Welcome to the April issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We’d like you to know that our expanding staff of Mac advocates have combed the earth to bring you the best news, views and reviews available on the Internet today. Despite Apple’s best efforts to “lock down” information leaks and embargo important information about yet-to-be-released products, our crack team of Mac specialists have compiled an awesome, fact-filled issue of Audacious Tidbits and Puckish Musings. We lead off this issue with an important socio-fashion statement.
Mac geeks have brought about a transformation within the geek community. We have single-handedly created a new class, which can only be described as “geek chic.” It’s marked by a nonchalant or matter-of-fact competence in terms of our understanding of technology and its applications. In short, we don’t get hung up on MHz and hardware specs, but find delight in understanding how technology can play a role in enhancing one’s quality of life.
Larry, Can You Spare a Dime?
Media reports indicate that Oracle chairman and Apple board member, Larry Ellison, is quickly closing in on Bill Gates in the who-has-the-most-money-in-the-world contest. In addition to his 24% stake in Oracle, Mr. Ellison owns and flies his very own disarmed fighter jet. What is it about Apple board members and aircraft? Mr. Ellison’s personal fortune by one estimate stands at about $57 billion, compared to about $80 billion for Mr. Gates. So what’s $23 billion between enemies? Oracle’s stock has had a stellar 52-week run. If its share price continues to rise at its current pace, Mr. Gates will soon be dethroned as the world’s wealthiest person.
Oracle is the world’s largest developer of database software. It’s Mr. Ellison’s belief that his company will benefit in a big way from the explosive growth in e-commerce in the same way Microsoft benefited from the growth in desktop PC sales. Although known for his grandiose boasts and often-outrageous prognostications, Mr. Ellison may have a point this time. E-commerce is in an explosive growth phase...and at the center of this growth is Oracle software.
According to Apple Computer, IDC has rated the company tops in the education market for both the fourth calendar quarter of 1999 and the year itself, with market share numbers of 30.6% and 23.6%, respectively. It doesn’t take a third grader with an iMac to realize that Apple’s education share continues to rise. The release of the iBook and DVD iMacs helped Apple outpace its closest rival during the fourth quarter by about 2 to 1. Combining the power of the G3 processor with DVD, USB and FireWire, Apple’s iMac is the most popular personal computer in American primary and secondary education. We expect further gains in the education market in 2000.
In a reversal of Apple’s recent trend toward reducing the number of wholesalers who distribute its products, Apple has returned Tech Data to its former position as a major distributor of the company’s wares. The fact that Apple saw a need to increase its major distribution partners in the US from two to three (in addition to Ingram Micro and Pinacor) indicates that the company is seeking to expand its sales into new markets. While Tech Data’s European and Latin American subsidiaries already carry Apple products, the company’s return as a US distributor portends good news for Apple’s efforts to increase its US market share and presence in the traditional distribution channel.
Like It Ever Was an Issue?
A US District Court has dismissed a suit by Microware Systems to stop Apple Computer from using the name Mac OS 9. Apparently Microware Systems has a product called OS 9; not a product sold for desktop PCs, rather an operating system that runs on products few of us can name. It appears that the court ruled that no one would be confused if two products had a somewhat similar name but did not compete in the same markets. As a result of the ruling, Microware Systems has chosen to change the name of its product to Windows 2000. Just kidding...
First the Best, Now the Rest
Shares of Gateway and Compaq have had a little slow going as of late. Gateway has a loyal base of installed users, but has had trouble maintaining its historical rate of sales growth (sound familiar?). On the other hand, Compaq has been making great strides to change its product line and revamp its distribution systems in the face of tough competition. Notably absent from the news stories about Gateway and Compaq, however, are the dire predictions of collapse that plagued Apple Computer when it faced a tough transition following Microsoft’s Windows 95 release.
Once viewed as a competitive disadvantage, computer industry analysts are now viewing Apple’s proprietary operating system as a competitive advantage. Apple does not pay Microsoft a licensing fee on each unit sold. This savings reduces the company’s cost per unit and sales of the Mac OS to owners of older Macs provides Apple with a source of high margin revenue. Perception is a potent force in the minds of buyers; no longer concerned that Apple is here today but will be gone tomorrow, first-time computer buyers and former Mac owners are purchasing new Macs in very large numbers. Where does all this leave Gateway and Compaq? It leaves them with the challenge of developing better products while reducing costs.
Both Gil Amelio and Steve Jobs saw the need to slash Apple’s costs by reducing the number of different products manufactured and refocusing the company’s efforts on key markets. Compaq, despite its recent efforts, still has a bloated cost structure and has continued to try and maintain market share at the expense of profits. This cannot go on forever; Compaq may face another round of write-downs on its PC business before it returns to healthy profits.
Gateway, which was an innovator in the direct-to-consumer market, is facing tough competition from Dell and Apple who have recently done a much better job of reaching consumers through Web-based sales. It’s no wonder Gateway’s management is looking away from hardware sales in order to grow sales and profits. We see tough times ahead for both companies as they work diligently to realign their product and business strategies.
Mighty Multi Macs
Rumors come and rumors go, but good ideas tend to stay. Apple has a problem of sorts with the lack of faster G4 chips from IBM and Motorola. This is most likely a short-term problem but power users are always hungering for faster Macs. Mac OS X, scheduled for release this summer, may accommodate multi-processor Macs and allow Apple to ship faster, better computers while waiting on IBM and Motorola to produce G4 chips with faster clock speeds. Please don’t start a rumor based on what you read here, but our guess is that multi-processor Macs will debut around the time that Mac OS X Consumer becomes available.
Please enjoy our latest issue!