5 Things About Apple You Won't Hear From Steve Jobs

By Paul Rubens (Send Email)
Posted Nov 9, 2010

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Apple's phenomenal success in the phone and electronic gadget markets means that its legacy computer business is looking more and more anachronistic. Here are five things you should know before you invest in anything to do with Mac OS X.

1. Apple would love to be rid of its enterprise customers.

Apple's phenomenal success in the phone and electronic gadget markets is making its legacy computer business look increasingly anachronistic. Here are five things you should know before you invest in anything to do with Mac OS X in your data center or enterprise.

In what is probably the first step toward abandoning its entire computer operation, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced last week that it is giving up on its Xserve server product.

The company has a long history of abandoning computer products, and given that hardly anyone bothered buying its server hardware or running its OS X Server, the fate of the Xserve can hardly be seen as a surprise. It's difficult to believe apple makes any money selling them. Even so, its Xserve customers must stunned by the way the callous company has repaid their loyalty by dropping it.

But Apple is still maintaining the pretence of being a serious player in the server room, and it has insulted its customers' intelligence with the absurd suggestion that they should keep the faith by running Apple's server OS on Mac Pro or Mac Minis desktop hardware.

2. Mac OS X Server will probably be next for the chop.

The next logical step for Apple to take is to abandon the server market -- and its enterprise customers -- altogether by discontinuing its server OS. Although such a move is cynical for a company urging enterprise customers fill their server rooms with desktops, it is certainly not beyond Apple. After all, Mac OS X Server has a minuscule share of the server OS market, so there's no good reason for Apple to bother with it any longer. Presumably, the company would just suggest to any remaining enterprise customers that they power those Mac Pro and Mac Minis they have in their server room with the standard version of Mac OS X. After all, if you are running desktops in the server room, why not run a desktop OS on them?

The omens for OS X Server are already looking rather bleak. Apple announced OS X 10.7 Lion last month, but any mention of OS X Server was conspicuous by its absence. It's days are probably numbered.

3. There's a big question mark over Apple's desktop hardware business.

The next step in Apple's retreat from the computer business is likely to be discontinuing its rather ordinary line of desktop machines. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense, too. When the company told its fans they could no longer have a floppy drive in their desktop machines or an optical drive in their laptops, these customers never batted an eyelid. Apple knows most of its fans will slavishly follow it no matter what it asks them to do. It stands to reason that if the company tells them that they no longer need desktops, they will all dutifully reach for their wallets and head off to buy laptops.

4. Abandoning laptops is the next logical step.

The big question, of course, is how long Apple waits before it announces plans to abandon its laptop business as well. Once again, when you think about it, this would be a sensible move for the company. Why would Apple bother being in the computer market at all when its market share is less than 5 percent worldwide and falling while its idevices dominate the highly profitable gadget market? Don't forget that it was while attempting to be a computer company that Apple went to the very brink of bankruptcy, yet as a gadget maker Apple has become one of the biggest companies in the world. Worryingly for Mac aficionados, recent additions (such as new Macbook Air) to its laptop range have been all about looks and style and show very little commitment to genuine computing. The company gives every impression of preparing to tell the faithful to switch from laptops to iPads

5. Mac OS X is being dumbed down before it is abandoned in favor of iOS.

If you don't believe me then consider this: By Apple's own admission, Lion is designed to have "The power of Mac OS X. The magic of iPad." And Lion will feature Launchpad -- a swipeable full screen display of icons for all the apps on the Mac, and apps that are displayed full screen, just like on an iPad. And did I mention the imminent launch of the Mac App Store, so that all those Macbook Air (and other Mac laptop) owners get used to getting all their programs from Apple's closed and gated ecosystem, just like iPad users do? Basically, Apple is turning OS X into a souped up iOS. And Mac users into iPad users.

The next step is clearly to turn all those app-happy Mac Air-heads onto iPad users, abandon OS X, and be done with the computer market once and for all. What's a gadget-maker like Apple doing in the computer market anyway?

As for that that handful of enterprise customers running Apple-powered data centers, wouldn't they be better off filling their server racks with iPads ...?

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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