My morning routine is somewhat similar to my after lunch routine. MacBook or iMac or iPhone, I browse through many dozens of web sites looking for what interests me. NetNewsWire, as my standard news reader, is a big help, of course, and it syncs between the three devices via Google. After poring through so many web sites for so many years, I’ve noticed an interesting trend which spurs the question—Whatever happened to the Mac?
It’s No Longer A Mac World
This trend is unmistakable. It wasn’t that long ago when Apple changed their official corporate name from Apple Computer, Inc. to plain old Apple Inc. That may have ruffled a feather or two among the Mac faithful (those of us who have endured Apple’s trials and tribulations back when the only thing Apple had going for it was a loyal customer base and the Mac), but it was minor, considering that our favorite Cupertino Mac maker also made the iPod and iPhone, both of which have far more customers than the Mac.
The trend I’m about to describe seems to parallel Apple’s successes since the Mac.
Each day I check out a few dozen Apple-oriented, Mac-oriented web sites for tidbits, tips, news, opinions. Whatever happened to the Mac in all those sites that use Mac in their site name?
Mac Really Means Apple
MacDailyNews is not about the Mac. It’s about everything Apple. Of the 30 or 40 headlines on the home page (as of this morning), how many do you think are about the Mac?
While that number will vary day to day, the trend is clear. Mac really means Apple. The great MacSurfer site has a small section for OS X and everything else is decidedly non-Mac.
MacNN’s home page this morning carried only two headlines which anything remotely to do with Macs. The rest were about Apple, the iPhone, and various and sundry accessories, software, and cameras.
What about Macworld, the print and online magazine that’s all about the Mac? It’s not so much about the Mac any more. Outside of a few Mac software reviews, the rest of the day’s headlines were about cameras, CES, iPhone, Google, and so on. Macworld isn’t much about the Mac anymore.
MacObserver’s home page has many dozens of headlines, dating back a full week. The number specific to Macs?
The same trend shows up on other once Mac-oriented** web sites, which have extended coverage to include Apple, iPhone, iPod, and any news, reviews, opinions, on topics related to Apple’s sphere of technology influence.
The Future of Apple, Inc. Coverage
The world of news and commentary is a dynamic, changing as rapidly as technology changes. Apple’s customers were once all Mac users, possibly numbering 25-million to 30-million.
Today, Mac users are the minority of Apple’s customers. Nearly 100-million iPod touch and iPhones have been sold since mid-2007. Apple has sold over 200-million iPods since 2001. The vast majority of Apple’s customers are not Mac users.
If the Mac was Apple from 1984 through 2001 and OS X, the Apple story has superseded the Mac’s influence on the company. After all, the Apple story (two Steves in a garage) existed before the Mac, it is only fitting that Apple and the company’s products, competitors, executives, strategy, and tactics remain the focus of our attention as Apple observers.
Why are there so many Apple-oriented web sites that use the name Mac, when their content goes well beyond the Mac? It’s the nature of change. There was a time when Apple and Mac were synonymous. That’s certainly no longer the case. It almost feels as if the Mac is an afterthought at Apple.
My father used to say, “Make sure to dance with the one who brought you to the dance.”
The Mac makes up a huge, profitable chunk of Apple, Inc. The Mac is more prosperous now than ever in the company’s history, yet makes up an increasingly smaller portion of the company. Apple doesn’t live much in the past. As Bill Gates was driven by paranoia and greed, Steve Jobs is driven by the fear of failure, a desire not to repeat mistakes of the past, and a need to move, relentlessly, toward the future.
Is the Mac here to stay? For the foreseeable future, yes. Apple isn’t afraid to change. There may come a time when the Mac, as we know it and love it, is less important in Apple’s scheme of things than it is now, and now it’s less than it ever has been. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when the Mac was Apple. That’s no longer true.
**one notable exception is Mac360, which, I’m proud to say, still maintains strong focus on the Mac and Mac software (with an occasional deviation when they publish one of my articles).