By David Leishman,
The jam-band Phish announced yesterday that it’s going to break up after one more record-and-tour roundup. A New York Times article praised the band and noted that, after 21 years, “Phish has nothing left to prove.”
Casting one’s mind around, it’s not hard to find another distinctly American icon that’s in its twenty-first year — the desktop Mac. Its future looks brighter than that of the band, but it may no longer have to wear shades.
Even the most ardent Mac fan would likely agree with Steve Jobs’ assessment that Microsoft has won the desktop wars. It’s not that the newest G5-powered machines aren’t great, nor that Apple won’t sell three-quarters of a million of the machines for years to come — it’s that Steve Jobs and Apple still have a lot to prove, but they want a new vehicle to prove it with.
Or, rather, a new fleet to prove it with. And a fleet fleet, at that.
Fortunately, this 21st Century Apple is lean, mean and fast. Since the dawn of 2000, the company has brought its ideas to life with stunning success — OS X, TiBooks, iTunes and the iLife suite, Apple Stores and the Music Store, even its award-winning tab-based Web site.
And when it has “failed,” it has managed to rework the product’s underlying concepts into successes– such as by turning iTools into .Mac, or the Cube into the second-generation iMac. As Bob Dylan, Jobs’ self-proclaimed favorite artist, once sang, “There’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all.”
Just so. The company is constantly re-inventing itself. Remember the product-based quadrant of just a couple years ago? Well, as of last week, Apple has a new lineup of quarters, and right at the top of the heap is the iPod division. Which, of course, will add some as-yet-unfathomed digital device within eighteen months. Hopefully to the same kind of applause the iPod has received.
But before that happens, Apple’s going to have to move into third gear.
Roxio’s Napster has moved into Canada and Europe ahead of the iTunes store, and Sony has begun to
sign up European indie music labels. Admittedly, these are still small-fish deals, more annoying than painful.
But more ominously, Microsoft this week began the slow drumbeat of its time-honored Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt campaign, when an MSN corporate vice president announced at the fifth annual Internet Conference that there will be
Microsoft-branded devices that will “look and feel as good as the iPod for as little as $50” to accompany its online service, which will go live later this year.
Does Apple need to pay attention? Yes. Panic? No way, because it’s almost as if Mr. Jobs and company are so focused that they’re channeling a Phish-hook from the band’s final album: “”I change my direction/One foot follows the other, one foot follows something new.”
Mac OS X 10.3.4 released; Panther Server updated
Apple on Wednesday released an update to its Mac OS X Panther and Panther Server operating systems, bringing the current versions to 10.3.4. The update includes improved file sharing and directory services for Mac, UNIX, PPTP and wireless networks; improved OpenGL technology; updated graphics drivers; FireWire audio and USB device compatibility; improved disc burning and recording functionality; and iPods connected via USB 2.0 are now recognized by iTunes and iSync.
Preliminary Xserve G5 support comes to Y-HPC Linux
FileMaker Server 7 released
Apple Hardware and
Apple Software forums.
Microsoft plans iPod competitor for as little as $50
Microsoft Corp. Corporate Vice President of MSN Yusuf Mehdi told attendees of Goldman Sachs’ fifth annual Internet Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada that the company will produce its own line of portable music players for as little as US$50. The devices will complement a Microsoft-made music download service expected to go online later this year.
LaCie offers new double layer DVD burners
NEC-Mitsubishi intros 21.3-inch LED backlit LCD monitor
Toshiba offers new DLP projectors for mobile users
ViewSonic adds new 15, 17-inch LCDs
Kanguru offers 4GB flash drive
Peerio444 to bring VoIP to Mac, Windows, Linux users
Popular Telephony on Wednesday announced Peerio444, a serverless Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication product aimed at Mac, Windows and Linux users. The software will enable users to make telephone calls from their computer, freely to other computers and for a nominal fee to regular telephones. Popular Telephony will release Peerio444 later this year.
Listen Later ‘speaks’ text to files
UT 2004 “unofficial” 3204 patch released
KeyCue helps find and remember menu shortcuts
Radeon Enabler 1.0 unlocks Displays utility for OEM cards
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