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I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
June 13, 2008 -- MeMobile, You Kaput
Status: [CLOSED]

Yay, first comment!

Which is:
I welcome our new business overlords.

Zeus | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:02AM

I've seen this movie before -- fast cars, MobileMe. Once he has taken control from Microsoft and Google, he will hold the world ransom for ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

Dave | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:10AM

Is there a reason to prefer this hypothetical office suite to the others that exist other than the hypothetical Apple logo?

Wesley | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:24AM

I disagree that MobileMe in it's current incarnation is geared towards businesses of any size. The fact that you can't use your company's domain name is a deal-breaker for me. An email address @me.com is not exactly a business friendly concept, no matter what the size of business.

That's not to say that Apple won't provide support for the same DNS magic as Google Apps in the future, but as it stands right now, MobileMe is about individuals that want their personal contacts, calendars and email up in the cloud.

VIshal | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:34AM

Yeah, I do welcome the MobileMe development, only thing missing yet is a decent task list for iPhone and MobileMe, but I guess that will be somewhere in the development plan too. I hope.

Peter | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:34AM

Quote: "Now let's jump back to the automobile analogy and look at Porsche, which is presently buying Volkswagen. This is probably a stupid move on Porsche's part, but makes the point that smaller, highly profitable companies can develop the kind of financial power needed to take over vastly larger, if more poorly run kinda-sorta competitors like Volkswagen."




You must be kidding Cringely. Most of Porsche's profits come from their investment in VW! And their takeover bid has questionable intentions.

http://www.autoblog.com/2008/03/25/porsche-may-avoid-cafe-penalty-by-buddying-up-with-vw/

Anonymous | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:35AM

Will Apple mobile include the big screen? As in Microvision's full size product? www.microvision.com

Dwayne | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:45AM

Will Apple mobile include the big screen? As in Microvision's full size product? www.microvision.com

Dwayne | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:46AM

Sorry, Peter, Steve doesn't seem to like task lists, they've been missing in action on iPod and iCal and aren't likely to show up soon. The whole organizer strategy is calendars. Frankly, iCal is the weak spot in the whole suite; it's garbage. iSync works very poorly too.

It's really a shame, too, because the best organizer I ever used was a Newton in Agenda mode. Tasks and events shown together on the same page.

BTW, the Captcha system on this page is horrible! Horrible!

Rick | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:51AM

I tend to agree. "Sync" is the next big thing from a mainstream consumer standpoint as the lower-cost, companion notebook market takes off. Apple isn't shooting for the folks that use 80% of the hard to find, harder to use functions in Office apps. They're going after the low-hanging fruit and making it look like "magic" to the 80% that haven't been using ActiveSync for the past 8 years like I have. BTW: some of us saw this coming. http://www.jkontherun.com/2008/05/i-still-think-w.html

Kevin C. Tofel | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:02AM

I find myself agreeing with you. I also am unconvinced that Apple wants to take over the world, but equally convinced that domination of some form is a goal.

Domain of the SME market space may well lead to domination of the Enterprise (not least because that is how Microsoft beat Novell and IBM) but is not a certainty. Knowledge workers like me are picking up Mac technologies because they feel nice, in many dimensions.

A telling part of the Jobs keynote was when he said, three times no less, 'it feels nice, really nice, in your hand' on the new iPhone. And many reviews say the same thing. As a freelancer, who pays for his own technology, this matters.

All the Apple tech, such as Time Machine, Back to my Mac, Synchronization, AppleCare makes me look faster and smarter than my employers. Thats good for my business.

Etherealmind | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:05AM

Is it obvious or funny that after reading this Apple's name of MoblieMe is quite a jab: Mobile(M)icrosoft(E)xchange?

Erik | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:06AM

I find myself agreeing with you. I also am unconvinced that Apple wants to take over the world, but equally convinced that domination of some form is a goal.

Domain of the SME market space may well lead to domination of the Enterprise (not least because that is how Microsoft beat Novell and IBM) but is not a certainty. Knowledge workers like me are picking up Mac technologies because they feel nice, in many dimensions.

A telling part of the Jobs keynote was when he said, three times no less, 'it feels nice, really nice, in your hand' on the new iPhone. And many reviews say the same thing. As a freelancer, who pays for his own technology, this matters.

All the Apple tech, such as Time Machine, Back to my Mac, Synchronization, AppleCare makes me look faster and smarter than my employers. Thats good for my business.

Etherealmind | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:07AM

...Google saw this already. Google has already teamed up with with salesforce.com ( http://digg.com/tech_news/Google_Salesforce_link_up_for_business_apps_news_com ) to integrate, or more appropriately, gang up.

Plus, Google is making all sorts of new initiatives into the mobile market, like Android, to tie the web-based services more closely to hardware ( http://digg.com/tech_news/Screenshots_Google_s_Android_comes_to_life_CNET_News_com_2 ).

As pervasive as iPhone is, it's still not going to be as easy to dominate the mobile apps market as Apple thinks.

Patrick Keys | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:16AM

You do know that MobileMe uses ActiveSync, right?

howlongtoretire | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:22AM

The iPhone is great and the mobile me looks REALLY attractive except that you still can't copy an incoming telephone number to your address book. How productive can any solution be if the strategy misses the obvious and basic. Copy and paste please!

David Cheung | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:23AM

Great article highlighting success as a result of different strategies given different variable sets (goals, resources, capabilities, market conditions, etc.)

Stephen | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:45AM

David Cheung, of course you can copy an incoming phone no. to your address book on your iPhone. Any incoming or outgoing call or text can be added to either an existing contact or used to create a new one.

James Andrews | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:01AM

you certainly can save incoming numbers to your address book. I am commenting from an iPhone, I should know.

And MobileMe does not use ActiveStink, as should beobvious from the "slip-up" during the keynote.

ronnie | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:02AM

Great article, Bob!

We can always hope you are right, as well as being entertaining!

William Donelson | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:05AM

have you actually tried to build a wiki using Google Sites? Yes, I have. It sucks. That means I'm going to build one on MobileMe, though?

Well, no. But that's probably because I'm not price-insensitive, and that's because I run a small business. I don't use Exchange, either, for the same reason.

Scott | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:07AM

Yes, MobileME has ActiveSync, but only to check Microsoft Exchange email accounts. This allows those of us who have/want iPhones but our business email can only be checked via ActiveSync to do so. There are quite a few of us who switched to iPhone from BlackBerry and now can't check our work email.

While copy and paste is definatly a missing function that I would REALLY like to see in a software update, you CAN save incoming numbers to your address book: go to your recent calls, tap the blue arrow next to the number you want to save, go down towards the bottom and tap "Create New Contact" or "Add to Existing Contact"

The really have thought of ALMOST everything.

JKB

JKBuster | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:09AM

Hmmm, I use Google Sites and it makes sense to me...

Andrew | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:15AM

Given the iPhone apps shown at WWDC, it would seem that MobileMe could see major traction in certain "verticals" such as education, healthcare and gaming. These "verticals" also are attractive as they (could) use two-screens: the iPhone for mobile usage, and a laptop for nomadic (larger-screen) access.

Google will probably respond with an offering similar to MobileMe, and low-cost ARM-powered laptops (TI, Nvidia, etc) running Android seem certain.

Competition will be wonderful, even if Apple only wants the top 20%

VMN | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:16AM

I think: it depends...


I use .Mac and before that used iTools. For years I've been paying my "Apple tax" to get some nice synchronization between my desktop, the Web, and my Nokia 6600 (due for replacement with an iPhone this fall. I will miss t-mobile.) But I must say, the web-based tools on .Mac have stunk for YEARS. The web-mail program is terrible, the servers go down all the time (for >60 minute unannounced outages) or throw errors, and it just doesn't feel like the apps on my desktop computer. And why can't I get my iCal online?


MobileMe will have to be at least 10x better than .Mac to really make a difference. Just having an "Exchange" like email push doesn't really cut any ice for me, frankly.

John S. Leyba | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:26AM

How does the strategy you say Apple is implementing for MobleMe fit in with your previous column about Apple trying to sell their professional apps? It seems like they would need to keep those if they're going to offer web based versions of those apps to their customers.

MHL | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:01AM

For Mobile Me to succeed with businesses they will have to go down the Google Apps for Domains route, where a user can hide his Mobile Me apps behind his own domain name.

Joe Drumgoole | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:11AM

If MobileMe works anything like what was demo'ed, I'm sold! The perfection in that interface, especially email, is mindblowing. Suddenly $100 (yes, it is 100, and not 99) doesn't seem all that bad.

Goobi | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:45AM

Until Apple comes out with budget hardware, I don't see any businesses, *especially* small business, paying the premium for Apple computers. You're telling me businesses are going to plunk down $1000k+ on PCs for their users to browse the web and do office applications, when they can get a budget whitebox PC for $300? This Apple experience isn't worth *that* much. The Windows tax you say? What about budget whiteboxes, with Ubuntu and OpenOffice? In a few year's time, that could be a reality.



I don't understand all the hype at all. Exchange for the rest of us? What if we don't want Exchange at all? All this is doing is replacing Microsoft vendor lock-in with Apple vendor lock-in. Just like you need Outlook and Exchange (plus any number of Windows-based smartphones or Blackberries) to get the full Microsoft experience, you need the entire Apple ecosystem (Macs, iPhones, and MobileMe) to get their full experience. And if you stay on Windows, you still have to use Outlook. But Outlook sucks.

Why are we embracing locking at all!?

Pete | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:45AM

I have a somewhat different view. I don't think the idea behind mobileMe has anything to do with Microsoft or Google.
Apple is frankly behind the curve when it comes to online apps - and Apple is not really so keen on Web apps. This is a company that makes money by selling hardware with a proprietary operating systems - in that sense it is similar to Microsoft (who also happens to be behind in web offerings).
Frankly, the whole mobileMe offering is not very spectacular if you think that you can have the same for free on google. Take this idea a bit further and you will realize that Google's android will almost certainly have ties into Google apps. So is mobileMe nothing more than to pre-empt Google? To me it is, otherwise I would have expected a lot more from mobileMe - and especially a much broader integration with the iPhone. But then again, this is just the beginning and quite possibly the next set of iPhone API's might actually let users store data on mobileMe in a similar way that it is going to be utilized (I guess) for the background process push. Maybe we will see something like an apps-framework similar to Google apps.

In the end, mobileMe will provide some key infrastructure to the iPhone - but the real killer is the iPhone itself which is rapidly becoming a new platform not just for Apple but for a million developers out there.
Apple is looking to increase it's market share and the brilliance of several steps (move to Intel, iPods, iTunes and iPhone) have given Apple an unbelievable end-to-end apparatus in the multi-media world that nobody else can offer. Apple is simply continuing this approach by entering another media (wireless) and mobileMe is just one piece of that puzzle.
If you really want to think far ahead, just think of how could Apple apply this same strategy in other markets where it typically has no background. Several products come to mind, such as Televisions (which is often rumored as one of the next areas for Apple, Apple started doing something in that direction with Apple TV) or Cars (also rumors around that) or even public transportation (think of how successful Virgin Atlantic has been in that area - very similar to Apple in their approach)
Anyway, just my thoughts.. but I don't see anything curious here.

Urs

Urs Gubser | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:46AM

Until Apple comes out with budget hardware, I don't see any businesses, *especially* small business, paying the premium for Apple computers. You're telling me businesses are going to plunk down $1000k+ on PCs for their users to browse the web and do office applications, when they can get a budget whitebox PC for $300? This Apple experience isn't worth *that* much. The Windows tax you say? What about budget whiteboxes, with Ubuntu and OpenOffice? In a few year's time, that could be a reality.



I don't understand all the hype at all. Exchange for the rest of us? What if we don't want Exchange at all? All this is doing is replacing Microsoft vendor lock-in with Apple vendor lock-in. Just like you need Outlook and Exchange (plus any number of Windows-based smartphones or Blackberries) to get the full Microsoft experience, you need the entire Apple ecosystem (Macs, iPhones, and MobileMe) to get their full experience. And if you stay on Windows, you still have to use Outlook. But Outlook sucks.

Why are we embracing locking at all!?

Pete | Jun 13, 2008 | 11:47AM

Oh, yea, I love those people who buy those $300 PCs. They always spend more on tech support and ultimately buy more hardware and service from me.

My small business Mac clients, well, I set them up and forget them. Not good for making hoards of cash, but I have a larger base of installed and HAPPY Mac users than I do PC users.

But the PC users do bring in cash because I'm always visiting.

Thats reality.

ronjamin | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:03PM

One problem, Iphone needs to unshackle from AT+T

Aft | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:05PM

Steve Jobs always looked computing from an every day end-user point of view. Not from the point of view of either the enterprise that makes/sells the product or buys/uses the product, but from an end-user who needs an integrated product that supports his/her daily tasks in one package, and can move from one task to another effortlessly.

MobileMe is all about that!!!

Viswakarma | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:12PM

Bob,

Could you add any additional comments on Mr. Jobs' health?

THX

dave | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:19PM

Pete, I don't understand your argument. A Mac Mini costs what, $499 I think? And that is enough for the office apps they need to run. The computers they they buy would then last a lot longer than the $300 PC they bought. So $599 is going to last over twice as long as the $300 PC, take less space, and not have to get any virus or spyware infections.

The price premium is non-existent. The $1000 Mac is not equal to the $300 PC. Spec the PC up to the Mac and it is very close to equal.

Scott | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:19PM

Pete I think you missed the point, with MobileMe, for 50 employees
and under companies (i.e. companies that don't have an IT dept) you no longer have to BUY the server that runs microsoft exchange,
and you don't have to an IT dept. I agree with Cringely, the killer announcement was MobileMe not the 2nd generation iphone.

David | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:22PM

>>>Given the code Apple already has for its iWork applications, how much more effort would it take to webify those apps, too?

The Cloud is not yet the solution for everyone. I'd really rather have them "iPhone OS" the iWork suite than put them online. Of course, doing *both* would be great too.

I've said all along iWork is their thermonuclear bomb to wipe out the competition:
http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/09/26/apple-to-rewrite-computing-again/

And that syncing is the most important thing they have to perfect:
http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/apples-sync-strategy-finally-arriving/

Maybe now that Apple has bought a chipmaker, they will see the wisdom in your column about building-in H.264 support:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070712_002475.html

Mike Cane | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:23PM

It is rare for someone to present an argument so clearly, with such command of the language, and with so much knowledge. I believe that what you say has great merit, though other arguments can be equally made from the side of Microsoft, Google, and others. Apple is pushing the envelope; going on all cylinders, like Google. If Microsoft gets going again with all of its resources, it will mean even more drive that will push this new technology/Internet environment to the heights.

Roy G. Biv | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:41PM

That is the best entry you have made in a long time. I completely agree. The whole show was a tour de force for Apple.

I'd say that it also shows an Apple that listens much more to the customer that I would normally give them credit for. And in hindsight I can argue the wisdom of how they executed the launch and startup of the iPhone, even if it was frustrating for early adopters such as myself.
What I got from the presentation was how the much the user interface is changing. A lot of applications makes more sense using an iPhone(or similar) as the primary interface(yes over the PC).

Henrik Vendelbo | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:42PM

Apple did not buy what is primarily a chipmaker, they bought a chip designer.

Will Cochran | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:48PM

Pete,
You missed it.
The low cost hardware IS the iPhone. Have you ever worked with mechanics or carpenters. In the non-IT world, skilled workers bring their own tools.
In the future, you may get that $300 to spend on equipment. If you want nicer stuff, you can buy it yourself and use it for work.
The company will be web applications you can get to using a secure connection or VPN. No IT managed box, or installed applications. Gen Y companies will manage the hardware themselves.
The old school companies will be slow to adapt to the changing IT world. It will be a cost savings and advantage for the young medium to small companies. Wait, those are the same companies Apple is targeting. Hmmm....

Doug | Jun 13, 2008 | 12:58PM

I wonder how much of a retainer Apple pay you these days? .Mac was never any kind of success, it would be stupid to think other companies are standing still, and $99 is more than almost anyone will pay when they can get the same services with better implicit SLAs for free.

You predict MobileMe to be a Microsoft killer; I predict it to be a damp squib. I'll check back in a year and see who's right.

redbaron | Jun 13, 2008 | 1:01PM

I completely agree. I watched the keynote last night when I had nothing better to do. All of the press was focusing on how boring the demos were and how long it took to get to the 3G iPhone.

But I didn't really care about the 3G iPhone, even though I'll be buying one. Some of the demos (the musical instrument/band one and the medical imaging one in particular) absolutely blew my mind. I'm not a gamer but I see myself spending way too much money on iPhone games. The medical imaging software seemed revolutionary -- it's probably not, but on a portable device? That's the advantage of Apple controlling the platform the way it does. Microsoft could NEVER get anyone to do this for Windows Mobile because the devices are too different, and the brand doesn't have the media attention.

And then I saw MobileMe and almost fell out of my chair. I hate paying for subscription services, and I'm no visionary, but I thought the same thing as you -- Apple's going to take over the world with this stuff.

Reid | Jun 13, 2008 | 1:08PM

Reid hit it on the head. Apple, when it hits home runs, gets you to pay for something you would normally hate to do. GUIs, networking, object oriented interface (NeXTStep). Then colored IMacs. Then this thing called iPod (you had a walkman or a Discman, didn't you?), then iTunes (Pay? for music?). Intel computers with Mac OS X. Even Backups. (I just bought TimeCapsule... I bought it for the all in one nature... I'm a guy that has probably 2TB of scsi disk around, but I needed a set it and forget it backup solution for my wife who has a hard time emailing pictures ("drag and drop, honey... just drag it and drop it")).

.Mac was a little too geeky. MobileMe, if it catches, will cause every person that computes in more than 2 places (and now with 3G that's just about everywhere), to need this, just like everyone 'needs' an iPod, or an iPhone.

let's see 10million Iphone users, at 100/year. Yeah, that's a cool Billion a year in revenue from a module that scales really well (google can 'give away' Apps and make a business case... consider a model that has you paying $100 for the service, PLUS having you buy one if not 2 or 3 (mac at home, mac air for your work station, iPhone for your personal tether point) service devices.

and we thought the iPod Halo affect was amazing.
We may have not seen nothing yet.

Geoff | Jun 13, 2008 | 2:05PM

I happily pay $7 per month for my Backpack account. Sure, there are plenty of free alternatives, and Google has all of Backpack's features in one place. Where Backpack wins, and makes it worth paying for, is how terribly well it's been thought out and how dead simple it is to use. This "worth paying for" quality is clearly the field which Apple is playing in: They don't match features. They don't match price. They set out to build the very best iShareAndManageMyExcitingLifeOnTheWeb. Remember, there are cheaper mp3 players out there too. Look how that turned out.

I also find it a bit funny that Apple is specifiying its pricing as yearly, instead of monthly: $9 per month is an easier sell than $99 per year. Is this intentional? Do they purposely only want the early adopters to shake out and refine the system before expanding to more people?

While the iPhone SDK is getting a lot of attention, I wonder when the mobileMe SDK will come out? Is there a viable business strategy for putting the mobileMe platform under GPLv3? Shrink wrap it, and sell it to hosting companies? Integrate more portal offerings and make it the best start page on the whole internet?

Anand Dhingra | Jun 13, 2008 | 2:24PM

An apt comparison.
I wouldn't own a Porsche or a BMW, either.

Although, at least the auto makers have done some innovation of their own, instead of stealing ideas from everyone else & claiming credit, like Apple.


/If you market a product to stupid people, only stupid people will buy it...

dork | Jun 13, 2008 | 2:56PM

Pete,

The Apple fanboys *want* to have vendor lock-in and are willing to pay for it. That's fine. Let them. The open-source commodity software and hardware market will cover the needs for the remaining 80% of the world that can't afford pricey Apple products. (And let's be honest here, fanboys, nobody says Apple products are inexpensive.) So let's remember that we're all on the same team here: Apple and Google and free/open source software are making Microsoft squirm. Yay.

Rene | Jun 13, 2008 | 2:58PM

MobileMe makes Apple's stuff more tempting, but I expect it also to shake up the competition. Verizon has a really lame flakey expensive solution for syncing my phone with the rest of my world, maybe now they'll improve. Verizon team up with Google?

Dave | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:03PM

Apple will only do something if they can make a profit.

Thus, MobileMe will not be GPL'd and sold to hosting companies if this will not make a profit for Apple. This would be like allowing Mac Clones. Look at what clones did to Apple.

James Katt | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:03PM

Rene,

You say no one says Apple products are cheap. I do: iWork is $79. iLife is the same.

Oyah | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:17PM

One other lockin that MSFT has is PC gaming. I know a lot of people who dual boot because they can't give up windows directx games. They don't run in a VMware VM!
Recently it seems that console gaming is really coming on strong: Wi, Xbox360.. This is also hurting MSFT's Windows monopoly because there will be less insisting on Windows if all your games are XBoxLive.

stuart boreen | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:18PM

Well, it seems that if, over time, people are keeping their photos stored online, it makes sense that iWeb could become a webapp because one of the reasons people still fuss with CMS systems is the ease of updating 'remotely', but if iWeb becomes a web app, you could update your site from an iPhone, or any system, Mac or Windows. You'd just need to keep your iDisk stocked with the graphics you normally need for web updates. Numbers/Pages would be of secondary importance. Keynote could be 'big' however, especially if there was a way to use an iPhone or iPod Touch to present wirelessly to 802.11 enabled projectors.

Jeffrey McPheeters | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:19PM

Well, it seems that if, over time, people are keeping their photos stored online, it makes sense that iWeb could become a webapp because one of the reasons people still fuss with CMS systems is the ease of updating 'remotely', but if iWeb becomes a web app, you could update your site from an iPhone, or any system, Mac or Windows. You'd just need to keep your iDisk stocked with the graphics you normally need for web updates. Numbers/Pages would be of secondary importance. Keynote could be 'big' however, especially if there was a way to use an iPhone or iPod Touch to present wirelessly to 802.11 enabled projectors.

Jeffrey McPheeters | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:23PM

Apple should be selling MobileMe for $9 per month or as an option $99 per year.

MoldyJohn | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:29PM

I am trying to Watch the recorded video of the speech (it is among this week's links)

It is 5:34am... But I can't find a link to the speech. Where are your "this week's links" why is the link not embedded in the text?

Rupert | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:36PM

I am trying to watch the recorded video of the speech (it is among this week's links)

It is 5:34am... But I can't find a link to the speech. Where are your "this week's links" why is the link not embedded in the text?

Rupert | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:37PM

Having used many, many wikis, I'm quite happy using Google Sites. In fact I've been editing ours (used as intranet) for the past hour or so, before I read your article about how horrid it is.

Would love to know what you prefer.

~bc | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:38PM

Wow. Talk about jumping to conclusions. A product not yet released (some might call this vaporware but...not with Apple!) and you're already writing the obits of MSFT and GOOG? Time to take a reality pill.

Notaprguy | Jun 13, 2008 | 3:52PM

I'm confused... Wouldn't a $199 phone that lets you read your Exchange email mean than 80% of the people spent 20% of the money, while the company they work for (the 20% who make up the IT department) spent 80% of the money on Exchange?

If Microsoft can sell an OS for 10x what Apple can, isn't Microsoft getting the "80 from 20"?

Chad | Jun 13, 2008 | 4:32PM

Another possibility: Taking the Trifecta together, imagine if Apple and MSFT drop their differences and join forces on the business cloud. We already know Vista runs best on a Mac. With Snow Leopard powered server farms, and MSFT giving Mac versions of all their business software to run on all Apple platforms, businesses would pay for that and finally Google will get real competition. Most in-house IT shops are giving diminish ROI. Every player wants to position itself to host most apps an organization needs. MSFT can compete with might but other more experienced OEM and ISPs are ahead. Best hope to keep MSware market share is to put it in more places - even including iPhone/XServes... Of course that would never happen.

gshell | Jun 13, 2008 | 4:43PM

Thanks for your article, interesting and in fact exciting this new M&M from Apple. Totally agree with you on that. Vaporware? ... hardly, it's coming this/next month! Calling it vaporware or jumping to conclusion is just a fable echoes of the envious. Calling it or judging things vaporware can only be done afterwards and lets hear those same voices after about a month or two shall we? Untill then, just call it predictions or speculations, good or bad according to your choice. Just the key point in my opinion is that's going to make M&M extremely (vapor...!) popular, as you mention, is the "push thing" for everyone, everything else will be a bonus and bonus and bonus.... I am excited too for my ...me.com

Karl Snow | Jun 13, 2008 | 4:58PM

Oyah,

iWork might seem cheap to you as an individual, but buying one copy for every student in a high school in an emerging market might not be affordable in their budget. Not to the mention the $700 minimum up-front cost for the Mac Minis + monitors, keyboards and mice that would be required to run iWork for that population. Add the cost of support and you're definitely not in the realm of "cheap" any more.

My point is that Apple products have and always will take on the perspective of computing or entertainment that is particular to the individual, and not to groups or social networks. Even "MobileMe" has the word "Me" in it and not "Us" or "Family" or "Friends" etc. The ego reigns supreme, and a lot of people buy it.

I would say that this is a direct reflection of Steve Jobs's personality in the vision for his company's products. It's at least part of the reason why Apple is not known for web apps or other network-based applications like Google is. It's just not a space that Steve has a sharp understanding of because if he did, then Google would be his greatest enemy, not Microsoft.

Rene | Jun 13, 2008 | 5:09PM

So by MS and Google killer, you mean taking 20% of the market and leaving 80%?

I disagree that Google requires dominating the market. It's true 95% of revenue is from search where they dominate, but all their other offerings are failures according to MS's perspective. And they dont seem phased.

and lets actually use mobileme first. everything looks impressive during apple keynotes.

Ephilei | Jun 13, 2008 | 5:10PM

> Given the code Apple already has for its iWork applications, how much more effort would it take to webify those apps, too?

Um, a boatload?

iWork apps are written in Objective-C. Web apps are written in JavaScript, Python, etc. Quite different languages.

You're talking about a full-scale porting effort. Doable, but not easy at *all*. And then you're maintaining two different codebases....

I can buy the argument that Apple will use its design expertise to write web versions of the iWork applications, but it *will* be a *lot* of effort. I'm afraid I'm going to have to be part of the crowd of people who doubt your technical expertise when you make comments like this.

Andrew | Jun 13, 2008 | 5:16PM

Rene, iWork for schools is only $249 for a site license - covers 500 students and 50 teachers in a single building. Not a bad deal, and educational pricing for individuals is only $39 a copy.

John | Jun 13, 2008 | 5:38PM

Rupert, the links are on the top right of the comments page. The one you are asking for is here:
http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/0806wdt546x/event/index.html

Jon | Jun 13, 2008 | 6:30PM

I am waiting for MobileMe to launch and finally be able to synch my macs and iPhone without a sweat. For the moment my .Mac can only keep all my three macs in synch and I value that part of the account tremendously. You get a new computer and all you need to do is enter your .Mac id and watch your contacts, calendar, bookmark, keychains appear on your new mac just like magic. This is how magical MobileMe will be like. Can't wait for July 11 to roll around.

Viviana Wong | Jun 13, 2008 | 6:31PM

Web Objects baby.

gshell | Jun 13, 2008 | 6:56PM

Okay, I don't write code and don't have a small business; and I'm relatively new to the Mac world. I do subscribe to .Mac (as of two months ago) and still use Windows, and am still trying to figure out what is so stunning about MobileMe. It's an improvement over .Mac, but a slight one. More storage and an easier ability to send large files are nice; but let's not act as if Apple's Mail and iCal are exceptional features because they aren't. They're adequate, perfectly fine for most of the great unwashed, but lacking for anyone with any halfway complex needs (one thing is as true of Apple as it is of Microsoft or Google: some things it does very, very well and some things it creates, no matter how much marketing, are just adequate). Perhaps I'd feel different if I had an iPhone.

But I'm increasingly able to see what some other commenters have long identified: Apple's integration is great, but one runs the risk of being locked in. I can see where a one can be so tied into Apple that it's hard to get out. Now, from Apple's perspective that's great; and I'm not even suggesting that there's anything wrong or unethical or immoral about it. All I'm saying is that I think a large number of people will come to view being "locked in" as something nefarious or, better, restricting.

Anyway, this is what it feels/seems like to me, a non-technical, slightly-more-than-casual observer.

carl | Jun 13, 2008 | 7:16PM

MobileMe looks great and I'll gladly sign up. However, I predict it will take 3 years of further evolution before they get the top 20% or even 5% of the market (ie. current users of Exchange, AJAX apps, iPhones, Blackberry phones, PDAs, etc). It is great stuff but the reality distortion field is causing Bob and others to overestimate adoption rates.

Joe Sandmeyer | Jun 13, 2008 | 7:50PM

The iPhone 2.0 and MobileMe demos filled me with a sense of child like wonder, a big case of the I want it nows and then made me think how the hell am I going to afford AT&T's contract as well as the annual $99 for MobileMe. Then I realized, I'm not the 20% market Jobs is aiming for. Yet.

This is all wonderful hyperbole, imagining Apple considerably undermining Microsoft's Office and Windows platform market share, and sticking it to partner Google simultaneously. I don't think Microsoft will sit idly and watch it's share shrink up, but it will be a panic scramble, nonetheless. I imagine it will be the attack to Redmond's profit stream will come from both Google and its partners and probably Apple. Are we talking sometime around 2014 when XP support finally dries up?

Kevin Kunreuther | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:26PM

The iPhone 2.0 and MobileMe demos filled me with a sense of child like wonder, a big case of the I want it nows and then made me think how the hell am I going to afford AT&T's contract as well as the annual $99 for MobileMe. Then I realized, I'm not the 20% market Jobs is aiming for. Yet.

This is all wonderful hyperbole, imagining Apple considerably undermining Microsoft's Office and Windows platform market share, and sticking it to partner Google simultaneously. I don't think Microsoft will sit idly and watch it's share shrink up, but it will be a panic scramble, nonetheless. I imagine it will be the attack to Redmond's profit stream will come from both Google and its partners and probably Apple. Are we talking sometime around 2014 when XP support finally dries up?

Kevin Kunreuther | Jun 13, 2008 | 8:27PM

come on.......
It ain't the meat it's the motion....................it ain't the phone it's the contract.....The phone is incidental...the contract is the money maker.....just like free phones...except apple is charging for what should be free/

markmen | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:01PM

Nice article by Cringely. If any of you knows spanish you might also want to check out this guy's analysis on this link: http://eliax.com/index.php?/archives/4869-Analisis-sobre-la-nueva-estrategia-de-Apple-con-el-iPhone-3G.html



He wrote it a couple or so days ago, and not only says what Cringely says here today, but much more.



For those who don't know eliax, he's probably equivalent to the Cringely in spanish, and his yearly predictions are astonishingly accurate, usually predicting things 1 to 2 years in advance.

Noche S. Bella S. | Jun 13, 2008 | 9:54PM

You got me thinking...Apple will be Google because they are consumer focused vs. engineering focused (i.e. geeks). That's part of Microsoft's problem and an eternal issue for the German carmakers. Great to drive (engineering) but the controls are FAR too complicated.

Microsoft & Google are 1-2 trick ponies that have failed whenever they go outside of their core competencies.

Apple may be arrogant, but they "get it" over & over...sort of like BMW sans iDrive or Porsche sans cheesy interiors.

aainsb | Jun 13, 2008 | 10:19PM

Google isn't a competitor in the application space because they really can't monetize apps with ads. Google, first and foremost, is an advertising network and advertising management platform. Anything that's not core to that gets short shrift.

mannyv | Jun 14, 2008 | 12:29AM

@Rene "iWork might seem cheap to you as an individual, but buying one copy for every student in a high school in an emerging market might not be affordable in their budget."

It's $249 for an iWork 08 (or iLife 08) site licence ... and that's forever — not a yearly licensing cost like our district pays for MS Office.

Partners in Grime | Jun 14, 2008 | 1:04AM

I'm aware of a very different 80-20 rule from Apple. A one nobody needs to interprete, because Apple wrote it in its Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

Here it is:
"During the design process, if you discover problems with your product design, you might consider applying the 80 percent solution—that is, designing your software to meet the needs of at least 80 percent of your users. This type of design typically favors simpler, more elegant approaches to problems.

If you try to design for the 20 percent of your target audience who are power users, your design may not be usable by the other 80 percent of users. Even though that smaller group of power users is likely to have good ideas for features, the majority of your user base may not think in the same way. Involving a broad range of users in your design process can help you find the 80 percent solution."

Here Apple advises us to *ignore* those 20%... Isn't it the opposite of what you just wrote?

Alexandre Testu | Jun 14, 2008 | 3:07AM

I'm aware of a very different 80-20 rule from Apple. A one nobody needs to interprete, because Apple wrote it in its Apple Human Interface Guidelines.


Here it is:


"During the design process, if you discover problems with your product design, you might consider applying the 80 percent solution—that is, designing your software to meet the needs of at least 80 percent of your users. This type of design typically favors simpler, more elegant approaches to problems.


If you try to design for the 20 percent of your target audience who are power users, your design may not be usable by the other 80 percent of users. Even though that smaller group of power users is likely to have good ideas for features, the majority of your user base may not think in the same way. Involving a broad range of users in your design process can help you find the 80 percent solution."

Here Apple advises us to ignore those 20%... Isn't it the opposite of what you just wrote?

Alexandre Testu | Jun 14, 2008 | 3:09AM

I'm aware of a very different 80-20 rule from Apple. A one nobody needs to interprete, because Apple wrote it in its Apple Human Interface Guidelines.


Here it is:


"During the design process, if you discover problems with your product design, you might consider applying the 80 percent solution—that is, designing your software to meet the needs of at least 80 percent of your users. This type of design typically favors simpler, more elegant approaches to problems.


If you try to design for the 20 percent of your target audience who are power users, your design may not be usable by the other 80 percent of users. Even though that smaller group of power users is likely to have good ideas for features, the majority of your user base may not think in the same way. Involving a broad range of users in your design process can help you find the 80 percent solution."

Here Apple advises us to ignore those 20%... Isn't it the opposite of what you just wrote?

Alexandre Testu | Jun 14, 2008 | 3:12AM

I'm sorry, it kept (and it still does) telling me I failed the captcha... I didn't realize I posted the same comment 3 times...

sorry.

Alexandre Testu | Jun 14, 2008 | 3:17AM

While acknowledging Apple's elegance of design, I still believe the reason they still exist includes a healthy dose of dumb luck. They were lucky with the iPod, which lead to a resurgence of their computer business, mightily assisted by the failure of Vista. Eventually they will stumble again (remember Newton?) and things will turn around. At it's best Apple only ever had about 20% market share.

The future is open architecture, not proprietary. To 90% of people, computers are a commodity. Technically the machine just has to be good enough to do the work. How do most people buy a washing machine?

The next innovation that will change the game is quick-loading software embedded on chips in machines like those from Acer and ASUS. This plays to the strenghts of Linux (its adaptability), and debates about Linux beinng a geek platform will disappear as machines come preinstalled with it. My non-computer family happily use Linux on my Asus eee without a thought, because really they know Firefox, and what else do they need?

Google will be in the cloud because it understands the cloud. MS and Apple will need to do something different to be there.

Fingerbun | Jun 14, 2008 | 9:39AM

Bob, I really admired your take on Apple in Accidental Empires. I still think the Jobs-Markkula feud is the most under-covered story in the computer business.

But here you're just wrong. The iPhone isn't selling. It isn't an 80/20 object. It's a 95/5 object. In the US alone. Globally, the mobile phone market moves 1.2 billion units a year, and whether 7 million or 10 million, Apple is a rounding error.

And that's if Apple's sales figures can be trusted at all. I'm more than a little suspicious that Apple is now seeking multiple partners because they don't think business journalists will add up the sales from those multiple partners to verify Apple.

Hal O'Brien | Jun 14, 2008 | 9:46AM

@ Pete - you seem to be confusing purchase cost with cost of ownership. What is the cost of frustration? (Or don't viruskillers, awkward GUI, darned security upgrades, crashes, bad performance, etc don't get to you?)

Having "converted" to a Mac a couple of months ago I can only say (like any Mac convert :-) ) that working in OS X is incomparable with Windows. Give it a try.

Dirk Stevens | Jun 14, 2008 | 10:10AM

Robert's insight and acumen is dead-on here. There's a tectonic shift shaking the roots of conventional platform computing - and Apple's just shoved the next inertial wave, the next 'PUSH' across the landscape!

Oh, the 80 of the 20 who only see hazily up into The Cloud that Apple is taking us to. Can't you see the forest from the trees? The day the 1st iMac was launched - No floppy drive! - Steve shook the Earth - Weren't you paying attention?!? The roadmap was plopped on the table THEN. *MobileMe* IS the destination. It IS the goal laid out a decade ago!

Mr. Cringely gets it. I get it. Do you? A $99 ticket to a clear, instantaneous view of your formerly disparate, lagged data? I'll buy a cloud-seat: I want that view of the Forest far, far above just the Trees.

(P.S. Sorry for all the metaphors. :)

Russell Baer | Jun 14, 2008 | 2:15PM

Robert has hit upon a winning strategy with the suggestion that Apple buy salesforce.com. Apple could build their own, or let someone build it commercially, but I think that speed to market warrants a purchase. I still say another critical purchase for Apple is Adobe.

My company, Softrend Systems Inc. is quickly going to use it as a mobile device to access our ERP system and roll out some powerful apps for business. I hope that others will quickly follow suit.

Sandy Milne | Jun 14, 2008 | 2:56PM

And if Apple buys Adobe as Cringe has previously predicted, they get even more bits and pieces to match Google Apps. The DNA from the Allaire side of the house brings in Flash/Flex/Air. LiveCycle Enterprise gives more back-office technologies. Adobe is already pushing into the direct services with Buzzword and Acrobat.com. Might as well be part of MobileMe.

Andy K | Jun 14, 2008 | 3:30PM

MobileMe will have to be SIGNIFICANTLY more reliable than dotMac for a business-owner to use it. And it would have to support using the companies domain instead of dotme or dotmac. Apple has bought a do-over with this rebranding exercise, but with their poor uptime record and slow access speeds for non-North American customers, it will be for naught if it's not reliable.

dave | Jun 14, 2008 | 4:39PM

Apple has been working on improving the Javascript performance of Safari by a huge margin - probably for a web based version of iworks.

steve | Jun 14, 2008 | 5:41PM

unfortunately MS is so much infiltrated in minds of people and systems all around that a big switch like this looks impossible. agree also with dave that mobileme needs to get more reliable AND faster to make it viable.

fredrik | Jun 14, 2008 | 5:53PM

Way back in the day (mid-90s? late 90s?) I seem to remember that Microsoft gave Apple $150,000,000 to keep the company afloat. Otherwise MS would have had to admit it was a monopoly. And now . . . . As they say on Slashdot: haha.

quixote | Jun 14, 2008 | 6:23PM

Regarding the 80/20 rule, I understand this rule firsthand from Apple. I work for a small K-12 school district in Wisconsin that is bleeding red ink due to declining student enrollment, and is desperately looking for options, possible district mergers, and so forth, to keep running. If the district goes too far negative with the budget, the Wisconsin Department of Education will step in and just dissolve the district, sending students off to nearby districts which will have to pick up the load or dissolve, too.

The school has a pile of iBooks from 2000/2001 primarily running MacOS 9.2.2 and OSX 10.1, which is utterly obselete at this point. In 2006, it was impossible to find mainstream products for OS 9. Basic Internet browsing is a challege since the web is dynamic and the browser root keys for https eventually expire. There is currently only one broaser for OS 9 on the planet, and no flash, no java, etc etc.

To continue to be a viable educational platform, each 500mhz/700mhz iBook would need a 512 meg RAM upgrade and MacOS 10.4, which costs around $120 per laptop. Since Macs are already in a severe district minority it doesn't make sense to spend that much money per machine to keep them going. I can buy an off-lease PC with more than twice the speed of these old iBooks for the same money.

I tried begging free OSX 10.4 licenses off our regional educational support group (CESA) Mac sales rep, and he said it was impossible. I was essentially told that Apple is in such a small market segment that it has to continually renew itself and focus on its top-tier customers. If it helped bottom-feeder people like us with $10 licenses like Microsoft does for refurbished and donated PCs, or even (gasp) free/donated licenses, Apple could not be profitable and would go under.

Later I tried writing directly to Apple Corporate begging for free 10.4 licenses for our old iBooks. Apple's response was quite breathtaking. They essentially directed me to a liquidator that could buy up our old Mac equipment for a couple dollars per unit, as an incentive towards buying new Macs.

At this point these iBooks are only viable as a video editing "single-purpose appliance" like how a toaster can only toast bread. They have OS 9.2.2 and iMovie as the sole installed application, for a teacher with a strong interest in using video and movie-making in the classroom.

Dale Mahalko | Jun 14, 2008 | 8:44PM

Dale Mahalko,

I feel your pain. However, I see apple's position to not support you with free software upgrades. Perhaps you should look at the suite of applications available for Ubuntu and consider doing an Ubuntu install to your iBooks. Apple is picking the low fruit and leaving the bottom of the market to Google, Microsoft and Open source. So this is the only recourse you have.

mac84 | Jun 14, 2008 | 8:58PM

The money paid by M$ to Apple was to settle the "Look & Feel" lawsuit, which Apple won. M$ received Apple stock, which they later sold at a VERY large profit.

vmabus | Jun 14, 2008 | 9:37PM

Yeah, Microsoft's downfall can be seen back in the early 90's. However it will take a much longer time before the giant is finally toppled. Google is great conceptually, they need to work on the feasability.

phillr | Jun 14, 2008 | 9:53PM

Every article I read about MS overlooks the reason why Microsoft is still around, the size and scope of their channel partners.

As an ex-Apple sales rep, we ALWAYS had the superior product (Porsche), but MS had all the other car dealers (GM, Ford, Toyota, etc) selling their stuff.

Even if the small companies embrace Apple, where do they go to get support? The Apple Retail store, the AT&T phone store? The Apple folks can talk hardware, but are not as strong about service contracts while the AT&T folks can talk service contracts, but are not as strong when it comes to hardware.

Now, add the need to discuss your corporate email system, and neither party will be able to educate/resolve your problem. (Try getting detailed information about .Mac right now.)

Apple wants the relationship with its customers to be self-service. I think that is a great approach for consumers, but companies want their hands held by the vendor, and I don't think that Apple's business model supports that as well as Microsoft's.

rfrederick | Jun 15, 2008 | 8:51AM

I agree with your assessment of MobileMe. It was the first time I took notice at this year's WWDC. I never found .Mac very useful, and iSync never really quite worked. I actually stopped using my Palm TX because of screen issues and because I simply couldn't get it to sync correctly.

I watched the WWDC, and pretty much saw what I expected: Yup, new iPhone. Yup, new price. New business friendly features. Check... Nothing too revolutionary -- all pretty much expected. The iPhone is neat, but nothing said that makes me wanna get one now. (Especially if it is still tied to a provider I don't like).

But, MobileMe. That's something I can really use right now. I have four different email accounts including two Microsoft Exchange accounts at two different businesses. I've got three different business calendars to sync up. Being able to have push changes and notifications for those? That's for me!

This is not an Apple only solution. The service is not tied to @me.com accounts. Otherwise, it'd be pretty useless. My Microsoft Outlook accounts won't be @me.com accounts. Besides, there's no real need to do that. In fact, I suspect the service will work with *any* email account (for push email) and that Apple will publish the specs needed for others to be able to use this service.

I'll wait until July 11 to see the full details, but I suspect I'll be picking up an iPod Touch (or maybe an unlocked iPhone) and getting a MobileMe account.

David W. | Jun 15, 2008 | 9:55AM

Building a web based office application is not Apple's style. They prefer to build service supported desktop applications with a rich user experience like iTunes.

They also know it would be a waste of time to try and compete with Microsoft and Google head on by building a web based office suite. Building an email or calendaring web based client is one thing - building a Word or Powerpoint killer on the web is another.

QB | Jun 15, 2008 | 10:45AM

"building a Word or Powerpoint killer on the web is another."

err have you tried the latest Apple developed applications for word processing/spreadsheet (in one) and presentation? Some would say they already kill the MS counterparts...

mike.s | Jun 15, 2008 | 11:52AM

"err have you tried the latest Apple developed applications for word processing/spreadsheet (in one) and presentation? Some would say they already kill the MS counterparts..."

I use iWork every day and quite like it. It does everything I need, the price point is great, and it "feels" like a Macintosh application(s). I personally don't think porting something like iWork/Office to a web based client isn't compelling. The user experience is far poorer, the responsive is OK (even with SquirrelFish), and the need to be connected constantly to the network is a huge barrier.

I think mail, calendaring, time sheet applications, shopping/purchasing types of applications work well in web based Ajax environment. I think word processors, spreadsheets, and heavy graphic applications like Keynote are kind of OK, sort of, kind of cool but not really.....

Apple like rich, controlled user experiences. iTunes is a killer application. Googles app suite or Windows Live is not.

QB | Jun 15, 2008 | 12:55PM

IPhone 2 is just a refinement on the first version. But as Jobs said, and you elaborate: the biggest thing may be MobileMe, Exchange for consumers. We have three Macs at home, I have an iPhone. The concept of everyone being THAT connected.... Wow! It can be a huge enhancement for Mac sales, iPod Touch sales... everything almost, actually. Anyway: I thought MM was a hugely significant announcement (although time will tell).

Mitchell | Jun 15, 2008 | 3:08PM

QB wrote, "I think mail, calendaring, time sheet applications, shopping/purchasing types of applications work well in web based Ajax environment. I think word processors, spreadsheets, and heavy graphic applications like Keynote are kind of OK, sort of, kind of cool but not really....."

• You have a couple valid points. Historically, web-based apps offer a poor experience compared to a native app, but Apple is trying to end that with AJAX and SproutCore. Also, the addition of viewing and editing these apps via Mobile Me would be a value add to the service which would most likely increase Mobile Me and iWork sales to allow the integration.

I would like for Mobile Me and iWork users to have a simple check box when using Column View or in Get Info to auto-sync the file with Mobile Me. This way I don't have to keep all the synced files in the same folder.

Solipsism | Jun 15, 2008 | 4:22PM

PS: One of the biggest galring issues with .Mac is the complete lack of support for SSL. How is that in 2008 Apple has gotten around to adding encrypted log in to their .Mac site.

I'm letting my .Mac run out this month after 5 years and will not renew if I can't use https://www..me.com to sign in.

Solipsism | Jun 15, 2008 | 4:27PM

For the un-informed, the Porsche buyout (or at least their purchase of 51% of VW stock) looks foolish.

However, look more closely at the looming EU lows stating car manufacturers must have an average of 130g/km CO2 output for their range, Porsche's 'ownership' of VW makes more sense. There is no way that Porsche could develop and release enough models in the next 2 years (2010 is the deadline I believe for the 130g/km average. Owning VW is a clever move from this p.o.v.

It's also rather Jobs-esque in it's cleverness and thumbing nose at convention I feel

burger | Jun 15, 2008 | 7:29PM

"Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us" - anyone who can sell that to the 80% is a genius....

PeterA | Jun 15, 2008 | 9:09PM

Actually I could see Apple sitting on that horde (what is it up to now - 20 Billion) and at some point buying Microsoft. Microsoft's share price has been pretty flat for the last 5 years, and while they were once the darling of Wall Street, the company has had problems since 2002 with inability to deliver new software on time, with quality control, and of course the continuous anti-trust issues.

Microsoft isn't in bad shape at present, but Vista didn't help their reputation (or sales) and a screw up with Windows 7 could hurt them enormously, and drive share prices lower. This would leave them open to a takeover bid.

And that has got to have some people in the upper echelons at Redmond nervous. While the company hasn't done well on delivering recently, their are some really smart people working there, and if I can see this possibility, they can too.

Wayne | Jun 15, 2008 | 11:08PM

Launch MobileMe, Put iWorks online (especially Keynote, for presentations), promote iPhone and iPod Touch and I'm sold. I use both Mac and Windows for my freelance work, but this solution will make life easier and I can concentrate on getting new business. It's not about Mac or Windows, it's about the solution that grows my business. Windows doesn't doesn't grow my business right now.

Todd Roberson | Jun 16, 2008 | 12:28AM

Microsoft plays chess.
Apple plays Wei-qi.

In chess the strongest point is the center of the board.
In wei-qi, the strongest point is the edge.

In chess there is only one objective, and only one battle that counts.
In wei-qi, there are many battles going on simultaneously, each of comparable importance.

If you can't dominate the center of the game board (the desktop) make an end run around it with mobile devices, and a million other things. Cut the strength from under Microsoft, defeat them in battles they think aren't important. Eventually the desktop, too, will fall.

Clancy | Jun 16, 2008 | 5:10AM

Clancy made an interesting analogy (Wei-qi is also known as GO).
This was supposedly the strategy that Be,Inc. was playing back in '98/'99, according to Neil Stephenson in his essay/book, In the Beginning...was the Command Line. Why Be,Inc. failed where Apple is now succeeding is:
1.) they didn't appeal to consumers, they initially appealed to geeks and some developers,
2.) they did not apply the 80/20 rule like Steve Jobs (unlike Jobs's predecessors) applied it to Apple, in fact it was hard to figure out who were Be,Inc. targeted customer base.
3.) they did not have a focused long term plan, they kept changing the business from hardware to software to internet appliances (i.e.,BeBox to BeOS to BeIA),
4.) they partnered with a major vendor who didn't support their IA venture 100% (i.e, Sony - the eVilla),
5.) they bet the farm they would get bought by Apple.

(I loved the BeOS and keep one old beige box running 5.0.3.1. but it's been showing it's age for three years. Zeta was never much of an improvement for me, and Haiku has got to be the slowest open source OS project in development since The HURD.)

Be,Inc blamed it's failures on Microsoft but in retrospect, that really is a load of bunk. They hoped to be bought out by Apple, and when that didn't happen, it was only a matter of time.

Apple is not merely playing GO against Microsoft, Google and probably Sony and now Nintendo, it is playing this game in the fourth dimension, level 13. It appears to anticipate most every opponents' move and instinctively knows when to move into each market. Watch gamers take such a shine to the iPhone and its apps store, Game Boy will suffer, then watch out - Apple will move in on XBOX, Playstation 3 and the Wii, probably through the Apple TV device.

Kevin Kunreuther | Jun 16, 2008 | 6:51AM

For me, MobileMe fails in exactly the same way as .Mac did: I'm not storing *my* data on a server that falls under another country's jurisdiction - especially the U.S., with its current approach. I'm in the U.K., which is as bad in many ways and even worse in some, but that's something with which I just have to live; I don't see any point in doubling the problem.

Steve K | Jun 16, 2008 | 7:32AM

Once again I enjoyed your article, but I am left wondering if the scenario you laid out is really a microsoft problem. I think RIM should be worried if your talking about highly usable business mobile communication combined with an integrated mail server that sounds like a Blackberry killer.

frank | Jun 16, 2008 | 12:57PM

Great article. What's interesting is, I do a marketing podcast for Wired.com, and I also compared Apple to Porsche, but way back in April. Take a listen:

http://thehopkinsonreport.com/?p=13

Jim Hopkinson | Jun 16, 2008 | 2:53PM

I work for a Fortune 5 corporation. It does not support wirelessly synching an iPhone with the corporations Exchange email system. But, it also does not support the wireless synching with any Windows Mobile cell phones, either. Windows Mobile 6.1 will change that. That is the first version of Microsoft Exchange that my corporation will allow cell phones to wirelessly synchronize to except for BlackBerrys. Windows Mobile 6.1 is what the new iPhone is supporting. That is what is changing. I think this will be good for Apple and bad for RIMs BlackBerry.

Im not sure if this is going to be good for Microsoft or not. In the short term, I think it will make Microsoft Exchange more entrenched than it already is at large corporations. In the longer term, Im not sure

TrueRock | Jun 16, 2008 | 3:47PM

Has Bob ever written a column where he did NOT predict the fall of Microsoft?

Hacksoft | Jun 16, 2008 | 5:40PM

Insightful as usual, but I think you're reaching.

Though MobileMe will be a capable, elegant offering, no matter how far Apple takes it, they're not a Software as a Service company, and they can't beat Google at their own game.

Jobs knows his. He brought Apple back from the dead by refocusing it on its core strengths: creating beautiful devices with dead simple interfaces. Everything they do, including MobileMe, is in service of that goal.

David Hertog | Jun 16, 2008 | 8:47PM

"Given the code Apple already has for its iWork applications, how much more effort would it take to webify those apps, too?"
Objective-C/Cocoa to JavaScript/SproutCore? Probably faster to start form scratch.

What about Windows Live?

Olivier | Jun 17, 2008 | 10:29AM

@Olivier SproutCore was explicitly designed to work like Cocoa, with the same model-view-controller design patterns and similar syntax as Obj-C. You're right to suggest that it's not as trivial as Cringely would suggest, but it will both be easier for Cocoa programmers without significant web app experience to use and will make porting existing Cocoa apps to the web that much easier. There will be significant rewrites, of course, but the overall structure of the apps can remain intact (probably moreso than porting to native Windows code).

Another thing which is significant is that Safari 4 will allow for running these apps offline, with local storage, and with their own desktop/dock icons, behaving much as native apps on both Windows and Macs. If Apple pursues this SaaS strategy, your option might be to switch to a Mac for a one-time fee and get the standard Cocoa apps, or pay the $99/year, keep using windows, and run everything through Safari. Interesting times.

Adam Simon | Jun 17, 2008 | 2:18PM

Spot on Rx. Jobs is a master integrator and continually surprises the market precisely because he does not follow -- he leads.

russ stauffer | Jun 17, 2008 | 5:32PM

Bob, did you not see the iPhone SDK presentation in March? I know you did. Chuck Dietrich demoed the SaleForce product (alpha version) as part of the SDK demoes. Apple does not need to BUY Salesforce.com at all; they'll have those cool tools on iPhone in no time with no cost on their part. No, buying out companies to leverage product for market share is Redmond's game.

Robin Friedrich | Jun 17, 2008 | 9:31PM

I'm guessing that a portion of the next I, Cringely posting will be about SproutCore and why Apple isn't going to be buying out or partnering with Adobe nor buying Flash.

I can guess at least 10 million mobile devices which won't be running Firefox 3, ever.

Kevin Kunreuther | Jun 18, 2008 | 1:12AM

I think one major point was missed about the 80/20 rule and Apple: Enterprise Business.

Apple has never provided a management capability in their products, which is the REAL reason you don't see them in the enterprise.

My role in business is to test and review applications, and to package those applications for distribution within our company.

AFAIK, there's no software-management capability native the the Mac, and no management capability native to the iPhone.

Sadly, until we see management capability, I won't be able to use Mac products... :-(

bob | Jun 19, 2008 | 11:28AM

bob (lowercase);

You need to look again: management of OS X machines is an integral part of the OS itself. I'll admit that it's not always as elegant as Group Policy on Windows, Macs are plenty "manageable." Hit up Google for "OS X Managed Preferences." Plus, just like Windows, there are plenty of options to create scripts that manage certain aspects of the OS. Many, many large businesses have deployed tens of thousends of Macs within their organization (Genentech and Google are two notable examples). If they can do it, I'm sure you can, too.

Ed | Jun 20, 2008 | 8:09AM

Where's Friday's column?

JP | Jun 20, 2008 | 5:02PM

I would like to define a small business as a $100Mor less outfit. From time to time I work with these guys. It seems that these small business don't need the scale of formal management, cause they have hundreds, maybe a very few thousand, employees. They are madly chasing their own 20% and something that just works (like SF.com) is plenty good. And they are ALL semi-road warriors, even if it is just the back roads of Cincinnati or Sacramento. If they have something that works wireless, at home, and at the office with out lost backups, technoweenies wanting "managability" when they need "no headaches" they will JUMP on it.

My accountant has a simple network storage device and uses Google to store all of my tax returns in both places (and on CD's). 10 people in the office doing $2m plus per year. These are the small businesses that control the world.

Daemeon | Jun 20, 2008 | 11:28PM

All I can it is brilliant and I can't wait to get my hands on

david Andrew | Jun 21, 2008 | 2:08PM

All I can it is brilliant and I can't wait to get my hands on

david Andrew | Jun 21, 2008 | 2:09PM