More Expert Losers

December 27th, 2006

I suppose I shouldn’t be ragging on people who deliver expert opinions, since the name itself is probably an oxymoron. On the other hand, it’s interesting to look over what happened through 2006 when it came to the Apple universe, just to see where folks failed to deliver an expectations.

I suppose the biggest issue was the migration to Intel processors, because it proceeded at a breathtaking speed, much faster than Apple promised, and how often does a tech company fulfill its promises?

This time last year, the expert opinion had it that the very first Mac to attain Intel-inside status would be the Mac mini, but the available chips, the first of the Core Duos, worked best in the iMac and what became the MacBook Pro. In this case and throughout the year, a lot of what you saw was actually dictated by Intel’s production schedule and how quickly they could get chips in sufficient quantities to the marketplace.

In short, you didn’t have to be an expert to come up with an informed opinion.

So you could pretty well telegraph what Apple would do and when. For example, when the new dual-core Xeons appeared, speculation mounted that they would fine a home in the widely-expected replacement for the Power Mac. With MacBooks and a MacBook Pros in circulation, you just knew the new model would be called a Mac Pro. Steve Jobs telegraphed the direction of using the word “Mac” in all of Apple’s computers when the PowerBook vanished for good, even though some folks thought the new names were rather clumsy.

But when you look at the moniker of a typical PC, Mac Pro flows rather well from your mouth. However, I do admit that I still tend to refer to my MacBook Pro as a PowerBook, as does my wife. Old habits die hard.

Suggestions that Apple would deliver brand new form factors to coincide with the new internal workings were also dashed when no such thing happened. Instead, the new models, from the outside at least, looked extremely close to the ones they replaced. In other words, they looked like Macs, despite the fact that they contained parts from Intel. While it’s fair to say they are ideal form factors and there’s little reason to simply change them without good reason, it also works well from a psychological standpoint. The long-time Mac user doesn’t have to confront any difference, other than the fact that their new computer is a lot faster than the old one.

Over the year, every time you heard news about a proof-of-concept Mac virus or an Apple security update of one sort or another, you could hear the “experts” ranting about how Mac OS X would seem be inundated with malware. The security software companies selling Mac products would jump into the fray to sell a few more copies, but that’s to be expected. I’m more concerned about the so-called informed opinions from people who became what appeared to be fear merchants.

Yes, there will be Mac viruses that’ll spread into the wild, but the fundamental architecture of Mac OS X will make them less harmful than the ones on the Windows platform. For the sake of the millions of businesses who exist on Windows, let’s just hope that Vista will be more resilient than XP, but there are already inklings that it’s just not so. But I’m not going to go there, as I don’t want to become a fear merchant as well.

Of course, when it comes to experts, Wall Street can fail with the best of them. Every single quarter, they delivered sales expectations that Apple surpassed. How often did you hear of a deep stall in Mac sales because you were waiting on the sidelines for the Intel versions of new hardware? Yes, it did happen to some extent, but not enough to keep Mac sales from soaring.

When it came to the iPod, you almost felt that some analysts wanted it to fail, as they claimed there were rumblings in the sales channels that sales had stalled there as well, although it never really happened. So maybe the Zune player would succeed after all.

While I don’t pretend to know what’s been happening during the holiday season, it’s also clear the Zune was a non-starter, and the few stores I checked had an awful hard time keeping iPods in stock. In other words, whatever Apple has shipped so far this year, they could probably have shipped still more if only stocks were available, but don’t take my casual analysis as anything beyond an anecdotal remark.

For 2007, you’ll hear more expert views on the Apple universe. An Apple mobile phone is already at the top of the list, and I’ve already weighed in on that score more than I care to for the moment. There are also suggestions that there will be new directions in the design of future Macs going forward, now that the processor migration issues have been resolved. Or maybe not.

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7 Responses to “More Expert Losers”

  1. Malcolm says:

    There are also suggestions that there will be new directions in the design of future Macs going forward, now that the processor migration issues have been resolved.

    What are the odds of Apple going to AMD on some of it’s upcoming machines? Is Intel currently ahead of Advanced Micro Devices on all fronts?

  2. Joe S says:

    I doubt the Apple with use AMD cpus anytime soon. One of the main motivations of switching to the IA86 archecture was to get a RELIABLE supply of compeditive chips. AMD has often had better cpus BUT Intel out manufactures everybody in the industry. I have heard stories, from competitors of Intel (former Cyrex employees), that Intel has produced entire wafers with 100% yeild. That is astounding. I have also talked to a former Intel emplyee and he said that manufacturing rules the roost there, and it shows.

    Computers are built out of delivered chips and Apple plans on delivering a larger number of computers.

  3. Roger says:


    I think Apple will stay with Intel. Apple needs good pricing on chips to maintain pricing and profits. If Apple buys chips from AMD and Intel they might not get the pricing they need; As the number of chips would be divided between two suppliers and would reduce purchasing power. Remember that Apple buys far less chips than some PC companies.

    Remember that Apple is most interested in power per watt and some of Intel’s technology more than just speed.

  4. Malcolm says:

    To Joe S and to Roger – – very interesting, in the short and mid-term time frame I’d guess you both are likely on the mark. Intel obviously is the modern wonder of processor manufacturing productivity, and Apple definitely benefits from higher volume MPU orders – – I had overlooked those angles. Thanks.

  5. Dana Sutton says:

    By hooking up with Intel Apple has become even more committed to the idea of multiprocessing than it was previously, since obviously Intel thinks multiprocessing is the direction to go. But this is a vision shared by hardware manufacturers. For us average users, the question is to what extent software developers are going to get aboard the train. Sure, the fact that multiprocessing is coming to both platforms will put them under more pressure than if it were just a Mac trend, but I still have difficulty imagining, say, a multithreaded version of Office or Dreamweaver. So, other than users of high-end graphics, video editing, and scientific software, who is going to get to benefit from multithreading? What’s in it for the Rest Of Us? The future of our computing experience is very tightly tied to this question.

  6. Andrew says:

    There are many applications for multiple processors, some of which you are already using. You might be only working with office applications and browsing, for example, but what if you are doing those at the same time as burning a disk or making a backup of your data? Loepard’s Time Machine seems like just the type of background application that by using part or all of one processor’s power and leaving another processor or three for the user will benefit from multiprocessing. My PCs used to grind to a halt when doing malware scans, but with the CoreDuo in my current PC I really don’t even notice a speed hit, as one core handles the virus scanner and the other is still available for Office and browsing.

    The trick is most likely to improve the OS support of multiple processors more than individual applications. Are the operating systems in use today, Tiger, XP, Linux, et al aware enough of multiple processors to offload some open applications to one processor and other to the other processor? To some extent I think so, but there is probably still some work to be done.

  7. Darrl Wilburn says:

    Dana Sutton-this is totally not a flame but, I’d have to disagree with you about Apples’ commitment to multi-processing. Considering the fact that they’ve been using multiple processors in high end Macs since the introduction of 400mhz G4 processors in 2000. And the fact that OSX has supported multiprocessors since it’s introduction, would suggest that they’ve been committed to the ideal long before an introduction of an Intel based Mac.
    Even though the initial use of multiprocessors was probably, primarily necessary, due to trailing mhz performance of the PowerPC.
    It would seem that Apple has long planned to go the route of Multi-Processing because, once power\performance is maxxed, it the most logical next step.
    Just my thoughts!

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