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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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In a AppleLinks article, John Farr argues that the new PowerMac G5 is so powerful that many users won’t be upgrading for the foreseeable future. In other words, a vital Apple revenue stream might conceivably dry up at some point in the distant future because the new Mac is so future-proof.

Future-proof? What the hell is Bill talking about? Next he’ll say that 8GB is more RAM than anyone will ever need. And that we’ll never get off our dependency on oil. That is, famous last words. When I say future-proof, I mean that this new Mac will not age like previous generations. I know that sounds crazy, but I don’t foresee technology advancing like it has in the past. Wait, technology will keep up its inexorable advance, but the demand for the higher technology will lose steam and plateau. There will always be those will incredible computing needs and those who think they have incredible computing needs. But the average Joe (assuming the average Joe has, at this point, bought a Mac) is going to find all of the computing power he needs.

What will Apple do at that point? If it were Microsoft or Intel, it would make the hardware obsolete through operating system requirements upticks or make the hardware obsolete through new secure motherboards required by a new secure Windows operating system (their words, definitely not mine). Apple has shown a slight affinity for this method in the past with the older G3s not being supported by Mac OS X and the new iPod firmware not being offered for the old iPods.

Farr’s prediction (and one shared by the reader he quotes) is that Apple will move away from depending on computer sales for revenue and diversify its revenue streams to hedge its future risks. Wait, didn’t they recently unveil some sort of online music store that’s been wildly successful? Isn’t Apple increasingly focusing on software and the hardware to support it?

I think this is an eminently sensible move, especially since Macintosh is on the firmest footing it’s been on since its unveiling. For Apple to pull a pseudo-Microsoft in shifting focus to software and viewing hardware in a less important light is a good thing—providing they focus on usability and power in the software department.

[NOTE: If this sounds 180° at odds with my previous posting on Apple’s future directions, it may very well be since a focus on software would necessarily put Apple in direct competition with its developer base. I guess that’s a contradiction I’ll have to ponder.]