神经接触

我想我已经弄明白为什么上周了iPod FireWire cable hysteria对某些Mac用户来说这是一种神经It’s an unfounded fear that as the iPod succeeds, the Macintosh will — somehow, in some unspecified but surely dreadful way — suffer.

Prior to the iPod, Apple had been a one-product company for over a decade — and that product was the MacintoshThe Apple II line had effectively been dead since the late ’80s (although they were still producing them up through the early ’90s, believe it or not)And no offense to Newton aficionados, but that’s a platform that never caught on.

For all practical purposes, the only thing that’s kept Apple alive has been the MacDesktops, laptops, software — a huge variety of individual products, but together constituting a single platform. And so as the Mac went, so went Apple.

Hence the common conflation of “Apple” and “Mac”; e.gclueless armchair industry analysts predicting throughout the ’90s that “Mac would be out of business in a year”, or a declaration that the company’s relatively low market share was the result of there being “more software for Windows than for Apples”.

但Apple不是Mac,而Mac不是AppleMany Mac users have, therefore, misstated their loveThey say they love Apple, but what they love is the MacWhat the mainstream press calls “the Apple faithful” are really the苹果电脑可信(Admittedly, you can get a ton of hits寻找“Mac忠实的人“也是。)

What has made the Mac such a long-lasting success is that despite the fact that it holds “only” 2-4 percent of the overall PC market, it isn’t just any random 2-4 percent slice, it’s a base of around 10-20 million loyal customers.

While this has made the Mac a steady and stable source of profits for Apple, it is also exactly what has kept it from being a source of growth围绕Mac OS X的所有成功 -Looks beautiful! Based on Unix!— it hasn’t really made a dent in the Mac’s overall position in the industryIt has sustained the Mac as a profitable platform, but it hasn’t grown the user baseApple executives have been claiming an “installed base” of 25 million Macs in use for over a decade.

这并不是说Mac的表现不佳It’s not, it’s doing fine但做得好并不像做的那样Great means growth, and growth is what drives a stock price up(For more on market share doom-and-gloom, see my previous piece on the importance of theMac的市场份额。)

And so I think some Mac users look at the phenomenal continuing growth of the iPod, and they think,I wish this were happening for the Mac.And then come the fears of abandonment: What happens if iPod growth continues at the current clip for another year? Or two years?

The iTunes Music Store is widely considered a major success, and it’s certainly the undisputed leader in online music salesBut online music sales currently account for only two percent of音乐销售换句话说,CD销售仍占主导地位But what happens if ITMS continues to grow? What if it starts accounting for 10 or 15 percent — or more — of recorded music sales?

What happens is that the Macintosh becomes one division among several in a larger more widely-focused AppleOver the course of many internal reorganizations over the years, there have been several Macintosh “divisions” within Apple, typically split along hardware/software linesBut what I mean by “division” here is more than just a branch on an org chartThe iPod is truly a separate division, a peer to the Mac platform rather than a component of it.

And so the fear is that in the face of fantastic growth and profits from the iPod and ITMS initiatives, Apple will neglect or even outright abandon the MacI see no rational reason to believe this. Business analysts have been calling on Apple to abandon the Mac for over a decade; at one point calling on Apple to become a software company, later on, calling on them to become a “stylish” maker of x86 Wintel hardwareThe latest version is that Apple ought to turn itself into a consumer electronics companyBut without specifying new consumer electronic制品- 即an actual course of action — saying that Apple should “become a consumer electronics company” is like telling someone they should “become a millionaire”.

The fact is that the Mac has been and remains a consistent source of profits for AppleThe difference is that it used to be the company’s只要利润来源现在它是几个中的一个The continuing success of the iPod doesn’t take anything at all away from the Mac, other than perhaps additional slices of attention from Apple’s most very senior executives — those who sit atop all divisions in the org chart(And this might not be a bad thing, considering how many times you-know-who has waved his brushed-metal-window wand.)

If you take it personally that the Mac has perhaps slipped to Apple’s second-most-profitable division, you’re weird.

原因,满足效果

Several readers emailed to suggest, more or less, that with regard to USB-vs.-FireWire, Apple should have done the opposite — and removed the USB 2.0 cables from the kitsOr that it was a mistake for Apple to have added USB support to iPods in the first placeThe idea being that by favoring (or solely supporting) FireWire, Apple could have used the iPod’s phenomenal success to make FireWire a widespread PC standard.

这完全是倒退,让马车迷惑不解。

iPod只取得了惊人的成功Apple added USB support in the third generation models — which was months before iTunes for Windows shipped这个iPod销售增长图表在iPodlounge展示了这一趋势As a FireWire-only device, Apple sold one million iPods in 18 monthsAfter introducing the third-generation models with USB 2.0 support, Apple sold its next million units in just six months, and the third million just four months after that.

Gartner研究分析师Mark Margevicius told The Mac Observer’s Brad Gibson, “In the PC market in 2004, high-speed USB has nearly saturated the desktop market, and now comprises over three-quarters of the notebook market.” As for FireWire, Margevicius estimated it is present on only 25 percent of PCs.

Even if for the sake of argument we concede that if Apple had kept the iPod FireWire-only, they could have driven more PC makers to include FireWire ports on new PCs (and this is a huge concession, in that I don’t think it’s true) — that wouldn’t change the fact that the majority of existing PCs没有FireWire端口

What the adherents of this theory miss is that people aren’t buying new computers just to use with their iPods — they’re buying iPods to use with their existing computers.

FireWire, much like the Macintosh, is neither a failure nor a phenomenonIt is simply successful in a nice-sized niche, but not the entire marketThe idea that Apple should be using the iPod to drive support of FireWire is asinine; the iPod is a product, FireWire is a technologySure, the world would be a better place if FireWire were everywhereBut Apple’s interest is in selling iPods, not raising the average quality of de facto standard data-transfer buses.

The idea that Apple owes Mac users something for their long-term loyalty is a nice idea, but that doesn’t mean they owe us “free” FireWire cablesThe only people they truly owe anything to are their shareholders, and given the vector of their stock price over the last two years, I suspect very few shareholders indeed are complaining about Apple’s development of the iPod platform.

进一步阅读

The Art of the Parlay, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Platform Licensing and Market Share” — wherein I offer the idea that Apple’s music triumvirate (iPod/iTunes/ITMS) is a meta-platform built on top of the existing Mac and Windows platforms.