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MacBytes
Jan 25, 2008, 12:44 AM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Apple is Falling Behind Customer Needs (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20080125014421)
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Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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BenRoethig
Jan 25, 2008, 10:40 AM
I know this is going to get a lot of flack because Apple/Steve Jobs are considered some sort of deity and thus above criticism. That being said, they are a company with a very narrow focus that can be summed up in two statements. First, less is more when it comes to computers. It is okay to sacrifice both speed and features for a smaller footprint. Second, Portable is always better than optical. The first one works fine with laptop users. When it comes to portability, nobody as a better power to portability ratio than Apple. The only real issue comes with the Macbook which tries to replace both iBook models and the 12" Powerbook. I only wonder how phenomenally the thing would sell if it offered with in 1.8ghz and 2.0ghz with 13" and 15" displays with slightly slower CPUs to make it more affordable as well as a 2.2ghz Pro 13" with dedicated graphics and , but that's another story for another time. That being said, if you are willing to go in the other direction (desktop replacement) and give up some portability for more desktop like power and features, you don't have a place with Apple.

Then it comes to desktops. Apple really has a problem in that it cannot differentiate user types and one size fits all model really hurts them. The Mac Mini was well served three years ago when laptop hard drives were similar in size to desktop hard drives. Now that choice has left Apple with a entry level desktop that is anemic when it comes to CPU and hard drive space. With the exception of a very small group of SFF enthusiasts, the Mini as it stands as a computer without a client base. Yes you could justify it, by saying it meets the needs of what consumers really or something to that effect and you might be right, but when they see it sitting right next to the HP slimline or Dell inspiron Slim, they're going to notice that the PC has a 320GB while the Mini only has an 80GB hard drive. The real travesty is that a Mini with a desktop hard drive isn't going to be that much bigger, yet still much smaller than the competition.

iMac. Apple thinks of this as the perfect desktop for just about everyone. It's not. Compared to a standard MATX machine you'd get a best buy, it compares very well. However, for people coming over from the more Powerful full ATX or Mac Users from the lower end PowerMac rank, it isn't anywhere near as competitive. The problem is Apple cannot tell the difference in requirements between myself in my 20s and my little sister in middle school. They lump everyone who is not a record or movie producer into the needs an iMac category. The iMac is designed to save space while being a very powerful consumer machine. For most people who would walk into a Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, etc to a buy a machine it does that brilliantly. In fact its staggering how much less room the iMac takes up than my mother's HP while offering so much more capability. They would be very well off with the low end iMac...if they were willing to go that high. Ironically enough while the greatest potential for sales in the all in one category exist in the entry level category, Apple hasn't made one since the eMac which they traded for the far less practical Mini.

Like I said earlier, compared to a consumer MATX system, the iMac is a very good system. Get beyond that and the inherent drawbacks of the All in one become a deal breaker for many. Need more than three USB ports (most do), get an external device. If you have a need for a optical drive faster than than the notebook drive, get an external device. Want an extra hard drive for addition media or a time machine backup, get an external device. Want to tape the game on a DVR? Wait six months and buy the highlight on iTunes instead...or buy yet another external device that isn't supported by Apple. Need more ram or a beefier graphics card? Spend $2300 on a Mac Pro. Between the large devices on the desk, USB/Firewire Cables, the AC adaptors, the iMac creates exactly the mess it was designed to avoid. At this point, a tower with a display with integrated camera is actually cleaning on desktop footprint while having more USB ports, the full size optical drives, space for additional hard drives, and the ability to choose your graphics card as well as add additional expansion cards. Different computers for different types of folks. It's really a much easier concept than it sounds.

On to point too. There are three possible reasons Apple doesn't have high definition optical support. First, Apple is waiting for a clear winner in the Blu-Ray/ HD-DVD format wars or the introduction of affordable hybrid drives. Second, Apple wants to wait to introduce where they can make a splash with a new version of final cut. Third, and I pray to God that they're not stupid enough for this to be the case, is that they're skipping high definition optical drives to support iTunes. Whether one it is, Apple needs to get with the program soon. The industry is not waiting for them. I have heard several reports of small business either losing business to having to add a PC to the arsenal because customers wanted Blu-Ray. While the final cut line doesn't offer support, the entire premiere line, elements included support burning movies in Blu-Ray. I can understand wanting to sell more AppleTV's or iPods but it is to Apple's peril if they come at the expense of Mac/Final Cut sales.

yellow
Jan 25, 2008, 10:57 AM
With Leopard, it was the first time a long time where I truly felt that The Dollar™ was more important than Innovation. Yes, there have been times where it was 49/51 or so, but Leopard.. It was 90/10. I feel like Apple and SJ have lost their way and now they've started to believe their own hype and any crap they foist on us, we will eat up and clamor for more. It's a bit sad really, and Microsoftian in nature.

I think it's pretty clear to most folks that there needs to be something done about the Mac Mini, and the gap in the iMac <--> Mac Pro line up.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people focus more on the little things, like speedbumps, chipsets, and video cards.

Roba
Jan 25, 2008, 11:18 AM
I would like to buy a Mac laptop but there is nothing in the current line up that is suitable for me. The 15 inch MBP are to big i have had one before and i sold it and the MB is to underpowered. I need a Pro 12-13 inch notebook with dedicated graphics that is fully fucntional.
I cannot really see Apple releasing this now with the 13 inch MBA out there and the 13 MB.
I'll just have to sit with the current PC notebook that i am using.
Computer companies like Sony and Dell offer much more variety.

BenRoethig
Jan 25, 2008, 11:40 AM
With Leopard, it was the first time a long time where I truly felt that The Dollar™ was more important than Innovation. Yes, there have been times where it was 49/51 or so, but Leopard.. It was 90/10. I feel like Apple and SJ have lost their way and now they've started to believe their own hype and any crap they foist on us, we will eat up and clamor for more. It's a bit sad really, and Microsoftian in nature.

I think it's pretty clear to most folks that there needs to be something done about the Mac Mini, and the gap in the iMac <--> Mac Pro line up.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people focus more on the little things, like speedbumps, chipsets, and video cards.

I think they also have a tendency to take users for granted. They did so with the original iMac boom and most of those users that I know didn't stay with Apple.

Markleshark
Jan 25, 2008, 11:44 AM
I think the main point here is not that Apple are falling behind the users needs, but the Macintosh is falling behind the users needs.

BenRoethig
Jan 25, 2008, 11:48 AM
I think the main point here is not that Apple are falling behind the users needs, but the Macintosh is falling behind the users needs.

I wouldn't call the AppleTV has fixed as Apple thinks it is.

Markleshark
Jan 25, 2008, 11:53 AM
I wouldn't call the AppleTV has fixed as Apple thinks it is.

Whereas I would... Swings and roundabouts...