BusinessWeek Online has posted
a special report entitled Apple’s Strategic Shift. The report combines new and previously published Apple-related content and examines the company’s move from a purveyor of just personal computers to a digital media company offering commercial music, enterprise-quality servers and more.
In “Where ‘Think Different’ Is Taking Apple,” Jane Black quotes an analyst who calls the company’s emphasis on iPod digital music players and the iTunes Music Service “a paradigm shift” at Apple. And the sky’s the limit: The same analyst suggests that if Apple is a little more generous with its retail price on the iPod, it could capture a much larger chunk of the Windows MP3 market — perhaps 1.25 million, or about four times as many as the company sold during its third financial quarter.
Apple’s also firing on all cylinders with the iTunes Music Store, which one label exec said is responsible for making it “cool to buy digital music” among the same crowd that was, up to now, stealing it more or less exclusively. iChat AV and iSight are also garnering great reviews, despite the instant messaging software’s availability only as a public beta. Black concludes that Steve Jobs’ decision to “innovate through the downturn” may be the right strategy after all.
“Why iTunes Has Bands on the Run” is Byte of the Apple columnist Charles Haddad’s missive from last week. Haddad examines the debate over whether bands like Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers are serving customers or themselves by refusing to be involved with the iTunes Music Store because of issues related to single track sales versus album sales.
In “Picking Apple as a Server Solution,” Olga Kharif examines moves in the enterprise market to the Mac. The company is offering a cost-effective server and RAID solution with its Xserve boxes, and ships with unlimited-use licenses, unlike many Windows-based server offerings. What’s more, the Power Mac G5 seems to be capturing mindshare at some companies, especially those where Web-based applications are more important than Windows-bound application software.
Analysts remain to convinced, and there’s clearly a lot of momentum for Linux boxes in the IT space as well. Kharif suggests that Apple is hindered by a lack of focused marketing aimed at IT professionals. The company is developing strategic alliances with IT players like Sybase and PeopleSoft, however, which for now, makes Macs and Xserve boxes a secret weapon in some IT pros’ arsenals.
Industry pundit Stephen H. Wildstrom explains his motivation in a new article entitled “Why I Have to Write about Apple.” Wildstrom, who writes BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column, frequently pontificates on Apple’s latest machinations. He explains that he does so because despite Apple’s relatively small marketshare the company has a disparately large mindshare, thanks to its emphasis on innovation and its influence on the rest of the computer industry.
Apple’s efforts with digital music, which has been focused on by the media lately, is only one example, Wildstrom writes. Apple’s PowerBooks have been widely imitated elsewhere in the industry. And he unabashedly calls Apple’s flat-panel iMac “the best-designed consumer desktop computer on the market.”
Apple demonstrated a “clean break” and “a true breakthrough” with its release of Mac OS X, according to Wildstrom, but the company has been hampered by slow processors. Also, efforts to create great first-party applications have put Apple increasingly into competition with its own third-party developers — including big players like Microsoft and Adobe.
“Still, Apple promises to go on being a pacesetter,” said Wildstrom, “… And there’s no reason its small market share should deny it either viability or influence.”