As Apple rides a wave of success with the iPod and iTunes, numerous industry pundits are questioning the company's loyalty to its Mac product line. After all, the thinking goes, if the iPod and iTunes are so popular with Windows users, why should Apple waste its time catering to the comparatively minuscule Mac market?
That way of thinking is crazy: you can't ignore the fact that Apple makes about 90 percent of its money from its sales of Mac-related products. But even if Apple is destined to bring innovative digital entertainment products to the masses, regardless of the platform they're using, the Mac -- and Mac users -- remain a vital part of that destiny.
Follow Our Lead
Mac users defy convention. We care about computer design and computer interfaces in ways that PC users clearly don't, and we're generally willing to spend more money for our computers to get a high-quality product. But take those traits one step further: Mac users can visualize ways that technology can change our lives. And we have courage enough to take risks, in terms of time, money, and the frustration of living on the cutting edge, so we can be among the first to have our lives changed by groundbreaking innovations.
Twenty years ago, Mac users chose the ease of use of a graphical, mouse-driven interface over the PC's complexity. But more recently, we've embraced digital video editing, digital photography, DVD creation, and digital music. We didn't blink at converting our CD collections to MP3s, and now we're eagerly buying digital music downloads.
The Digital Generation
Take a few pages from my own life. Shortly after the release of iMovie, I bought a digital camcorder. On my return from a trip to Europe, I edited several hours of footage into a 30-minute feature and used iDVD to burn it to a DVD. A week before my daughter's birth, I bought a digital camera and, with the help of iPhoto, churned out a Web site full of photos of the new baby. And today, my daughter's collection of children's music is stored in MP3 format.
The worlds of digital video and audio are changing at a rapid pace, so with this issue, we're tackling both topics in major ways. In Christopher Breen and Michael Gowan's "Digital Music Superguide", you'll read about integrating your music and your Mac -- from buying high-quality speakers to choosing the best method for converting your CDs to MP3 format. And in Jim Heid's "From VHS to DVD", you'll get step-by-step instructions on how to convert your old analog videotapes (not to mention old film reels) to digital format and get them onto DVDs.
I've got some personal experience with that one, too: Not too long ago, I transferred a series of videos my friends and I had made back in 1985 onto DVD. The videotape had noticeably degraded in the intervening years, and I know that if I had let it sit for much longer, that valuable keepsake of my youth would have evaporated forever. Now it's on digital tape and DVD, and it's safe for my daughter to roll her eyes at when she gets older. If you've got old video treasures languishing on VHS, take Jim Heid's advice and save them while you still can.
Since I picked up a copy of MacSoft's Halo ( ; February 2004) a few months ago, I've been spending too much time playing the game with other people via the Internet. It's taken me back to my days at MacUser, when a few of us would stay after work and wait out horrendous traffic jams by playing Halo's direct ancestor, Marathon. Just as playing against talented human strangers beats fighting computer opponents, playing against people you know trumps any battle you might have with someone you run into randomly on the Internet. And that's why I took to Macworld.com's forums (www.macworld.com/forums) to round up a group of Macworld readers for a few games of Halo. We've had a great deal of fun with it, and I hope the members of Macworld's online community will use our forums not only to get to know each other better, but also to stoke their competitive urges. Who knows? That guy carrying the enemy flag into your base might just be Macworld's editor in chief.