When Microsoft licensed it's DOS (disk operating system), the Apple equivalent was leagues ahead.
But Microsoft licensed its product and Apple didn't, and the rest is history (O.k. Thats a simplified version, but Apple has been trying hard to gain OS market share ever since).
Apples Macintosh range of computers survived only because of the MAC OS. It was quickly adopted by people in the businesses of design, publishing, audio and video. These people just wanted to get on with the job and/or weren't always technically minded. Lets face it being creative and being technical can sometimes be polar opposites. The MAC became the standard in creative businesses and those who used MAC, loved MAC and stayed MAC.
Notice how I said MAC people stayed MAC? There are allot of MAC owners who have iPods, but not all Macintosh owners love everything Apple. .
The Windows operating system however did the opposite to what Apple did. Windows captured 95% of the world operating system market and then started making a good product. Microsoft didn't worry itself in the early days about silly little things like quality, ease of use or stability. It set it sights on market dominance then used its power, position and profits to slowly improve the product.
At the same time Apple used the “if you build it they will come” marketing strategy. Making a great product (albeit a more expensive one) in the hopes that people would buy it. Not as many of them did.
But MAC OS has been holding on against Windows. Apple It's has been profitable all these years because it sells hardware as well (more computers than any other single manufacturer).
Today,Apple is really sitting in a pretty interesting position.
Millions of iPods sold, #1 music and movie downloading site, about to break into the telephone market with the iphone. Not to mention that the MAC OS has transitioned to the Intel platform allowing MAC users more speed, power and flexibility.
Whats more here comes the “leap frog effect”. Apple is soon to release its newest OS offering (we'll, by soon I mean October) which should be better than Windows Vista. Vista should have jumped ahead with all that money and time spent on it, but some annoying features (can you say “user account control”) have meant its come up a little short (at least in my book).
With many cool new feature's like “time machine” which lets you simply wind back the clock to recover deleted (or even saved-over files) and some feature still secret Leopard has a real chance to triumph over Vista.
To my surprise Apple is taking advantage of its loyal Macintosh users and delaying Leopard (until October 2007). It's has sifted some of its development resources away from Leopard and onto the iPhone, Apples new foray into the mobile telephone market.
But it's forgetting one of the major reasons people have MACs. The MAC OS has always been ahead of Windows. Macintosh users have always been safe in the knowledge that they were using the best there is to offer. What happens when you take away that advantage?
Are MACs just going to end up like PC's? Similar price, same components, same OS just with a different skin?
MACs are finally a similar price to PC's. Finally they have the speed, power and flexibly. Finally you don't have to commit to the MAC OS without good backup alternatives.
And Apple is throwing away the great advantage it could have if Leopard was here now.
Who knows? With Vista not quite the legendary OS the PC world was waiting for, Apple might have been getting more 'switchers' right about now.
I'm sure they are not going to loose customers. Are they? Maybe they want to sell mobiles instead? Time will tell.