Time for me once again to take off my editorial hat and put on my opinion hat.
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Eric Hellweg is pessimistic about Apple’s financial outlook … but what else is new? Hellweg, the author of an infamous Business 2.0 piece called “Trouble at Apple’s Core” that
MacCentral took aim at
earlier this year, is back at it with a new piece on Apple published by CNN/Money called
Apple’s scary season.
Hellweg cited a Forrester analyst who said that Mac users “didn’t understand the move” that precipitated Apple’s migration from free iTools services to the pay-to-play .Mac services. “They thought it was a lot of money,” said the analyst. This comment comes on the same day that Apple announced that more than 100,000 customers
have apparently “understood the move”, after all.
Hellweg also noted, “Apple’s two new services — iCal (a calendar program), and iSync (backup software) — are joining the .Mac (née iTools) suite of offerings, which until now has been free.”
That’s partly misleading — iCal’s only tie to .Mac is its ability to publish calendar content to a user’s .Mac account — something that can be done just as easily if the user has access to his own WebDAV server (or through emerging iCal-related Web sites), which the user can do without Apple’s intervention if he wishes.
iSync, meanwhile, is wholly independent of .Mac services. And contrary to Hellweg’s assertion, iSync is not “backup software.” It’s a forthcoming Mac OS X 10.2-dependent tool to synchronize calendar and address book data between the Mac, PDAs, cell phones, iPods and other digital devices. Perhaps Hellweg is thinking of Backup, Apple’s .Mac-dependent backup and archival utility, instead. Backup requires that users have a valid .Mac account, though it can backup to local devices like CD-RW burners too.
Hellweg questioned Apple’s decision to make future Mac models boot into Mac OS X only despite the absence of a Mac OS X native version of QuarkXPress. “The makers of Quark Express [sic], the popular desktop publishing program that ushers Apple into many corporate markets, have yet to release an OS X version and won’t say when one will be ready,” Hellweg posited.
While Quark won’t give a release date for the Mac OS X version of QuarkXPress — they, like many companies including Apple, are reluctant to discuss forthcoming development schedules — Quark
recently told MacCentral
that it was aware of Apple’s schedule and suggested it was no cause for alarm.
“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,” said Quark Communication Manager Glen Turpin.
Microsoft factored into Hellweg’s murky predictions about Apple, too. Microsoft spent a lot of time and money to create Microsoft Office for OS X and reportedly feels Apple hasn’t done enough to promote it,” said Hellweg, adding “plenty of potential Mac buyers could make the switch to a Wintel machine if they can’t use Microsoft’s leading productivity suite.”
What he leaves out is that Microsoft has already promised to deliver its next version of Office to the Macintosh as well.
“If the .Mac services don’t take off, if Quark doesn’t meet the January deadline, and if Microsoft decides not to renew its pact with Apple, 2003 will be a hell of a tough year for the company. With so many fires to put out around him, Jobs is in danger of losing his focus. And that could be about the worst thing for Apple,” he concluded.