Why won’t Apple knock out Microsoft when they have the chance?

What’s the deal with Apple Computer’s “steadfast refusal to just target Redmond and start in with the broadsides? This is the core problem that all the glitz and glitter keeps covering up: Apple just won’t try and take down the neighborhood bully. Now, I don’t know whether Apple actually thinks the glitz and glitter are a product of some sort; that seems like a mistake an advertising company would make. But time and time again, Apple has been placed in a position where they can absolutely conquer the personal computing Universe, and every single time they have backed away rather than duke it out with Gates and Co. Whether this is incompetence or cowardice is a darn good question. Certainly, Apple’s consistent mismanagement of this opportunity has been done to death across the length and breadth of the Net. My point is that there is a pattern to all this madness, and it is about to repeat itself,” Paul Frommeyer writes for The Cargo Cults of Business.

“Ever since John Sculley (may Wall Street rest his options) was at the helm in the early 1990’s, Apple has had brief epileptic fits where it will refer to itself as a ‘software company.’ Mind you, the fits never last long– at least, not for any given CEO– but sooner or later they all seem to do it. Now, most of us jaded Mac cynics regard these grand mac episodes as sudden lucid insights into Apple’s actual situation. For a moment, the CEO is able to apprehend the true state of affairs: Apple doesn’t make boxes, they make an operating system. More to the point, in the grand language of the advertising sorcerors, they offer an unbeatable experience,” Frommeyer writes.

Apple Computer is “once again in a position to conquer the computing universe. And once again ready, I’m sure, to do their duty to Redmond and muck it up,” Frommeyer writes. “I am of course referring here to Apple’s ability to simply port MacOS X to PC hardware. To get it through their head, once and for bloody all, that they are a software company. That they make operating systems and applications, not pretty little boxes. Embrace the 60% margins that go with such a destiny, and cast the commodity forecasting aside.”

Frommeyer writes, “Every Mac advocate on the planet has been convinced since Day 1 that if you pit MacOS directly against Windows on Intel hardware, the wave of defections will be staggering. The only thing holding back the flood is Apple’s artificially high hardware prices. As we saw, all too briefly in the clone wars, once you get the hardware cost down, the defectors will come. And if you could dual-boot Aqua with XP? My gosh, there’d be a stampede all the way to Apple’s boardroom. There’s no doubt about it: Apple is once again in the grip of the Jaws of Victory.”

Frommeyer writes, “And, precisely because they have such a chance, I’m convinced they’ll miss it, once again snatching away defeat. Cowardice against Redmond is a possible reason, but with such a history of missed boats, I think at this point it’s pervasive in the corporate meme pool. Apple just can’t conceive of itself being bold enough and successful enough to take on Microsoft and win, no matter what it takes. Especially when what it will take is giving up those glitzy boxes.”

Highly recommended full article – you just have to read the whole piece – here.

MacDailyNews Note: Paul Frommeyer is a senior networking consultant and high-tech entrepreneur with a dynamic career history. Paul has worked variously as a Chief Technology Officer for his own high-tech startup company, NetDestiny Systems, as a Senior Network Architect for Apple Computer’s domestic U.S. network, and as a Senior Internet Consulting Engineer with Cisco Systems, among other positions of note.

MacDailyNews Take: Will Apple finally take on Microsoft when nearly all the stars are aligned in their favor? As we asked nearly a year ago: if not now, when?

MacDailyNews Clarification (4:28pm ET): We are not necessarily backing any of Frommeyer’s ideas except for the idea that Apple is not fighting hard enough and may have some sort of ingrained corporate inferiority complex that prevents them from hitting hard when the hitting is good.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Forrester CEO: ‘Microsoft is in its most vulnerable moment in history’ – May 09, 2005
Mac fans line up for new operating system as passerby asks ‘what is a tiger?’ – April 30, 2005
Forrester analysts: Apple should advertise Mac OS X Tiger on television and in movie theaters – April 29, 2005
Why doesn’t Apple advertise Mac OS X on TV? – April 12, 2005
Mac market share primed to explode? If not now, when? – September 25, 2004
iPod success opens door to Mac OS X on Intel – March 04, 2004


  1. Paul Frommeyer is a senior networking consultant and high-tech entrepreneur with a dynamic career history.

    Paul has worked variously as a Chief Technology Officer

    Paul has never heard the term Vertical Integration in his life.

    Paul thinks Apple is lying when they talk about ‘the whole widget.’

    Don’t hold your breath on this one guys. The path to riches taken by Gates and Ballmer can never replicate the rich computing experience that Mac users enjoy. Open architecture has it’s drawbacks.

  2. The reason Windows sucks is you have to rely on these cheap ass asian based hardware manufacturers and all of a sudden your clean and crisply ironed operating system becomes bloated and you encounter plenty of issues. Apple’s OS is designed to function with their own approved and tested hardware for optimal and error proof use. Why should Apple be responsible for all this crapware being thrown around like currency?

    Apple will continue to release their own hardware until the demand becomes too high. At that point they may allow people DYI systems aslong as preapproved parts, models and hardware types are used. If someone is too cheap and want their $400 PC, then too bad.

    As for attacking Windows, there is no need. Waiting for Apple advertising for the glorious OS? Look to 2006 sync’d to the Macintel launch. You’ll see. Who called it first? Ace…

  3. I have an idea that the “right time” may be as the conversion to Intel chips takes place. I also think they need to finish iWork. That doesn’t mean that Apple will then aggressively go after the market, but that would be my guess for the time the stars might come together and I hope they finally make their move.

    As for abandoning its “boxes”… I would rather see Apple lower the prices for its hardware than license the OS. Perhaps Paul or someone else remembers better than I, but I had thought that the earlier effort at doing that was not successful. I don’t remember though.

    But, I do agree. I would really like to see Apple make an aggressive move within the coming 12 to 18 months. The time is about as ripe as it can be.

  4. alright, so other people think Intel chips will be to launchpad for mass attacks…fine. lol, is most likely going to happen before Vista is released and then followed shortly by another OS X release. Windows can’t do anything but cry in a corner.

  5. Apple is taking it step by step, so they don’t take another mis-step, like the aforementioned clones. Apple is a business. They need to ensure their long term profitability. They’ve been making strides. I think that they want to wait and see how many people will buy their hardware to “dual boot Aqua and XP.” If they can keep the hardware margins and still drive people to droves to the Mac, great. Again, step by step.

  6. Another idiot who doesnt understand what makes a Mac a Mac. Yeah let’s open it up and make it like the commodity PC industry so we can be inundated with crappy software and viruses out the wazzooo. Then we’ll sell a billion of them, and at some point someone comes along with something better and then….

    Im with Steve. I’d rather sell a million of something that is good instead of a billion of something that stinks.

    MW often, as in how often have we heard this nonsense?

  7. Apple needs to build their market share before they can take on M$ buying allowing Macs clones on the market. Why? The reason being that they will need to sell a lot more OS X packages to make up the loss in revenue from selling Mac boxes. Apple make 20-30% margins on their boxes – that’s roughly $400 profit per machine (average cost ~ 1400). Whilst the margins on OS X will be muc greater each unit is ~ 100 bucks each. Third party vendors would probably only pay $50 for a licence. Therefore Apple would have to sell 5-10 time more OS X copies to make up potential loss in Mac sales to third-party vendors.

    Once Mac market share is up to 20 % then Apple will open up the hardware to third party vendors. Why? So that anti-competitive issues are not raised and that businesses will feel comfortable buying an OS that multiple products can use. Apple can still sell Macs because their innovation exceeds anything clone makers can do. But they will probably lose out on high-end machines since those users care more about power than looks.

  8. “As we saw, all too briefly in the clone wars, once you get the hardware cost down, the defectors will come.”

    The defectors did NOT come with the clones. This guy has no idea about Apple’s business model. Last I heard, about 75% of their income comes from hardware, not software.
    Besides, once Apple starts using Intel hardware, I believe they will become very aggressive in pricing their hardware, especially with the advent of Longhorn/Vista which will require a lot of windows users to upgrade their hardware.

  9. I agree that an attack is necessary, but it should take the form of telling the world: I am here and this is what I am.

    I never thought I would say this, but Apple is doing better telling people who they are. The inferiority complex may actually be going away.

    They can do better yet.

    Yes, you actually can show functions of Tiger in a 30 second tv ad if it is well done.

    You can talk about lack of viruses, and NO! that is NOT likely to bring a “virus writing wizard” out of his hole. They only tackle the easy stuff like Windows. 16 million copies of OSX out there and no viruses! Think about what that signifies!

    That means we can win, so Attack!

  10. Uhhh, no. Dropping a strategy that has brought Apple back to great position in the PC Industry to engage in some “direct assault” on Microsoft is, to put it lightly, the wrong move. It’s ignorant for both Mr. Frommeyer and Mac Daily News to suggest and support such a notion.

    Besides which, I’d much rather have Apple focus on doing well, as they have been, on products and core markets. Steve clearly outlined that the entire “Apple v. Microsoft” mind set was over. Doesn’t anybody remember ’97?

    Now, before some moron goes off; this is not to suggest that Apple doesn’t have a business strategy to increase market share or, hell, to take on Microsoft. However, it is more wise to not even alert Microsoft to this and let them continue their Vaporware-Campaign. Why alert the bank when you’re trying to rob them..? (Alright, bad analogy ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />)

  11. Apple can be classified as neither a software nor a hardware company. It is a whole widget company. Apple (Jobs) understands that its best widgets consist of hardware with its own superb software in it. Apple may use parts from other sources, but within reason, it controls the key parts of its products, whether software or hardware.

    There are pros and cons to being a whole widget company. As long as Apple is profitable so that it is able to continue to turn out great widgets, I don’t want them to morph into a software company (like MS) or a hardware company (like Dell). Becoming either like MS or Dell would result in the same crappy integration issues that exist today in the Windows world. I like having the “just works” alternative.

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