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Summary:

A little over 7 years ago on 15th August 1998, that computer company from Cupertino that we all now know so well launched the iMac, a computer which represented a then-revolutionary attitude to industrial design and which spawned a thousand imitations by cheap Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers. […]

A little over 7 years ago on 15th August 1998, that computer company from Cupertino that we all now know so well launched the iMac, a computer which represented a then-revolutionary attitude to industrial design and which spawned a thousand imitations by cheap Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers. It was also the first manifestation of a sea change in Cupertino after Steve Jobs’ return to the company and reinstatement as CEO. Granted, it was, of course, the iPod that changed it all – the spark which ignited the explosion of Apple popularity that we are seeing around the world today – but the iMac was really the beginning.

So much has changed in those seven years. Apple has gone from being that “beleaguered” computer manufacturer, perpetually in the doldrums and churning out unexciting computers that didn’t do enough to justify their hefty price tags, to one of the best brands in the world, and the hype which surrounds the company is more feverish than ever.

This was brought home to me the other day by an article in The Register, which noted that “shares of Seagate sank on Friday on word that Apple would replace the disk maker’s components with flash memory in lower-end iPods“. The effect can be seen in this Yahoo! Finance graph.

Mere rumour did this. Granted, traders have always been jumpy types, and a rumour can be the difference between making a heady profit or some catastrophic loss, but it seems impressive nonetheless. Apple has been shrouding its future plans in secrecy since the dawn of time – it’s Steve Jobs’ modus operandi – and this has in turn given rise to sites like Think Secret and AppleInsider. But whereas once the only types who concerned themselves with such speculation were the diehards who dug OS 9, now what Apple is doing matters to a whole lot more people. And if Seagate’s to come a cropper, then perhaps Hitachi’s shareholders would do well to keep an eye on what Apple’s up to as well (the other supposed supplier for iPod mini hard disks). It’s not a make or break thing for either of these companies, but it’s clear that Apple’s custom now really matters.

And It’s not just suppliers. The rumoured Motorola phone will likely net that company not a small amount of money, and it is considered a significant coup for O2, the British mobile network, to have secured exclusive rights to the iPod phone in the UK. Cingular, similarly, stands to do well for the same reason in the USA.

And iPod shuffles are now being used as free gifts to tempt customers into buying mobile phone packages. In the UK, T-Mobile are offering iPod shuffles with certain contracts, in the knowledge that in the cutthroat mobile market, having an Apple product they can give away free might just be enough to give them an edge.

It’s amazing how times change.

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  1. I agree Apple is amazing! Unfortunately I have NEVER had enough money to by their machines. Hopefully I can catch a break and get a really good used one for an inexspensive price. Micro$haft can copy but not clone..

  2. Nick, clearly you haven’t heard of the Mac mini, which starts at only $499 direct through Apple, and could be found even cheaper elsewhere. If you can’t afford a Mac mini, you don’t deserve to have an Apple!

  3. Scott, the “If you can’t afford a Mac mini, you don’t deserve to have an Apple!” might be a tad harsh. Not everybody has 500 bucks to spend on something…especially if they’re in the position of already having a working computer (even if it does run Windows).

    So, apologies Nick, the Apple community really isn’t that elitist. We welcome you under any circumstances. :)

  4. Nick – do give the Mac OS X a go … try it out in a computer lab or at a friend’s house. And next time you are in the market for a computer, shop around…you’ll find that macs, esp the mac-mini, at not much more $$ than some other box. …. cheers

  5. I should hope so… disturbing post by Scott Rose. I just want to let you know that Jesus STILL loves you….

  6. I’m still not entirely sold on Apple seemingly emphasizing its music business at the expense of its computer business. To me, even if 38% of Apple’s sales come from music, it doesn’t mean that they should start churning out machines that are almost indistinguishable from Wintel ones. But again, I’m in the minority. For more:

    http://bloombergtv.blogspot.com/2005/09/iblasphemy.html

    PS: Please get a “trackback” feature. I’d love to reference some of the posts here but I can’t.

  7. Emmanuel,

    I must say that I do think you are mistaken in your belief that Apple’s switch to Intel means that they will be “churning out machines that are almost indistinguishable from Wintel ones“. Fact is that although the exterior design is nice, Mac innards haven’t really mattered for a while – the key is in the software, and so the processor inside your Mac won’t make a difference to the overall experience. Unless, of course, people choose to run Windows on them.

    The PowerPC chips did have some advantages, and there were high points. The iBook and PowerBook G3s sported excellent battery life, and the AltiVec units in the G4 did provide an impressive speed boost for appropriately written software. In more recent times, the Power Mac G5 brought 64bit computing to the desktop for the first time.

    But at some point, you will have to accept that it wasn’t really going anywhere. Although I am no fan of Intel – I’ve been using AMD CPUs for a long while – I can appreciate Apple’s reasons for choosing them over AMD. At least at the moment, anyway.

    As to running Windows on Mac kit, I should think that the number of people actually doing this will be very limited in the long run, as few will be prepared to spend the money on Apple kit (note that the switch to Intel will almost certainly not bring a price cut) just to run Windows on it. Apple is about the whole package, and that’s always what you’re buying into when you choose a Mac.

    Oh, and I’m pretty certain that the switch has no link with Apple’s recent successes in the music arena, save, perhaps, for the fact that they can now weather a year or so of slow CPU sales with the tidy profits coming in from sales of iPods and iTMS revenue.

    Gareth

  8. The Apple Blog » Growing Pains: Trouble in Paradise? Monday, September 26, 2005

    [...] Growing Pains: Trouble in Paradise?by Gareth Potter A little while ago I penned a cheery piece on the transformation that Apple has undergone following Steve Jobs&#8 [...]

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