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Old Jan 14, 2013, 02:46 PM   #1
50548
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Anyone missing the good ol' niche Apple?

No, this thread is not about today's share price dip or usual market share oscillations.

It's about identifying those who, like me, supported Apple and loved its products when it was far from being the corporate behemoth that it is today. I am talking especially about the late 80s and early-to-late 90s, when financial issues began and everyone and their dog proclaimed the company dead.

But we were there, buying Snow White Apple //s and Macs when the mainstream market was clearly PC-DOS and Windows; when Macworld was still a thick publication devoted to specialized niches; when passionate developers showed their skills without knowing whether they would sell one or a million units of their software (Free Tools Association for the IIGS, Bungie, Spiderweb, Fantasoft etc.); when 680x0 and PowerPC represented uniqueness against majority.

No, I do NOT think Apple's "best days are ahead" as SJ wishfully put it; in fact, for me Tim Cook is a terrible CEO who should have stayed as COO instead and nothing else...no clear vision, already catering to Wall Street anal-ysts' fantasies, loss of innovation initiative and consideration of cheapo solutions to increase market share instead of sticking to the "where the puck shall be" principle.

So assuming my gloomy predictions above are correct and Apple loses much of its current clout in music, phone and computer markets, I would ask the following:

HOW MANY of you actually MISS a smaller, more niche-oriented Apple (i.e., DTP, video, graphics) that really cared about releasing the best products out there (or at least genuinely tried to) while reflecting the "us against the world" factor better than any other tech company in the world?

Ya know: proprietary ports, RGB monitors, distinct processor architectures, unique design, tight UI, Mac Toolbox programming books, PowerPC much faster than the latest Intel offerings, etc.

Pros? Cons? Never gonna happen again?

I am just curious, that's all.

Last edited by 50548; Jan 14, 2013 at 02:54 PM.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 02:53 PM   #2
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I miss it.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Apple has reached it's peak in innovation though.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:13 AM   #3
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It's always easier to love an underdog.

But being an underdog is something that nearly killed Apple. I know. I was (used to be) a much more die-hard Mac zealot in those days.... those days when CEO Gil Amelio ran Apple. When Apple (even combined with the MacOS clones) made up less than 2% of the global PC market share. Those days when every business magazine (Forbes, NewsWeek, US News and World Report) all predicted that Apple would be bankrupt within months.

Yeah, those were the underdog days. When Apple was a much smaller company. When Apple was the David, and Microsoft was Goliath. Honestly, despite many Apple fans pining for those "good old days", I doubt Apple wants to go back to underdog/niche status, if it can avoid it.


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** Gil Amelio was actually a very nice guy, a gentleman. I was a nobody, but attended an occasional Macworld Expo anyways. I went up to him to get his autograph during a Macworld Expo. He signed my iMac Poster. And shook my hands with a sincere smile. This was at the convention floor of Moscone Center, SF. I doubt Steve Jobs would have shown similar class and amicability towards rank-and-file Mac users/customers.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:18 AM   #4
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Yes and no. I like competition but I don't like what iOS has seems to have done customer-wise. It isn't all bad but there was a definite change at that point.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:28 AM   #5
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I miss the PowerPC days. Some real thought and effort went into the design back then and the price seemed to be worth the hardware. Now their focus is more on iOS devices and newer Macs to me seem to be underpowered and very iOS device inspired. I liked my iPhone 4 when it worked, but I don't want my computer to be like it.

I'm sure Apple will continue to do well however, and one day they may make a product that interests me again.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:34 AM   #6
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I dunno, in one way there was something special with apple back in the 80s and 90s but I think in a sense that was a product of the times.

Sure Jobs was a powerful figure in the 80s and 90s but I remember back then when the personal computer industry was young going to the Boston Computer Society seeing the Amiga being unveiled or going to MacWorld here in Boston. Those things were awesome - there was something really exciting back then - seeing what you could do with these new computers.

Times change computers are an appliance now, and being such the industry lacks a certain level of youthful exuberance. Its not lamenting over apple changing but rather how the industry transformed. Apple had a more dedicated legion of followers so that exuberance remained longer but even so we saw the changing of the guard when Jobs killed off MacWorld (as we know it) and moved away from some of the core audiences that stuck by Apple. They basically followed suit with other computer companies moving to be more consumer focused and less personal
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:45 AM   #7
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What I dont like now is that Apple has become so big that people think negatively of it just because its now a big successful company. Its still the same company with the majority of the same ethics.

The rumours of a 'cheap' iphone worry me somewhat though. This is the first sign of losing focus.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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Its still the same company with the majority of the same ethics.
In a way isn't that the problem - when they were smaller and more of a niche computer company they could get away with some of the over-zealous behavior, now that they a major player in the phone/tablets and are increasing marketshare in the computer sector that type of behavior will not pass muster.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:48 AM   #9
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It's funny that people miss the days when Apple was dying.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:52 AM   #10
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It's funny that people miss the days when Apple was dying.
I don't think anyone has said that.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 08:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
In a way isn't that the problem - when they were smaller and more of a niche computer company they could get away with some of the over-zealous behavior, now that they a major player in the phone/tablets and are increasing marketshare in the computer sector that type of behavior will not pass muster.
Not really no. Its the naivety of the consumer.

Apple got successful by making great products. Now that they are larger because of that success they still make great products but people get on their backs because they are naive to Apples mantra. We oldies that have stuck by Apple through the dark days understand how they work but the younger generations still cant grasp why they've dropped CD/DVD drives, create a closed system of tightly integrated products, why Apple stuff costs a little more etc.

The niche is still there, people just don't understand it. This is how niches work.

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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:16 PM   #12
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The rumours of a 'cheap' iphone worry me somewhat though. This is the first sign of losing focus.
This is exactly one of my concerns; Apple as a follower of the "design by committee" paradigm instead of a true innovator. SJ could not care less about what analysts said - Cook, on the other hand, seems to cater to every dissenting voice out there.

And this is exactly why my question was asked:

WHAT IF Apple falls with a bang under Cook? Any chance of it going back to its romantic, niche origins under a new leadership?

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The niche is still there, people just don't understand it. This is how niches work.
But that's exactly this lack of understanding that may lead the company to falter under a weaker leadership - instead of convincing those "newbies", the weak CEO will change the corporation's paradigms to sell more and remain big.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:29 PM   #13
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I don't think anyone has said that.
Well, those were the days Apple was a "niche" player. Apple stopped dying when they started focusing on a wider audience.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:33 PM   #14
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I just hate iOS and everything it embodies.

I sincerely hope that with Forestall gone, OS X stops becoming so much like iOS and more like a desktop OS again.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:37 PM   #15
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Well, those were the days Apple was a "niche" player. Apple stopped dying when they started focusing on a wider audience.
It all started when Steve Jobs decided to allow Windows on a Mac. So people please stop blaming Cook.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 06:08 AM   #16
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It all started when Steve Jobs decided to allow Windows on a Mac. So people please stop blaming Cook.
Uh ? Heck no. It all started with the abomination known as the Bondi Blue iMac (and the following Flower Power iMac) and the refocusing of Apple's line-up with the elimination of the clone market.

When Apple stopped being some kind of niche for "Creatives" and started being a PC OEM and consumer electronics company (with the introduction of the iPod) is when they stopped dying.

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I just hate iOS and everything it embodies.

I sincerely hope that with Forestall gone, OS X stops becoming so much like iOS and more like a desktop OS again.
OS X never stopped being a desktop OS. In fact, Windows 8 went much more to a "Mobile/Touch" UI than OS X ever did (frankly, having been through a few revisions of OS X, I don't even think its UI changed much at all, except for a few pixels being rearranged to look different, it works the same it always has).

Both iOS and OS X are the same OS anyhow : Darwin. And Darwin is the same its always been. A Unix '03 compatible OS that focuses on features needed in the consumer desktop arena.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 06:21 AM   #17
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Remember that little bomb graphic that indicated you needed to restart your computer?

I had a Mac 512 in the early nineties when the Plus was current, that I used as a word processor. You had had to be pretty sure you saved your work every 15 minutes or so.

While I have fond memories of those days, mainly because everything was so simple and easy to grasp, just the iPad alone is so much more than those little beige boxes. While I have a few grumbles about being forced to do new ways of doing things and Apple's limitations ( as that ex apple exec said about Apple's weakness for the internet) I am certainly thankful for its current range of devices.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 07:55 AM   #18
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Apple has always been about profit. It beggers belief that some people think otherwise.

I really don't understand how people miss the PowerPC days. I guess some people may have felt that they were special using a Mac back in those days .

Personally, I preferred the OS hence why I tend to buy Macs but now I feel Windows has caught up.

Rant: PowerMac G5 was the most unreliable computer I have ever owned. Logic board died twice. It ran too hot as well.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:00 AM   #19
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Rant: PowerMac G5 was the most unreliable computer I have ever owned. Logic board died twice. It ran too hot as well.
I managed to fry two graphics cards hehe. Although I think it was the dodgy firmware not using the fan properly and not actually a hardware problem per se.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:14 AM   #20
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I miss it. iOS dominates Apple's focus these days. Personally not a fan of iOS. The only mac worth buying (for me at least) is the mini. I don't like the iMacs anymore and the Pro's are too expensive and outdated. If only Apple would make a mini tower with user replaceable parts, I'd buy in a second
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:33 AM   #21
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The one aspect of apple I do miss is what Mr. McMac posted - they do seem pre-occupied with iOS.

While they have largely embraced the consumer sector to improve sales and create new revenue streams they have decided to overly depart from the professional sector. The languishing MacPro is a good example, but also the pro apps seem to be just sitting there, such as Aperture.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:35 AM   #22
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The one aspect of apple I do miss is what Mr. McMac posted - they do seem pre-occupied with iOS.

While they have largely embraced the consumer sector to improve sales and create new revenue streams they have decided to overly depart from the professional sector. The languishing MacPro is a good example, but also the pro apps seem to be just sitting there, such as Aperture.
Is it really surprising though ?

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Old Jan 16, 2013, 08:39 AM   #23
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Is it really surprising though ?

Image
I'm not saying its a mistake to tap potential revenue sources but why ignore other areas where they can tap $$. Their Mac line is growing in marketshare, why not continue to cultivate that specifically in the pro area whether its hardware or software. They've held a special place with designers and pros yet their latest moves (or non moves) means the very people who were the most dedicated to them are moving to different platforms.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 09:16 AM   #24
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What I miss about Apple was its focus on that magic phrase "it just works".

That's what got me sold on the brand in the first place, was the way people who used Apple products seemed to be able to get things done faster and better than people who didn't.

To me Apple was all about being able to quickly and easily edit videos, make slideshows, burn custom DVDs, make professional-looking presentations and newsletters, etc. The hardware was powerful enough and included all of the stuff you needed to get it done (like integrated USB and Firewire back when other companies charged extra for those), the software was quick and intuitive.

That's related to the statement about Apple catering to the creative types, because Apple made it easy for the creative types to do their thing.

The whole reason I switched was because I saw people with older, outdated Macs do better work, faster, than I did with my top-of-the-line Dell. Then when I had a Mac, it was my turn to do better work, faster. Using Apple products made me look good.

Not to say that Apple's not still trying to doing that today, but that's not their primary focus anymore. Now they seem to want to focus on making it quicker and easier for you to give them money -- by buying apps, movies, songs, books, cloud services, ... they have found the golden cow, of course they are going to milk it.

I was OK with Apple trying to come up with new technologies, interfaces, etc. when the goal was to facilitate that "it just works" mantra. I was blown away when I bought my first Rendezvous-enabled printer and very literally it just worked as soon as I turned on the power. THAT moment, of smiling and thinking "This technology is COOL!" is what Apple should get back to.

Now all I see is new interfaces and technologies with the simple intent of breaking old ones. Making you buy upgraded software, hardware, new adaptors, new accessories, and milking you for more dollars. They've become good at that lately.

There was also a change from "using Apple products makes me look good" to "owning Apple products makes me look cool" which didn't help things any, and like any fashion trend, that's now on its way out.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 10:13 AM   #25
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I'm not saying its a mistake to tap potential revenue sources but why ignore other areas where they can tap $$. Their Mac line is growing in marketshare, why not continue to cultivate that specifically in the pro area whether its hardware or software. They've held a special place with designers and pros yet their latest moves (or non moves) means the very people who were the most dedicated to them are moving to different platforms.
How much is the Mac line growing YtoY vs how much is the iOS line-up growing YtoY.

Again, check the graph. Check the blue "CPU sales" vs the red and gray "iPhone/iPad sales".

Apple doesn't ignore anything. We've had Retina Macs last year, we've had a refreshed iMac. We got the Fusion Drive (finally a volume manager in OS X used for something consumers care about!), we got a new version of OS X. Is that what you call "ignoring" ? Because the Mac Pro got a bad "update" that wasn't really one ? How big of a chunk of that graph do you think the Mac Pro represents ?

But. Yes, they seem to have shifted their main focus over to the iOS platform. And from the chart I posted, it's easy to see why. Main revenue generation = main focus. Secondary revenue generators = secondary focus.

Again, this shouldn't be surprising.

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There was also a change from "using Apple products makes me look good" to "owning Apple products makes me look cool" which didn't help things any, and like any fashion trend, that's now on its way out.
I'd argue this change never occurred because "using Apple products" never "made you look good". And they don't make you look cool either.

That's just the perception some Apple users wanted in the 90s and that others want today. But it wasn't true then and it's not true now.
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