Is Apple the Standard Setter?

18 Comments

On my way east, I finally got a chance to read Pip Coburn’s latest WayPoints missive. He speculates that 802.11n would be the technology of choice in Apple’s iTV, making it a competitor to MoCA and HPNA home networking technologies that are getting friendly vibes from CableCos and PhoneCos.

I wonder if Apple’s iTV gives 802.11n a big leg up over its rivals, mostly because many of the early adopters could jump on the iTV bandwagon, building demand for 802.11n chipsets, and thus drive down their prices, forcing other competing technologies to play catch up. If I remember correctly, Apple did help catalyze the 802.11b market back in the day. ??It played a big role in Bluetooth adoption, and similarly has pushed the envelope in the higher speed(s) Ethernet.

Tristan Louis, speculating on the impact of the rumored Apple-Cingular link up, thinks that it could provide the big push for GSM-standards in the US. He also has similar conclusions about Apple’s roles in standards that get traction. Louis points out Apple’s decision to drop floppy drives, modems, and other little things that have now become industry practice. And of course the iPod ecosystem approach.

So you think it is fair to say that Apple is a standard setter?

18 Comments

John Thacker

Furthermore, relevant to the discussion of how much Apple putting USB on the iMac made it a success in the PC world as well, note that Apple has put Firewire on their machines, as do Sony and Dell, and that hasn’t made it a standard for PCs.

So, while Apple has a great track record of including the latest and greatest new technologies and standards, that doesn’t mean that every wave-of-the-future standard that Apple adopts will actually become dominant. USB did, certainly, but there are plenty of standards which Apple adopted that did not take over everywhere at the desktop level, often because of cost concerns. (SCSI, FireWire, etc.) So that doesn’t mean that 802.11n will succeed everywhere just because Apple will adopt it.

Apple likes to run out in front of everybody on standards. But just because you’re in front of the parade doesn’t mean that you’re actually leading it and everyone is following you.

John Thacker

ARE YOU KIDDING!?!? FireWire (aka IEEE 1394) is on almost every digital camcorder on the market; it’s a standard, due in no small part to Apple.

Most digital camcorders, yes, due in no small part to Apple and Sony’s efforts. But did it become a standard for PCs? No. Has it been dropped from the latest iPods? Yes. Has the percentage of USB 2.0-only digital camcorders (especially at the low end) been increasing? Yes.

V

“Until recently, Apple have had the luxury of not needing to be backwards-compatible”

Luxury? No, I’d say Apple has had the guts (and balls) to make some risky technology leaps. Apple’s luxury is a smaller but dedicated user base that is willing to follow them. 68000 to PowerPC to Intel. MacOS 9 to OS X. USB & Firewire. Drop the Flop, etc, etc.

And by and large, Apple has followed through for their users, making these technology transitions pay off. The same can not be said of Microsoft.

Sam Denby

Until recently, Apple have had the luxury of not needing to be backwards-compatible. So it was much easier for them to shrug off outdated technologies like the floppy. They are now at a crossroads. Are they a consumer electonics company like Sony? (Don’t expect any support in future for the product you bought last year.) Or are they a computer company? (We have invested in your stuff in the expectation that there will be support and an upgrade path.) Consumer electronics companies want to set standards (blu-ray …) but can’t because they cannot achieve critical mass in the marketplace.

Grant Baumer

” Apple also pushed Firewire quite a bit, but it never caught on.

Certainly the iMac helped USB, but I must doubt the claim that Apple’s backing was the only thing causing its success. In addition, one can also point to all sorts of connectors and technology that Apple pushed that didn’t become widely adopted, even when they were open standards hailed as the wave of the future. (SCSI, FireWire, etc.) All one can really say is that Apple likes to jump on new hardware and standards, but not necessarily that Apple makes them all successes .”

ARE YOU KIDDING!?!? FireWire (aka IEEE 1394) is on almost every digital camcorder on the market; it’s a standard, due in no small part to Apple. Give credit where it’s due. Don’t be an Apple-hater if you don’t even know that about which you’re writing.

Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewire

John Thacker

Also, of course, 1998 saw the release of Windows 98, which had MUCH better USB support than Win95 (even Win95 OSR2). Most PC motherboards starting from 1997 had USB ports, though it is true that lots of people were content to use legacy ports.

John Thacker

The iMac also came out right as USB 1.1 was released in 1998, and included USB 1.1. 1.1 was a major improvement over 1.0, not just in the dramatic speed improvments, but in a few other technical details.

So to some degree the iMac came along at the right time for USB.

John Thacker

It languished on PCs, which for several years after the iMac still did not use USB for keyboards or mice

Keyboards were (and are still fairly) rare, yes, but I certainly had a USB mice when the iMac came out in 1998. Of course, lots of mice were sold with a USB/PS2 converter on the end.

Apple also pushed Firewire quite a bit, but it never caught on.

Certainly the iMac helped USB, but I must doubt the claim that Apple’s backing was the only thing causing its success. In addition, one can also point to all sorts of connectors and technology that Apple pushed that didn’t become widely adopted, even when they were open standards hailed as the wave of the future. (SCSI, FireWire, etc.) All one can really say is that Apple likes to jump on new hardware and standards, but not necessarily that Apple makes them all successes.

mark

“Intel’s USB was being largely ignored by the Windows crowd”

“A slight stretch, I’d think. Why did USB take hold but ADB did not earlier?”

Not a slight stretch but simply the truth. The iMac clearly did establish USB because 1) it was the best selling computer model of its time, and 2) it ditched the serial and ADB ports, and the floppy drive, thus forcing USB peripherals to spring up for anything other than hard drives.

Altho Intel had included USB on its motherboards, it languished on PCs, which for several years after the iMac still did not use USB for keyboards or mice. That’s why, even with the Mac mini, there was a chorus of PC users who said that they couldn’t reuse their peripherals.

dave

i am MUCH more interested in seeing if elgoog partners with tmobile when they introduce their nextgen cell/wifi phones next month…that is a serious trendsetting opportunity…this is somebody’s calling – and if not elgoog then who? certainly not apple or a tool builder like that…what do you think?

Steven Ametjan

While it’s not confirmed, there was this article on MacRumors about the possibility of 802.11N cards already shipping in Core 2 Duo iMacs.

The inclusion of an 802.11N card inside the iMac would certainly lend credence to the possibility of the iTV supporting it as well, since the higher speeds would improve streaming capabilities.

Anonymous

Intel’s USB was being largely ignored by the Windows crowd

A slight stretch, I’d think. Why did USB take hold but ADB did not earlier? Why did Apple’s early adoption of SCSI (along with many Unix boxes) not become the standard? USB was clearly helped by being a strongly Intel (and others) supported technology as well.

[A]nd similarly has pushed the envelope in the higher speed(s) Ethernet.

As has Intel and NVidia, particularly by bundling Fast and Gigabit Ethernet with their chipsets.

Also, that post you linked to is terribly confused about GSM and CDMA. First, because the GSM 3G successor standard, WCDMA, is no longer based on a TDMA air interface, but a CDMA one, GSM operators still have to pay nasty Qualcomm royalties, though not as high.

In addition, as discussed before, Japan has completely incompatible phones with everyone else (thanks to using different bands for GSM/WCDMA/CDMA) and South Korea is CDMA dominated, and neither can be said to be behind in mobile applications– something which has a lot more to do with carriers than anything else.

Mike

My thought is that the iTV will connect somehow to the iPhone. There’s no technical reason that it can’t launch now – Apple is waiting for something.

What if they are waiting to launch the iPhone – and it uses WiFi (through iTV or a new Airport base station) to dial calls from home over VOIP (upgraded iChat) and Cingular when out?

V

Don’t forget Apple’s adoption of USB with the original candy colored iMacs. Intel’s USB was being largely ignored by the Windows crowd, but Apple helped build a large third-party industry for USB devices.

The iMac was also floppy-free, a technology change that is only just starting to take hold on the Wintel side.

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