‘Unplanned Xserve evolution’ turns Apple into ‘budding enterprise vendor’

“What do mean when I say ‘Apple’s core constituency?’ …If you buy a Mac, you are either in the core constituency or you are not. If you’re in, I can safely ignore you because this is not VideoWorld or QuarkWorld. If you’re out, you are only interesting if you’re a serious person who chose OS X to run software that also runs on Windows or AIX,” Tom Yager writes for InfoWorld. “I love to get caught saying something I wouldn’t be caught dead saying. I admit, the phrase is utterly useless.”

Yager writes, “While I pontificate about convergence as though the term is universally understood, Apple is making it happen — without driving the process. They cook up good ideas, hand them to the market as products, and watch what happens. And that last part is key: Apple observes the market while its competitors go crazy twisting arms and erecting barriers to interoperation. To my dismay, Apple itself uses the phrase ‘core constituency,’ which sometimes puts its engineers at odds with its marketing staff when explaining why a product exists. Before Xserve, Apple customers were tipping Power Macs on their sides and running them as servers. You could buy kits for this.”

Yager writes, “I believe that Apple built a 1U form factor for existing customers, such as musicians, that needed a machine that was made more rugged and laid out for a rack. It stumbled into more widespread use. Xserve’s unplanned evolution from a skinny Power Mac to an enterprise server is clearest here: The original Xserve had an AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) slot for workstation use; now it’s gone. Apple also found that OS X was just right for customers who wanted the power and scalability of Unix but lacked the budget for IBM or the time for Linux. Then the open source community climbed on board, effectively adding thousands to Apple’s software development staff… To those who only need PowerBooks, Apple is a notebook maker. If you make music or author DVDs, Apple is exclusively devoted to the needs of creative professionals. If you’re in business, Apple puts high-density Unix servers and storage in the PC price range; they’re a budding enterprise vendor. Pretty smart.”

Full article here.


  1. Windows IS in crisis – even if the pundits won’t admit it, the vast majority of end-users on all levels know that Windows is now a liability, and tremendously costly when downtime and maintenance are factored in.

    On the desktop, Linux is just not ready for a turn the key solution. You can’t operate the system without being a geek – you can’t just plant a secretary or writer in front of Linux and get immediate production.

    Apple’s OSX is a stable, cost-effective and simple to use turn-key solution… and when we redo our network, it WILL be with Apple. As of this November, we will have switched 90% of our desktops to Macs.

    Yes… we are just a small firm, but we’ve already saved a bundle by ditching half our Windows PCs. Throw in a server solution – and we will be 100% mac sometime in ’05. Only 17 desktop computers and 24 employees – but our downtime has plunged since the Macs started coming on board last year.

    Can’t wait until the G5 hits the laptops!

  2. I love the phrase “resurgence of Apple” even if usually they are talking about the iPod. I think the halo effect is just starting to be felt and will be more so in the next two years.

  3. Notice the difference between this guy and Enderle and the definition of fool Thurrott. This guy can read between the lines and can subtly display his intelligence and remain optimistic and unbiased. I will read his other articles.

  4. Well I was a long time PC/Quark user and chose OSX/InDeising a year ago – does this put me in our out of the “core constituency”?

    There is definately a sea change taking place in the computing landscape though – a year ago no one in my family was a Mac user, now my farther, sister, brother in law are all mac heads. With the rest of the family looking on in envy.

  5. I’m discovering more and more people who have macs and love them.

    I got one person to get a used eMac instead of a new Dell andhe was extremely pleased to discover that Sasseer did not and could not affect him last week.

    I also have another friend who is trying to swap his old windows laptop for an old iMac (I think). He got hit by Sasser and can’t seem to get his machine to run now – it’s going back to the IT dept. He’s a salesman, but his company are thinking of getting rid of laptops for its salesmen because they’re too much trouble/maintenance. He spotted this unused Mac at his office and asked about it. They were reluctant to give it to him due to not knowing how to support it, but he just told them it wouldn’t be a problem.

    This morning he told me that if he has to buy his own machine, it’ll be a mac. No way will he be spending any of his money on windows. It was music to my ears.

    I hope this continues.

  6. The switch and the mind-share take time.
    Have a retired friend who very rarely used his PC. Sent him to the local Apple store to see how easy computing and the digital life could be. They spent an hour with him, he came home with a Powerbook, scanner, printer, and digital camera. He uses it every day. His PC hasn’t been turned on for nine months.
    Have another friend, a manufactures rep. He was spending half his time trying to keep his ThinkPad going and free of viruses that he wasn’t getting anything done. Told him to talk to the friend above. He is now the proud owner of a Powerbook. I now get calls to do coffee…that’s my signal that he’s bringing the Powerbook and he wants to learn something new.
    The switch IS happening, it’s just one PC user at a time and that doesn’t get reported. But, one at a time eventually turns into a crowd. And that expands the core .

  7. errr

    ” believe that Apple built a 1U form factor for existing customers, such as musicians, that needed a machine that was made more rugged and laid out for a rack.”

    No way, Apple dev’ed the X serve to for server environs… it is not that rugged, unless it is racked… It did not “stumble” it developed for the market and the musician side (if it happened” was the happenstance…

  8. The switch is definitely on. During the past 2 years I have convinced 14 Windows people to buy everything from Powermacs to Imacs. At first there is always that panicked frustration when they can’t open something or make something work. That quickly fades and they dread the thought when they have to use Window boxes at work. It’s a very interesting time.

  9. While it’s a positive article overall, I can’t say I agree with his premise: Unplanned evolution.

    Xserve is designed from scratch to be a server. It wasn’t intended as a workstation as it was pretty loud. From the get go, Apple already said that Xserve was a server intended to defend Mac territory from the attacks via server market. Apple would have been pretty stupid to not even plan upgrades and evolution of Xserve for enterprise market. They, however, tried to put their best case by being humble (thus, the initial claim of core market) and carefully expanding their market and tried to learn from their mistakes in a limited market. We don’t know (probably neither does the author) Apple’s plan and should not imply anything about Xserve evolution.

  10. The switching is taking place unobserved and unnoticed by the media. It is happening because people stop by my office saying “You know, I got the signature for a Powerbook”, or “just wanted to say that I made my mind after all that you showed me: my next PC will be… a Mac”.

    And they say that with a happy face, like someone announcing “Hey, I got a cure for my previous desease. Life is going to be better now”

    By the way, we received our 1st of 5 Xserve G5 and 1st of our 5 dual G5 desktops. Powerbook? they just are popping around like mushrooms.
    If this happens in a similar way in other institutions, especially labs and universities, Apple will be very visible around campuses in a year time. It might even reverse the trend: if you do not ask you’ll get a Mac by default.
    And people will start asking Windows users what the hell are they still doing with that. Actually, I have heard already that from switchers, it is again the herd instinct of Windows users: It seems it is a kind of computer user who does not have the capability or the guts to be an independent thinker and be one of the few. Hence my prediction is that we will see an avalanche effect in due time.

  11. Acutally Linux is ready for secrartary level functionality, because she doesn’t have to install software just type it up, and access files. KDE or Gnome and she probally wouldn’t miss much of a step. It is power users that aren’t ready for linux. or vice versa.

    Though I agree Apple is sneaking in the side door of the low end server market. They jumped in with a Mac enabled hgih power server, and everyone went huh?

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