Both Apple Computer and Intel Corp. are pretty tight-lipped over the future of Macintosh computers, but the shift in the computer strategy of Apple seems to be a lot more than a shift in the desktop and mobile computers strategies, but another example of a major ongoing change of the company as a whole.
For years Apple had indicated that customer experience and loyal customers were more important than affordable products for the masses. Well, it looks like now the company seems to have changed its vision and targets its latest products – particularly Mac mini and iPod Shuffle – for “anyone”, even though without certain functions, but at an affordable price.
“Starting at just $499, Mac mini is the most affordable way to enjoy Mac OS X and iLife,” said Steve Jobs. “Just plug in your display, keyboard and mouse and you’ve got an incredibly compact Mac for a price that almost anyone can afford.”
“iPod shuffle is smaller and lighter than a pack of gum and costs less than $100,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.
Being talked about all around and selling loads more iPod players than Mac computers, Apple really has opportunities to grow. However, poor price/performance ratio IBM’s PowerPC offered definitely restricted those growth opportunities: a lot of customers did not want to buy expensive computers with slow hardware inside. With Intel, Apple can offer faster PCs – both desktops and notebooks – at the same or lower price tag, which would definitely be good for the computer maker and its loyal and potentially new customers. Quite naturally, Apple will be able to produce broader product lineups thanks to large product portfolio of Intel Corp. In fact, extensive families of chips and platforms offered by Intel, its ability to supply loads of processors and huge brand recognition probably played a significant role in the fact that Apple has chosen Intel over Advanced Micro Devices.
It is necessary to note that Apple right now is associated with a great user experience, be it iPod or Mac. To put the fact straight: Apple is a brand-name firstly and a technology company, secondly. Given publicity Apple receives now from the media, the company should definitely offer something “for the masses”, which, it looks like, it is going to do.
Obviously, Apple will run into a number of difficulties porting software to x86 and trying to confine the number of Mac clones on the market in the short-term future, but probably growth opportunities in longer-term convinced the company’s management in the necessity of a pretty uneasy shift to Intel’s chips.
Whether Apple, who once controlled 12% of the personal computer market, will vanish into oblivion this time, as a result of its “third major shift” within a decade, or will regain its positions, remains to be seen. Hopefully, over $7 billion in bank and great iPod sales will allow the company not only to survive, but prosper.