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Scottie's Follies

Eight one hundredths of an inch: shape up, Apple!

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'A couple of decades ago the vast majority of microcomputer companies realised the jackpot was in sales of computers to business', writes Scot Finnie. 'Apple opted to not play and as a result had a troubled history throughout most of the 1990s.'

So much is generally accepted. And this despite Apple's earlier ambitions to cater to business - the company had a specific business unit and even a planned product line for business. Yes something happened: something that should have the stockholders squirming in their seats even today.

Everyone knows that.

And the brains and guts of latter day Apple are a company and products that catered to business as well - NeXT, NeXT Computer, NeXT Software, OpenStep, and NeXTSTEP.

As Apple NeXTSTEP used hardware lockin - and consequently sold only 50,000 units. This will be the last company able to achieve success with a hardware lockin, mused Steve Jobs at the time, or the first to fail at it.

Not that there have been many companies attempting such a foolish thing of course.

'For the first time since the Mac was introduced in 1984 Apple have a real opportunity to play to win by focusing some of their resources on selling computers to large corporations', speculates Finnie.

And yes they do: Microsoft products across the board not only smell bad - they're dead in the water.

After years of hearing false promises Microsoft clients have finally learned that to get even a hint of the security other platforms offer without the blinking of an eye they're expected to bend over backwards. And most clients don't play on that side of the field.

All the while FOSS products continue to outdo one another in the never ending competition to be the most totally lacklustre in the neighbourhood. The field is indeed wide open.

But Apple aren't a big company, Finnie admits, and they're presently headed in the wrong direction: they're not headed towards business but towards more and more fanboy gadgets. But could they do it? asks Finnie. Yes they could, he insists, but there are a few changes necessary to make Apple the company Microsoft once were.

Ahem. Finnie doesn't really believe Apple or any company for that matter will really overtake Microsoft. Finnie is a long time Windows fanboy and only recently has begun to give other platforms a look. And the issue isn't so much Apple as it is anything totally lacking the stench of Microsoft. But what would Finnie recommend for a makeover for Apple? A makeover Finnie suspects might even be risky?

'The MacBook Pro 15 and 17 models are too expensive by about $600 to $700 to compete with top quality Windows notebooks, such as the Lenovo T60 series.'

And indeed: one can pick up a Lenovo 15 inch for about half what the MBP costs. And yes it looks like a 'business' computer - fundamentally ugly and so forth. And Lenovo is principally IBM so one can hopefully count on quality. But what is Finnie writing?

'Companies need to be able to purchase a MacBook Pro for around $1,900 with 2 GB of RAM and a 120 GB drive.'

Ahem. The basic MPB costs $1999. That's $99 more. How much RAM does it come with? 2 GB. How big a HDD? 120 GB. So basically we're whining over $99.

'While it's very easy to upgrade RAM in the MacBook Pros, it's difficult to replace hard drives. To succeed in the corporate marketplace, Apple need to adopt user removable hard drives.'

Ahem. Who is going to use up 120 GB at work? How many places of work are going to allow use of iTunes? How big do work files grow? And if graphics pros find adequate disk space with their ginormous Photoshop and FCP stuff what are ordinary pinstripes going to require that comes close to that? Just a thought.

'The lack of a docking station option from Apple is also a serious drawback.'

Oh please. Most offices are going wireless anyway and what's so difficult about plugging in a LAN cable?

'It may sound minor, but docking stations are heavily used by companies that have adopted the no desktop approach.'

It may also sound incorrect. They're a waste of space (and money) and if companies have adopted them then there are just as many or more companies who've had the good sense to not adopt them or pass them right by.

'The docking station cuts down on cable connections.'

It does? How?

'At the very least, without the docking station, the 15 inch model needs a third USB port like the 17 inch MBP.'

Half point. Maybe.

'The MacBook is thicker than the MacBook Pros.'

Oh goodness. Stop the presses. Here we have Apple producing the slimmest laptops all along, one after the other like rabbits out of a hat and basically defining the ergonomics of today's laptop; here we see armadas of butt ugly and THICK Windoze laptops disgracing the market place - and Apple need to get slimmer?

The MBP is one inch thick; the MacBook is 1.08 inches thick - they differ by eight one hundredths of a bloody inch. That's 0.002624671916 metres. Or 0.2624671916 centimetres. Or 2.624671916 millimetres. About the width of one character on this page.

'It doesn't have to be aluminium, but it does have to look upscale.'

Upscale according to whose standards? Dell's? Finnie's? Lots of ugly silver chrome and black all tossed together into a vomit inducing mess? As if Apple aren't the definition of upscale?

'IT pros should be able to snag this MacBook at around $1,400 with 2 GB of RAM and a 100 GB hard drive.'

The 13 inch MacBook comes with 1 GB of memory and a 120 GB HDD for $1299; you add that second GB RAM for $150; you can't downgrade below a 120 GB HDD because Apple don't deal in yesterday's news as Windoze OEMs (and Scot Finnie) do. Your final price tag for this machine - with better specs than Finnie is after - is $49 more than what Finnie suggests.

$99 too much in the one case; 0.08 inches in the second; $49 in the third: these are the irreconcilable differences that cause culture clashes, divide peoples, make wars.

Being There

'By now you've probably gathered there's very little reason to suspect Apple take the corporate market seriously.'

Yes most assuredly so. Yes despite their manufacturing some of the hottest servers going.

'The fact that we really don't know what Apple think about this is enough to say there's no strategy.'

Yes again. Or close enough.

'Apple would need to stop looking at corporate computing as a dirty word.'

True. Shareholders would have to start seeing that corporate computing makes them all millionaires many times over - again.

'IT customers want to be listened to and respected and they want the company they buy from to innovate products and services that address their needs.'

Oh please. Apple need to learn how to innovate? OK what's the next joke? As for respect: yes. Apple can't continue deleting things on their message boards. Everyone knows that. Next point?

'A public move by Apple in this direction would generate a ton of interest.'

OK. But there already is considerable interest.

'Corporate buyers stake their careers on their purchases. They need to feel the good will.'

True again. But in a short while any corporate buyer recommending Microsoft will feel only ill will. It's not so much a matter of recommending Apple instead as it is of recommending 'anything but Microsoft'. Apple are simply another Unix purveyor - the flashiest and most accessible but just another Unix purveyor.

And the main thing Finnie never sees: business won't deal eagerly with a hardware lockin. Apple could be part of a second web revolution in the home and workplace both: end of the rather immature era where fools put standalone systems on the net without a thought for security. The adolescence of the Internet it might be called. And Apple, as the frontrunning Unix, would lead the way. In the home and the workplace both. But only if there be no hardware lockin. Apple: find out what business mean by 'exit strategy'.

The Apple fanboys might turn all colours of the rainbow but the Apple stockholders will celebrate with champagne.

And Scot Finnie will be still wondering when Apple will get that MacBook down from 1.08 inches to 1.07.

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