Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Mac is Suddenly So PC

[Please tag: business, computing, Intel, Mac]

In 1994 I was interviewing for a job with Apple and everything was going well until they asked me: “If you were the CEO of Apple, what would you do?” Without hesitation, I responded: “I would port the Apple user interface to Windows, because once you hook the customers with the UI, you can start to build Mac services behind that and hollow out the Windows OS, becoming the standard operating system across both platforms.” Needless to say, the interview was quickly terminated and I was sent packing for my heretical statements. At least they didn’t call security.

The bottom line is that anyone who has used a Mac prefers it to Windows (except those masochistic types who enjoy the break-fix-break cycle). But the Mac has a 2% market share. Computing loves standards, and at 2% Apple isn’t even close to being a standard. But what would happen if they followed this plan:

Phase 1: Apple ports OS/X (a Unix-based OS from NeXT) to the Intel architecture
Phase 2: Apple convinces PC peripheral vendors to write OS/X drivers
Phase 3: OS/X and OS/X applications run on generic PCs

[Note: Like The Brain in Pinky and the Brain, I always enjoy a good world domination strategy.]

Apple could then operate as a platform/apps company like Microsoft, and have a separate high-end hardware company spitting out well-designed laptops, desktops and servers. Then the Mac lovers, those who used Macs in school and have been forced into adopting the PC to fit into corporate infrastructures, can once again embrace the Mac.

Close your eyes (after reading this paragraph) and imagine this. Years from now, you're configuring your new HP laptop online and they ask what operating system you would like: Windows, OS/X or Linux…hmmm.