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John Dvorak's Predictions

I only just got around to reading John Dvorak's two articles on Why Apple Should Switch to Windows and on Why Apple should Open-Source OS X. I was a little surprised because of all the bull I heard about what these articles were supposedly saying.

For one, I've heard he had predicted Boot Camp. But nowhere in the first article does Dvorak say Apple would drop OS X and switch to Windows. From what he writes, he seems to be more of a proponent of using Windows as the kernel underneath Mac OS X. He also mentions nothing anywhere that remotely sounds like Boot Camp. At most, you could argue that the drivers for Apple's keyboard and hardware that come with Boot Camp could be a testing balloon for what's to come later.

In addition, he claims that "nobody switched". Now, I may be delusional, but in the last three years at Uni, I've seen more and more Powerbooks pop up in lecture halls. While I was the only Mac guy when I started studying, by now Macs are almost at 50%, at least among laptops that people actually take with them (as opposed to the laptops that people buy because they don't want their computer to use up space in their flat).

So, while I agree that the "switch" campaign was pretty pointless (except for giving us the ever-lovely Ellen Feiss (I'm serious, she's cool) and some hilarious parodies of other switchers), what the press calls the "halo effect" seems to be working well. iPods are hugely popular as well. Admittedly, I don't have any numbers to back this up except my observations in two German cities, but then neither does Dvorak provide any.

His second article has a couple of oddities that make me consider it unlikely to be correct: If he'd heard the complaints from non-Apple Darwin developers complaining about how Tiger's Darwin core for Intel is incomplete, he'd probably agree. Why would Apple piss off their potential co-developers in such a way if they were still aiming at going open source?

As to Boot Camp: I expected the firmware patch. I actually expected it to be right in the computer when it shipped. For ages, "Enterprise people" have smashed Macs for not being "open" enough. With that gone, companies can buy Macs and reuse them as generic Linux or Windows boxen should they ever want to. It gets Apple hardware sales and OS X sales. It looks good in the statistics and invites people to just try a Mac. Why they went beyond the call of duty and added an assistant? That one has me stymied.

Still, if you ever had a system where you had to dual-boot, you'll know that this is annoying. Most Mac OS X users are used to just sending their machine to sleep and then wake it up in a second when it's needed again. With dual-boot, you can install most popular OSs, you can run foreign software, but you have to wait minutes to boot from one OS into the other. Admittedly, I'm not a representative user, but I'll still be asking for native Mac software exactly because of this. While I'm in Windows, I can't go to my Mac to check my mail for a second.

In addition, all I found on Vista's system requirements was that it would not show the Aero UI on some systems. To me this sounds like a nightmare to software developers with custom controls, but otherwise doesn't sound that much worse than what we had with Quartz Extreme and Core Image. But I agree that Boot Camp looks suspiciously like a test balloon, and if past experiences are anything to go by, we might not even see the result of this test until 10.6.

In short: Dvorak's facts aren't (IMHO). And I also haven't got a clue where Apple is headed. If rumors of virtualisation making it into OS X are true, I hope they know what they're doing. Since they're the execs and bussinessmen, and I'm just a programmer, it's more likely that they do than I. So I'm not worried.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Jussi writes:
You are correct, Dvorak did not predict Boot Camp and while I normally don't like the guy I must give him props for not claiming so himself. He said in TWiT.tv or a similar podcast that Boot Camp was not what he was thinking when writing the first story. It's other people who are claiming that. I can also relate to the claim he is making about "Switching". Sure, among some groups, like students and laptop users, the usage of Macs has apparently gone up[1]. I assume this has happened more in Europe than in USA, given Apple has been much more popular there from the beginning. But at the same time Apple's share of worldwide PC sales has been quite steady or even gone _down_ according to some sources. So, surely some people have switched, but it has not been enough to give Apple bigger market share, thus it is quite OK to say that "nobody switched" especially when you are exaggerating a bit and trying to get readers :) But sure, Dvorak is probably as much in the dark about Apple as the rest of us, even maybe more so given he is a such a die hard Windows guy and does not see why OS X is special (no, it's not the looks :) [1] It really is not very easy to extrapolate things one sees to a good estimate of the reality, for various reasons
Uli Kusterer replies:
Err... I have to disappoint you, but the Mac is more popular in the US than in Europe. At least here in Germany, most people don't even know what a Mac is. Only few people know that there's an alternative to Windows, and most of those who do are Linux geeks. Those usually know Macs. And Apple hasn't been more popular "from the beginning" either. In fact, Michael Spindler only became CEO of Apple because he was so successful enlarging Apple's market share in Europe back in the day.
Uli Kusterer replies:
Of course, the above doesn't mean Apple hasn't been successful in growing their market share, but considering where it was back in the Sculley days, and how deep it dropped, that's not that surprising. Among computer savvy people their mindshare seems to have grown, which is the first step before those tell their relatives and friends to have it grow even more.
Jussi writes:
Uli said: "I have to disappoint you, but the Mac is more popular in the US than in Europe" Yes, I agree with you completely, I am sorry the comment in a way that was not clear enough. I obviously did not mean to claim that Macs are more popular here in Europe :) I meant that for you and me, being both students in Europe, that kind of a trend can be much more visible than in the USA where Apple has been more popular than here so small changes are not as visible. In any case the switch campaign was not a success at least if we count the amount of switchers it generated. OS X, being an UNIX with a proper GUI, has worked much better at least in the (IT) student and IT professional segment. (I too do like Ellen Feiss but I did not switch because of her :) Sure, if we go back to Sculley or Apple II days Apple has lost _a lot_ of market share but I was not thinking that far back. Even during the last few years their market share has been falling or being stable according to some news articles based on IDC numbers. Unfortunately I did not find any good summary of them. It just shows that the student or IT pro segment are not the whole market.
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Created: 2006-04-19 @131 Last change: 2014-11-24 @545 | Home | Admin | Edit
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