How the mighty Macintosh became the Betamax of the
by Alan Zisman (c) 1992. Originally
published in Business in Vancouver,
Mac users of the world-- it's time to face facts.
You're about to become
the BetaMax owners of the personal computing world. Sell your Macs now,
while they still have some resale value.
Don't get me wrong. Even though I've run Windows on a
PC since version
1, I'll readily agree that the Mac has a superior operating system on a
better hardware platform. It's not crippled by DOS's limited filenames,
or Intel's segmented memory demands. Sure, it's easier to plug another
device into the Mac's SCSI chain then to fiddle with a PC's mysterious
But then again, video experts agree that Beta has
better image quality
than VHS. Have you tried to rent a Beta movie lately? Better isn't
good enough. Take notice---
--- Since Windows 3.0 was released in May 1990, an
estimated 10 million
copies have been sold -- more than the total number of Macs sold
its release in 1984.
--- The MacIntosh Finder is more intutitive and easier
to use than Windows'
Program Manager/File Manager duo. But no one buys a computer to copy
People get computers to run applications. And here, the Windows and Mac
platforms are quickly becoming indistinguishable.
--- Most of the best-known Mac applications have
already appeared in
Windows guise. PageMaker and Excel have been available on both
for years; the newest version of Excel even uses the same manual for
Windows and the Mac. But there's an important difference-- both run
on a PC than on a comparible Mac, and the comparible PC-clone can be
at 50-70% of the cost of the Mac equivalent.
--- Even fringe Mac software is moving to Windows.
It's a little ironic
to see ads for MacInTax for Windows and MacDraft for Windows. MacIntosh
software developers are drooling at the prospect of penetrating the 100
--- Microsoft, the largest producer of MacIntosh
software is putting
most of its energy into Windows software, developing the Mac versions
an afterthought. That's no surprise, seeing that they developed Windows
in the first place. But how about Apple? Claris, Apple's software
bought Hollywood, a presentation graphics package for WIndows from IBM.
And they've announced plans to port most of their Mac-only product line
to Windows, starting with their FileMaker database. And Apple itself is
planning to release its QuickTime media software for Windows. Can
be far behind?
--- The Mac has established itself as the favorite for
publishing, using these strengths to gain entry into often conservative
Fortune 500 corporations. But PageMaker, long available on both
is going to be joined by currently Mac-only QuarkExpress for Windows
summer. The favorite illustration programs for the Mac, Illustrator and
FreeHand were both released in Windows versions this spring. And
joined a field crowded with excellent illustration software
only to Windows users: Corel Draw, Designer, Arts and Letters, Harvard
Draw, and more. Suddenly, Windows is looking like the platform where
graphics action is.
As the Mac and Windows platforms merge, Mac users can
no longer boast
of the distinctive powerful yet easy to use software that made many PC
owners suffer from 'Mac envy.' And Apple, led by an ex-Pepsi marketer,
seems to have lost the drive and creative edge that it had in the
Apple's running scraed, and with good reason. Their
"look and feel"
lawsuit against Microsoft (for Windows) and Hewlett-Packard (for
an innovative, but commercially unsuccessful Windows add-on) has been
thrown out of court. They've successfully boosted sales by cutting
but have ended up with lower earnings per unit sold, and still have a
market share than Windows. All they're left with is a dubious alliance
with former arch-rival IBM, an alliance that has left many Mac owners
confused and betrayed.
The result? Like Sony and its BetaMax product, the Mac
doomed by its closed, proprietary architecture--- its lack of clones.
may only provide 80% of the Mac's ease of use, but for many users, 80%
is close enough, especially as that 80% can be provided on hardware
may cost thousands less that its Mac equivalent.
My prediction-- there'll always be a strong and loyal
base of MacIntosh
users. But then again, there's still a large base of loyal Commodore 64
users. Really ! But within a year, two at the most, sticking to a Mac
going to seem like running the world's most expensive Windows clone.