non-factor in the market in the grandscheme of things.

    Apple isn't doing as well as their marketing would have you believe, they're still extremely irrelevant relatively for a tech company that likes to put itself in the same league as Sony, Nokia, Google and Microsoft for example.

    Even the Nintendo DS isn't a million miles off the sales of the iPod and music players are far more mainstream than handheld consoles due to appealing to a much wider age range and group of people- everyone loves music, not everyone loves gaming.

    Macs sold less units in the last year than the iPhone and I've already pointed out how irrelevant the iPhone is in terms of sales figures.

    The fact of the matter is, Apple is still the small child with the big mouth.

  23. Ted Treen
    Paris Hilton


    Well, good for you.

    Remember though, there are many enthusiasts who enjoy building their own cars - from kits, or basic components producing hybrids etc. They will NEVER be mainstream motorists.

    The same principles apply to computers.

    I have (after reaching the end of the road with my much-modified 1999 G4) just "moved up" to a 3-yr old G5 (courtesy of eBay) which runs all the Adobe CS3 quite happily. Although I don't play games - never saw the appeal, really - I don't castigate those who do.

    Also there are those who will construct their own FrankenPC, and install MacOS 10.5 thereon. I know it, & Apple know it - but because it's only going to be the odd techie enthusiast here & there, it's never going to be mainstream or commercial, so who cares?

    You have to admit that at £80 a pop, for the all-singing version of MacOS, it beats the hell out of Vista's multiple options & expensive price structure.

    I like Macs, & wouldn't use anything else - but I accept others have a right to differ, and I don't resort to personal abuse.


    I happy to use my Motorola KRZR (free with my Orange contract). It does what I need (calls, texts, alarms). I do like the iPhone, but I'm happy with Orange, and have no need of the twiddly bits and beyond an initial playing period, I doubt I'd use them. When I renew my contract, I'll get something nice but which above all else, comes free with contract

    Cameras are of little interest in a phone - I have two Nikon F4s bodies, an F801 and an F50 - I still prefer Fujichrome above all else, and bought a Nikon LS50 film scanner a couple of years ago. I have a small Olympus digi-compact, but give me reversal film for quality any time.

    I accept you & others might not agree with me, but that's your prerogative: the last thing we need is a whole regiment of Webster Phreakies** spitting bile everywhere.

    **One Webster is an amusing diversion, two would be tiresome, and three would just be akin to a ruptured haemorrhoid

    Paris? She stays free & easy.....(well, maybe not free...)

  24. jai

    @Matt Bryant - G4 Cube

    I think you picked a bad example. lots of people have upgraded the graphics card in the G4 Cubes. I've done it myself, it was easy and even fun too (if you're into that kinda thing). Google is your friend here, there's a pelethora of walkthroughs on how to upgrade most of the G4 Cube - including the processor itself.

    sorry, but as an attempt at flaming/trolling or just continuing the discussion, you've very much picked the wrong mac model as your example. FAIL

  25. Glen Forde

    Everything in the right place

    Good article on the current state of the Apple (Computer) company, their leader and products.

    I have to use PC & Windows at work (and have done since the days of Windows 3.11 - even tried Windows 2.0 and 3.0 once or twice) as well as Solaris, LINUX, SCO etc...

    When I get home I am glad to log in to OS X to have a break from the frustrations and limitations of MS software and PC hardware.

    I had an iRiver H140 (from when they were called iHP140) but after years of good service am happy to have moved onto a 60GB iPod Classic which works easily and elegantly with my MacBook. Just to prove that I it is not just the shiny and expensive that attracts me, all the apple bits are finished in black and both were bought from the refurbished section of the online store to keep the costs down.

    The iPhone is tempting but no video recording, no MMS and some other inconsistencies mean it is not quite there for me. I'll stick to my trusty N82 with the Symbian software for editing office files, tracking my fitness, managing tasks, handling personal and work email. It is not as pretty but it has a radio and does what I need, which is a good criteria for any piece of electronic gadgetry.

  26. David Kelly


    "Actually it depends on how you define a "similarly configured" PC. If you mean buying it from Dell or PC World, yes you're right. But that sort of defeats the purpose."

    In that case you should be whining that all brand-name PCs are overpriced. I don't see many people moaning that Alienware machines are expensive, but then people do love to hate Apple.

    "do it yourself"

    That defeats the purpose of getting a computer that just works out of the box. For a lot of people time is money and spending a day building a machine would reduce any savings to practically nothing.

    "want to play games on your computer, you need a PC"

    Or you could dual-boot Windows on a Mac, run Wine or play the growing number of native games. Isn't EA bringing out all their new games on OS X now?

    For me the extra productivity I get from using a Mac and time saved by using something that just works far outweighs any minor savings I could have gained had I bought a cheap Windows machine.

  27. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: @Matt Bryant - G4 Cube

    It's actually a very good example, and you underline my point perfectly with the Google point. There may be plenty of Google hits now, but there weren't in the day, and not much choice in video cards either as the Cube's design stopped you using full-size cards because the space was too short. You also usually had to re-duct the fan to get around the poor cooling design for a carf of any real power. And as every upgrade was a special, unsupported by Apple, you effectively killed your warranty the minute you opened the case. Compare that to any number of off-the-shelf PCs where you could not only have vendor-supplied and -supported upgrades but also do your own and you'll get an inkling of the point - Mac's were not designed for longevity, they were point consumer solutions with the hope that you would upgarde by forking out for a new model. With PCs it was simply easier due to the flexibility and the greater number of options. In short, Mac buyers were suckers, and PC buyers showed more technical skills.

  28. Ted Treen
    Thumb Down

    The c@ s@ on the M@ (Bryant)

    1) So why buy a Cube & immediately try to rebuild it? If you did so, without checking/researching then you bought the wrong machine for the wrong reasons. You might have made yourself a sucker, but your failings aren't everyone's - and neither are they Apple's responsibility. My old G4 had a 1.5GHz CPU upgrade, I changed the PSU to support a Radeon9800 Pro, I added a USB 2 card, I added a SIIG SATA card, replaced the CD with a Pioneer 109 D/L DVD-RW and it STILL works well even today. Good God, Man, whatever are you complaining about?

    2) Longevity? We're STILL using 8yr old G4s usefully here at work (OS 10.4.11, Xpress 7) - but no PCs are kept beyond 4 yrs - and even then they aren't a lot of use.

  29. Thomas

    @Matt Bryant

    I actually think that the G4 Cube is a bad choice because it was a commercial failure even on the Mac scale, was not widely adopted by anyone and was quickly withdrawn. So you're effectively taking a fact that the Mac users who were around when the G4 Cube came out (ie some tiny fraction of the current userbase, given the massive relative growth in sales since then) agree with and trying to use it to prove that they're wrong. In fact, I'm going to call straw man on you.

  30. Scott Mckenzie


    I'd love to see which DAC you propose Apple use then... from my knowledge of these things Wolfson are amongst the best in the world. Sure some of the stuff after the DAC isn't ideal, but hey... replace the headphones and i think you'll be very pleasantly surprised!

    Or see Red Wine Audio for more details...

  31. s

    @ Mark @ Not a mac fan

    I hear you completely. However, my iPod is only used on the train / walking. With decent headphones and all tracks in 320bps it's not soo bad.

    But at the end of day uasability won...

    If Sony had made a walkman in 32gb or more (or creative) then that would have been on my list instead...

  32. Thomas Rosén


    Darn! On the first picture Jobs looks just like Ashton Kushner, or is it the opposite?


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Rik Myslewski

    Rik, from one former Future Media Employee (Imagine Media when I started) to another let me say welcome to El Reg. Nice article, I look forward to the others.

  34. Admiral Grace Hopper

    I have dream

    That one day right there in The Register little Mac boys and little Mac girls will be able to join hands with little PC boys and little PC boys as sisters and brothers.

    I have a dream that one day every platform shall be exalted, and every flame war and OS bitch-off shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

    Play nicely folk, it's all the same stuff, really, there's no need for all the grief.

  35. Dick Applebaum

    A prophecy

    I saw my first Mac in Nov 1983, during a filming of a promo at our Sunnyvale Computer Plus store... Bill Atkinson demoed MacPaint to our staff and I got 15 minutes of hands-on...

    In the spring, after the Super Bowl announce in Jan 1984, there was a preso from 3rd party Mac Developers. One developer in particular caught my attention... not because he was dressed in traditional Indian garb (turban and all), nor his striking presence (he was well over 6 feet tall, with a flowing white beard and emaculate white outfit. It was what he said (paraphrased): "From this point on, all program development will stand on the shoulders of the Mac".

    He hasn't been proved wrong, yet!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 18th November 2008 14:11 GMT

    "...they're still extremely irrelevant relatively for a tech company that likes to put itself in the same league as Sony, Nokia, Google and Microsoft for example."

    If this is the case, why are more and more touch screen mobile devices appearing since the iPhone came out? Why is the styling and functinality of these devices so similar to the iPhone? Even RIM have developed one! Why do new versions of Vista and KDE resemble Mac OSX more and more? Why was the look and feel of the first iMac ripped off so much? A plethora of glass and aluminium finished tech products are coming out now - who did it first? The fact of the matter is that Apples R&D is EXTREMELY relevant - and ALWAYS has been. The have a catalogue of disaterous products, but each one paved the way fo new tech. the Newton and its influence on PDA's, ans subsiquetialy smartphones, has already been mentioned. The Cube ushered in small footprint PC's, the Shuttle and mac mini for example. The iPod (not really a faliure) has revolutionised the way that we listen to and buy music. Lets wait and see with iPhone eh? I'm very happy with mine!

    What I don't understand is the Apple anti-fanbois. Ok, apple user historically have been on accasion a litlle patronising (I was one of them, sorry...). Why the vitriol? I know that some of it is trolling, but it often gets personal and quite offensive. I can't be because of their success, because us "mactards" are reminded constantly that Apple are irrelevant and make rubbish, overpriced products and that we've all just drunk the kool-aid and believe anything his Jobsness says (the abuse the iPhone got because it doesn't have MMS was frankly ridiculous). This, of course, has been largely disproven by this article. Still, some peoples prejudices are deep rooted. I get the feeling that those that as over zeolously anti-apple are the sort that do things to be different. How ironic.

    Yes, their products are pricey, but you really do get what you pay for. The Macbook really are best in class - and this is where IMHO apple should look to dominate. If only they'd produce a decent Netbook because the Air, whilst pretty and technologically brilliant, is too pricey - especially when you consider the plethora of netbooks out there.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns



    'Nuff said.

    No, seriously though. I want to see real evidence of this guy's positions. If he likes questionable things, like Apple...what are his opinions on, say, OS/2?

  38. Death Boffin
    Thumb Down

    Epic Fail

    Unfortunately this report card doesn't go back to the thirty-some years of Apple. Apple managed to cut a couple of zeros off their sales figures by going to the Mac. The Apple II had great market share and had a great support ecosystem of third party software and hardware suppliers around it. By going to the closed Mac design, the Steves forfeited the market to the IBM PC and Microsoft. This has also probably cut a couple of zeros off the share price as well. I was a happy Apple II+ owner; haven't had an Apple since then.


  39. s

    @Ted Treen Cheap OS

    I have to dissagree here...

    When XP Pro came out I htink I paid somewhere in the region of 160 euros (about 100 quid at the time IIRC). I then used this for 5 years or so without having to pay for an upgrade each and every year. When Vista came out I paid 200 euros (about 140 quid at the time) for Ultimate (Both OEM for new machines) which I will use for 5 or so years.

    80 each year to keep up to date over that time comes to much more than Windows.

    As to the cost of machines: I buy top end Asus notebooks. Noteworthy for their great screens, great processors and graphics cards and still 1000 euros less than an equivilent MacBook Pro. I wanted to try a Mac last time I replaced my machine but the pro with the same spec as the W2W (17" 1920*1200) was just too much. Though I agree it would have worked better out of the box - Asus drivers suck :)

    But... Why the whole bash windows, bash mac discussion anyway... Considering other companies have struggled and made stupid decisions (how Sony lost the personal music market is beyond me) just admit they did well :) (And that from an .Net Developer who has always worked on MS OSes

  40. Sandy Bryce
    Jobs Halo

    Apple to buy SUN MicroSystems

    Just wondering if anyone else has heard the rumours the Apple plan to use a small chunck of their $25 billion cash pile to but SUN MicroSystems?

  41. Peter Kay

    Hardware pricing.. hopefully the last word

    It depends what you're comparing and what your needs are.

    If a Mac Pro is compared to an identically configured PC, it comes out very well (because it *is* a PC, with a few unusual features such as EFI). Watercooling, nice case, Xeon processors, large memory support etc.

    Even if you pick a high end non Xeon system with a decent case (100UKP+ instead of a shitty 50 quid job), a proper crossfire/SLI full speed motherboard etc, the difference still isn't that great.

    The real problem is when you compare specific functionality rather than pricing. So, if your requirement is 'quad core system with one fast graphics card' then the PC system will be as cheap as a third of the price of a Mac Pro. It won't have the upgradeability to two processors (8 cores+), but it will achieve the desired functionality, and that's where Apple falls down. So far they haven't addressed the midi tower market, probably because it would cannibalise Mac Pro sales.

    It would also help if they revamped the mac mini, which has an embarassingly old graphics chipset (even from a mac perspective) and lacks any multimonitor support without hacks like a Matrox Dualhead2Go.

    So, really, whether a mac is 'expensive' depends on your viewpoint. Don't believe me? Go look up part lists and you'll find I'm right.

    Still, you can't argue that Apple haven't innovated and been rather successful, even if you don't agree with their product implementations or buy into the target market. No, I don't have a Mac - I may consider it if they revamp the mini. I can't stand integrated computers and justifying 1.5->2K of new PC is years off.

  42. Ted Treen

    @s Cheap OS

    MacOS does NOT have to be licensed once a year!!!

    There is NOT an upgrade annually which is chargeable.

    Vista Ultimate £230.00 (PC World - 2 mins ago)

    Mac OSX 10.5 £85.00 (Computer Warehouse - 1.75 mins ago)

    That makes Vista 2.7 times more expensive than Leopard.

    Vista (over 5 years) works out at £46 pa.

    Even if you pay full price for MacOS 10.6 in three years that comes to £28.34 pa.

    When I went to school (in pre-calculator days) £28.34 was less than £46.00.

    Although I accept that after 10 yrs of Brownian maths now continued by his Darling, and the same period of "Truth a la Campbell" - this premise may no longer be true.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    That old trope again..

    All the people asserting that this or that mp3 player has obviously superior audio quality to an iPod annoy me- they're about as empirical as CNet "journalists", and have as much clue about what they're listening for.

    Personally I hate Apple, they piss me off, but I do, much to my irritation, use an iPod. Despite the fact that it needs to be jailborken to use with my linux boxes, despite the fact that I wouldn't pee on St. Steve were he on fire. The problem is, they sound good. The DACs and headphone amps are decent.

    The person smugly banging on about the iriver i140 is particularly amusing. Having read a load of writeups by enthusiastic amatuers and part-time crApple haters, I bought one of these players looking forward to the superlative sound quality promised. What I got was a decidedly coloured and partial frequency response, and an SNR bad enough that you could hear the hiss walking along a busy road.

    Being lucky enough to be an engineer in a facility with world-class audio test gear, I put the damn thing on the bench, loaded it with uncompressed test tones and put it through its paces. Noise levels closer to a mediocre FM radio were certainly impressive stuff. When I returned it to the shop, I had this sheath of paper to share with the shop assistant, should he quibble with whether it was "of merchantable quality". He didn't. He apologised profusely. I asked if he could grab a couple more units from the back, so we could see if we'd just been sold a turkey, as I actually liked the features and build quality of the iRiver. Sadly, we tried a few, and they all sucked. I got my money back with an apology from the helpful and long-suffering chap behind the counter.

    Down the years, I've tried out various players that enthusiastic amateurs or self-professed but distinctly unscientific "audiophiles" have lauded- and most of them sound like cheap computer equipment rather than audio gear. A lot of them actually have such terrible EMI supression that you could hear big changes on the display. Not really great.

    Anyway, much to my irritation, I've been returning to the iPod time and again. Some have been better than others- like the models that came out after the first gen shuffle (that had a great push-pull output stage) and before the cohort that included the first touch. However, they've been more satisfactory than all but the odd alternative. Sadly, the only way to find out how good they sound is to try them, or ask someone who actually understands audio from an engineering POV (rather than the sort of person who buys 200 pound cables)- you certainly can't trust most journos.

    So I'm a reluctant prisoner of Steve, but I don't like my prejudice deafen me, unlike some.

    Sorry for the wall of text. Peace!

  44. mhj

    @Ted Treen

    I can beat that. My OS Is free, works very well and does everything I need.

  45. Ivan Headache

    @Matt bryant

    "Mac's were not designed for longevity, they were point consumer solutions with the hope that you would upgarde by forking out for a new model."

    So how come I've so many clients using these 'short-lifed' computers?

    How come I've got so many clients who ask me "can you get me a cube?"?

    How come I've got so many clients who say "you can have mine when I die"?

    How come I've got clients who are only now moving to Intel Macs only because they can't buy a new printer that will work with their their 10 year-old macs?

    How come I'm visiting more small businesses that are replacing their windows machines with Macs?

    How come I'm getting more new domestic clients who are replacing 2 year old (and younger) windows machines with Macs?

    These questions need to be answered.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Ivan Headache

    No, they really don't. A rant based on anecdote and a lack of logic smells like zealotry to me. Grown-ups realise that everything sucks, you pick the option whose flaws bother you the least.

    For some people, the mediocre performance, the paid point upgrades, and the relatively restricted commercial software support in some areas is a deal-breaker, for others it isn't. To assert that one size fits all merely betrays kneejerk fanboi behaviour, and thus automatically invalidates anything you might say, as you fail at articulating a measured or balanced view.

    Use what suits you folks. When you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. I have a Mac, it's a nice little machine for my half-assed digital DJing. It goes in a a sturdy bag with an external drive, an outboard M-Audio box and a Vestax VCI-100 controller. It's fine, I can turn up, get everything rigged and running in five minutes without rushing, it's all good. However, I also have a windows box for playing games on, Linux commodity servers, a nice FreeBSD firewall and other bits. They all have their flaws, but I'm taking advantage of what they do well, and I have a (mostly) stress-free time). Your mileage may, indeed almost certainly will probably vary. That's the *point*.

    Fanbois are a disease. The good news is that you tend to grow out of it. Some do at puberty, some don't shake it until their 60s, but most people shrug it off at some point.

  47. Ivan Headache


    Excuse me, where's the rant?

    I'm just pointing out (after working in mac support for 15 years) that Matt's claim that macs are 'short-lifed' commodity items is patently false.

    Based on personal experience with several hundred clients, all the statements made in my rhetorical questions are true.

    I'm wondering what this "kneejerk fanboi behaviour, and thus automatically invalidates anything you might say" is all about.

    Does the fact that someone works in a particular field make them a 'fanboi' ?(whatever they are - Oh I get it - boi - sounds like bwa - no still don't get it - must be something juvenile that us mature folks don't understand).

  48. Dan

    @ Ivan Headache

    I could be mistaken, but i'd say the answer to most (or all) of your "how come... ?" questions is fairly obvious....

    "after working in mac support for 15 years"

    you're hardly going to get calls from people asking to buy windows machines are you?

    Perhaps experiences of vendor agnostic IT types may differ somewhat from your own.

  49. David Kelly


    "Grown-ups realise that everything sucks"

    Do they? Maybe bitter, cynical, pessimistic "grown-ups" do, I hope I never become one of those.

    "you pick the option whose flaws bother you the least"

    Funny, I pick the option whose features I like the best and don't think of my computer as "flawed" because it doesn't have a 100TB hard drive and built in coffee maker.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    @Optymystic and @Matt Bryant

    “Is there not an argument that one of its key roles was bringing the benefits of XPARC research to market through its operating systems some aeons in advance of its competitor to the north.”

    It’s debatable just how much Apple was influenced by Xerox PARC, but greatly is the real answer – however…

    Many state that Apple just took the work of others – and from your post, I inferred that you feel it didn’t bring anything to the table itself – but it was more of a case that the research was in the direction Apple was already moving and this has been well documented.

    A very readable account is in Michael Malone’s excellent ‘Infinite Loop’ – Malone cites evidence such as patents, filed by Apple before the infamous first visit, which relate very much to the kind of the GUI work that Apple ‘took’ from the PARC. Ex-members of the PARC research group, who joined Apple to work on the Macintosh, explained that a major reason for their move was that they were fed up with working on research that didn’t see the light of day – whereas, they felt Apple was already going in the direction of their research and that the company would actually do something with the technology.

    Also, Apple refined and extended the PARC research considerably – it wasn’t just the case of slapping its logo on a finished product.

    One thing that’s often overlooked that it was Jef Rasin, who really wanted Apple to visit PARC – Jobs was reluctant and had already tried canceling the Macintosh project three times before the visit.


    “Ever tried to upgrade the graphics card in the over-engineered, over-priced Apple G4 Cube? Think carefully, mactard, there is a very good reason why PCs have won the war against the Mac, they just offer a better and more flexible solution.”

    The Cube was, as you say, quite rightly, overpriced. But I’m afraid, you’re missing the point in how it was (badly) marketed.

    The Cube wasn’t intended to be flexible, it was targeting the ‘prosumer’ (as more than one Apple exec described it to me)… people who thought nothing of burning money for a flash, classy bit of kit, whether or not they needed it. Why, even Michael Caine bought one – didn’t need a computer, he just thought it was dead cool.

    As for Scully, it’s worth remembering that he didn’t get how important it is to look at market share in terms of OS – he just looked at in terms of hardware. Also, for a company headed by a marketing expert, the Newton’s pre-release hype (which led to massive disappointment when the product was actually unveiled) and advertising was amazingly shoddy.

  51. Ivan Headache


    A perfectly valid point - one that I can't dispute.

    However, being on the Apple side of things for so long I can see that 'most' of the anti-Apple rant is pure hearsay. Yes there are things that they've done wrongly or could have done differently, Things that they've changed for no apparent reason (like why have they taken the apple symbol off the apple key on the new laptops? - now there's a non-rhetorical question that does need answering).

    But Short-lifed products? No way.

  52. Dan

    @Ivan Headache (again)

    Fair enough.

    I can't really comment on apple's products life span as I don't have much experience of them. I do find, in general, that life span is frequently dictated by lazy software developers rather than hardware death (xbox + rrod excluded perhaps). Software for windows platforms tend to be developed with easy ram upgrades considered more favourable than efficient code. Maybe with Macs there's more of an attitude to make it work on the kit that came out of the box.

    As far as i'm aware my old Amiga 1200 still works. Not sure id try to get it to run any software from the last 10 years or so :)

    Personally i'm neither pro or anti apple, I use some of their products, I don't use others. I do enjoy baiting the apple evangalists in my company though, just because I find their smug attitude irritating (the 'i'm a PC' ads really didn't help - had I been considering a mac at the time that alone would have been off putting simply for being so childish).

    Regarding the missing apple key, surely there should be some sort of inquiry. Is there no governing body we can turn to to prevent such ludicrous changes?

  53. Elrond Hubbard

    @Ivan Headache

    Yep, smug, mendacious know-nothing kneejerk crApple fanboi. People like you make it hard to tell when the Jobs Mob release anything good or anyone else anything bad, as your witless, smug polarised and simplistic view of the world simply precludes informed debate. Now go iron your cardigan, I think Top Gear's on soon.

  54. Ivan Headache

    @Elrond Hubbard.....Wow!

    Surely your post must qualify for flame of the week. It's really well constructed and based on astute observation and reasoned argument.

    FYI. Top Gear isn't on 'till Sunday. I'm going to watch QI now - it's all about being mendacious.

  55. David Kelly


    "Software for windows platforms tend to be developed with easy ram upgrades considered more favourable than efficient code. Maybe with Macs there's more of an attitude to make it work on the kit that came out of the box"

    I don't think it's a case of Apple trying harder to make software work on old hardware. They are primarily a hardware company. If anything making people upgrade more often would be good for their business.

    Like OS X, Linux runs on old hardware. I think that's because it's well programmed.

    Microsoft has always written bloated software. For example, compare the number of system calls made to serve up one static html on IIS:

    and the same thing done by Apache:

    Also consider that many applications run faster under Wine than they do in Windows, and that Samba has historically given better performance serving files than native Windows.

    Åpple uses Carbon and Cocoa to build OS X . How many platforms and languages does Microsoft use? The more complicated you make things the more likely there are to be failures, and the more "workarounds" that have to be added to address faults.

    One other big factor, I think, is Microsoft's staff retention. MS keeps their staff employed even when they are rubbish programmers or have barely any work to do. I've heard first hand from developers sent to coding conferences who log in at the conference, go shopping all day, then log out at the end.

    This is an enlightening read:

  56. Bruce Mewhinney
    Thumb Up

    Apple properly sliced & diced!

    I have used Macs professionally since, well, 1984, and I have survived years of both Apple/Mac zealotry and repeated premature announcements of Apple's imminent demise. Very few biz-tech writers have correctly dissected Apple Computer's inner chronology (and reasons for its recent market success) as well as does this author. The article even has lovely Excel charts! :-)

  57. J


    "Apple isn't doing as well as their marketing would have you believe"

    Well, far from me defending a company, any company, let alone Apple. All I have ever bought from them is my first gen 4GB iPod nano (I like it), which I plan to retire when (if) I get a Touch. But I dislike Apples dictatorial style and all that.

    That said, the article did not present marketing. Or at least not just. As far as I could see, the article presented some charts with not too shabby numbers on them. I wish I had a company doing that badly. Or are you implying those numbers are fake (marketing)? Call the SEC or whatever, then?

    @AC "That old trope again.."

    Well, but they do not listen with their senses+reasoning, they listen with their emotions... There's serious research about this, "the taste of brand", you know. And they have no clue what you are talking about anyway. Your reasoning is thus wasted on those you're trying to reach, really.

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