Apple dares to take on Microsoft; analyst says move ‘unwise’

In a wonderful article for the Baltimore Sun, entitled, “Apple’s Office Politics,” David Zeiler explains how Apple is daring to take on Microsoft with Keynote and Safari and also contains this interesting section, “Rob Enderle, a research fellow at the technology research company Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., called Apple’s current moves ‘unwise,’ as the withdrawal of Microsoft support for the Mac platform ‘removes a level of validation.’ Enderle said Apple could be acting pre-emptively. If Apple suspects, for instance, that Microsoft is considering dropping support for the Mac anyway, it needs to be ready for when Microsoft drops the bomb. Even so, he said Apple could have quietly prepared substitute programs like Safari without provoking Microsoft with a public release of the software. The risk to Apple involves more than just whether Microsoft would stop producing Mac versions of Office and Explorer. Microsoft, for example, could try to sabotage Apple’s QuickTime video technology by crafting subtle incompatibilities into its next version of Windows.”

Zeiler goes on to wonder whether, “Apple could release a ‘pro’ version of AppleWorks that’s on par with Office for the Mac, charging, say, $349 or $399. A ‘lite’ version of the suite, with fewer features, could sell for $99 and still be bundled with new consumer Mac models. Both versions would have one vital feature: total compatibility with Microsoft Office formats. Apple also could sell the individual “pro” components separately, as Microsoft does, except at a lower cost, of course. This shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Mac OS X sell separately for $350 each. Keynote costs $99. As for Microsoft, it could choose between updating Office and competing with ‘AppleWorks Pro’ — that’s what I’m calling it — or drop all software development for the Mac and transfer its Mac Business Unit employees to the Xbox division.”

An excellent read. Full article here.


  1. IE is bloated, Safari was long overdue, Keynote will force MS to update PowerPoint, and yes, thank you, I would like to see an AppleWorks Pro, even if it did displace Office sales from the platform.

    MS makes good money off of the Mac platform, and if they want to give that up to punish Apple, dropping the bomb so to speak, then I’m sure that Apple, as a last resort, could drop their bomb (OSX on x86) as well. Apple, as we know it would be dead, but MS might loose a good portion of their OS business as well, a risk, I imagine, that they would like to avoid.

  2. I thought this was a pretty good article. I don’t necessarily believe that MS cares too much about Safari because they don’t make any money off IE for the Mac anyway, and they pretty much already won the browser wars. Keynote may be a different story though, however, I don’t think it alone is a real danger to PowerPoint because it’s cost prohibitive to purchase PowerPoint (or any of the individual Office apps) alone. I’d love to see Apple come out with a real contender to Office. I’m sure they’d do it much better. AppleWorks currently is a great program and, except for Word compatibility, I’d prefer to use it now. If they could come out with a completely compatible version I think it’d be great. I’d love to see this happen and for MS’s reaction to be, “Great! Let’s see who can make the better program!” but that’s just not their style. Let’s face it, MS has not really done much to push computer technology further, and in many cases they’re guilty of holding it back (think Java). They’re main focus has always been putting money in the coffers. Imagine what the world might be like today if they’d played fair all these years and actually attempted to innovate anything other than new ways to choke out anyone who might compete with them. Wouldn’t you think they’d reach a point where they decided they have enough money, now let’s do something good for technology? I guess that’s too much to ask for.

  3. I just want to mention some bits of information. Have you ever heard of Dr.Dos? Microsoft killed it by making all of their software throw up a phoney error message when ever they encountered Dr. DOS. People removed it because they though that they had a real error problem.(early on People were not that sophistcated and could not tell this was nonsence and that the fault was with MS and NOT with Dr.DOS.)
    What about what Microsoft has been trying to do to Java?
    Have you read about what Microsoft has DONE to Sendo?Do a search on Google. As for Quicktime for Windows MS has tried their hardest to kill it just as Apple was offering it to the MS platform. And they tried to do it in their own special way. With their Special FUD.(The writer of the original article’s background is lacking-since he suggests MS may try to do WHAT THEY HAVE ALREADY TRIED TO DO-(some one is not as knowledgeable as he would have us think he is).
    The fact that the article says that MS may make Quicktime for windows incompatible is silly.. they have ALREADY tried to sabotage Apple and to limit Apple’s impact on the PC platform. But they lost that one. Now what you have to realize is that MS is not about software or Makeing money. They have a rumoured 40billion dollars in cash to swim in. MS is all about CONTROL. Any place and time they can manage it. Some of the world has finally decided to wake up. It is nice that Apple has started to disengage it’s self from MS and the sooner the better. Apple has ALWAYS been a software company AND a hardware company. Now that they have a HW platform that has the respect of the UberGeeks and can be used by your favorite granny, you might say they have it all except a bit of speed to compete. That will come,I have never regreted moving to the Mac way back in ’90’ and can say it has only gotten better and better and will get better still. Apple NEVER needed MS, still does not. Apple is not taking on MS it is just liberating it’s self from a MS tax.
    OH yes.. have you read about what MS did to the Schools? It is endless.

  4. giga predicts doom and gloom again for apple. apple continues to survive years beyond anyone at clueless research companies expected.

    meanwhile, giga is being bought out and consumed by forrester research. h-p chomps compaq and poots the waste.

    one dinosaur eats another. f**k ’em, i say. our grandchildren will be using apple products and digging them as much as we do.

    vive la difference!

  5. First off I am an Apple fanatic I love Apple but they are never gonna do anything unless they go for it against Microshit. Everytime Apple releases something excellent no one knows. Why? Because not everyone is an Apple nut or owns a Mac and they aren’t aware of thier achievements and then some other company copies Apple but for the PC and they don’t realize they need to thank Apple for it. Apple needs to allow clones again and license the OS and not worry about the bread and butter hardware profits. People will continue to buy Apple computers because of style and status. The clones can not compete in style with Apple because they will be too focused on cost between other clone, plus Apple needs cheaper computers to compete with bargain basement PCs. Besides Apple needs to become more dependent on software anyway if they want to expand marketshare. Allowing clones will also spur IBM and Moto to make the faster proccessors because the demand would be higher. But Apple continues to believe everyone will drop everything and go running to Apple. Steve I love ya but grow up.

  6. IE sucks I have used it only because It came with my machine and everyone else was. Look at any of Macs apps and you know they are just better and easier to use. Iam looking forward to safari and if they polish up appleworks that would be great. I would love not to see microsoft anywhere on my computer because it equates to make due rather then Macs stuff which is a joy to use. All this means is that Macs are getting better and better while most of the world suffers through using microsoft because they dont know better or are not educated on mac. OH WELL THEIR LOSS!

  7. The headline should be “Rob Enderle once again proves his boss is clueless”. Otherwise, he would have been out of a job years ago.

    Look – the MacBU’s relationship with Apple is fundamentally different than that between the rest of Microsoft and Apple, and due to overlapping loyalties, much more complex. Mac Office is a very profitable business, and is unlikely to be abandoned any time soon.

    Keynote, while a good effort, simply isn’t up to Apple’s usual standard of quality. Anyone who has spent any time trying to do anything complex in the app will tell you that. Mac Powerpoint will adapt to the new competitive terrain, and the Mac community will profit, but talk of Microsoft leaving the Mac platform because of it is just plain stupidity.

    Safari is already a great browser in beta form and will become one of the top three browsers as it matures. However, whatever Microsoft’s response to Safari, there’s no direct profit opportunity in any browser on any platform right now, so once again, it’s not going to affect the MacBU’s profitability, and therefore is unlikely to cause Microsoft to dump the platform.

    Geez, Enderle, did you spend 10 seconds thinking this through before you shot off your mouth?

  8. It is helpful for Microsoft to have competition, keep in mind that people are constantly trying to paint MS as a monopoly. MS can and has pointed out that apple is a competitor of thiers, and that they write some of thier best software for the MAC. MS also makes a considerable amount of money writing software for macs, they also get thier hands on a lot of code. Think about it, Office X was developed in time to help OSX out of the gate.

  9. As one reader already tried to point out, M$ already tried to kill QT for Windows. It didn’t work. The one they really need to kill is Real.

    As another reader pointed out, M$ needs the competition to keep them out of the monopoly ring. If Apple creates AW Pro, or something that can compete more directly with Office X, then all the better for Apple, M$, and us. Competition spurs the industry. M$ can actually say that they’re not a monopoly, while we won’t have to believe it, but this would be something to support the arguement that they’re not – “Well, they don’t have to use Office X, they can use OpenOffice, or AppleWorks Pro (X).”

    And while many think there’s not direct money in a browser, what it does do is pull the consumer into the belief that one company is better than another, builds a better product than another, or is the only company who builds software for platform X. We’re talking about consumers here, not power users. Power users know the difference. Many consumers don’t even know there are alternatives to Office, or IE.

    IMHO, if Apple spent development time on Safari and Keynote just because of Job’s ego, or just to put out another product, then they’ve made a mistake. If on the other hand, they did it to open up the flood gates to provide a better alternative to Office X, then I think they’ve done a wise thing. For M$ to kill Office X would be a mistake on their part – kill a profitable product, spur the arguement that they truely are a monopoly.

  10. Sometimes the siimplest assumption leaves pertinent facts in the dust…

    Microsoft will NOT drop Mac support as long as there is any profit margin in selling software. Period.

    Microsoft will NOT transfer its MBU developers to XBox because MSN Messenger is developed there and without a complete, coherent .NET strategy that includes other operating systems, the DOJ will always have one finger in Microsoft’s pie…

    The one aspect to OS X that no one mentions is that OS X is the leading UNIX distro and as such, has a lot more traction with that community. It’s a 100% cetainty that Windows will never get rid of UNIX as long as one has to reboot 10 times a week just to keep MSOFFICE running, so Microsoft will always be spinning its wheels in that area…

    Deride the Mac faithful, but one bottom line cannot be overstated: Apple is ready to start putting a serious dent in the Redmond Business Model come the Ides of March

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