Opinion: Mac OS after Windows Split

Seen on Slashdot, you can read this fairy tale about how Mac OS could come out on top after Microsoft's split... written by Peter Lalor.

I'm sure it will be linked from other Mac sites... and it's nice to speculate... but it makes some fundamentally flawed (imho) assumptions.

These are that 1) Apple is not porting Mac OS X to Intel because of fear of some sort of Microsoft retaliation 2) Apple could do well selling its OS only on Intel hardware. Read more for my reasons why these assumptions are wrong.Apple did try to become an OS company.

Apple allowed PowerMac clones into the market -- and eventually had to pull the plug. Why? Because they made less money selling the OS than the OS and the hardware. They were cannibalizing their own hardware sales by selling the OS to other vendors who then sold their own hardware to consumers.

Clones weren't expanding the Macintosh market. They were redistributing the Mac market share from Apple to Apple+Clones. Sure, Apple still made a small cut ($$) when they sold a clone system - but not near as much as from the hardware if they had sold it themselves.

Hence, we return to the oft-said observation: "Apple is a hardware company" Translation? Apple makes most of their money on hardware. Could this change? Sure... it's possible.

So, back to this article.... what would happen if Apple introduced Mac OS X for Intel? Would you buy a new 500mhz PowerMac G4... or maybe you'd get a 1 GHZ AMD machine?

Suddenly, the appeal of buying an Apple branded PowerMac is much less. Instead of selling the hardware, is Apple going to be selling enough NEW Mac OS X software to new (non Mac) users to compensate for lost hardware sales?

That's the million dollar question. I don't think so... and I'd imagine Steve Jobs and the Board don't want to find out the hard way. :) But anything's possible...

What would be an interesting direction would be if Apple were to create a proprietary hardware system based on Intel/AMD parts. Add a Mac boot ROM, standard parts (mostly), and freedom from Motorola/PPC. Could Apple make money this way? Hmm....

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