Apple eyes the future of the Mac

Apple executives held keynote addresses in different parts of the world yesterday, but the underlying theme for both was the same: Mac OS 10.2 is the future and there is no looking back. The significant hardware announcement that Apple hardware will no longer boot in Mac OS 9 beginning in 2003 is being resoundly seen by analysts, developers and some users as a positive move for Apple.

Apple moves to the future

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For the past two years developers and users have been aware of the impending death of Apple's Classic operating system, Mac OS 9. The issues surrounding the demise of OS 9 have decreased considerably since the initial release of Mac OS X 10.0 with companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Macromedia and many others releasing native applications for the new operating system.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a mock funeral for Mac OS 9 at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), signifying to developers and customers that big changes were coming. "Please join me in a moment of silence as we remember an old friend -- Mac OS 9," Jobs said during his keynote at WWDC. "It isn't dead for our customers yet, but it's dead for you."

All of Apple's subtle -- and not so subtle -- messages over the past year led to yesterday's announcement that in 2003 new Apple hardware will no longer boot in Mac OS 9.

"We aren't forcing anyone to upgrade, but we hope we are giving people compelling reasons to do so," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, told MacCentral. "We are saying that when you buy a new machine it will only boot into OS X and that's what we need to do. We are leaving behind so many things from Mac OS 9 already that when you choose to boot in OS 9 you actually get less than you get with Mac OS X."

Noting that most of Apple's creative community has already made the switch to Mac OS X, IDC analyst Roger Kay said the move would not negatively affect Apple's core market. Kay doesn't think the majority of Apple's user base will mind the move because Apple has a history of pushing its customers to new technologies.

"Apple has always pushed its base into new technology -- they've been more aggressive about that and less sympathetic about legacy concerns," Kay said. "The result is that they've flushed out a lot of the people that care about legacy -- they have self-selected their own market. In some sense they have earned the right to move people aggressively into technologies, because they have a market that's hollering for that."

Many creative professionals that haven't moved to Mac OS X are holding out for one reason: Quark. QuarkXPress has become ubiquitous in the publishing industry over the last decade and while some people have made the switch to competing products like Adobe InDesign, many will not make the move from Quark.

Quark has not officially announced a date for a Mac OS X version of QuarkXPress, but company officials told MacCentral that they are very supportive of Apple's current direction.

"We haven't announced a specific date, but we are working very closely with Apple -- they are aware of our schedule and we are aware of theirs," said Glen Turpin, communication manager for Quark. "I'm not concerned about this; I think the progress we are making with QuarkXPress for Mac OS X is going very well. We are very supportive of Apple's plans to move exclusively to OS X. This is a great platform for publishing -- it's clearly where Apple is going and we are going there with them."

Some of Apple's creative customers are pleased with Apple's decision to move to a Mac OS X-only strategy. Daniel Swanson, a freelance creative professional since 1987, has made his business using Apple hardware and software from Adobe and Quark. Currently using OS X, Swanson made the move from Quark Xpress to Adobe InDesign and has never looked back.

Swanson sees Apple's announcement as a continuation of the company's commitment to bring the best products it can to the Mac.

"If you're going to be in this business, you need to use the best equipment available," said Swanson.

One of Apple's most important markets, education, adopts technology on a different timetable than most. While educational institutions have many legacy systems and tight budgets to consider, Apple sees January as a perfect time to implement this new policy for booting on Mac OS X-only.

"January is a great time to start the boot transition because it's the time when they are doing the least amount of technology implementation in schools," said Schiller. "Education customers like to hear what the plan is for the following school year before the next buying season begins in the spring."

Analysts see another major reason that Apple should move to OS X -- having a dual OS strategy could affect the company's financial bottom line. While Apple has posted profits in all but a couple of quarters in the last few years, analysts recognize that all PC manufacturers have to look for alternate revenue sources, whether it's saving money or selling more product.

"This is a necessary step for Apple to streamline its efforts into one OS," said Toni Duboise, senior analyst with ARS. "In today's climate it makes a lot sense -- every PC manufacturer, including Apple, is trying to make up for the lost margins in desktops by making money in other efforts. Apple is spending a lot of money trying to support two operating systems; this is a good business decision."

Jaguar offers new functionality and revenue

In his Seybold keynote address yesterday, Phil Schiller talked to the creative community about what Apple has done in its latest OS release that would specifically help them.

Schiller talked about Quartz Extreme, ColorSync, AppleScript, Fonts and several other technologies included with Jaguar. Schiller also outlined the numerous improvements to OS X's Print Center and described the new printing architecture incorporating Common Unix Printing System, or CUPS.

"When we were working on Jaguar we knew that we did a lot in 10.1 to make it an OS that everyone could rely on, but we knew there was some more things that our education and pro customers wanted. Jaguar is the release where we were able to deliver so much of that," said Schiller.

The release of Jaguar also offers customers functionality that can't be found in earlier versions of Apple's operating systems. iCal, which was released yesterday, and iSync, which will be released as a public beta later this month, will only work with Mac OS X 10.2. Combined with the company's pay service .Mac, Apple is adding value to the Mac OS experience for its customers, but it's also adding an additional revenue stream for the company.

"Anything they can do to make Mac OS X more appealing is a good business decision -- it's definitely a good strategy," said ARS analyst Duboise. "There comes a point in time when all PC manufacturers have to protect their bottom line."

The release of Jaguar on August 24 set a sales record for Apple. The company reported that 100,000 copies of the operating were sold in the first weekend it was available. For Apple it's all about making innovation in the market with the company's stable of iApps, like iTunes, iPhoto, iCal, iSync and others.

"This is all about us trying to innovate on the Mac platform and to deliver again on the Mac the idea of software that's best on the Mac and only on the Mac, said Schiller. "We're doing our part and we are helping developers do their part to deliver that innovation -- that's the reason customers bought a Mac in the first place."

Rendezvous gaining support

Apple's newest technology, a zero configuration networking protocol based on the ZeroConf standard, is gaining support from developers in many different markets.

When Apple first demonstrated Rendezvous at Macworld Expo in July, they announced that Lexmark, HP and Epson had announced support for the technology in future releases of their products. Yesterday, Canon and Xerox added their names to the list of supporting printer companies and Sybase and World Book became the first software based companies to announce support.

The one pledge of support that may have taken many people by surprise came from Philips. Gerard Kleisterlee, CEO of Royal Philips Electronics, gave Mac users their first glimpse of what's in store for this technology in a brief statement yesterday.

"We both believe that consumers want devices throughout the home to talk to each other, so that, for example, the music stored in iTunes on your Mac can play through the Philips stereo system in your living room, or the photos stored in iPhoto can be displayed as a stunning slideshow on your Philips Flat TV. Rendezvous helps realize this dream," said Kleisterlee.

It's all about innovation

Apple says that their recent moves with Mac OS 10.2, it's collection of iApps and .Mac is about bringing innovation to Macintosh users and the Mac platform through its developers.

Technologies like Rendezvous could be the next 802.11b, USB or FireWire that Apple popularized in its computers over the last several years.

"I hope our customers see that we are trying to deliver a lot of innovation to them in hardware and software," said Schiller. "We try to have innovative features that are better integrated and we try to have a more stable robust environment free from the troubles the PC world might have to experience. We are trying to ensure that in 2003, like the years before, we can deliver innovation and reliability -- to do that we need to focus on Mac OS X."

This story, "Apple eyes the future of the Mac" was originally published by PCWorld.

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