Five Reasons Why There Will Be No Macs in 2010

by Chris Seibold Mar 07, 2006

The Mac, and Apple, have been counted out more times than Gabby Jay. Unlike Super Punch Out’s resident tomato can, the Mac keeps getting up off the mat. Credit the people who love the platform, or OS X for the machine’s resilience, but don’t count on the Mac being there forever. The era of the all-in-one hardware and software solution has been gone for at least the last ten years, even though Apple hasn’t quite caught on yet. Here are five reasons why Apple will catch on and abandon Mac hardware by the start of the next decade.


The most common complaint users have about Windows XP isn’t the playskool look or lack of a decent bundled version of iMovie (Windows Movie Maker, what were they thinking?). The most common complaint concerns security. For the tech savvy, security isn’t a big deal. For those who either don’t like mucking with the computer or who are galled by constantly running programs in the background, security is a major source of frustration.

Vista aims to change all that. By beefing up security, Window’s users should get a more secure feeling rolling around in the graphically enhanced Vista. A Version of Windows that includes a much better look, Mac like niceties plus enhanced security? That is a recipe for wiping out a lot of interest in OS X. Yes, many people will argue (perhaps correctly) that OS X is still superior to Vista but the argument will fall on mostly deaf ears because, for almost everyone, the comparison won’t be Vista versus OS X, it will be Vista versus XP. How great does Vista really have to be to look fantastic next to XP?

Cat names:

There are plenty of cat names to go around if you count every species of cat. However, Apple can’t just throw any cat name on their OS, it has to be a cool feline capable of taking down substantial sized prey. So, Leopard (obviously) would be in, but OS X Munchkin is straight out. With that in mind, we realize that the pool of useable cat names is dwindling quickly. No cool cat names, no OS revisions. No OS revisions, no reason to go Mac. Unless Steve and company start genetically engineering new cats, the Mac is in serious trouble.

The Switch to Intel:

You wouldn’t think that a chip change would be a big deal, but when you go from being the only home computer maker using a chip to using the same chips most computer makers use, price comparisons are suddenly very easy. Put differently, when Apple was using the PowerPC people justified the Mac’s price by glomming on to the perceived superiority of the PowerPC. When everyone is using Intel, it is hard to make the argument that a Mac is somehow technically superior to another box using identical components. You now have compelling price comparisons where an HP is $400 dollars less than a similarly equipped Mac.

Sure, Macs aren’t the most expensive computers out there, look at the AlienWare’s version of the iMac or AOpen’s naked aping of the mini. Still, when most people think reasonably priced computers they look to Dell or Hewlett-Packard. In those comparisons Mac prices don’t fare as well. Without the perceived, if erroneous, justification for Mac prices a lot of people might decide not to subsidize development of OS X.

The iPod

In 2004, Mac market share hit an all time low of 1.98%. You would think that it would have been a terrible year for shares of Apple stock but it wasn’t, the iPod was there to pick up the slack. This year the iPod passed the Mac as the major source of revenue for Apple. Smart companies focus on the products providing growth and revenue, for Apple that product is the iPod.

Apple is following the expected path in this case and trying to extend the iPod brand as evidenced by last Tuesday’s introduction of speakers. Even more telling might have been the introduction of the seemingly ridiculous iPod sleeve. The sleeve isn’t nearly as functional as any random competing iPod case, and it is horrendously overpriced.* On the other hand the case would be perfect for a true video iPod where you’re either staring directly at the screen or have the thing tucked away.

As the iPod continues to grow and its brand continues to expand, reliance on the Mac and the manpower spent designing the computers will continue to decrease.

Dollars and Cents

More compelling than even the dwindling supply of large, predatory cat names is the bottom line. Currently, Apple’s profit margins runs anywhere from 15 to 25 percent on Macintoshes. Hence, a brand new MacBook likely nets Apple a profit of $700 where a mini brings $100 into Apple coffers. Those are nice numbers but they could easily be replaced by sales of OS X and the iLife Suite. That scenario doesn’t take into account increased sales of all of Apple’s other programs like Final Cut Pro and Logic. Which option seems more profitable: selling Final Cut to only people who have purchased Macs, or selling it to anyone who has shelled out $129 for a copy of OS X? The answer is obvious: If Apple thinks that by opening OS X for any capable machine instead of tying the system artificially to Apple subcontracted boxes would increase software sales enough to offset the loss of hardware revenue they would be foolish to continue making and selling computers. Apple’s software does have a pretty great reputation after all.

Here most people will argue that Apple is a hardware company, the software, they’ll say, is there to drive sales of the hardware. A nice notion 20 years ago but antiquated in today’s market. Apple is there to make great products in hopes of generating even greater piles of cash. Income from software fills up the balance sheet just as nicely (well more nicely because the profit margin is higher) than income from hardware sales. When people read articles that point out the cost savings realized when using Macs they’re undoubtedly itching to try OS X out but are stymied by the high cost of entry. Apple could rectify that situation…easily.

It Won’t Be a Bad Thing

When all this comes about, when Apple is seen not as a computer company but as an electronics giant, when you can install a shrink-wrapped copy of OS X on any computer that meets the specs, Mac users everywhere will howl and moan. Nevertheless, when those same users save the cost of OS X and iLife in their initial purchase of a computer a lot of the sting will be taken out. When people realize that they can now customize their purchase to their specific needs via any of a million generic PC makers the pain will further be dulled. To cite one example: every MacBook Pro and iMac ship with an integrated iSight. How many people would rather swap the cost of an iSight for a little more hard drive space? In the end, the change will be a winning situation for Mac fans everywhere.

*Well, maybe not. The sleeve is made from fine Italian leather. Sure, $99 is far too much for average Moroccan leather, but Italian cows simply produce the finest dead-animal-based iPod case material known to man.

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  • Let’s not forget customer service.  Dell & Gang are now in India and will tell you to reinstall XP for any problem you may have.  Apple uses some of that nice gross margin (not profit) to pay for local Apple employees who actually care about taking care of your problem.  After experiencing both I can tell you it’s worth the money to get the best service. 

    Under your assumptions Apple will have to move customer service out of the country and have some 3rd party company do it on the cheap, just like the PC guys. 

    I have a feeling, however, that by 2010 even PC customers are going to be rather tired of poor customer service.  That’s going to mean that Dell & Gang are going to have more problems growing their business than Apple.

    Design helps a lot also.  Both hardware and software.  MS will continue to follow Apple on the software side and as long as J Ive stays at Apple the Dulls will always be ugly in comparison.

    The issue for me is the risk that, by 2010, China will be flooding the market with Linux based computers that will have a huge impact on the PC market.  They have the resources to develop the hardware and enhance the software to where it is as attractive as a PC, but 30% to 40% less.  That is the 2010 challenge.

    MacKen had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 88
  • Under your assumptions Apple will have to move customer service out of the country and have some 3rd party company do it on the cheap, just like the PC guys.

    Might be happening sooner than you think:

    MojoJojo had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 14
  • Opening OS X up to be used on any box that can meet the spec is what I’ve been advocating all along. I’m a huge Mac user, been one for a while. As much as I love the hardware, it’s the software that makes me a fan. Too much rabble going on about Windows vs. OS X vs. Linux. Truth be told this is all rah-rah. OS X IS Linux. It is the best representation of what other distros want to become. Redmond just wants us to keep ducking it out because that means a larger slice of the pie for Windows.

    Bill Gates fears the day that Steve Jobs and the board at Apple vote to dis-continue making hardware and solely focus on software and open OS X up to other boxes. Michael Dell has already publicly stated that he would ship Dell boxes with OS X pre-installed if Apple opened the OS up to other hardware. When the world’s largest PC maunfacturer teams up with the world’s sexiest OS, things are going to start looking shaky for Windows. It is for this reason that the Gates and crew have been looking for other areas to expand Windows into such as Mobile Phones and Gaming Platforms. All the Xbox is is a computer with Windows running on top of it optimized for the gaming experience. It is for this reason that Apple needs to start looking at becoming more of a software copmpany in order to remain solvent for the for-seeable future.

    Let’s not kid ourelves into thinking that Steve and crew will be able to keep spinning the iPod 10 to 15 years down the line. Eventually, they’ll reach a point in which they’ve done all that they can do with the iPod. That example has already been given with Sony and the Walkman. No, for Apple, the future lies in software: OS X, Pro Applications (Final Cut, Aperture, Logic, iWeb Pro (?) ), the iLife Suite, Keynote and iWork and any apps that third party developers are making for the OS X platform. Add to this a revamping of the OS X Server software and a revamp of the .Mac platform and you have the makings of a very intimidated Gates and Ballmer.

    Frank 'viperteq' Young had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 32
  • I also think that it would benifit Apple to start thinking about shaping OS X to work on a mobile platform. Think about it. OS X running on a cell phone or a pda? F*ck!ng awesome!

    Frank 'viperteq' Young had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 32
  • I don’t meant to be rude, but none of you know what you’re talking about. I am especially shocked that you are still pushing the ridiculous notion that making hardware and software is “antiquated,” considering how successful the iPod is. Please, look at real life examples (besides the Mac) before you present your deductions.

    Oskar had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 86
  • I agree, viperteq.  I’m a big advocate of OS X on any Intel hardware.  I don’t use a Mac because of the hardware.  I use it because of the OS (or more specifically, because of the Mac-only software that the OS runs).

    I also think that in any case, the Mac should be happy being a niche-market product even if that’s all it ever is.  When I’m using FCP, I don’t care if the Mac has 5% of the market or 95%.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I have to say I’d hate to see it released for all the masses, though I’m not quite sure why.
    I also think they won’t do it under Jobs’s brand-ocracy. Imagine people seeing OS X running for the first time on one of those chunky biege piles of crap! Quiet, darling, ‘tis but a nightmare.

    Benji had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 927
  • (though it would be satisfying to see os x running on an opteron grin)

    Benji had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 927
  • My nitpick…

    1. If you hope to be a grown-up type news site, don’t use a badly inflated graphic showing only part of a 68K Mac “Sad Mac” screen. Seriously, this is the 21st century, and graphics software is a dime-a-dozen.

    2. Perhaps a new take on the same rumours passed around by Apple-denegrators for 20 years is nice for some, but not for me. If I wanted stale conspiracy theories, I’d listen to Art Bell.

    3. Every reason listed in the article as to why there will be no more Macs could also be used to show how there will be ONLY Macs in 2010.

    4. Running out of cat names means no more OS? Oh… OK… that makes purrfect sense.  Running out of 90’s numbers sure meant that Microsoft couldn’t come out with anything new…

    4. When writing an article about why there won’t be Macs, don’t ever - EVER - say that it will be because a Microsoft OS will be more secure. Ever.  It hasn’t been the truth in the past and it won’t be the truth in the future.

    5. When writing an article about why there won’t be Macs, don’t ever - EVER - say that it’s because they are too expensive. An Intel iMac is comparable in price to a Sony or Dell with similar speed, RAM, and additional software, yet comes with a display. An Intel Mini is will included all the same software, but will be cheaper than the previously mentioned Sony or Dell.

    Reverend Darkness had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I see several problems with this. I also love the software over the hardware. But I see them complementing each other. If OSX is decoupled, it does sell a lot of copies, however the amount of overhead that goes into supporting lots of different software configurations (not to mention legacy code) increases dramatically (just ask Redmond).

    This would create a staggering performance problem for OSX and level the field in that regard. I find it amazing that my iMac is 3 1/2 years old and is not only ABLE to run Tiger, but it is FASTER than when I had Jaguar on it. This is something Microsoft cannot do. Linux has been able to do some of it. Linux faces the driver problem as well. Once you support a large range of hardware, you have to work that much harder.

    Now I know that Apple could limit the specs that OSX would run on and say if you use anything else it would not be supported. That won’t fly. I’m not saying that Apple won’t get out of the computer harware business, I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s as much of a given as you think.

    rschallack had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 1
  • So… the iPod is more popular and that means Apple will move resources from the Mac department to the iPod department, eventually killing off the Mac.

    So, Chris, if your This Day In Apple History feature became your most popular item, you would devote more resources to that, and eventually stop writing articles?
    Considering how bad they’ve been of late, I would hope so* smile

    (* Not really *hugs Chris*)

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 299
  • Seibold is just another sheep who cant seem to see the predator coming.
    Tiger leapord or any other feeline names can just as easily be replaced down the line with any other animal breed, ex “SHARK” “Barracudda”  and nobody would be concerned about the difffference, most people would probably even be exited about the change.
    The change would come timly with an os revision and sales would go up more than ever.

    schejck had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Just to clarify (sincce a lot of people didn’t get the joke) the cat names thing, that’s filed under the irreverent part of Applematters.

    I think the “this day” is my most popular item and if you were to factor in how much time I spend on that versus columns you’d conclude that spent most of my resources on “This Day”

    As for killing the columns… I get that suggestion a lot. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everyone else who suggests it: Definitely, without a doubt, uncategorically, someday…. maybe

    chrisseibold had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 48
  • oh you are reading our comments! So how come you didn’t see the smart guy’s comment on your past article where he pointed out that although the revenue from iPod sales exceeded the Mac sales, the actual profit in each area would have definitely looked in favor of the Mac sales?

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 299
  • You heard it here first:

    Chris Seibold == John C Dvorak’s illegitimate love child!

    (Except of course Dvorak is claiming the opposite:  Windows running on Mac hardware.)

    Seriously, I thought the iPod proved beyond all doubt that there is indeed a market for a strongly branded, well engineered and aesthetic hardware device ALONGSIDE generic ones.

    People love Mac hardware, and will continue to do so.  The main reason Mac marketshare is limited is that Windows has a monopoly on the industry - it’s what everyone uses at work and home and most people don’t want to rock the boat, so they go with the no-brainer choice, safety in numbers.

    Sheer inertia keeps people pacing the Windows treadmill.  Many people would love to jump off it into the Mac jacuzzi, but it’s harder than you think, when all your software, familiarity and peers are firmly planted in the Windows world.

    mikataur had this to say on Mar 07, 2006 Posts: 19
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