Charles Arthur, in February 2009:
Apple needs to react to changing market conditions. It has before:
when it last made a quarterly loss, in the first quarter of 2001,
Steve Jobs realised it was because he had focussed on giving the
computers DVD-reader drives, rather than CD-burning ones. A rapid
focus on CD burners followed, along with heavier emphasis on
iTunes: the CD-inspired “rip, mix, burn” is rather better than the
DVD-gazing “insert, click, watch”.
So should Apple introduce a netbook? Hell, yes. If it wants to get
into a market that is expanding rapidly, which is giving an old
version of Windows — the long-past-end-of-life XP, or “Windows
Zombie” as it’s becoming known to analysts — then it needs to roll
its sleeves up. There’s a big market there waiting to be tapped.
Ouch. Here’s where Arthur went wrong. Apple’s 2001 about-face on CD-burners (and digital music in general — they launched the first iPod later that year) was an acknowledgement of a genuine mistake. Computers were better with CD-burners because people really used them.
Netbooks, for the most part, were simply about making notebook computers cheaper, not better. Apple’s long-term strategy has been and should remain solely about making things better, and introducing great new things.
★ Monday, 31 December 2012