Friday, May 30, 2003

How has Apple stayed in business, besides great products?

Bradford DeLong, economist analyzes it for Wired.

First, and perhaps most important: Joel Klein of the Clinton Justice Department. With the DOJ attempting to break up Microsoft for antitrust violations, Redmond quickly made it a top priority to keep competitors ostensibly healthy. This meant helping Apple remain afloat with a $150 million investment in 1998. Microsoft also poured money into making sure that Macintoshes running Microsoft Office could easily interoperate with Windows machines. And it poured still more money into making sure that Internet Explorer for the Macintosh was in no way inferior to the Windows version. Without Microsoft's assistance, I think Apple would have been shuttered.

Second: Apple has managed to stay even with, or slightly ahead of, Microsoft in system software.

The company has a third powerful advantage: It's gotten its hooks into the open source movement. Mac OS X is a graphical user interface, a set of utilities and programming tools, and a few world-class user applications - iTunes, iMovie - running on top of a Unix core. This is important, because Unix is the native language of the Internet and of the world's programming culture.

As long as the world's programmers continue to speak Unix, Apple's economic future - one perhaps greater than that of a niche player given the rumblings surrounding its apparent bid for Universal - is secure. I doubt that my current Mac will be my last.

I'd like to be kool and have an ibook or some other Mac. I know I wouldn't have my current problems with mp3 and wma software.

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