Apple on the Brink

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 16, 2003
925
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Michigan
Apple on the Brink - an opinion column for PC Magazine by John C. Dvorak (frequent TWiT guest).

Dvorak discusses a possible scheme Apple might use to "unintentionally" release a boxed version of OS X for generic x86 hardware. Regardless of whether you think it'll work or not it is an interesting article, IMO. Personally, I think selling OS X for x86 would help Apple in the long run.
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
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Mac since 7.5
I can see this happening, and I'm coming to believe it wouldn't be such a bad thing for Apple hardware sales. I love my PowerBook as much as the OS that it runs, and can't imagine ever buying a POS Dell even if it did run the Mac OS. Yes, there'd be plenty of folks who'd buy cheapo hardware, and some of them would even be from the group of current Mac users. But I bet the gains would outweigh the losses in time.

Just think how funny it would be if this went down just a few weeks prior to the official launch of Windows Virusta.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
But a Mac's strength is in its tight integration, not only inside the OS (between apps), but between the hardware and the software. Apple has full control over what they let OSX run on at the moment, meaning they can focus on cool stuff, reliability and speed as opposed to trying to ensure every little third party hardware maker is compatible.
 

ham_man

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Jan 21, 2005
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Integration, Integration, integration - it is what makes Apple and Macintosh great. By releasing the OS, you have to prepare for every scenario. That would most definately make the OS loose some of its plug 'n play luster...
 

Tamer Brad

macrumors regular
May 13, 2005
212
0
The more I read of this Dvorak fellow, the more he sounds like a fifteen year old who comes to Macrumors and makes a lot of his assumptions based on ... well, other assumptions.

There is no question that this would be a boneheaded move, and as I see more and more chitchat about the possibilities, I'm now convinced that this is all a publicity stunt and the Apple community is being used—once again—by the company's marketing department.


That said, I will admit that the possibility does exist that Apple doesn't want its OS in the wild, since it could potentially hurt hardware sales. At least that's the way the company might see it. This assertion does assume that the Apple marketing department is brain-dead.

I see the OS getting out in the wild as having the opposite effect. For one thing, it would increase interest amongst developers, which should boost overall sales. Besides, I'm completely convinced that Apple could still get the same premium for its machines that it does today.
SOMEONE is braindead, all right ... honest to God, after reading this, I can't even begin to comprehend the thought process this guy goes through.

Christ, I wish I got paid for that.
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
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Mac since 7.5
ham_man said:
Integration, Integration, integration - it is what makes Apple and Macintosh great. By releasing the OS, you have to prepare for every scenario. That would most definately make the OS loose some of its plug 'n play luster...
Granted, Steve Jobs' requirement that the "Apple Experience" meet his stringent specifications will probably prevent this from ever happening, but I think it would be a good thing if they could somehow pull it off so that 90% of the Windows boxes out there could run a stable Mac OS, even if some of the shinier features were disabled (rather than allowed to run too poorly).

Doen't hurt to dream.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 16, 2003
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ham_man said:
Integration, Integration, integration - it is what makes Apple and Macintosh great. By releasing the OS, you have to prepare for every scenario. That would most definately make the OS loose some of its plug 'n play luster...
Very good point, but in the event Apple sells boxed copies of OS X for x86 (likely or unlikely) they will most certainly still sell hardware so you can still have that tight integration. While OS X might not work with all x86 computers and peripherals as well I'm sure it will work great with Macs.

Ultimately it comes down to how well the drivers are written and how well the driver architecture is setup within the OS. I think Apple could do at least as well as MS in this department (given the proper time and resources) and if device incompatibilities still frustrate people they can always buy a Mac to run OS X on.

More options for consumers are good. There are many on MR that like to build systems and tweak hardware quite a bit. The ability to control all aspects of the hardware and run OS X on that same system is very appealing to many of us.
 

weg

macrumors 6502a
Mar 29, 2004
888
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nj
powermac666 said:
and can't imagine ever buying a POS Dell even if it did run the Mac OS.
Well I _could_ imagine buying one of those Thinkpads T4x if I was able to run OS X on it ;-)
 

DavidLeblond

macrumors 68020
Jan 6, 2004
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Raleigh, NC
I dunno, for some reason I don't buy this "Macs are stable because they have a controlled environment" line. Linux is pretty stable and its not on a controlled environment. Bill Gates has said several times that Windows seems unstable because of crappy third party drivers, but everyone knows thats not true. A crappy third party driver shouldn't take the whole system down, that is Window's fault.

Yeah you'll have to have more drivers for the Mac... but for what? The tons of video cards that either A) use drivers from ATI and NVidia, both of which OS X already supports or B) use pretty standard drivers... Joe Somebody who gets a $10 videocard from VideoCardsForLess will be left out in the cold, but you get what you pay for, right? The same goes for sound cards. I'm unsure about mobo chipsets, but aren't these already supported by Darwin as well?

If Apple doesn't release OS X for "any old x86" it will be solely for the reason of selling hardware, not because "any old x86" will make OS X less reliable.
 

ham_man

macrumors 68020
Jan 21, 2005
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weg said:
Well I _could_ imagine buying one of those Thinkpads T4x if I was able to run OS X on it ;-)
Indeed...

Perhaps Apple will take a look at licensing Mac OS again, though with Steve at the helm, there is a snowball's chance in hell of it happening...
 

ZachS

macrumors newbie
Aug 1, 2005
8
0
if something like this happened, and OSX became widely used on x86 machines, manufacturers would design their hardware in a way that ensured compatability - the market would demand it.

and it wouldn't hurt apple, there has always been room in the market for premium-priced systems (and frankly, i don't feel like i paid that much of a premium for my ibook)
 

michaelrjohnson

macrumors 68020
Aug 9, 2000
2,173
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If OS X was released to the entire computing population, many would undoubtedly choose non-Apple hardware.

I can definitly see Apple choosing to release it hoping that it creates a "Mac OS X Halo effect" that results in boosting Mac sales. I can see that, understand it, and heck, I can support that!

However, doing so Apple loses what it loves: control. That won't happen... not again. Publicly, Apple (Steve) touts the end-user experience as the most important feature. Not being able to guarantee that signifies the last card that Apple is holding firm.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,909
41
Andover, MA
I don't see OS X ever officially being released for non-Apple systems. That said, it's certain that it'll be relatively easy to install some version of it on a PC... but I would guess that most people won't install it. The vast majority of the public continues to use whatever OS "flavor" came with their system, and many never even upgrade it at all.
 

Cooknn

macrumors 68020
Aug 23, 2003
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Fort Myers, FL
ZachS said:
if something like this happened, and OSX became widely used on x86 machines, manufacturers would design their hardware in a way that ensured compatability - the market would demand it.
Do you guys remember when NeXTSTEP hit the streets? The grandfather of OS X ran on all these boxes:

ALR
ALTIMA
AST
COMPAQ
DATA GENERAL
DEC
DELL
EPSON
GATEWAY
HEWLETT PACKARD
IBM
LOGISYS/LUCKY GOLDSTAR
NCR
NEC
TOSHIBA
UNISYS
ZENITH
CONTINENTAL COMPUTERS
GEC COMPUTERS

It could happen again ;)
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 16, 2003
925
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Michigan
DavidLeblond said:
If Apple doesn't release OS X for "any old x86" it will be solely for the reason of selling hardware, not because "any old x86" will make OS X less reliable.
Completely agree with you on this point.

ZachS said:
and it wouldn't hurt apple, there has always been room in the market for premium-priced systems (and frankly, i don't feel like i paid that much of a premium for my ibook)
Over the years Apple's hardware prices have become closer to mainstream x86 machines and Apple has started using more mass-market parts that are often cheaper. (i.e. SCSI -> IDE, recent move towards USB over FW with iPods, PPC -> x86, etc.) IMO, this is a good thing and adds some weight to the speculation in this article.

michaelrjohnson said:
However, doing so Apple loses what it loves: control. That won't happen... not again. Publicly, Apple (Steve) touts the end-user experience as the most important feature. Not being able to guarantee that signifies the last card that Apple is holding firm.
I haven't heard Steve blowing the "user experience" horn as much in the past couple of years. He touches on it, but it doesn't seem to be in the same way as he used to do it. Even with Steve at the helm again Apple has done many things that the Apple fan base was shocked by - releasing the iPod originally, making more software for Windows (iTunes/Rendevous), headless iMac (Mac Mini), cheap iPod (Shuffle), shifting away from FW to USB, move to Intel, multi-button mouse. After all of those shake-ups I think the argument of "Apple/Steve would never do that" is a very weak argument. This isn't to say that OS X on generic x86 will happen for certain, I just don't think the "Apple wouldn't dare" reasoning is convincing at all.
 

greatdevourer

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2005
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As said in another thread, what Apple could do that would seriously boost sales would be to sell OSX86 to all and sundry (many companies including Dell have been interested in bundling it), but tying certain apps (such as the high-octane ones like Logic Pro) to the TPM and having most others (like the iApps) being Universal Binary. That way, they have the best of both worlds without the potential for another Mac Clone incident, as Apple would always have hardware sales
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,973
3
Gone but not forgotten.
Cooknn said:
Do you guys remember when NeXTSTEP hit the streets? The grandfather of OS X ran on all these boxes:

ALR
ALTIMA
AST
COMPAQ
DATA GENERAL
DEC
DELL
EPSON
GATEWAY
HEWLETT PACKARD
IBM
LOGISYS/LUCKY GOLDSTAR
NCR
NEC
TOSHIBA
UNISYS
ZENITH
CONTINENTAL COMPUTERS
GEC COMPUTERS

It could happen again ;)
That was only after NeXT gave up on building hardware. Prior to that NeXTStep only ran on NeXT boxes.

It could happen again but who is going to buy Apple when it does?
 

Josh

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2004
1,640
1
State College, PA
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - and I'll probably say it eleventy billion times after this* as well:

It is going to happen. It is only a matter of time. By NOT doing this, Apple is only hurting themselves more and more. OS X is in more of a demand than Apple hardware (except iPOD). The only reason there is a strong demand for Apple hardware is because it is necessary in order to run the software.

Can anyone say "iPOD bundled with OS X for x86?" Look how many people have iPods. People want that same beauty on their home pc - and soon, they will have it.

*By the time this happens, I will not have time to say it eleventy billion times. It will be sooner than most think.
 

Plymouthbreezer

macrumors 601
Feb 27, 2005
4,238
77
Massachusetts
DavidLeblond said:
...If Apple doesn't release OS X for "any old x86" it will be solely for the reason of selling hardware, not because "any old x86" will make OS X less reliable.
Sure it would. OS X running on a low-end Gateway would be terrible performance...

This won't happen. It will kill hardware sales, really.
 

Cooknn

macrumors 68020
Aug 23, 2003
2,111
0
Fort Myers, FL
bousozoku said:
That was only after NeXT gave up on building hardware. Prior to that NeXTStep only ran on NeXT boxes. It could happen again but who is going to buy Apple when it does?
The point I was making was that although currently OS X only runs on Mac's, it most likely can and probably will run on a number of different x86 boxes sometime in the future - just as it did in the past in its previous life as NeXTSTEP. Who will still buy Apple? I still believe Apple's hardware business will be sucessful for the same reason that John C. Dvorak does. People simply like the design of Apple gear.
 

7on

macrumors 601
Nov 9, 2003
4,939
0
Dress Rosa
God, the world is full of ignorance. MS themselves couldn't survive as just a seller of OEM boxed Windows CDs. Hell, I wouldn't even expect them to be able to survive with OEM CDs and one vender (like HP). MS makes their money through deals with HP, Dell, Sony, IBM, etc. to sell Windows on their boxes. If Apple started selling OSX OEM to x86 machines then I doubt people would buy it. Not that many people buy OSes and install them - they just use whatever came on their computer. If Apple made an x86 OEM I would guarantee you that there would be more pirated copies installed than legitimate copies. Think about it - the majority of people who want an x86 OEM version of OSX. I would bet money that 90% or more of those people have pirated copies of Windows. And I extremely doubt the pirates would change their ways for the "holy" Apple.

And about the OS will be cracked anyway so why DRM it? My answer to that is "Why make it easy for the crackers to crack?" At least include DRM in the OS to perhaps sway the beginner and novice from running OSX on non-macs. The expert hackers will do it regardless - and IMO the work done by this group won't catch on enough with the other two groups to cause any concern with Apple. The same way PearPC faded from the headlines. I've never seen anyone running PearPC - hell I've only heard it outside the internet in the local MUG.

I'm positive that if x86 is cracked and Apple finds out that there are more pirate copies of x86 out there than legitimate Macs- then Apple may start selling to generic PCs. However as it stands Apple, releasing OEM now would draw people away from their hardware line and pirate. There's no gain from releasing an OEM now because people aren't actively looking for Windows alternatives. If they were we'd see Linux at much higher numbers.
 

Project

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2005
2,297
0
Surely the way forward for Apple would be to subtley encourage the use of Windows installations onto MacIntel hardware, for dual boot purposes.

That way, they can keep the hardware/software integration, the premium on Apple hardware, and allow people to use Windows on their systems... word would quickly get around about how much quicker and better OSX is over XP/Vista, thus increasing sales? It would represent zero risk.

For the average Joe who loves the Apple hardware design but avoids it because he HAS to use Windows and couldnt afford both a Mac and a pc, this solution would be much more convenient for him. Surely the most powerful incentive for switchers would be one that allowed them to use Windows on their mac too?

I cant see how Apple could possibly go wrong doing it this way.
 

aquajet

macrumors 68020
Feb 12, 2005
2,383
0
VA
Josh said:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - and I'll probably say it eleventy billion times after this* as well:

It is going to happen. It is only a matter of time. By NOT doing this, Apple is only hurting themselves more and more. OS X is in more of a demand than Apple hardware (except iPOD). The only reason there is a strong demand for Apple hardware is because it is necessary in order to run the software.[/i]
And keep on saying it my friend, as much as you wish. You're still wrong. The first day Apple licenses OS X is the first day of Apple's death. From day 1 the Mac has always been a package deal. One company sells the hardware and the software. When Apple tried to do otherwise with the likes of Motorola, UMAX, Power Computing etc. it almost killed them.

Oh, and as far as Dvorak is concerned, he's a [expletive deleted] clown.
 
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