“In what might be the next episode in Silicon Valley’s longest-running soap opera, Apple Computer’s chairman, Steven P. Jobs, is planning to surrender to the computer industry’s received wisdom and introduce a sub-$500 Macintosh, according to several published reports,” John Markoff writes for The New York Times. “So much for ‘Think Different.'”
“In the past Apple has stood alone, insisting that its software and industrial design continue to command a premium from computer users willing to stray from the Windows and Intel computing standard. Is that era about to end? The answer will come during Mr. Jobs’s keynote presentation at Macworld, which will take place here Jan. 11 at the Moscone Convention Center. And in what has become a tradition for Mr. Jobs, speculation has heightened expectations far beyond what surrounds any other technology industry executive,” Markoff writes.
“If Mr. Jobs is now actually preparing to plunge into the Best Buy and Circuit City world of razor-thin consumer electronics margins, he would finally be paying heed to the industry pundits who have repeatedly claimed during the seven years since he returned to run Apple Computer that the company was doomed by its higher-priced computers,” Markoff writes. “The reasoning goes as follows: Having tricked the computer industry into believing that Apple was on the verge of becoming a digital music company on the strength of its wildly popular iPod music player, Mr. Jobs will suddenly reverse ground and begin selling a new iPod peripheral – a cheap Mac desktop – to the legions of PC owners who have eagerly purchased iPods but so far have failed to switch to the more costly Mac computer world.”
“It would be a nifty jujitsu move that would finally lure the millions of PC owners who have lusted for a Mac, but have until now stuck with the Chevrolet-like price tags of Windows-based PC’s. ‘Apple wasn’t building market share because of the switching costs,’ said Charles Wolf, a financial analyst at Needham & Company, a New York investment firm. ‘It’s such a logical move,'” Markoff writes. “[But], if Steve Jobs is really thinking differently on Jan. 11, it would make more sense that, instead of cost-cutting, he is counting on his proven ability to create new markets seemingly from whole cloth. Having successfully connected the music world and the computer worlds with the iPod, Mr. Jobs may have his sights on extending Apple in other new directions – perhaps a high-priced set-top box – rather than looking backwards. He has worked his magic in Hollywood before and would have the credibility to strike an alliance that might permit Apple to deliver movies and video to some sort of elegant digital home server.”
Full article here.