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Long term strategy

That’s what I thought when I read the ongoing announcments (and the howling of the frustrated pro-users) over at Mac Essentials yesterday.

Of course it would be nice to have new multi-core PowerMacs or PowerBooks. But few people would care. The announcements of the new iMac with it’s gadgets, FrontRow and of course the iPod (with video) and iTMS with video and TV-shows appeal to more people. A lot more.

I think Apple is executing a long term strategy that seems to work just really, really nice.

Apple is working on two markets at the moment: The “pro” content creators (video / music) with it’s offering of the PowerMacs and assorted software. And the consumers (iPod, iMac, Mac Mini). One market missing is the corporate market. On my travels in the swiss trains, I see enormous amount of Dell laptops, the occasional IBM Think-Pad and other PC’s. I hardly ever see a Mac. And if I see one, it’s clearly one owned by a creative individual or someone from a small company. Mac’s aren’t being sold to businesses in large quantities. The hurdles to adoption in a corporation must be enormous. And I think Apple wisely is pushing out the battle for the corporation at the moment.

On the other hand, it’s doing very well on the consumer side (witness the iPod and the halo effect). It seems that Apple has 6.6% market share in the US at the moment, and rising fast. So by providing value to the consumers, Apple strengthens that market.

Apple put an enormous amount of work into providing infrastructure for the iPod with iTMS. Now they are doing the same for video. Including TV shows (even if there are only 5, even if the quality sucks) is pure genius. It’s the iPod shuffle all over again: Selling the lack of display as an advantage. Watching a full length movie on an iPod? No, but no thanks, I like my home theater with projector and 5.1 surround sound too much. But watching an episode of a TV show while on the train? Why not?

Quality is an issue at home, but not on the road. TV isn’t exactly about quality (although HD programming could change that). So those people call Steve Jobs a liar think again: Jobs is not giving you movies on the iPod. He’s giving you smaller content that better fits the format of the iPod.

No rival (looking over to the Redmondian empire) has anything similar. I’ll wager that the amount of video and TV shows to come will go up - and probably also the quality. But there are of course also limits of bandwidth. Waiting 10-20 minutes for a TV show is ok. Waiting a day…? But that will come exactly the same way, downloading a piece of music went from 10-20 minutes to a couple of seconds

In the meantime, Apple will have the infrastructure in place to support real videos in HD.

Apple continues to amaze me. They deliver new products on a very short cycle, and they improve things again and again and again. No – it wasn’t the Überbang announcement all hoped for. But like a good chess player, Apple positions it’s pieces one at a time and with a clear view of where the next piece will stand to support a winning strategy. (At least that’s what I think they do - all of their moves look very deliberate)

The give the consumers more value by providing simplicity. 6 buttons instead of 43. Camera included. Music included. TV shows included. Of course the geeks will wail and turn to bittorrent to download the latest Lost episode with 5.1 channel sound and in HD format. But pray, tell me, what would the normal user do, if they would be faces with a directory full of .r01 .r02 .r03 files? (that’s if they grok BitTorrent in the first place)

Apple is doing the right thing. The PowerMacs will follow. But there’s no need too make that big a deal out of it. Apple current big market segment is the media consumer. The producers will know where to find their next fix of hardware goodness from Apple. The consumers need the education. And later – the attack on the corporate world will follow. When a large number of workers have their Macs at home and are used to them. And some of these users will be decision makers….

Technorati Tags: iMac, iPod, living, mac, iTunes, strategy

Jens-Christian Fischer

Maker. Musician