An Apple - Someday

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Back in my High School years (E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, VA), I had a friend who built his own computer. I don't recall much other than it didn't look like much, and it had a simple LED display that may have shown numbers. That doesn't seem such a big deal now, and I don't know if it was really a big deal then, but I was impressed. Soon enough, he was seemingly the city's personal computer expert. He worked at a newly opened Apple store doing the "tech work," apple iiplus which soon allowed him to afford an Apple IIplus computer. I don't recall what computers were used for then, but it had a wicked version of a Space Invaders type game which we enjoyed while listening to The Boss, Stevie Nicks, Billy Squier and others. From all that, understand that my first experience with Apple products included a very good vibe.

Today I read that Apple’s profits had increased 47% in the fourth quarter. Of course, they've refashioned themselves as a personal electronics company as much as a computer company now, and they've done well at it.

Th1979 Sony Walkmane idea of a portable audio device wasn't First Gen iPodexactly new when they introduced the iPod. About the time of playing Space Invaders, I also could take my favorite tunes with me on my Sony Walkman. It was a clunky player, but it didn't seem so at the time.

Obviously, with the iPod, Apple took advantage of the digital age and developed a player that was intuitively simple to operate and elegant in its design, as such things go. Despite a begrudging attitude towards the iTunes control of media, it’s popularity was such that people, including Wall Street, almost forgot Apple made computers.

Next came the iPhone, with apps for everything under the sun (currently being bloated to include everything in the universe). Again, it was a well designed product in both function and appearance. It’s inherent usefulness and savvy marketing overcame the associated abusive data fees from AT&T, and Apple once again overcame their self-inflicted obstacles.

Comparatively speaking, these products overshadow Apple's iMac computer line, which account for less than a 10% market share. These have been defended over the years by staunch loyalists, particularly by graphic artists. Otherwise, the general public (well, okay, this is all about my opinion anyway!) has looked at Apple as a fine example of a company that thinks much too highly of itself for the price that it puts upon its computers. Given the considerable ill-will towards Microsoft in general, Windows specifically, hardware incompatibilities, and security risks, it speaks volumes that individuals and businesses will choose PCs over Macs. Why? Because they cost half as much. (To be fair, Apple has not seriously attempted to cater to computer gamers, which can't be ignored in their lack of larger market share. And Linux may boast of a better PC future, but it's not a well marketed path to date, and it has Bill Gates, Inc. to topple).

I think iMac's future looks very bright, for two reasons. First is the overall price point of computers. My first computer, around 1992, was a Gateway 486-dx250, which doesn’t mean much now. It had a 200MB hard drive, a gargantuan 8MB of RAM, and, I think, a 9600 baud fax/modem, which had a connection speed that a tortoise could outrun. All for the low, low price of $3500. By comparison in computing power, the speed of light can now be had for well under $1k. The result of this is that computers have become a disposable product with an expected life span of 2-3 years at which point any major hardware failure begets a debate between investing in something half dead vs. buying “newer and faster."

Secondly, there is a sense of inherited goodwill towards the Apple brand. Consumers have been pleased with Apple's portable devices, and iMacs, though still more expensive, benefit from a long standing tradition of “We don’t have PC problems” and smart interfaces. Regardless of their niche, they've enjoyed a reputation of "it just works."

As pleased iPod and iPhone users come to that point in time when it’s time to replace their computers, it seems Apple should benefit handsomely. Translated to a personal level: I’m not hoping my PC will die, but I’m looking forward to checking out what Apple has to offer when my HP is laid to rest.

Apple Computers

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