Cheryl also brilliantly tries to point out on her sight that the Mac market is down to 6% - except that she is wrong -- its about 10-11%. (Oops). She also implies that it was once at 22%. I don't know what planet she is living on - but I think once it spiked to 18% - but has usually been around 10%. Remember the Mac was at 0% when it started, and has recently climbed from 6% to almost double that, and she says that trend (from a mythical 22% about 8 years ago) to 11% proves Apple is doomed - instead of looking at the facts of the last few years, with the trend UPWARDS since cloning.<sigh>
Here are a few of my corrections to her errors -
Currid - <"Among the missteps: a [Mac] cloning strategy that came too late">
It is never too late to open your doors to licensing - as has been proven by many companies all through the history of business.
I think the huge growth of Mac clone companies and their explosive sales figures speak for themselves. Previously the largest first year sales of a startup computer company (and arguably any company) was Compaq.That is until Power Computing came around - they almost doubled Compaq's first years sales, even adjusted for inflation. There are also many other companies doing great business in the Mac clone market, and other fighting to get on-board. It seems that many companies, investors and developers disagree with Cheryl's myopic view.
The fact that Apple opened up cloning precisely as many foreign markets (especially Asia) are entering the computer revolution seems to be an excellent timing on their part ~ not "too late". Based on companies selling hundreds of thousands of units their first year, and growing at explosive rates, it seems to me that it is not "too late"
Currid - < an undelivered operating system upgrade -- "Copland" -- that's already two years overdue>
Fair enough.Copland is late and changed directions (though the date for release was late '96 - so its only a few months late so far). However, to be an objective analyst one would have to point out both sides of the issue including -
Primarily Copland got an attitude adjustment and the name and direction was changed. Most of the technology was shipped, or some of the technology was only meant as a temporary solution to get to Gershwin, and Apple decided to jump straight to Gershwin. Most of the design and/or code has already shipped or will be. So the name and directions changed. No monolithic release named Copland. Apple announced this almost a year ago, wrapped up the technology into System 7.5 and 7.6 (already shipped) and the rest into 7.7 (scheduled only 6 months after Coplands target date) and Currid is still implying that it is "2 years late"?
Currid - < and support for hybrid software -- Windows and Mac versions on a CD -- that buries identifiable Mac software sales>
She honestly tries to blame apple for the marketing companies inability to track Mac software?!?! What happens is that there are many titles that can run on both Macs and PC's. Those "hybrid" sales get categorized by research companies as PC sales, and the Macs software sales numbers don't reflect their real market. Somehow Cheryl blames Apple for this.
Hybrid sales are something that many Software companies love - they get to create and market ONE package that has a larger market attraction (both Mac and PC sales). Apple can either help software companies with that marketing- or piss them off. The real blame goes to poor tracking of those sales and the research firms. It is not that hard to figure out based on registrations how many units are likely Mac sales and eliminate that percentage from the PC-hybrid sales and add that sales volume to the Mac side. But that doesn't make for sensational press or help with Apple bashing.
Currid - < Now [Apple] just paid $400 million for money-losing Next Computer>
I thought an Analysts responsibility was to track trends and understand why companies do things. Cheryl proves that she believes an analysts responsibility is to try to prove her own conclusions true based on a lack of understanding of the facts.
NeXT has some awesome technology, but many journalists and analysts don't understand the first thing about OOD, Java or Web Objects? Not to mention OS design tradeoffs and technological evolution it would seem.
NeXT's technology was so superior that it took years for the rest of the industry to catch up. This is not unusual. Many times in history people have been so far ahead that it took years or generation for everyone else to catch on to how great their concepts were - or for manufacturing capabilities to catch up with their ideas. (Velcro existed for 50+ years before it was able to become a marketing success).
So NeXT created a great Object-Oriented Operating System (middleware). But the industry wasn't ready, computer performance wasn't enough, and NeXT was not a big enough company and not proven enough for them to make it the success it disserved to be. So what has changed no as compared to when NeXT started -
So just because NeXT can only stay afloat with their technology does not mean that NeXT's technology integrated with Macs can not become a raging success. In fact quite the opposite seems true. Both Mac and NeXT developers are very excited about the possibilities.
Cheryl opted not to stay silent on what she does not understand, instead she tried to sell her ignorant opinions as some enlightened analysis. Hopefully many (like myself) understand the technology enough to hold her to task for her ignorance.
Currid - <Aggressive marketing programs could help, but today's computer buyer won't fall for hype alone. >
Why not? They buy Windows over a Mac despite its dramatic inferiority. As a software engineer and UI designer I can give thousands of facts to back up this point and much of this site is dedicated to doing so.
The point is that there will ALWAYS be the followers and the leaders in life, the alphas and the betas. Macs attract the individuals and creative types - those that want to use the best tool to get work done. PC's attract the group-thinkers and the ones who want to fit in, and are not afraid to accept productivity loss, or inferior design, if it means they belong to the "big clique". That is not going to change - but that also does not mean that Macs are doomed. In fact that means quite the opposite - it almost guarantees that SOME people will continue to use the superior machine even if it doesn't have the market share of PC's.
Currid - < Apple needs to quickly blast out compelling whiz-bang technology, not just clever words or promises.>
They already have superior technology in almost every way. It does not change the group-thinkers minds (like herself). You buy a computer based on you ability to belong - NOT based on your desire to use the best tool.
How can Apple overcome that?!? They can't. They can just produce the best product and let people continue to buy it. And some will ignorantly claim that because Macs have less market share, then they must be inferior - which is like claiming that because cockroaches outnumber humans that they are the higher life form.
Currid - < As Mac stalls on killer innovations, end users will give up and buy PCs.>
Except that Apple still leads on most innovations and always will. Lets explore why -
If I am a small software writer how can I afford to market for the PC? In the PC market I will be stifled and crushed and must spend millions on getting a product in good displays or renting shelf-space. Then I must compete with the other larger companies and a marketplace that believes in group-think and only buying the biggest (not the best). MS gets over $.60 of every software dollar in the PC market - that means the market is 1/2 as large as people think. MS will target products and crush all the competition. How would you like to live with that sword of Damacles (Gates) hanging over your head?!
Most innovative products have come from small companies. Most of those companies have started on the Mac. In fact if you look at the PC side, most of the best selling and best quality Applications came from the Mac side.
The Mac market is much more open to new products - and a better place for companies to create a new product and a name for themselves. That will not change.
Currid - <Then, as sales decline, remaining Mac users will struggle to find PC-comparable add-ons. Retail stores will cut Macs' shelf space allocation and prices for accessories will climb.>
Weak point for the following reasons -
Macs can use the exact same accessories as PC's. There are already dozens of hybrid-Hardware products. Cards, printers, accessories that work in both Mac's and PC's. Most companies will not ignore a $12 Billion dollar a year industry (the Mac) - and so products are guaranteed.
Cheryl also forget to realize or point out the obvious - that the marketplace is changing. Internet and virtual buying are changing retail - direct sales and Mail Order are the way of the future (the next growth market) - and Macs are already there - ahead of PC's. So the playing field is not only more level in the future, but the Mac is once again leading the way for the PC's. Of course it is easier to buy Mac products mail order because of the superior Macs PnP, better installation, higher reliability and ease of use.
Currid - <But schools and kids are different. That's what prompted my first column on this subject months ago. School districts spend my tax dollars and risk my kids' future. As an employer, I'm worried that they also compromise the labor force by delivering unprepared and untrained candidates. >
Computers have a lifespan of of 5 years, computer technology doubles every 1 1/2 years. Any child using a computer will be in the marketplace in 15 or so years - that translates to 10 computer generations, or computers that are over 1,000 times as fast/powerful as machines today - whether they are Macs or PC's. So computers should be bought based on what schools need today and not based on what students might be using in the next decade.
Computers are a tool. Tools change. Use the best tool you can for now! Macs in schools today have the most curriculum. This is what is important!
Apple has 66% market share in schools. Why should schools spend a fortune, reduce their efficiency, increase their support costs, and reduce their curriculum choices? How does that help the kids? Computers in schools are not used to teach computers - they are a curriculum delivery tool. It is futile to try to teach kids computer in schools now, for what they might need to know in 15 years - technology changes too rapidly for that. If Cheryl had a clue about the educational system or computers she should know that.
Currid - <Schools likely will not get funding to support exotic gear. So, volume-priced products are critical to hold budgets in check yet keep kids current. >
Somehow this translates in Cheryls' mind to a fact that schools should give up their superior pricing they get on Macs, their superior support record, their lower maintenance costs, their ease of use, their longer life-spans (Macs tend to be used much longer than PC's and more software runs on more out of date Macs), and all the curriculum choices that they have so that they can standardize on less "exotic" [see inferior] gear - just to reassure Currid that she made the right computer purchase and that she is part of the "Big Clique".
Schools should pay more for less (buy into PC's) so that they can be standardized - and then pay more for support, and spend more time teaching the kids how to use the tool (instead of doing their work) so that kids can suffer just like adults in the real world?!?
I think the article "Short of a miracle" is aptly named, because it would take nothing short of a miracle for Cheryl Currid to pull her head out long enough to get the facts right.