Whenever Apple “loses its way,” CEO Steve Jobs’ “inspired innovations help it surge ahead of the PC pack” as, most recently, witnessed with DVD technology, Business Week Online columnist Charles Haddad writes in his latest Byte of the Apple column.
“Jobs has made a career out of trying to stay ahead of the curve. That strategy has paid off big when he has correctly judged the zeitgeist — and it has also led to some major missteps,” he says. “His flops include the Lisa, the NeXtCube, the Mac Cube, and, yes, even the original Mac, which didn’t catch on until the second model. Yet he rightfully remains a pillar of the computer industry.”
Haddad writes that no one is better at Jobs than using “timing, luck and innovation” to stage a comeback. And he’s a great recycler, too, it seems. The NeXtStep operating system has been “retooled” into the successful Mac OS X. The fruit-flavored iMac has morphed into its current, and popular, flat screen incarnation. And though Jobs’ underestimated the appeal of straight DVD technology in 2000, he’s now upping the “wow” factor by allowing Macs (with SuperDrives) to burn DVDs, not just play them, Haddad says.
The columnist feels that Jobs is right again. According to the latest numbers from Apple, they’ve shipped nearly 500,000 computers with DVD recorders to date. Haddad says this matches up with numbers tracked by the Gartner research group, which says the PC industry shipped more than 600,000 DVD recorders last year. It said 400,000 of those recorders were shipped by Pioneer, which is Apple’s major supplier.
Now, of course, Dell and HP are shipping computers with built-in DVD recorders. And, eventually, the Wintel systems may overtake Apple as the leader in DVD recording, Haddad says.
“But by then, Jobs will be on to the next cool innovation,” he adds. “For he knows that in the computer industry, the times are forever a-changing.”