What Core Apps Define the Mac?

Many an analyst or Mac watcher has tried to quantify the “iPod Halo effect” around Windows-using iPod buyers who were so entranced with the iPod and iTunes experience that they gave Macintosh a try. While most now believe that the iPod is playing a significant role in leading new prospects to the Mac side, it was only a few years ago when many thought that by porting iTunes to Windows, Apple would in fact reduce one’s desire to switch.

A recent article on Applepeels, authored by a former longtime Apple employee, discussed how Quicktime has long been a cross-platform Apple application, but an exception, even as large Apple customers would beg and plead for the company to port more applications to Windows, including Safari and Mail.app., making those apps an enterprise standard. As you know, that hasn’t happened. Even as Apple switched CPU platforms from PPC to x86, it hasn’t yet opened up the floodgates for traditional Apple applications on the Windows platform (or Linux, for that matter).

Apple has made incredible hay in providing the iLife suite on new Macs. iLife (with the exception of iTunes) is not available for Windows. Similarly, Safari, Mail.app, iCal and other apps are Mac-only, unavailable for other platforms. While not as famous as the “No Mac OS X on generic x86″ mantra, Cupertino hasn’t hinted that this will change. Are these applications core to the whole Apple experience? Is the Apple experience one of the Mac OS X look and feel? Is it one of well-designed hardware? Is it the close integration of Apple hardware and software? Or is it the litany of Apple applications, working in parallel that defines the Mac?

Apple has turned a lot of heads who otherwise would not have looked at the Mac platform in the last few years with the debut and domination of the iPod and iTunes, the switch to Intel, and the debut of iPhone. Would offering Safari, Mail.app or iLife on Windows change the equation at all? It’s not as if Windows users are lacking for mail applications and a Web browser…

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