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MacWorld Expo is Decadent & Depraved (part 2): The Apple one-stop shop

By SoupIsGood Food, (soup@macedition.com), January 8, 2003

Apple seems hell bent on being the IBM of the end-user. IBM is a total service company: they’ll sell you Big Iron, they’ll sell you cool hardware to plug into your IBM servers, and they’ll sell you software that takes incredible advantage of the Big Iron... all of it developed in house. Apple is headed the same way. They’ll sell you a Mac, and they won’t stop there: they’ll sell you bleeding edge applications to go with it.

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Final Cut, in both the Pro and Light versions, is one such example. It has turned the entire film industry on its head, it has toppled giants and spawned entire new subindustries just to support it. Then there’s AppleWorks, which is just a nice, simple bundle o’ apps for those who don’t want or need the headaches and hassles of an industrial grade powertool like Office.

This is not exactly a new trend for Apple. All the way back to the halcyon days of the Apple ][, Apple sold productivity software in the form of the original AppleWorks. They sold MacWrite and MacDraw for the original Macintosh in 1984, and since then the litany of Apple-branded software for the Mac has grown long and distinguished, with everything from the cross-platform winner, Filemaker Pro, to the late and lamented Hypercard to administration utilities to Unix operating systems with a Mac look-and-feel. (No, not the one they’re currently flogging. This one.)

What is new are the number of freebies. Apple, once upon a time, charged you for a copy of their mail program, Claris Emailer. Now a mail program is bundled with the OS, as is TextEdit, a creditable word-processor substitute. Whole lots of stuff came for free with Jagwire, umm, Jagwar, uhhh, Jagyouare, ahhh, 10.2. Now you can get lots more stuff for free from Apple’s site. This includes the obvious Safari and iLife apps, but also the hidden, like the new X11 package. No more Fink-enstien workarounds to get old-school Unix GUI goodness.

The new revs of the iApps, now cumulatively dubbed “iLife” (not by me! I’ve sworn off dubbing), are really top rate bits of software, and I was very impressed by the integration. It should serve as an example of the power that the object-oriented NeXT underpinnings of Mac OS X can give developers: can you imagine Illustrator tools in a Photoshop palette that you can access from within an InDesign window while creating web content in GoLive? Boy, howdy, I sure can!

As a prediction, the newest Apple Joint, Keynote, will find its way onto the trading floor of every brokerage known to man. With a little Applescript mojo, you can have dynamic, real-time chart updates of critical market bell-weathers and indices that will make sick, sad jokes of the current LED tickers most of them use, run by asthmatic old windows boxen. It’s PowerPoint done right, by, for and about the Mac user, a Mac multimedia maven’s wet dream, with close integration with all the big graphics programs and a slick, easy-to-grok interface. This thing is everything PowerPoint wishes it was, and hey, it even imports from and exports to the PowerPoint file format, so we can show those PeeCee zombie management goons what a real presentation looks like.

Keynote is one of several shots fired over Microsoft’s bow at MWSF ’03. There’s Safari, which seeks to supplant Internet Explorer with speed and features (but not stability or compatibility, so don’t dump Netscape 7.1 just yet.) Combine this with an aggressive Switch campaign, enthusiastic endorsement of the Open Source movement and a commitment to open file formats, it has positioned itself as a perfect foil, small and confident and nimble, to the lumbering, paranoid behemoth that Microsoft has become lately.

This is great news, because market share is never just handed to you. You have to compete for your slice of the pie. It looks like Apple, fat and happy even in lean times, has discovered the drive to go after even more of the market.

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