MacCentral Week in Review
Editorial: Quadrant-plus-one rev. 2
By David Leishman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty years ago, I worked in a stucco building at 20605 Lazaneo Drive in Cupertino. Standing at the front door, I could throw a stone and hit a lookalike structure that was part of the Apple campus. The last remaining apple orchard in Cupertino was two blocks away, behind Cicero's Pizza.
Five years ago, Steve Jobs put the finishing touches on Apple's hardware "quadrant" strategy when he introduced the iBook, and extended it to a "quint"-rant when he introduced The Cube.
Which, like my personal notes, is now history. But just as the present is built on the past, often with an eye to the future, Apple is reinventing its quadrant-plus-one strategy, although this time hardware isn't the sole focus.
Six weeks ago, Apple announced it was creating an iPod division, which would be distinct from the Macintosh division. I assume that the newer unit will eventually serve as the birthplace for a host of digital devices, as yet unspecified, so it's the first quadrant.
Next, lump all Macs, portable or otherwise, into the second quadrant. Then the Apple stores, including the physical locations and the virtual music shops, form the retail sector. And all things software, from Mac OS X to the consumer and professional applications, squares the new quadrant.
The fifth component, much like Cube-y before it, is a little bit of an oddball in the mix. I think of it as "multi-seat;" although it includes the hardware Xserves and software Server components, it's really about reaching out to groups working together, whether in standard office environs, research facilities, or via grids.
Successes of the multi-seat endeavor are disparate but growing. The Power Mac G5 cluster last year at Virginia Tech, and the more recent sale of 1650 computers to an Army contractor led to Macs jumping near the head of the list in supercomputer speed -- and at a very reasonable cost.
Which means Apple finally has a chance to gain some real credibility with IT managers. But it's not going to be attained the same way the company has conquered the music player field; secrecy, flash and a hint of arrogance won't win this crowd.
An opinion piece by Mark Hall of Computerworld -- perhaps the bible of the IT folks -- suggests that Apple needs to Think Different: Although Xserves are "one of the most powerful, low-cost, easy-to-manage Unix servers on the market," still "CIOs seldom make infrastructure investments without a deep understanding of a vendor's long-term strategy." And up till now, Apple hasn't provided enough behind-the-curtain looks to sway this group.
Given Apple's long, sorry history in the back office, this won't do. My long-ago employer's offices are now in San Mateo, CA. The apple orchard has been replaced by the first hotel built in Cupertino, and I think Cicero's is out of business. I hope Apple reads Mr. Hall's piece and makes the changes it needs to re-write rather than re-live history.
Apple on Thursday confirmed that a new iMac is on the way, but stopped short of providing any details about the new system. The company's online store has stopped accepting orders for the current flat panel models, but Apple doesn't plan to have a replacement ready until September -- the victim of "less than perfect" planning, by its own admission.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address this week at the 2004 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where attendance was up 17 percent over last year's enrollment, began with coverage of the company's retail store chain, its iTunes Music Store efforts, and the recently speed bumped Power Mac G5 line. Jobs then introduced new 20, 23, and 30-inch Cinema Displays, and previewed highlights of the 150 new features in Tiger, Apple's next version of Mac OS X, scheduled to ship in the first half of 2005. The company subsequently posted a QuickTime movie of the event.
Elgato Systems on Monday introduced the EyeTV 500, a new digital video recording (DVR) system for North American Mac users that lets users record both digital standard definition television signals and ATSC-based high definition signals broadcast over the air in North America.
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Apple this week announced it is releasing clients for its Rendezvous zero-configuration networking technology for Java clients; POSIX platforms including Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD; and a "technology preview" for Windows. Developers for those platforms interested in finding out more can do so on Apple's Developer Web site.
Alias shared the keynote stage with Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday to announce that its popular 3D graphics and animation software package Maya Unlimited is coming to Mac OS X. and will offer support for such add-ons as Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Cloth, Maya Hair, Maya Fur and Maya Live. The company expects to ship Maya Unlimited later this summer for US$6,999.
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For IT managers, Apple's enterprise solutions are "not just a credible choice ...(but) often the most cost-effective and best-performing option," writes Mark Hall of Computerworld. Unfortunately, the company wraps its IT plans in the same veil of secrecy that it employs for its consumer strategies -- hurting Apple and a host of prospective customers.
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