Perspective on WWDC 2006 from a Non-Apple User

apple steve jobs wwdc 2006I couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement surrounding Apple’s WWDC 2006 announcements: 64-bit quad processor Mac Pros, OS X Leopard preview, Time Machine, Spaces, Spotlight Advanced, Core Animation, etc. Overall, WWDC had an impressive showing. As such, I took time out to view the entire Apple produced keynote address video to learn more.

As expected the production of the keynote was exemplary and really showed off the new, forthcoming capabilities in Leopard (slated for a Spring 2007 release). However, one thing repeatedly came to mind with all the lighthearted Microsoft bashing and accusations that the company imitates and doesn’t innovate (jump to minute: 00:24:15). Apple has taken some liberties and swiped some tried and true features that many of us Unix/Linux/FreeBSD users have come to love.

Time Machine: “…a revolutionary new way to automatically back up and restore everything on your Mac.” Free open source software (FOSS) equivalent = Rsync/SBackup.

Spaces: “…an entirely new way to instantly switch between groups of applications required for various tasks.” FOSS equivalent = Workspaces + Xgl/Compiz (demo).

Spotlight: “…searching that’s even faster, provides richer previews, and lets users search across network mounted folders on other machines.” FOSS equivalent = Beagle (demo).

The only difference, however, between what Microsoft has done to Apple and what Apple is doing to the various FOSS software offerings in my opinion, is that Apple has taken the core principals of these applications and innovated + extended – making them truly all their own. You can’t help but fall stupidly in love with how Apple makes these applications so damn sexy and so darn easy to use. Lets just say, it’s a difficult proposition to turn down or ignore.

All in all, Apple’s stable of products and upcoming software features has really got me questioning a few things: How much of a chunk will Apple bite out of Microsoft’s general consumer market (FYI, notebook share alone jumped from 6% to 12% in favor of Apple since January 2006)? And how big of an impact will this have on Desktop Linux who’s making great efforts to become part of the mainstream and PC OEMs who are now faced with an aggressive competitor (checkout Apple’s latest markdowns and new product pricing)?

It seems at this point… resistance is futile.

However, let me end on a slightly different note. What’s Apple’s strategy in regards to Blu-ray and high-definition movie playback? There was no mention of it at WWDC 2006, which makes me a bit uneasy when debating if I should lay down my money for a new Mac Pro sometime this year.

Filed in: Industry Buzz

  • David Walker

    All very good points Alex. At this point in history, claiming any one company “innovates” is pretty much layered in some level of falsehood. Afterall – Apple “borrowed” very liberally from Xerox-Sparc Labs in order to create the first true GUI OS.

    It’s funny, though. Where you were impressed with the features, many of the Mac faithful were left a sense of being let down. Many people expected some kind of big announcement (usually introduced by “One more thing…”). Some expected the iPhone, others expected a new iPod (or updates to the Nano). Even the improvements to Mac OS X seemed to be anti-climatic when expectations included such pipe-dreams as being able to run Windows apps natively in OS X. Not that those features won’t make the release, it just didn’t get shown.

    As for me? I think Apple made some key moves that will help them start to take away market share from Microsoft. For one, they have priced themselves into the market and thus, given themselves a pricing advantage. By being a dollar-for-dollar match (or even besting) chief rival Dell, Apple now has the distinct advantage of having both the sexier computer (capable of running Windows) and one that is capable of doing more for the same (or less) amount of money.

    Secondly, by including 64-bit support into Mac OS X alongside 32-bit support, Apple is making a committment that even Microsoft has yet to make. If you want Windows 64-bit, you’ve got to get the 64-bit version of Vista. With Apple, there’s no difference – Mac OS X will run both 32 and 64 bit versions. This is the same strategy that AMD took several years ago when it created the Athlon64. It created a 64-bit processor capable of still handling 32-bit at full speed. Just as AMD used that advantage to steal market-share from Intel, I think Apple will use this advantage to finally start putting a dent in the Windows monopoly.

    It would seem that all of Vista’s problems and cuts are going to hurt even more now that Apple is prepping a solid (if not flashy) new release of Mac OS X.

  • Alexander Grundner

    Unlike the Mac faithful, I judged the WWDC announcements with no expectations. Honestly, I could care less if an iPhone was unveiled. Being the case, I guess I was able to appreciate the new OS features and judge them for their merits.

    It’s funny… there’s been talk on the different sites (example – jump to minute: 00:13:00) that the Mac community is becoming harder and harder to impress and that the base is getting more jaded (not accusing you of this, though, David). I wonder if this is what the company is experiencing?