Apple To Port More Apps To Windows? NEVER!

by Chris Seibold Dec 05, 2003

With the apparent success of iTunes for Windows folks are beginning to opine that Apple should port other applications to the Windows platform. A couple of quick examples: A pot stirrer at AppleMatters thinks a Safari port is in order and a BusinessWeek writer suggests the same treatment for iPhoto. At this point I wonder: What are these folks smoking and where can I get some of that feel groovy stuff? The writers of these missives werenít selfish Windows users fed up with the shortcomings of said platform (note: I donít hate Windows, itís a perfectly serviceable operating system in my opinion) the writers were suggesting that ports of these apps would help move Macs and/or make Apple scads of cash. I think it would be wise to trust Apple on which apps to port, heck they get paid for figuring out questions like this and so far theyíre doing a nice job.

iTunes for Windows made sense, it drives the sale of iPods and establishes the AAC format as a major player. Porting Safari doesnít make sense, itís free so no big cash influx, all Apple gets out of the deal is added support costs. The author argues that Safariís superiority will make Windows users jump over to the Mac side. Well intentioned to be sure, but hereís the rub: Many many folks only use their computer for the internet. If youíre one of the many folks for whom a computer is just an internet gateway then having Safari on Windows is tantamount to having a Mac. Sure I like Mail a little better than Outlook, but not enough to base a buying decision on it. Hence by porting Safari to Windows Apple will have basically given a Mac to a vast number of Windows users for free. Or maybe not, most folks just go with whatever comes in the box so I doubt that Safari would make significant inroads into the Windows browser arena. In any event porting Safari to Windows is a lose, lose, lose situation, much like Detroit Lions Football.

But what about iPhoto, surely you could sell iPhoto for a few bucks and add the profit to Appleís already bulging coffers? It might work but then youíve given away a good chunk of the reason to buy a Mac. iTunes is great, iPhoto doesnít do much for me but plenty of folks love it. What percentage of Mac users would jump ship to the cheap PCís if iTunes and iPhoto were available? As awe inspiring as iMovie is most folks donít mess with it much because it takes a big investment of time away from the computer (filming and such) with an even bigger investment time if front of the computer. If youíre not messing about with iMovie then youíre not poking around with iDVD and that pretty much kills the digital hub idea. Thus shiny new Apple iMacs have to compete with more cheaply priced (but less able) Windows based machines.

Some might argue that Macs will still sell even with all the apps ported to Windows, heck Macs have cool styling and a rock solid BSD core, right? Well, the two most common lies are ďthis carís paid forĒ and ďPeople buy Macs for the stylingĒ. Very few people buy Macs for the styling. People buy new computers for two reasons: it can do something the computer they currently have canít OR it can do the same stuff as their current computer only faster. Being faster doesnít only include clock speed it also includes ease of use. Apple ported programs would be pretty simple to use on the PC (Iíd wager) and that kills one more reason to buy a Mac. Not that Iím saying Mac styling is completely irrelevant, itís a nice feature but itís not going to get computers out of the back corner of CompUSA and into the Saab on itís own. And, if we dwell in reality for a moment, how many people really know what an operating system like OS X is really all about? Not many, most people assume itís a Windows wannabe. Sad but true. The only reasonable conclusion to draw? Apps sell Macs, give away the iApps you might as well forget the Mac.

Comments

  • iChat AV.  Apple should give us iChat AV for Windows.  Bundle it with every iSight at no extra cost, and in one fell swoop the world would have an easy, high-quality videoconferencing standard at a very reasonable cost.

    iChat AV should be to the iSight what iTunes is to the iPod.

    John O had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 3
  • Good article and I agree. If PC users want Mac apps buy a Mac! I don’t even like it that iTunes is availble for the PC. Heck, I don’t even like it that iPods can be used on a PC.

    John, as for iSight doesn’t it rely on the fast processor speed, firewire connection, and video cards that come with Macs? If they made for the PC how could Apple possibly support it on all the various machines? Also, I’m not sure but doesn’t iChat AV rely on some proprietary Apple hardware/software?

    bobby had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 15
  • In the Mac world, iSight does require a 600 MHz G3 or better (according to apple.com/isight) and a FireWire port.  I hope there’s nothing proprietary inside a Mac which is required for the iSight to work.

    Apple’s requirements for iPods for Windows generally just say you gotta have a PC with FireWire (or USB 2.0) and at least a certain version of the Windows OS.

    My thinking is this:  If Apple can support iPods for PCs with FireWire, why not the iSight for PCs with FireWire?  Apple should build whatever’s needed software-wise into iChat AV for Windows, just as they did with iTunes for Windows.

    John O had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 3
  • Furthermore, if, as Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying, iTunes for Windows is a trojan horse to sell more iPods, then iChat AV for Windows would be a trojan to sell more iSights.

    With a key difference:  iPods are designed for individual users.  iSights are meant to be used collaboratively.  So having iChat/iSight available for Windows would actually sell more iSights both to Mac and Windows users.

    I’ve demoed my iSight to my PC-using colleagues ... and I know that several of them would love to have an iSight for their PCs.  And I’d suddenly have a lot more people with whom to do video chats.

    John O had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 3
  • I agree that the iSight would sell like hot pancakes for the PC but wouldn’t it do it for the sake of Mac sales? I know so many people who are close to switching, and the iSight is yet another compelling reason that may just be the straw to break the camels back.

    Think of the iSight as a trojan horse to sell more Macs and not as iChat AV for Windows as a trojan to sell more iSights. Otherwise, long-term, Apple would just become a company that makes (we’ll-designed) peripherals.

    bobby had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 15
  • Great article!  I agree though iSight sales would increase on both sides if it was cross platform.  My sister doesn’t have a Mac but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t conference with her if iSight was available on the PC.

    hmurchison had this to say on Dec 05, 2003 Posts: 145
  • I have to put my 2 cents in here about the iSight - being a current owner since release. I think Apple really jumped the gun on the iSight.

    It seems the same exact process and thinking of the iPod was behind the design of the iSight. However the main difference is market timing.

    MP3 players had just exited the early technology adopter phase and was arguably on its way to ubiquity. That when Apple released the iPod and said - MP3 players will be around for a long time, and the iPod is the best out there. People were already jumping on the bandwagon before the iPod was out there - Creative Inc. basically cornered the market, offered several models, and was selling well.

    Who has cornered the webcam/video one-to-one conferencing market? No one. No one uses AIM/YIM/MSN to video conference. Very few people are interested in seeing each other on the computer. This is the video phone - but no one seems to want it yet.

    I know I don’t use it… altho only 2 other people I know have one.

    Nathan had this to say on Dec 09, 2003 Posts: 219
  • That’s true - for long-distance relationships it is a real boon. My friend talks to his girlfriend who lives in Singapore via webcam almost every day. Very good and necessary for those types of situations, whether personal or business.

    Before I used AIM, I often wondered why the heck people spent so much time on it. Why don’t they just call their friends? Its because its less personal and more casual than a phone call: opening this form of communication to a wider user base.

    Time will tell whether the opposite is true for video-conferencing.

    Nathan had this to say on Dec 09, 2003 Posts: 219
  • Videophone - Actually this will be increasing popular before you realise it. My company will be working on creating a national videophone relay system in the UK for the Deaf that use sign language.

    Such systems are already available in the USA as far as I am aware. Videophones are perfect for Deaf people whose first language isn’t a spoken one but a visual language such as ASL (American Sign Language) or BSL (British Sign Language).

    With the number of deaf people using videophones and their families seeing it will get it. From there, hearing people will see it and want it themselves…

    Add to that falling prices or broadband (or increasing speed)...

    Plus talking to someone will be more personal because you are able to see them and you’ll soon shurn your phone in favour of videophones (unless you’re looking worse for wear or you’re phoning in sick for work wink)

    JGJones had this to say on Jan 07, 2005 Posts: 1
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