Welcome to the May issue of About This Particular Macintosh! We’re excited about this month’s Worldwide Developers Conference and the forthcoming release of Mac OS X. We believe OS X will change Mac computing in the way that Windows 95 changed the Windows world. We’re eager to watch Apple’s changes to their venerable operating system unfold. Read more about the new state of Mac computing in our latest issue of Audacious Tidbits and Puckish Musings.
The judge’s finding of fact in the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft is having an effect on the way Microsoft does business and the competitive environment in which the company conducts its business. While it’s not illegal for a monopoly to naturally develop, it is illegal for a company to use its monopoly power to thwart competition and stymie innovation. Judge Jackson has ruled that Microsoft used its monopoly power in an illegal way.
In late April the Justice Department and 17 of the 19 states that brought the anti-trust suit against Microsoft proposed to the courts that the company be divided into two separate entities; one would have ownership rights to the Windows operating systems and the other would receive ownership of the application software division and almost all of Microsoft's other products. Under the plan company executives could only own stock in one of the companies, and the two entities could not rejoin their efforts for a period of ten years.
Ultimately it may not be direct action by the government to breakup or “hog tie” the company that will have the biggest effect on the way Microsoft does business. We believe the free market is a far more potent force. The judge’s findings open the door for companies who have been injured by Microsoft’s illegal behavior to seek redress and compensation without having to prove that Microsoft has operated a monopoly in an illegal manner. Although we don’t like lawsuits as a remedy to problems, holding Microsoft accountable for its actions may change the company’s overly aggressive style of doing business.
Emboldened by the government’s victory, competitors will find it easier to bring new products to market and compete with Microsoft in the marketplace of new ideas. Windows may remain the predominant desktop operating system for some time. But the government’s anti-trust victory will hasten the day that the Windows OS takes its rightful place in the technology era as just one of many products that helped shape the way we live, learn, and work.
We Beat the Street
Last month Apple Computer released its earnings report for the 1st calendar quarter of 2000 (the company’s second fiscal quarter). Wall Street’s consensus estimate was that the company would have net earnings of $0.81 per share. Once again Apple has pleasantly surprised Wall Street’s analysts. Apple’s results are as follows:
- For the quarter, Apple reported a net profit of $233 million, or $1.28 per diluted share.
- Excluding a one-time after-tax gain of $73 from the sale of 1.5 million shares of ARM Holdings plc., Apple’s net profit was $160 million ($0.88 per share), an increase of 72% from the year ago quarter.
- During the quarter (which ended April 1, 2000) Apple sold 1,043,000 Macs, a gain of 26% over the prior year period.
- Gross margins were 28.2%, topping the 26.3% a year ago. This was due large part to healthy sales of PowerBooks and G4s.
- About 20% of Apple’s revenue came from Web-based, Apple Store sales.
- Apple ended the quarter with $3.6 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
- The company announced a 2-for-1 stock split, the first split since 1987.
How ’bout an Upgrade?
We’d love an upgrade card for our older Macs, but we’re talking about an upgrade of a different kind. What has kept Apple’s share price from reaching its full potential isn’t lack of faith in Apple’s near term performance, but rather, lack of confidence about the company’s long-term plans. The iMac by all accounts has been a phenomenal success. But industry pundits wonder what will sustain the company’s sales and earnings in the future. Flush with cash and rising market share, Apple should perform over the long-term at least as well as its PC hardware competitors. Last quarter’s stellar sales of PowerBooks and pro-level G4 mini-towers should put to rest concerns Apple is a one product company. The rollout of Mac OS X and the company’s plans to win back professional customers provide an excellent road map for future success. We’re not asking Wall Street for special treatment—just an acknowledgment by analysts, rating agencies, and institutional investors that Apple Computer is here to stay. It’s time for more brokerage firms and rating agencies to re-evaluate their lackluster forecasts for Apple’s long-term growth.
The Return of the Clones?
Hardly ever does a movie sequel surpass the original in terms of story line or box-office success. However, we believe if Apple chose to return to licensing its OS a better story could develop. We claim no bragging rights to inside information, but we think a return to clones merits conversation.
Demand is high for Apple’s products and the company has been bashful about adding manufacturing capacity. Mac OS X has all the core features IT professionals have grown to love and will also provide end users with an extraordinary desktop environment. Properly presented to business customers, Mac OS X could eclipse some of the Linux momentum and bring it to the Mac. Linux has many good attributes, but its desktop appearance and software catalog aren’t among them. It may be time for Apple to look at a strategic partnership with another hardware manufacturer to help evangelize Mac OS X to large businesses and institutions. Apple has done extraordinarily well in the consumer market, but a hardware partner with expertise in providing business solutions would be an attractive option.
Something for Nothing?
At press time Apple Computer released iMovie as a free download for owners of G4 mini-towers and FireWire-equipped PowerBooks. However, reports on Mac affinity sites and the tests performed by our editorial staff indicate that iMovie can be installed on non-FireWire equipped Macs. iMovie can be downloaded from the Apple Web site or purchased for less than $20 from Apple on CD.
Apple’s decision to release iMovie as a free download indicates to us that Apple is changing its priority from reestablishing the Mac in the consumer market via the iMac to pursuing higher margin sales of G4s and PowerBooks. Thousands of Mac buyers have forsaken the purchase of higher priced mini-towers in favor of iMacs in order to obtain a copy of iMovie, Apple’s consumer level digital video software.
By making iMovie available to all owners of FireWire equipped Macs, Apple is extending its efforts to make the Macintosh the #1 platform for digital video hobbyists and amateur enthusiasts. It’s a smart move by Apple and foreshadows an overall change in Apple’s approach to the marketplace, now that the company’s survival is no longer in question.
Max for Mac is Back
For Mac music enthusiasts the folks at Cycling ’74 have very good news. Cycling ’74, Opcode Systems, and IRCAM recently signed an agreement that makes Cycling ’74 the new publisher of Max, the graphical interactive programming environment for music and multimedia. The software is currently available for download only. A packaged version is planned within four to six weeks. We won’t delve into the melodrama behind the news, but readers who love both programming and making music on their Macs should stop by Cycling ’74’s Web site or read David Ozab’s column inside this month’s issue.
Please enjoy our latest issue!