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A comparison between Real/Apple in 2004 and MS/Apple in 1984

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John Gruber has a somewhat contrarian point of view as to why Apple is not making the same mistake with RealNetwork’s Harmony that they did with Microsoft’s DOS.

I’m here to tell you this is utter bunk. Apple’s position with the iPod is significantly different — and much stronger — than their position with Macintosh 20 years ago. There are admittedly a few similarities, first and foremost of which is that both products are much better designed than any competing product. Second, uh, they both use 12-point Chicago as the system font. (Except for the Mini, which uses Espy Sans, the Newton’s system font.)

The gist of my parlay argument is that the biggest difference between Apple and Microsoft — and the biggest reason for Microsoft’s lucrative monopolies in operating systems and office software — is that Microsoft built upon their previous successes, and Apple did not. Windows parlayed off MS-DOS, and Office parlayed off Windows. The Macintosh didn’t parlay off anything.

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  • Jim McKay

    Unfortunately, Apple is putting itself at risk for being further marginalized. In their efforts to re-invent themselves as an appliance manufacturer, they are losing market share in the computer business. Recent articles in some journals indicate that Apple and the Mac OS are slipping from the number two spot. This spot is now being targeted by the Linux desktop (http://linuxinsider.com/story/35688.html). The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that Linux is not eroding Apple’s base, but is converting over Windows users. So Windows users given the choice between Mac OS and Linux are opting for the later. One possible explanation for this is that Linux will run on Intel hardware while the Mac OS will not. So those wanting to jump off the Windows bandwagon don’t have to make a hefty investment in hardware. If Apple were real smart, they would find a way to lure these users into the Mac OS world, but we’ve seen that their desire to protect the core Apple product line has driven their decision-making process.