updated 09:15 pm EDT, Sat August 12, 2006
Analyst on Apple and Dell
Apple's struggle for marketshare is most often thought of as a fight against the entire 95% of Windows computer sales - as much an ideological battle as an attempt to claim a larger portion of the OS market. At least one analyst, however, believes that OS X is mainly useful to Apple as a means to the company's true end: defeating Dell in hardware sales. Controversial analyst Rob Enderle observes that Apple is less openly confrontational regarding Windows whenever it advertises the Mac in public, even as it gets press for challenging its rival at events like WWDC. Apple's tactic in the era of Intel-based Macs is not to overthrow Windows, but to offer a software advantage over companies like Dell (who are forced to bundle third-party software for the same features). Read about Microsoft's unwitting role in Apple strategy after the jump.
While Microsoft ultimately remains a rival to Apple, Enderle estimates that the Windows developer is mainly a means to Apple's true end. Microsoft will be eager to work with Apple on compatibility so long as pressure from the EU exists; the Cupertino company will take advantage of this newfound support for Macs to draw in customers from other hardware makers, but will gradually wean those users from Windows and ensure that they remain regular Mac buyers.
The Electronista perspective: This interpretation is at once surprising and realistic. While Apple vocally described OS X Leopard as "Vista 2.0" this week, it also attacked Dell hardware pricing on a separate level and almost always uses that company as a point of reference. Challenging Dell specifically rather than Windows as a whole is a much more pragmatic objective; in competing against every Windows computer maker, Apple also has to prove its superiority against every Windows PC (including typically cheaper home-built systems). Outperforming Dell helps limit the scope of the comparisons and lets Apple prevent any one PC vendor from truly standing out - except for itself.