Apple led pioneering efforts during rather gloomy 2001
by Alan Zisman (c) 2001
First published in Business in
Issue #634, December 18-24, 2001: The HighTech Office column
I suppose the good news is that it's just about
over. This year
was, after all, the year following 2000, which as we all remember, was
the year when we survived the abortive Y2K meltdown only to surprise
with the bursting of the Internet bubble.
Y2K+1, then, was the year when we woke up with the
and realized that we had to go back to work with a headache. The year
bad news spread from the dot-coms to a slowdown in personal computer
and the rest of the technology sector as well.
Alternatively, that slowdown could be seen as a
gradual return to sanity,
as corporations and end-users realized that the hardware and software
was already in place got the job done just fine, thank you.
Sales in some product areas remained relatively
robust, however. Digital
camera sales, for instance, stayed strong. And PDAs, handheld personal
digital assistants, continued to sell even though market-leader Palm
seemed to suffer from a loss of vision in the face of higher-priced
from various companies (Compaq, HP, Casio and
selling models based on Microsoft's Pocket PC system.
Microsoft's other big releases for 2001, Office XP and
Windows XP, both
failed to generate the excitement and sales that the company (and
hardware makers) had hoped. While Microsoft settled its anti-trust case
with the U.S. feds, continuing virus and security issues with its
e-mail and IIS Internet server products battered confidence in the
Apple, on the other hand, was one of the few
to remain profitable. Mac users started a slow migration to the
long-awaited next-generation operating system with the spring release
OS X. In the fall, Apple released a free upgrade to OS X 10.1, quickly
followed by Microsoft with an attractive version of Office designed for
the new system. Most Mac users, however, are (wisely) sticking to older
versions of the Mac operating system, as the new way of doing things is
still missing key pieces of software (Adobe Photoshop, for
and lacks many printer and scanner drivers.
While Apple smartly had its under-selling Cube desktop
to sleep," the hottest Apple hardware was its pair of notebooks: the
(and priced) Titanium Powerbook and the $2,000 iBook, redesigned this
to be less of an in-your-face fashion statement.
Once again, Apple-pioneered technologies that spread
to the general
(i.e. non-Apple) marketplace. Wireless networking, first popularized
Apple's AirPort, became increasingly affordable and commonplace. It
users in homes, offices and public spaces, ranging from Simon
University's Education Faculty to Vancouver's Four Seasons
and Ramada Vancouver Centre hotels to some Starbucks
to access networks and the 'Net without cords.
Slower to catch on were Apple-originated FireWire -- a
technology used with digital camcorders, removable drives and more --
recordable DVDs, letting users store vast amounts of data, including
filmed on those FireWire-connected camcorders.
As a result, 2001 was yet another year where Apple
that will be widely used by the PC majority in another year or two.
Some promised technologies that failed to catch on
- Bluetooth for short-range personal area networks.
The promise is to be
able to connect computers, PDAs, cell phones, printers and more with no
wires, no muss, no fuss. This year, few examples of the technology were
- Linux on the desktop. The promising alternative to
systems continues to grow as a network server, but still lacks a
mass of users and popular applications to replace Windows for most
- Internet on cell phones. Cell phone screens and
keypads are just too
to work well with anything more than a short text message.
Maybe next year.