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The problem with Apple...

Apple So, everyone knows I'm a Mac user right? that's not news? And I've never had a real complaint to make (Well, the "Genius Bar" is less than useless, but it caters to the clueless faithful who love OS X for the glitz and GUI, but phone support has never been anything but helpful...) So what's my bitch? Well here's the rub from eWeek's AppleWatch blog. It looks like we're back to harping on "Macs cost too much" -- and you know what, I think they do.
Back in the OS X 10.3.x days I would gladly pay the premium for a Mac system - The PowerPC ("POWER4" in IBM-speak, or "G4" in Apple-speak) processor in my iBook was cooler (thermally), a superior architecture (technologically), and sucked less power than its Intel counterparts. Also MacOS 10.3.x was tight and clean, extracting at least acceptable performance from a 1.2GHz PowerPC Chip. Enter the Intel transition - A bloated microarchitecture that makes the Windows OS look elegant. Not that I mind - Intel offers some compelling things that IBM wasn't willing to make happen for Apple (like dual-core 64-bit chips that won't melt your laptop). The transition made sense. What doesn't make sense to me is the ever-expanding bloat of OS X -- Tiger was a fat cat, but it still ran acceptably on even ancient (450MHz G4) Macs. Leopard however is more pachyderm than feline - It BARELY runs acceptably on its target hardware (Current iBook & iMac systems, which make up the majority of Apple's install base). Add in a plethora of badly implemented, incomplete, broken or missing features and a few hundred pounds of code bloat, the negative vibes from "Mobile Me", and Apple's piss-poor handling of the Kaminsky DNS "revelation" (A boat which was missed so badly we're not even in the same ocean) and Apple is losing it's shine. That shine comes off even faster when you're now playing on the same field as every other Intel-x86-Family vendor and your market share is climbing out of the basement. ** So that's an awful lot of bitching from me, one of the faithful, but what does it have to do with how much machines cost? Well, in simple English you can't charge a premium for pretty. IT is not the fashion industry. While Apple has beautiful Industrial Design (The iMac is a thing of beauty, even with the glossy screen (UGH)) and OS X makes everything else out there look like the relics of the 80s that they are you can't ignore the underlying structure of the system. Apple needs to step up their game and start making systems - hardware and software - that outshine everything else available. How? Well, Snow Leopard (10.6.x) is a start - and it should be part of a trend - Every few iterations time needs to be diverted from adding "new and shiny" and put toward making what's there efficient and fast. Taking a few megs off such internal bits as mds (the MetaData Server for Spotlight, which weighs in at 64MB resident) and the OS X Kernel (over 100MB Resident - WTF@Giant Kernel?) can be very beneficial to overall system performance. Plugging up the leaky dyke we call Safari (400MB Resident, just for this page!) and other commonly used programs will go a long way toward making the system "snappier" for the average user, and might even make it possible for a base configuration MacBook (which only comes with 1GB of RAM) to run the OS without swapping. (FYsI, a bottom-end MacBook is quite literally *unusable* With OS X 10.5.x and any kind of real workload (eg. VirtualBox virtualization for a Windows install) unless you add RAM to it). Apple also needs to show that they take security at least as seriously as Microsoft (whose idea of secure would be comical if they weren't serious). As the LAST vendor to issue a patch for the Kaminsky DNS "revelation" and the LEAST COMMUNICATIVE vendor during the process of preparing and issuing said patch Apple has burned a lot of the goodwill they had in the technical-user community. Whether through a lack of understanding (bad) or lack of caring (worse) they grossly mishandled a major issue, and continuing to do so in the future will only worsen their relationship with the IT community at large and reinforce the belief that "Apple isn't for the enterprise". Unless Apple steps up and addresses these issues they will have an increasingly difficult time justifying their high prices and healthy margins - and as a shareholder I'd like to see both of those continue for the foreseeable future :-)


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