A question to ponder...


Dark Archon
I have always felt that since the shift to OS X, Apple is poised to move into other areas of business that it does not already occupy (i.e real applications in business solutions). With the advent of the Xserve (as well as the accompanying technology of RAID, Xsan, etc) it is moving closer to being implemented into business.

What is your thoughts on this? Is Apple making the shift towards business? Is Apple positioning itself with the Intel chipset introduction to move towards business? Are the metrics available to provide the statistics for ROI (Return On Investment) for business applications, as opposed to the ROI and Cost of Ownership of other computing platforms?

Let the ideas run wild, I am interested to see the speculation on this.

Apple knows that this is going to take a long, long time. Hence what Steve Jobs said when they introduced the Xserve: "We're going to enter this market humbly." - They made a splash, actually, by being "cheap". Xserve and Xserve RAID are well priced. But what's actually needed is acknowledgement by businesses, and more importantly by business software makers. Apple has to be able to make a case before they can actively target businesses to switch.
I think Steve put it well when he said that Apple were happier with the roadmap presented by Intel. I think that basically Intel were offering more options and choices for Apple in the next decade, a wider variety of processors to let them develop that little bit further in each direction ... both up into business servers, and down into small consumer products.

Apple has a recent history (since Steve Jobs has returned, especially) of getting the base, the underlying structure, of its products worked out well in advance of actually using them to advantage. Just look at the acquisition of NEXT, which laid the foundations for Mac OS X. Or the migration to Cocoa. Or the introduction of Core Image, Core Video and Core Audio. The technology comes first, the results come later.

At the moment, we're in the middle of a few of these transitions.

High-definition, H.264 and DVI are current focus areas. The new Core-Video effects in DVD Player, as well as Quartz Composer's unique properties, show a real effort to create a system that is geared towards delivering the fastest and most advanced video and image processing available. We've seen pushes toward better colour and font management, better handling of digital photography (RAW support, etc), and better handling of MIDI as well.

Its clear that Apple is really working on laying the groundwork for targeting the same professional groups who have supported them well in the past: film makers, professional photographers, musicians, designers, publishers and so on.

They're also trying, slowly and humbly, to put together worthy offerings for scienctists and researchers. XGrid, and the XServe Cluster Node, both symbolise the beginning of a slow and steady push into scientific computing.

Education is, as always, a major focus point, as demonstrated with products like Apple Remote Desktop, and the lower-cost educational versions of their hardware and software.

They also are starting to chip into the casual home-office crowd, with offerings like Pages and Keynote. Its still a long battle on this front, but it at least looks like one that Apple is committed to winning, and I definitely approve of their efforts so far. Pages is the desktop publishing app I'd buy for my Mum and Dad, and still enjoy using it myself.

The only other major demographic with a big impact on the market is computer gamers. This market is a little too aggressive and tight right now, so they'd be wise to just spend the next few years working on laying groundwork, by making it easier to port games to the Mac (XCode, OpenGL and the Intel transition all count here), by ensuring that the support for game controllers and force feedback is cutting edge, and by providing plenty of documentation, support and encouragement for game developers.

I think I got well off track there, but my conclusion is that Apple were trying to do more than could be accommodated within the G5 roadmap, and they needed a wider variety of options. Intel offerred them that, and so the transition begins.
no, I think you're on track, laying the groundwork for future growth and endeavors is important. I personally would like to see this steady growth in underlying areas build into a shift towards a strong development in other areas.