Reader Rebuttal: Digital Devices

The following is a reader rebuttal by Josh Schoenwald.

As an iPod owner and devout Mac user myself, I agree that Apple could substantially increase its revenue by making the iPod available to the Windows world. However, I don’t think Apple will do this, and here’s why.

Apple is committed to engineering hardware and software for it’s baby, the Mac OS. Apple has never to this date produced much of anything designed to run on Windows with the exception of QuickTime. They could have made the iPod Windows-compatible, or made OSX Windows-compatible, or they could have offered a VirtualPC-esque program designed to run on OSX, but they have not.

The reason for this is related to the rebuttal of your editorial. True, even though Jobs touted that people were switching over to Macs just to buy an iPod, that is the extreme, and 99.9% of people would not consider this. However, the question remains…what WOULD make it worthwhile for a Windows user to buy a Mac as their next computer? Most Windows users concede the Mac OS is a better operating system, and they, too would buy one if it were cheaper and if there were more apps available. But now they have the iPod…so Apple has improved the package, by saying “ok, not only can you have the greatest OS ever invented along with a super sexy case, NOW you can have the best, smallest, easiest-to-use MP3 player on the market, as well.”

Most people (as we both have noted) haven’t found this enough of an incentive, but Apple knows this. In the coming months and years, I am confident that Apple will deliver more and better in the realm of digital devices. Will it be a digital camera? A PDA? A super-hq printer? Who knows, but you know it will look cool, and you know it will run seamlessly with the Mac OS.

One thing Steve Jobs has mentioned is that Apple has the distinct advantage of owning both the hardware and the software for many of its products. Yes, this does make them more expensive, since companies cannot compete with each other, but it allows Apple to industrially design the hardware to specifically match the software, and vice versa. Apple can only do that because they KNOW that people using an iPod will also be using iTunes. Therefore, with the market currently the way it is, no other company has this capability, not even Microsoft. Sure, hardware and software companies could get together and collaborate, but to do so would be taking a huge business risk, because if the product doesn’t become the standard, it won’t generate a profit. Apple takes almost no risk, because the Mac OS IS the Apple standard. Just think what Microsoft could do if they started making their own hardware. They already HAVE the market share…

As Apple rolls out more and more of these digital devices, it will look more and more appealing for PC users to make the switch. Right now only the very affluent can realistically afford to make the switch just for the iPod, but what if Apple had 10 digital devices, all available only for Mac users, and all considered the top of the line? Now, that’s mighty alluring if you ask me.

Yes it’s true that PC users are more likely to switch to Macs if they have first-hand experience using them, but the iPod is not enough of a force to induce a mass Windows exodus. Apple has thought of this too, by the way. The new Apple Retail Stores around the country are designed to do exactly that—give the PC user a chance to be “wow-ed” by Apple’s lure.

In conclusion, I think Apple won’t be making any significant forays beyond QuickTime into the Windows market anytime soon. Apple will continue to roll out digital devices “where they feel they can make a difference” in an effort to make the Macintosh platform even more inviting. And with more and more applications being developed for OSX, including the essential Microsoft Office, this will become easier and easier.

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