Phil Lemmons' offers a new article. Let's look at it and see what it says.
Intel and Microsoft rake in mind-boggling profits, sit atop billions in cash, and invest big bucks in R&D.
I wish I could explain to small minds (like many journalists and managers) the difference between R and D, innovation and implementation -- but I thihk it is just beyond them. <sigh> I don't like perpetuating myths. Yes they theoretically invest in R -- but can you name what has come out of it? Pouring money into something is not the same as getting value out of it.
The companies' executives rack their brilliant, paranoid brains to produce visions of future computing.
I wish I could expain to small minds (like many journalists and managers) the difference between brilliant and ruthless, or the difference between falling into a position of success (mostly thanks for IBM), and strategies to get you there and so on -- but again, I thihk it is just beyond them. With comments like that, it is obvious they know little about the history of computing.
Between them, the two firms supply other PC giants with everything they need to flood the planet with powerful, inexpensive computers. Nothing can slow these vendors' surging sales except an occasional pause to curse the impossibility of differentiating products under the rule of the dynamic duopoly.
A grain of wisdom in the fatalistic ignorance. Do you know how many times in the past people have claimed that something was in a company's (or two's) complete control, right before they lost it all and went under? Usually it takes revolution and new directions -- but in this industry that can happen in a few years. But the point about differentiating is pretty good -- vendors can't, consumers can't, and that explains the success. If you love ice-cream but your only choice is vanilla, you'd better learn to love vanilla. Of course someone is going to get a brain and realize that Chocolate, Strawberry or even metropolitin is available, and point that out -- I just doubt it will be journalists like Phil.
Then along comes Apple, a breathless shipwreck survivor crawling from a sea of red ink. It introduces first the iMac and now the new Power Macintosh G3 computer. Striking shapes and colorful polycarbonates distinguish these Macs from all previous computers.
Hmmm... the usual start. "Apple was doomed", not because they ever were -- but because he doesn't want to think and contradict all his journalistic friends. And a rags to riches story makes good copy. But then immediately goes on the attack implying the only differentation was pretty cases. Either this author doesn't know his craft (wordsmithing), or he knows it well and this is an attack. There are many things differentiating the Macs (new or not) -- he just never goes beyond the surface.
The iMac and G3 are in some ways like the Mazda Miata. The Miata shares inner components with a much less successful Ford model, but a designer exterior made the Miata a sensation. Few can name the Ford equivalent.
Despite some oversimplistic drivel that design is just a pretty face, this isn't truthful. There is far more to it than that.
The new translucent Macs have borrowed much from PCs: the Ultra ATA interface, PCI slots, PC100 SDRAM, and the Universal Serial Bus. The G3's built-in ATI Rage 128 graphics adapter was meant first and foremost for PCs. Some PCs and the G3 also have FireWire in common. To be sure, the G3 still has some components foreign to PCs, such as the PowerPC G3 processor and Mac operating system.
I don't quite get the point. Apple has always used standards when possible, for those that had a clue. And many previous versions of Macs used PC RAM or IDE (ATA) and PCI. ATI has been working with Apple for many generations. And I note the cute omission that Apple created FireWire and PCs are copying Apple. Spinning like a top in here -- but no point, yet.
Goodies for Novices and Power Users
Sounds good. I like this part.
Though the new Macs could signal Apple's reemergence as a major competitor, that is not assured. Technical innovation in PC products keeps accelerating. Close on the heels of the Pentium III comes AMD's K7 chip with its 200-MHz bus, due in June. Then Intel will introduce AGP 4X and many other advances. Also due to arrive is a raft of new AGP graphics accelerators, including those from ATI, 3Dfx, Matrox, NEC, NVidia, and S3. Will these products be available for the G3's proprietary graphics connector? Similarly, will software developers devote more attention to the Mac when the vastly larger Windows market beckons and the Web is exploding?
OK... which is it? The Mac uses the same stuff as PCs or not. When did Apple leave the market? (To reemerge you have to have left).
Technical innovation in PC products is nearly non-existant. The PCs evolve very slowly -- they just get faster and cheaper. But drops in cost, and incremental performance increases are not innovation. Apple has either kept up, or lead for the last 15 years -- so what is the point here? What is going to change that? This is too much like FUD.
As usual, when the present doesn't look good for the PC, they start selling the Mac present against the PCs future. But the K7 is not out yet, and AMD is not above slippage. The G4 sounds like it will outperform the K7 in the same time frame -- and I haven't seen any 200 MHz RAM available. Apple's next generation machines, due in the same time frame as the K7 (and Apple has been hitting schedules better than AMD, Microsoft or Intel), is likely to have AGP, 133 MHz bus, already has the best ATI support, and will have a processor that outclasses the K7 or PentiumIII (especially in SIMD). So what is the point, other than the author is unaware (or ignoring) Mac advances?
Regardless, the appeal of the new Macs will force the personal computer industry to look up from its concentration on reducing costs, turning inventory, and slashing time to market. The new Macs demand a renewed focus on designing more appealing PCs.
Agreed. But the new Macs are not succeeding just because of design (by which I assume he means case design or industrial design) -- but on many things. The author wants to ignore the relevant, and argue only on one or two lesser things.
Toward Simpler, Sexier PCs
In other words the PC should innovate like Macs. I agree. But what the author forgets (or ignores) is the PCs have never been about innovation -- they succeeded by conformity (conformity with IBM, conformity with pseudo standards like Sound-Blaster, and conformity with MS and Intel). So the stranglehold would not do much to suddenly invigorate innovation, because PC buyers are all looking to be the same -- though maybe a little faster and cheaper. This started with Compaq in 1984, and has followed through to today. They all want to follow -- only faster and cheaper. Apple has more innovation than any 4 (or 10) PC companies combined (with the exception of IBM if you look at their whole market, and not just the PC market). For once, Intel and Microsoft aren't to blame for something -- the PC doesn't fail to innovate because of them -- the PC fails to innovate because the market, customers and infrastructure are based on conformity and fear of anything different.
Microsoft has already paid lip service to the goal of simplification, but it will have to reinvent itself to deliver. Its approach to software design and its business model rely on making every promising new technology a standard part of Windows. That, in turn, gives Windows one byte of code for every particle in the universe. Is it any wonder Windows contains black holes and loose strings?
Hmmm. A little soft on Microsoft, overly gentle (a softball), but accurate.
No one can encompass everything and keep it simple. Piling new "simplicity" features on top of all the others won't do the trick, not even when they're packaged as wizards and animated paper clips. Simplicity requires leaving things out. Yes, even some hot new technology that might make money for someone else! Simplifying Windows requires Microsoft to loosen its grip.
OK. He gets that right on the nose.
But it isn't just about loosening the grip -- it is about designing complexity out. Microsoft doesn't do that. They make money on having complexity and on FUD. They scare people into needing every feature, and then the little guys can't keep up. They can't simplify Windows, their whole business model is about FUD, features, changing file formats (to break the competitions superior Applications ability to work with them) and so on. This would by like trying to convince Dalmer (serial murderer) to stop eating people! It just isn't in their nature.
Failing to simplify the PC also has its costs. The Wintel formula of wrapping ever-increasing sameness around ever-increasing complexity is getting old. It hasn't produced a single distinctive model that sends people running to the showroom. Apple has two such models. The new Macs may not conquer the world, but they have made their point.
Good conclusion. I just get a little annoyed with the errors in the middle, and the implications that the Mac is irrelevant.