“This promises to be a joyous holiday season for Steve Jobs and the incandescent Apple. Over the past year, the company’s numbers have been stunning: Sales are up 24%, earnings up 75%, margins topping 30%, stock price up 146%. The popularity of the iPod and its snazzy young cousin, the iPhone, has lifted other Apple products, helping boost market share in personal computers in the United States from 2% a few years ago to 8% this past quarter, with Apple leapfrogging Gateway to take third place behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard,” Adam L. Penenberg writes for Fast Company.
MacDailyNews Take: The superior quality of the Mac experience being showcased at Apple’s growing network of retail stores and in TV commercials, combined with people who have finally tired of Microsoft’s unending litany of empty promises and mediocre-at-best products, certainly deserve some credit. iPod halo effect is nice, but worthless without the Mac’s overall quality.
Penenberg continues, “The latest upgrade to Apple’s operating system–Leopard–is getting strong reviews, in contrast to the indifference that greeted Microsoft’s new Vista OS.”
Penenberg continues, “Yet this is also a dangerous moment for Apple. In a way the company has never seen, the barbarians are massing at the gates. From hardware to software to services, major competitors with serious R&D and marketing budgets are laying siege to the House of Jobs.”
MacDailyNews Take: Oooh, scary!
Penenberg continues, “MP3 players from the likes of iRiver, Microsoft, SanDisk, and Toshiba are getting slicker all the time, targeting the iPod at a fraction of the cost. Vivendi Universal scuttled a long-term licensing deal to offer its music on iTunes and is talking with other music companies about building a download store of their own… Even the tree huggers are coming after Apple, threatening to sue under a California consumer-protection statute if certain allegedly toxic chemicals aren’t removed from the iPhone.”
MacDailyNews Take: Will… type… something… if… we… ever… stop… laughing… uncontrollably…
Penenberg continues, quoting “analysts” who try valiantly, but unconvincingly, to talk down Apple’s stock and then writes, “It’s weeks before Christmas, and all through the house, there’s an iPhone, a touch screen, and no need for a mouse. But Jobs, the ‘brilliant,’ ‘visionary’ ‘genius’ with a knack for creating ‘insanely great’ consumer products, may well be wondering whether next year will be different. Merry Christmas, Steve. Enjoy it while it lasts.”
MacDailyNews Take: Okay, we stopped: Petty. Jealous. Loser.
Penenberg continues, “The question isn’t whether Apple will survive but how it will evolve… In an age increasingly defined by interoperability and technical collaboration, Jobs still refuses to license Apple’s operating system. He won’t allow music and videos downloaded from iTunes to be played on other MP3 players. He won’t permit music downloaded from competing stores to play on the iPod.”
MacDailyNews Take: This age is described here – and by others who have actually used both Apple’s products and badly-executed knockoffs from Microsoft and the box assemblers – as The Dark Ages of Personal Computing precisely because horizontal integration has proven to be a race to the bottom, devoid of concern for the end user experience, and fraught with frustration and incompatibilities. Apple’s vertical integration model – control of the whole widget, if you will – is superior for the only person that really matters: the user. By the way, Adam, Apple’s iTunes Store sells DRM-free music – prompted by Steve Jobs, no less, who would like all iTunes Store music to be sold DRM-free – that plays on many “other MP3 players.” And, just yesterday, we downloaded MP3’s from Amazon that play just fine on our iPod. Apple’s iPod does not require use of iTunes Store. iTunes Store does not require use of iPod. Next time, do some research before propagandizing, Adam.
Penenberg continues, “Gorgeous as Apple’s products are, people aren’t buying them for their inherent technological superiority. For half the price of a Mac, you can pick up a PC that does pretty much the same thing. There are MP3 players that produce superior audio to the iPod. The iPhone has Wi-Fi and a beautiful touch screen, but the phone itself is middling, as is its cellular network. Even the security of Apple’s operating system, a theme the company returns to frequently, is overstated: As most hackers will tell you, it’s security-by-obscurity, a function of tiny market share, not inherent uncrackability.”
Penenberg’s B.S. – mixed with a veritable list of all of the anti-Apple FUD that’s been concocted in recent years – flows even thicker and heavier in the full article, Think Before You Click™, here.
MacDailyNews Take: In our experience, people who think “Apple isn’t anything special, it’s all marketing” are people who’ve never actually used an Apple product. And people who think an operating system that’s been in use for over 6 years — an OS used by over 25 million of the richest and best-educated people — which has never had even a single self-propagating virus in the wild is protected by “obscurity,” not inherent security, are complete idiots. And people who try to talk down a stock almost always do so for financial gain.