Windows XP Media Center Program Manager on Apple’s Front Row

“It was a no-brainer for Apple to port it’s iPod application over to Mac operating system and hook it up to a remote control. The interface has been tried and tested on millions of iPods. It’s low hanging fruit — they probably didn’t have to invest a ton of money to get the feature in their OS. Microsoft kinda / sorta did the same thing, only in reverse order with the Media Center first, Portable Media Center second,” Charlie Owen, Program Manager with the Microsoft Windows eHome Team (producers of Windows XP Media Center Edition), writes on his RetroSight blog.

Owen, “Porting the iPod application over to the OS is further evidence of the iPod halo effect Apple has been hoping for whereby strong sales of iPods translate into equally strong sales of Macs. It remains to be seen if there is actually a halo effect. I don’t think so. The price inequities between a Windows PC and Mac are far greater than iPod vs. any other portable player, and I’m willing to bet there are more iPods connected to Windows PCs than iPods connected to Macs.”

“Steve Jobs comparing the Apple remote control with the Media Center remote control was nothing but sheer marketing brilliance. It’s totally not about which remote control is better. Not at all. By making this comparison, Steve Jobs gave the illusion the two products were on equal footing EXCEPT for the remote. All things being equal, Joe Consumer will choose the remote with 6 buttons instead of 40,” Owen writes.

Full article here.

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MacDailyNews Take: Now, Owen’s a good guy – read his full article. He likes Macs and gives Apple credit for making good products. We have sympathy for Owen. Trying to make something like a Media Center within the confines of a bloated, malaise-ridden, creatively-challenged company, without the benefit of a single-minded, relentlessly-driven visionary like Steve Jobs, is obviously impossible.

Owen has a chart which is the basis for his opinion that there is no halo effect: The chart shows iPod sales dramatically increasing and Mac sales increasing right along with them. Owen seems to think that because Mac unit sales didn’t go from 800,000 to 6 million along with the iPod sales, that the iPod Halo Effect doesn’t exist. This is the “Program Manager of the Windows XP Media Center Edition,” folks. Is it any wonder why Microsoft’s effort is illogical?

Of course, Mac unit sales last quarter were up 48% year-over-year, besting the PC industry’s growth by a large margin. Apple is growing Mac market share. The iPod Halo Effect is undeniably real. Showing a chart that proves it’s real as evidence that it doesn’t exist is something only a Microsoft employee could understand. By the way, we know several people who used to own Windows boxes, who’ve recently purchased a Mac because they owned iPods first and decided that if Apple cared so much about the details of an MP3 player, then Apple’s Mac must really be something. And that, dear friends, even if we only knew one single person who did this, is actual, iron-clad proof that the iPod Halo Effect is real. Owen must have missed some meetings lately as Microsoft executives have already admitted that Apple’s ‘iPod Halo Effect’ exists since at least as far back as July. If you need more proof, there’s plenty in the related articles below.

Anyway, as to the rest of Owen’s piece: Microsoft is looking in the wrong places with their Media Center and, no, we’re not going to spell it all out here. We will say that Microsoft’s idea of taking the old TV+VHS VCR paradigm and trying to make it digital is hardly revolutionary. Apple is taking a different path, as usual. And, we haven’t seen all of Apple’s pieces, yet. Microsoft’s Media Center, we’ve seen, and nobody’s buying.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Thurrott: Apple Front Row software copies Microsoft Media Center – October 14, 2005
Analyst: ‘media companies will call Apple to strike deals, Front Row is Media Center done right’ – October 12, 2005
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple introduces new thinner iMac G5 with built-in iSight video camera, ‘Front Row’ media experience – October 12, 2005
iPod Halo Effect strikes tech columnist, gets new Apple iBook after fifteen years of Windows – August 23, 2005
Microsoft executives acknowledge Apple’s ‘iPod Halo Effect’ – July 29, 2005
Needham & Co: Apple ‘iPod Halo Effect’ fueling Mac purchases; predict 43 million iPod sales in 2006 – July 18, 2005
Comprehensive survey shows ‘iPod Halo Effect’ is increasing Apple Mac sales, market share – July 12, 2005
SG Cowen survey shows evidence of a significant iPod halo effect boosting Apple Mac sales – July 12, 2005
Merrill Lynch: Mac sales ‘appear robust,’ expects futher evidence of ‘iPod Halo Effect’ – July 07, 2005
RealMoney: Apple’s iPod Halo Effect ‘quite profound,’ Macs taking good market share from Wintel – June 27, 2005
‘iPod Halo Effect’ on Mac sales seen in Apple’s soaring second-quarter results – April 13, 2005
Morgan Stanley: Apple’s ‘iPod Halo Effect’ is ‘roughly double what the market expects’ – March 18, 2005
Apple’s ‘iPod Halo Effect’ begins to shine – August 03, 2004
Apple’s ‘iPod Halo Effect’ materializes, restarting growth in core Mac units – July 15, 2004


  1. This is the or a “Program Manager of the Windows XP Media Center Edition,” folks.

    Don’t forget what he said about the price inequities. It’s too bad Windows PC cost so much more than Macs. No wonder Apple’s market share is vastly outpacing the PC market.

    MW: wall. As in, MS has hit a wall and must reinvent itself to survive.

  2. “Steve Jobs comparing the Apple remote control with the Media Center remote control was nothing but sheer marketing brilliance. It’s totally not about which remote control is better. Not at all.”

    True, it was marketing brilliance and it is not which remote is better. But, what MS doens’t get is it is about which is easier to operate and the 6 button remote tells the consumer it will be simple to manage.

  3. Can someone please do that graph in terms of percentages…

    Comparing two products, one thats $250 and one that’s $1200 is just asinine. There are clearly % increases and parallels there.

  4. I went to two major mac stores in so. california and was going to purchase the new 20″ iMac. To my suprise THEY WERE SOLD OUT! They didn’t even have a floor model! They told me I should come back in about 2 weeks.

    So it seems to me the halo effect is real. My only gripe is I wish apple would come out with some awsomeley (is this a word), cool iMac tv and print ads to promote their macs like they’re promoting they’re iPods. If they did that I think you would see the macs on that chart that MS presented dramatically increase.

    Anyone else agree?

  5. I get the impression from Apple that they don’t want the unwashed Walmart masses as Mac owners. As a business owner, I can tell you that not all customers are worth having. Maybe using the iPod and word of mouth as their promotion is their way of screening.

  6. I’m a “halo effect” switcher too and proud of it.

    Although the backhand slap of clarity and understanding I got from Apple after switching still smarts when I think about how after all these years, it took a little white music box to get me to cross over.

    So don’t write us off, Owen. We may have been ignorant in the beginning, but at least now we see the light.

  7. “True, it was marketing brilliance and it is not which remote is better. But, what MS doens’t get is it is about which is easier to operate and the 6 button remote tells the consumer it will be simple to manage.”

    It was a sharp marketing move all right, but I didn’t think most people actually fell for it. It’s obvious that the other remotes can control the TV, cable boxes, VCR’s, DVD players, etc. The Apple remote only controls the iMac at this point (albeit it contains a DVD player). This was Apples and oranges, and while cute, didn’t really make a valid point.

    MDN Word “Volume” – the Apple remote doesn’t even control TV volume.

  8. Umm, the remote has more buttons because the Media Center does more. On the Media Center you’re recording & playing back TV shows, changing the channel on the cable box, etc. Last I checked, Apple’s done nothing but front end an interface to iLife. I guess I need more Kool Aid.

  9. I’d been using Windows PCs for over 10 years. And like another poster in this thread, I switched to a Power Mac G5 6 months after buying a 3G iPod.

    I agree that stating that an iPod experience might lead to a switch is oversimplifying things. Several factors and rationales are rooted behind any switch. But I agree that the iPod+iTunes is a wonderful tool to trigger a reaction, and to discover that there has to be a better way to work on a computer.

    One of the best arguments for switchers, is that Apple (unlike Microsoft) lifts our sights and expectations. You can’t dream of a better way with Windows. With OS X, we work on computers because we want to, not because we have to – like with XP.

  10. The next version of Windows XP Media Center will include a new and innovative multimedia application called “Down in Front.” A 256-button remote (250 are reserved for future use) will blanket your monitor at random in high definition and widescreen format. A forty-seven digit, upper and lowercase, alphanumeric code will be required for user authentication to continue viewing your subscription based movies. A numeric keypad will be included in the Service Pack upgrade. All of your user preferences and personal information will then be updated on remote servers for your convenience. This has to work because they have the largest installed base, right?

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