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I have read a good deal of activity online concerning Apple's recent move to offer a dual boot option. It is the 30th anniversary of the company today. What I find most amusing is that many of the zealots bemoaning the integration of things are split down the middle. Half believe Jobs has finally lost it, the other half believe he has something up his sleeve, and that he will usher in a new era of Apple supremacy.

Most of these zealots are the same who love to trot out the 'Developers' speech, or Gates' quote about RAM. I think anyone who makes concrete statements about the future of technology is an idiot.

Here are some examples, via Wilson Ng' s article.

1) Jobs was not a believer originally of notebook computers. “(Smaller portables) are OK if you’re a reporter and trying to take notes on the run,” he told Playboy magazine in February 1985. “But for the average person, they’re really not that useful.”

Eighteen years later, he declared 2003 “the year of the notebook” for Apple. “Many users are going to wonder why they even need a desktop computer anymore,” he had said.

2) Introducing the flat-panel iMac at Macworld San Francisco in January 2002, Jobs tells the audience that “the new iMac ushers in the age of flat-screen computing for everyone. The CRT display is now officially dead.”

Four months after, Apple brings out the eMac, a 17-inch flat CRT powered by a G4 processor that’s pitched at the education market.

3) “Apple has decided to make Internet Explorer its default browser,” declared Jobs at Macworld Boston in 1997, cementing a stunning partnership with longtime nemesis Microsoft. “Internet Explorer is my browser of choice,” he had said.

In 2003, Apple introduces its own browser, Safari. Jobs said: “Safari’s highly tuned, rendering engine loads pages over three times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the Mac and runs JavaScript over twice as fast. Safari is the fastest browser on the Mac, and we predict that many will feel it is the best browser ever created.”

4) In 1998, he tells Fortune magazine: “I don’t really believe that televisions and computers are going to merge. I’ve spent enough time in entertainment to know that storytelling is linear. It’s not interactive. You go to your TV when you want to turn your brain off. You go to your computer when you want to turn your brain on. Those are not the same.”

The debut of the iMac G5 in October 2005 contradicted that statement. The built-in Front Row software allows users to play music, view photo slide shows and watch videos. “The new iMac G5 debuts our amazing Front Row media experience, and we think users are going to love it,” said Jobs.

5) Apple introduced the iPod photo in October 2004, disappointing pundits who believed the company would release a video-capable iPod. Jobs addressed their dashed hopes, stating emphatically that the iPod is the “wrong place” for video. “No one has any video content to put on them, and even if they did, the screens are much too small.”

In October 2005, Apple takes the wraps off the fifth-generation iPod, which features the ability to play video.

6) In November 2003, Jobs pronounces himself “very happy with the PowerPC.” “We have all the options in the world, but the PowerPC road map looks very strong so we don’t have any plans to switch processor families at this point,” he said then.

In June 2005, Jobs drops a bombshell: “Apple will deliver Intel-based Macs within a year.”

Ng pitches this as part of Job's visionary leadership. His ability to change horses midstream, and adapt himself and his company in directions which make a difference.

My problem with Apple remains the problem I have had with it for many years. NOT since the beginning of my relationship with computers (I was Apple trained back in the day), but more or less since Y2K. They don't add value to technology, they add image. While the effect of the ipod revolution on digital music market is hardly negligible, they created that platform using DRM, which I abhor on intellectual and moral levels. Jobs has maintained a cult of personality, and the market has kept with that cult. The upcoming italk, iphone, and iwhatever will move this cult forward, without really adding any innovation. They add overpriced services. They add contractual lock-ins and married software and hardware. They are the Mercedes Benz of technology - they couple very savvy design with exquisite marketing, and prices to match. Benz has definitely made some innovations over the years, but none that an be adapted or applied outside of their systems. I'll never own a Benz for the same reason I will never own a Mac. Give me something I can take apart, innovate with, add or subtract from at will, without hassle. That is the core of computers to me - customability, not perceived individuality though mass consumerism.

Think different indeed.

As I pointed out elsewhere, this move for the dual-boot support is based on fear. Fear that the reverse engineering tactics of many savvy programmers will take Apple's much lauded O/S out of their hands and put it in the hands of the consumer. Once that happens, you don't need to buy an overpriced machine to get the super-ergonomically designed leather interior. If you can run Jaguar on anything, why pay for an overpriced machine, other than because you like the way it looks? If you like the way it looks, and have the cash to burn, you'l keep going back. The fringe who has been paying for the hardware because it is the only way they could run the software will evaporate. Apple was nearly killed by clones once before. They are on the precipice of such a situation now. They need to keep their devout rooted in hardware and software solutions which keep them making money on a 2-3 year cycle. If they lose that nice, thy lose their slice of the pie.

That market that buys for aesthetics will be faced with a boatload of design imitations at half the price. Apple's vice grip on the luxury computer market has only really been challenged by Sony, and Sony has too many other pies in the oven to make a concerted effort to provide real competition, particularly against a zealot market. If Apple gives up its proprietary O/S, or if that O/S becomes divorced from their hardware, you may see Sony and others (like Dell) swoop in on that high end market like vultures at a charnel pit.

I hate Microsoft just as much if not more, for many of the same practices. Don't paint me as an 'A vs B' guy. I am a market vs. technology guy. The problem is, the consumer is dumb, and the tech innovators all belong to good marketing teams. There is too much money out there for the field to be different. Change the consumers, and you change the culture.

I doubt we'll see it before the whole thing comes crashing down, but a boy can dream, right?


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
That being said, I'm still trying to figure out why this is perceived as such a benefit.

The fact is that it's still A PAIN IN THE ASS. Look, if I have to boot to Win to run AutoCAD, and I use ACAD every fucking day, how is the option of boot to mac desirable for me? It isnt. If you use software that only runs on one system or the other, and it's a fundamental part of what you do every day, then the whole system of rebooting (and rebooting, and rebooting) to switch out from one to the other is just a big fucking hassle, not some great innovation.

I'm so tired of people telling to "Get a Mac".

I still don't see *why*. It will cost me 3x as much to *not do what I need it to do* and then, when people send me this link (and 3 have, today) as though it was some kind of holy grail my answer is still "so what?" If I have to reboot my system 8 times a day, why would I bother with this shit? I can just run windows and not have to reboot it at *all*.

And can I tell you how happy I am I never got an ithing? This proprietary, copy protection, I cant copy songs to my own fucking hard drive shit?

Bite me. I'll stick with my zen extra, whereby I can do whatever the fuck I damned well like.

The designs are nice, but you know? *I* can design a computer case, and *have*. The rest of it can just blow me.

Apr. 5th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
case design is a big thing - people's perception of computers is where the $ is at
just ask henry ford. supreme quality, total practicality, stranglehold on the market, and the auto industry because what it did because people valued colors over quality.

software designers go where the market goes, one can only hope that within the next few years the market will eliminate proprietary O/S calls, and people can develop openly, cross platfor, products which are enterprise level solutions.

until then, happy rebooting =/
Apr. 5th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
Re: case design is a big thing - people's perception of computers is where the $ is at
Fuck it, I should stop designing buildings and just design packaging.

Apr. 5th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
not a bad idea
packaging or shells - lord knows there will be a glut of this stuff the more and more food off our plate we are eating from china.
Apr. 5th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
Should I dust off those MESH designs?
You know, the copper ones?

Might be a good time for that.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Look, if I have to boot to Win to run AutoCAD, and I use ACAD every fucking day, how is the option of boot to mac desirable for me? It isnt. If you use software that only runs on one system or the other, and it's a fundamental part of what you do every day, then the whole system of rebooting (and rebooting, and rebooting) to switch out from one to the other is just a big fucking hassle, not some great innovation.

If you use a computer as a single-use tool, you're right, there's no reason to make it more complicated just so you can use the tool in a less-convenient fashion. No reason whatosever. You use a computer as an AutoCAD appliance, it's XP only, there's no benefit whatsoever to getting a Mac and installing XP on it and running AutoCAD.

Right now, I think this is a toy. It's primarily to give the hackers something to play with instead of trying to get OS X to easily/stably run on commodity hardware. Secondarily, it's to go after the market of people who say "I want to get a Mac, but I need to use this one app, and it's Windows only." Those users *do* exist; for someone like my mother, a Mac Mini would be the *absolutely perfect computer*, except that her MapInfo software will not run on it.

It's hoped/expected/rumored that 10.5 of OS X will include the ability to run XP apps in a VM, provided you have XP installed. You wouldn't have to boot Windows to run AutoCad. No dual-booting, no fucking around, you just turn a Mac and 30 seconds later you have Safari open in one window and AutoCad for Windows open in another.

This proprietary, copy protection, I cant copy songs to my own fucking hard drive shit?

What the fuck are you talking about here?
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC)
My understanding of all of this is that there's real problems with copying songs that aren't somehow connected to itunes, or in fact back and forth to your computers, as a form of copy protection. It's a complaint I've now heard from several ipod users- that there's some sort of proprietary system in place that causes problems. Since I dont own one, I don't much care, but I've now heard this same complaint a number of times.

in fact, this came up just recently....
Apr. 5th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Iwhat?
There're a variety of things he could have done to preclude that from happening. Since all my music files are mp3s, I can plug my iPod into *any computer* and download them all right to it. The names will be garbled, but the id3 tags will be intact so renaming them all would be a simple thing.

If you download .aac files from iTMS, the first thing you should do is strip the DRM off it. Hymn/JHymn is software that does that painlessly, although it does only work with songs purchased with earlier versions of iTunes (pre-6.0). Another way to do this is to burn your .aac files to a CD, turning them into standard CD audio files, and then rip them back to your box as mp3s. There will be some quality loss here, but depending on the person and the application that might not be significant.

I agree that it sucks that the consumer has to do any of this, but it's no worse than any other source of legal music downloads and better than most. Yeahyeah, excepting stuff specifically released under some sort of copyleft license.
Apr. 6th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
Re: Iwhat?
But my understanding is still that your ipod will only work with stuff purchased through itunes, or similar-- do I have that right?

I don't have this problem with my zen extra. It couldn't care less what the source of the file was.
Apr. 6th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
Re: Iwhat?
But my understanding is still that your ipod will only work with stuff purchased through itunes, or similar-- do I have that right?

Nope. It plays mp3s. Doesn't care where you get them from. It also plays .aacs, which you can buy through iTMS. It won't play files protected with Microsoft's DRM, so you can't buy files from, say, Napster, and stick them on your iPod unless you manage to somehow transcode them first (this used to be very easy until MS intimidated the Winamp folks and some other software makers into making it harder). If there's a music store out there willing to sell you mp3s unencumbered by DRM, the iPod will handle them.

There's no such store (except allofmp3.com, and they don't seem trustworthy enough for me to give them my credit card numbers), but that's the RIAA's fault, not Apple's.

I have over 50 gigs of mp3s on my iPod and not one was purchased through iTMS. I do wish it supported .ogg, though.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Not so much single use, as necessary use.
I use my computer for all kinds of things. But the one thing I *cant* cross-platform effectively is AutoCAD. And I use it enough that it really becomes a deal-breaker.

I've just been frustrated today, because people keep acting like "this is the solution to all my problems! now I can go get a mac!" and I can't figure out for the life of me how this benefits *anyone*. If you have a cross-platforming problem, you still do(this goes both ways, for those people who are using things that don't cross-platform out of mac well, like high end video/editing software, etc.). You just get to reboot your system a zillion times a day. If you don't, then why would you need the cross platform option anyway? Just decide on one or the other, and go with it?

It's kinda like a platypus.

Yeah okay, it looks like it was cobbled together out of spare animal parts but in the end, so what?
Apr. 5th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Not so much single use, as necessary use.
Just decide on one or the other, and go with it?

While I think WinXp is far and away the best OS MS has ever released, and it's given me far fewer problems than any previous Windows, fact remains it's still a buggy and insecure piece of crap that's fundamentally broken due to the registry and the absurd insistence on backwards compatability with legacy components. Not that people should be forced to upgrade from software that does everything they need, but they shouldn't expect modern security if that's what they want to do. Ferinstance, did you know if your WinXp user password is under a certain length, XP will store a known-insecure hash of it specifically so LAN Manager can look at it. If you have LAN Manager running, which you don't, 'cause it's completely fucking obsolete. I mean, come on, that's just stupid shit. I don't want to deal with that, or with a system that gets steadily slower as I use it because the registry keeps getting bollocksed up by everything I install, to such an extent that I need to regularly recore.

But at the same time, I like playing Civilization IV and Galactic Civiliation II and City of Heroes. I'll gladly reboot to play games, if the rest of the time I get a secure and responsive OS.
Apr. 6th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
Re: Not so much single use, as necessary use.
See now this is making more sense. For the record, I don't use WinXP-- I am running 2kpro, which Ive been pretty happy with.

That being said, I'm not much of a gamer in the "modern" sense. I used to work for infocom, back in the day, and still, the only games I really enjoy are adventure games. I'll play one every year or so, but I don't play games every day, so it's less of a bonus for me in that sense. The real issue is and always has been, autoCAD, which is industry standard (so I can do dick-all about it) and will not port effectively into Mac, no way, no how.
Apr. 6th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
Re: Not so much single use, as necessary use.
I used to work for infocom, back in the day

That's amazing. Were you at obifu's surprise party?
Apr. 6th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Re: Not so much single use, as necessary use.

I don't know obifu, at least, I don't think I do.

I do, however know Steve Meretzky, if it matters. :)
Apr. 5th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
they created that platform using DRM, which I abhor on intellectual and moral levels

While I abhor DRM on a similar basis as well as most modern IP law, I don't think you can blame Apple for that. There was no way at all that they were going to convince the MAFIAA to let them start iTMS without some form of DRM, and the form they picked is just about as unintrusive as it gets. They dragged the recording industry, kicking screaming and whining, to the threshold of modernity, and I'm prepared to forgive them a DRM scheme that actually lets you burn infinite copies of the songs you've bought, lets you transfer them to other computers, doesn't install malware onto your box, and doesn't prevent you from listening to them just because you stop giving Apple money. For that matter, I have over 50 gigabytes of songs on my iPod, and not a single one is encumbered by DRM or even purchased from iTMS; it's as open as you get, and the fact that you can't buy songs for it from anyone other than allmp3 is the fault of the MAFIAA, not of Apple.

Give me something I can take apart, innovate with, add or subtract from at will, without hassle.

What out there meets this standard, exactly? My first exposure to OS X was in my roommate's dual G4, and that was pretty much as tinkerable with as a PC. Very nice internal construction too, very easy to work with. And underneath it is a FreeBSD-based open-source operating system for which you can download the source code and mess with to your heart's content. Run X11 if you don't want to run Aqua. Compile your own binaries if you want to. Mess with the kernel if you really feel like it. What ability to mess with does this deny you that you have with the Linux distribution of your choice?

The Macbook laptop I have gives me far more freedom to tinker than any other laptop out there. I've tried to install Redhat on a laptop, and 'painful' doesn't even begin to describe the nonfunctionality that resulted.

and Sony has too many other pies in the oven to make a concerted effort to provide real competition

Sony's pies are burning. Sony is fucking boned, and it deserves every bit of the boning it has gotten and will continue to get now that the PS3 is coming out over a year later than the 360 and will cost $500+ to boot. These are the unbelieveable assholes who felt it was a good idea to sell audio CDs that installed rootkits on listener's computers[*], the ones who actually tried to sell an mp3 player that *would not play mp3s*. They are hemmorhaging money and there is nothing coming down the road that will change that.

[*] - Yah, I know Sony/BMG and Sony electronics are two very different entities, but they have input into each others' decisions, which is why the folks making the electronics keep crippling them to make the music bastards happy.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
for the most part, it isin't there yet
the closest i have come, honestly, is a usb drive.

what i WANT is a shell core - something that i can carry around with me, hell, when the infrasturcture gets there, have on an internode somwhere, which is my operating environment, my preferences, my bookmarks, my software. i want a digital briefcase. monitors, mice, keyboards, speakers, etc, are simply something that core will interface with. Kill the line betwene laptop, desktop, server and portable.

That is a ways off yet.

I've had decent experience with Dell, but they have gone downhill over the years. Since the G4, apples have been tinkerable on the hardware level in terms of their desktops (the mini was neat to take apart), but their laptops are horribly proprietary. Most major PC manufacturers offer you a system that you ahve limited upgrade paths for in portable computing. i've hacked the hell out of laptop mobos trying to get them to do things they were not supposed to. it was easier 10 years ago than it is now, honestly, because of the number of sealed discrete parts in your average laptop these days.

imo, osses should be like neckties. pick the one that matches your suit the best. i am a huge supporter of VNC for this reason - give me horsepower, and a platfrom from which I can use it how and why i want to, with whatever internetworked or discrete setup i desire. if i want to be able to turn one steriod ridden peice of hardware into my own private virtual server farm, i should be. I can, in many cases, except for Apple. Whenever I wanted to test something Mac backwards, I had to call someone, or borrow a machine, or beg a favor.

While I agree that Sony has seen better times, they are the company best poised to capitalize on the melting lines between entertainment, business, and technology. They are also about 10 light years ahead of anyone other thna Honda (who is using some of Sony's tech in their development) in the robotics department. I think that the hit that Sony will take on the PS3 will be a tap on the chin compared to Vista delayed for a year.

All the drm/copy protection technology, money, and effort that goes into it is a waste. The ipod didn't innovate the digital music frenzy, Napster did. Apple cashed in on a waiting market by allowing people to take those hundreds of songs to go. the itunes store was their way of making sure that they didn't bite the hand that feeds them. that is changing now, with the riaa/mpaa realizing they could be gouging on a whole new market. it will be interesting to see how it develops.

as someone who puts strong hopes in technology, it is disheartenng to see all the tech companies pander to the gods of consumerism, but that is what, apaprently, drives innovation on the cutting edge market.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
if you ask me...
...and you didn't, but i'll proceed as if you did anyway, this whole 'innovation' is to cater to one specific demographic - those who want to be able to say "yeah, i ---ing hate microsoft, i'm a hard-core apple nerd all the way" whilst still retaining the functionality of a windows system. ten years ago, the argument could be made that macs were holding onto their small slice of the pie because they held a dominance in the design department - that's no longer the case. in my oh-so-humble opinion, the only reason people -want- macs anymore are because a) they think it's cool to hate microsoft, b) they like the pretty colors it comes in, or c) they only use their computers to check their hotmail. if you can think of another reason, by all means, i'm listening. but first with the intel chip, and now with this, basically it seems to me apple is saying 'look, we can't compete with microsoft, so we're just going to go out of our way to make ourselves as much like them as possible'. jobs can thank his unholy gods that he got so lucky with the ipod (mainly thru, as you said, marketing) otherwise i'd wager there might not even BE an apple anymore.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
eh, it runs deeper than that
MS has bailed out apple before, mostly so that they couldn't be cited as a monopoly. the ipod wasn't luck, it was strategy. apple was first to market, so the riaa put out for them first. after that, it will be a hard spine to crack, unless someone gets jealous or an std.

apple as a cosumerism image is aprt of waht you are saying, and exactly what i am hawking about. the hipster-apple link, and the idea that apple is somehow "against the machine" is laughable, particularly when you consider the cost/profitability ratio.

apple doesn't want to compete with microsoft head-on, but they want to cash in on the market dominated by windows. they are trying to drive sales, and sell machines. that is the goal of every hardware manufacturer still slugging it out in the business. what i am curious is how this will affect them long-term, and how vista will impact the game a year from now. it is all well and good that you can run windows on a mac via a bootloader they provide, but what happens when you can run Jaguar on a Dell, or windows on a Mac clone without ever touching a Mac os? Those will be the interesting times. I just hope that Mark Shuttleworth can horn his upcoming linux monopoly into the fray.
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
i get that gates has a vested interest in keeping apple alive, if on life support - he has enough trouble monopoly-wise as is. i still say that ipod was luck and timing - there were mp3 players before apple, but like you said, jobs was the first to get the riaa into bed, so that's why it's taken off so well.
you hit the nail on the proverbial head - apple, as far as i can see, is entirely based on media and hype. now, i don't have a whole lot of experience in that particular arena of computing, so what might sound like sarcasm is an actual question: what advantage does mac have over a pc? is there anything they're toting these days?
frankly, from what i've read, i don't really expect vista to make a huge splash - some new tweaks, a few new graphics, and a hell of a lot of new problems. what's the big whup anyway?
Apr. 5th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
in terms of applications, apple's strong roots in design/arts has kept many people who use technology, but don't care about technology very solid. non-technical people who use technical tools are apple's bread and butter, and they have done well keeping with those people for many years.

windows runs faster on an apple than a pc, partially because apple is using a streamlined method of addressing hardware, partially because they are building real horses of laptops. the big advantage, as i said above, comes in image and ergonmics. macs look pretty. that makes a big difference to people.

as to vista - it will make ore break MS. IF they provide what they are saying they will, it WILL change the market, hugely. what i have read about vista development turns an operating system into something like firefox. rather than sell you an overpriced product that can do EVERYTHING, they are going to sell a cheap base level, with productivity modules which will cater to your needs as a computer user. add to this an integrated filesystem/search tool, and the ability to interchange that metadata with any xml compliant application, and you have a very powerful o/s indeed.

the proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. if they cannot deliver this product in such a manner that is secure and bug-free, you are right, it will be a new model with the same problems. if, however, they really tighten down the screws and make something costomizeable and secure, while maintianing modularity and sell it at a cost which will make an o/s about as expensive as your average PC game, they will have a product which will keep them in the lead for at least another decade.
Apr. 5th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
Re: perspective
macs look pretty.

I wouldn't say that's all it is. Sure, it's pretty, but I think more important is a consistency and predictability of interface that makes people feel comfortable. I mean, just as an example, isn't it odd that the place to deal with file type associations in Windows isn't even the Control Panel, it's under Tools - > Folder Options from a directory window?

And there's another thing I'm very impressed with on my Macbook: it's more snappy and responsive than anything I've used since Be, and *that* was more snappy and responsive than anything I'd used since the Amiga 2000. Shit just *pops*.

Well, except for Photoshop CS2, but that's 'cause it's under Rosetta. Still runs about as fast as it does on my desktop rig (Athlon64 3200+, gig ram).
Apr. 6th, 2006 12:34 pm (UTC)
Re: perspective
I mean, just as an example, isn't it odd that the place to deal with file type associations in Windows isn't even the Control Panel, it's under Tools - > Folder Options from a directory window?
Just throwing something out here. This might be more that MS wanted the user to be able to customize their OS from anywhere, preferrably as close to point-of-use as possible, even if it's not intuitive. While you can, in fact, go through Control Panel > Folder Options to adjust file associations in XP (again, not exactly intuitive), you can also just right click an icon in whatever directory you're in, select "Open With", "Choose Program", select the program you want to associate that type with, and then tell the system to always use that program for that type of file.

Apple, on the other hand, likes putting things in nice, predictable groups or buckets which also makes things easier for the user to find, but often that means opening up other windows in order to accomplish the same task. In XP, I don't have to open up any additional windows to change my file associations (or any number of other tasks) ... but it's not always intuitive how to do it.

I dunno. Might be off my rocker.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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