Fortune: PC makers realize Mac OS X is superior to Windows, they’re wooing Steve Jobs for licenses

“Apple recaptured consumers’ attention with its hip iPod. Jobs may be thinking that the company can win over even more converts if Macs were powered with Intel chips,” David Kirkpatrick writes for Fortune. “It makes perfect sense that such discussions should be under way. In some form, they’ve been going on for years. Back in January 2003, Paul Otellini, who recently became Intel’s CEO, told me: ‘I’d love to have Apple as a customer.’ In our conversation, Otellini conceded that he’d been talking to Jobs. While no deal emerged at that time, the talks have apparently heated up again.”

Kirkpatrick writes, “Jobs’ options are many. For one thing, Intel badly wants to sell its chips to Apple. For another, PC makers realize that the Mac OS X operating system is superior to Microsoft’s Windows, and they want a piece of that market. FORTUNE has learned that Apple, Intel, and several PC companies already have the Mac OS X operating system working on Intel chips in their labs. And then there’s the fact that more PC users are considering switching away from Windows. There are more Mac fanatics now than ever before. The Mac OS X operating system is superb, especially in its new ‘Tiger’ version, and Apple’s brilliant iPod is this decade’s signature tech device so far.”

“My colleague Brent Schlender addressed this in his excellent cover story back in February, ‘How Big Can Apple Get?’: ‘Most tantalizing of all is scuttlebutt that three of the biggest PC makers are wooing Jobs to let them license OS X and adapt it to computers built around standard Intel chips. Why? They want to offer customers, many of whom are sick of the security problems that go with Windows and tired of waiting for Longhorn, an alternative,'” Kirkpatrick writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If PC makers are wooing Jobs, they don’t need Intel. Wouldn’t it be far easier for all sides if Apple simply licensed Mac OS X to HP and/or Sony, for a couple of examples, and let them assemble PowerPC-based Mac clones? Imagine Apple’s Jonathan Ive designing the Mac clones and PC makers can brand them like HP currently does with the “Apple iPod by HP.” Apple’s robust iPod revenue has weaned the company off its dependence on Mac hardware as their lifeblood. Perhaps Apple can now absorb any Mac hardware revenue hit that would come with cloning the Mac in exchange for Mac OS X market share growth. Is the time ripe now for Apple Mac clones?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Intel CEO Otellini: If you want security now, buy a Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC – May 25, 2005
Analysts: No ‘Intel Inside’ stickers on Apple Macs anytime soon – May 24, 2005
Did Apple plant ‘Intel Mac’ rumor to send IBM a message? – May 23, 2005
Analyst: Apple-Intel rumor ‘hogwash’ (today marks 11th month that Jobs’ promised 3GHz G5 is late) – May 23, 2005
Enderle: ‘If Intel gets Apple, it could make Intel look brilliant after the fact’ – May 23, 2005
Stocks extend rally on Apple-Intel report; Dow closes up 52 to 10,524; Nasdaq climbs 10 to 2,057 – May 23, 2005
Apple said to be considering switch to Intel chips for Macs according to Wall Street Journal – May 23, 2005
Apple shares rise on Intel Mac rumors – May 23, 2005

Chicago Sun-Times: Mac OS X Tiger shows ‘there’s never been a more compelling time to switch to Mac’ – May 05, 2005
Dan Gillmor: ‘With Mac OS X Tiger, Apple is plainly in the lead today’ – May 05, 2005
Jupiter Research VP: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘runs rings around Microsoft Windows’ – May 04, 2005
The Independent: Apple’s ‘faster, smarter, simpler’ Mac OS X Tiger ‘a must-have’ – May 04, 2005
Mac OS X Tiger review for a Windows PC audience finds Tiger’s ‘far, far better than Windows XP’ – May 03, 2005
Longhorn mentioned in nearly every Apple Mac OS X Tiger review to assuage Windows masses – May 02, 2005
Boston Herald: Mac OS X Tiger should compel Windows PC users to think about switching to Apple Mac – May 02, 2005
Microsoft Windows Sober.P worm shows ‘epidemic’ spread; Macintosh unaffected – May 03, 2005
Mac OS X Tiger will likely improve performance of your Macintosh – April 30, 2005
PC World review gives Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger 4.5 stars out of 5 – April 30, 2005
Forrester analysts: Apple should advertise Mac OS X Tiger on television and in movie theaters – April 29, 2005
Ars Technica: Mac OS X Tiger ‘at least twice as significant as any single past update’ – April 28, 2005
BusinessWeek: ‘Tiger bolsters Mac OS X’s edge as the best personal-computer operating system around’ – April 28, 2005
Associated Press: Mac OS X Tiger ‘provides another excellent incentive to switch from Windows’ – April 28, 2005
Mossberg: Apple’s Tiger ‘the best, most advanced personal computer operating system on the market’ – April 28, 2005
InformationWeek columnist: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘a compelling upgrade’ – April 28, 2005
NY Times: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger is the most secure, stable and satisfying OS on earth – April 28, 2005
CNET: ‘If you’re tired of Microsoft’s promises, Mac OS X Tiger may be your best incentive to switch’ – April 28, 2005
Wired News: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘full of welcome surprises’ – April 27, 2005
You can switch from Windows to superior Apple Mac and still be compatible with the world – April 23, 2005
Apple posts QuickTime movies of Mac OS X Tiger features in action – April 13, 2005
Switching from Windows to Mac? Save money by asking to ‘crossgrade’ your software – April 12, 2005
Apple touts Mac OS X security advantages over Windows – April 13, 2005
97,467 Microsoft Windows viruses vs. zero for Apple Mac’s OS X – April 05, 2005

53 Comments

  1. Apple needs to pull an HP iPod deal with PC makers… Apple builds the boxes, or at least makes all the specs, and then offers OEM deals to PC brands. Quality and experience has to be Apple-level…

    I can imagine HP or Sony bundling a Mac mini with a keyboard and mouse, for example.

  2. I’m glad this story is back… the market is ripe.

    SJ knows how hard it is to beat MS.. he must certainly be thrilled to be talking to the likes of Sony and HP(who has already bugged MS by dissing WMA)

  3. Heroin has it right.

    Don’t let those cheap bastards build shitty clones again. Been there, done that, and it was an abismal failure.

    Build high end boxes FOR them instead, and let them rebrand it.

  4. Last time there were Mac clones they absolutely stunk. Flakey CD drives, bad memory modules, corrupted system installs. I don’t want any part of that ever again. It was the worst money I ever spent.

    If Apple keeps complete control of the specs of the machines then OK, but never again should PC makers be allowed to use the cheapest parts to slap together commodity Mac boxes. That ownership experience is no different than the way the other 90% live and is not representative of the bliss that is the current Macintosh computing experience.

  5. thhose shitty clones last time around were faster than anything Apple could offer. Power computing regularly beat Apples butt in speed tests.
    The problem was they took the hi end hi margin business from Apple becuae they built better faster boxes.
    Apple got little out of it becuase they made little money on the OS license, and more on the hardware design icense which Power an Umax didn’t use. So Apple got next to nothing out of it.
    If SJ is as smart as we suspect he’d license the hardware design specs, and the OS and let the cloners have at it. Apple’s machines would probably be competitive with any cloners and they should make full retail on the OS licenses.
    They are in much better shape now than they were then but an ill conceived and poorly executed clone pogram would do them no more now than it did then.

  6. <sigh>

    This one is hard to take. Without question, Apple and Steve Jobs want to expand the Mac’s market, reduce Wintel’s market share, grow revenue and profits and shareholder value (stock price). Along the way, having a hand in toppling a few chunks of Bill Gates’ empire would be fine, too.

    Now, how do you do all that?

    First, build a better product and keep it better. That’s the Mac, Mac OS X, iPod, and a suite of excellent applications that peacefully (for now) co-exist with Microsoft and Adobe.

    Second, spread the product line. Cheap boxes. Desktops. Power desktops. Education. Blade servers. All running off a version of OS X.

    Third, enhance the product line. Music. Music store. iPods. Accessories. Constant innovation. Defend turf. Grow turf. Expand to music videos, then movie videos.

    While doing all the above may grow Apple’s base and revenue and profits, even a 10% market share for computers and dominating online music is still a far cry from Gates’ and Microsoft’s 90-percent market share.

    To crack into the Intel world would seem to be a monstrous technical and marketing challenge. Technically, the “guts” of OS X, Darwin, will run on Intel chips. It’s the GUI layer, Cocoa, and Carbon that would require a major effort. Apple would have to create a version of OS X Tiger (as we know it) for Intel, then license specific manufacturers (or sell Intel boxes themselves) to sell it.

    The Intel version of OS X Tiger would still need applications. Major application developers (Microsoft, Adobe, and many others) would not like to be forced into creating a third version of their applications for an OS X on Intel (many applications are both Windows and Mac; then it would be Windows, Mac, OS X on Intel). Intel would be happy. More chips to sell. Wintel box makers like HP, maybe Sony, and others might want to sell an OS X version on Intel. What of Apple? Would not those OS X on Intel boxes be competition for Apple’s version of Mac OS X on PowerPC?

    While Apple might make something by selling the OS to Wintel box makers, how does that differ from the Mac clone makers of the mid 1990s? Instead of selling a $1,500 box, Apple gets $75 for selling the OS? That doesn’t make much sense unless there’s a guarantee that sales would skyrocket in the PC market and not inhibit growing sales on the Mac/PowerPC side.

    Finally, would Apple be required to port iLife, iWork, and the other pro applications (Final Cut, Soundtrack, Logic, Motion, et al.) to Intel chips?

    Sorry, but all that sounds just waaaaaaay too messy for Steve Jobs and company.

    It’s gotta be something else. But what?

    I don’t know, but I have some ideas.

    Tera Patricks
    Mac360

    MDN magic word? “men” Ohhhhhh!

  7. Here’s a stupid question – if the PC vendors want OS X so much because their customers are so tired of Windows vulnerabilities, why doesn’t Apple market their computers more effectively? More sales means more leverage with IBM (or any silicon merchant).

    Frankly, not all the old clones were so bad – Power Computings boxes were better than Apple’s own at the time and probably kept many folks from leaving the OS entirely.

    The real issue is OS licensing – what software should run with a clone? What qualification will there be with the hardware on which it runs (as Herion points out)? MS will still make money with Office (or would they abandon the Mac as retaliation)?

    But then you come right back to why doesn’t Apple just make the Intel-powered box and keep all the profits themselves? Better to control your small marketshare than to grab a huge chunk from which your control is wrested. Look at IBM, they made the mistake of letting MS license the OS to other manufacturers.

  8. The one thing that has always bothered me was a lack of OS out there. I remember hearing rumors of SONY + apple (my two fave companies) and I hope they play out in some way.

    I hope that the Apple OS could bring more competition into the market and lower prices and increase innovation, if so, the market is secure.

  9. NO MORE CLONES !!!

    Been there done that and bought the T-Shirt !!

    A wise man once said ….

    “…… He who does not learn from history … is doomed to repeat it ………..”

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

    MW= Changes …. As in….. the only changes Apple will make in processors… will be to the Cell !

  10. If Apple does “license” the Mac again, they should not do it the way they did it before. The reason that Steve killed clones in the past was that they were a money-losing proposition. Apple was literally losing hundreds of dollars in profits for every clone sold, even if the clone makers were paying $100 per box in licensing fees!

    But “cloning” might make sense if Apple takes a lesson from the HP iPod. Apple still builds the basic hardware. Sony and HP or any other high-quality taker can then take that box and rebrand it.

    Unlike the HP iPod which is exactly the same as the Apple-branded iPods, the cloners would be able to substitute certain components such as the video card or hard drive. But the basic box would be an all Apple design and cloners wouldn’t be able to create their own boxes from a set of specs (this was also shown to be a money-losing proposition the first time around).

    So Sony might sell a Sony Mac Mini for $499, except that it comes with an ATI 9700 card with 64 MB of RAM and an 80 GB hard drive. But essentially, it’s an Apple Mac Mini.

    And here’s a reminder for all the pro-cloners. IBM once dominated the PC market. A company called Compaq then began to clone IBM PCs, which IBM fought unsuccessfully in the courts to shut down. Once it became legally clear that clones were okay, guess what happened? IBM completely lost the PC market and for something like the last decade, ran their PC operation at a huge loss amounting to billions of dollars. Now, IBM’s PC operation is no more.

    The fact is, clones end up killing the original. Apple only survived because Steve had enough foresight and gumption to kill the clones.

    In any case, Apple can avoid the “clone consequences” by using the HP iPod as a model for a limited type of “cloning” instead of a fully licensed model that will end up cannibalizing the parent.

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