My Seattle Times Practical Mac column from last week looks at Boot Camp as a news item, and jumps from there into why this doesn’t mean Apple is going to build Windows boxes or license Mac OS X to PC manufacturers.
Okay, if Mac OS X is so wonderful, why not forget hardware and license Mac OS X to computer makers, and thereby out-Microsoft Microsoft? After all, Windows has done pretty well without a Microsoft-manufactured PC.
What analysts often fail to recognize, when they bring up this suggestion, are two factors. First, Microsoft is a special case. It licensed MS-DOS (which evolved into Windows) at just the right time in such a way that the fledgling computer hardware companies could propagate it and dominate the market. Successive efforts in the same mold have failed: PalmSource to license the Palm OS, for example, or Apple’s abortive attempt at licensing Mac OS 9 before Steve Jobs took over and killed the program. Despite owning the market, Microsoft is the anomaly.
Second, Apple is, and has always been, a hardware company. Its revenues come primarily from hardware, not software. Products such as Mac OS X, iLife, Final Cut Studio and Logic Pro are sophisticated carrots that entice people to purchase Macintoshes.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball goes into much more detail (not limited to an 800-word column). It’s essential reading.
Regarding anything related to Apple’s strategy going forward, it’s
essential to keep in mind just how Apple functions as a business.
It’s not very complicated. Apple now has two fundamental businesses:
selling Macintosh computers and selling iPods. And I think if you
wanted to, you could argue that this is really one core business,
selling computers, and that some of their computers are Macs and
some are iPods.
I’m not offering this as anything other than a statement of the
obvious, but it’s apparently not so obvious to many of the pundits
speculating on Apple’s future plans.