Snow Leopard Means Business

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Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) isn't an official pick of our Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking service, but it has a habit of breaking the rules all the same.

The iEmpire launched its latest rebellion with the release of Snow Leopard on Friday, the newest edition of Mac OS X, which:

  • At $29, costs about what you'd pay for a fast-food dinner for a family of four.
  • Frees up to 7 gigabytes space on your Mac by eliminating digital clutter.
  • Offers built-in support for Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Exchange network services, making Macs a whole lot more business-friendly.

Contrast that with Vista, or even Windows 7. You can argue that Snow Leopard won't do much to forestall enthusiasm for 7 -- and I think you'd be right -- but you'd still have to admit that Apple is zigging just as Microsoft is zagging, going for smaller, smarter, and cheaper just as Mr. Softy is vying for bigger and better.

Plus, the upgrade comes at an important time. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) , and ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) , among others, are throwing weight behind the netbook form factor just as Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) is reporting better-than-expected results. Technology buyers may finally be coming back. To get them to come back to the Mac, Apple needs an OS that does better business. Snow Leopard is that OS.

"Once a system administrator provides setup details, your company's Microsoft Exchange address book, e-mail and calendar can show up in the Mac's own address book, e-mail and calendar programs, right alongside your own personal information," writes The New York Times' David Pogue in his review of the new OS. The implication? CIOs are out of excuses; Macs are now built to run Office applications such as Outlook in Windows networks, natively.

In short: The Mac is back, growling and hungry for market share.

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Apple and NVIDIA are Stock Advisor selections. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is on safari, hunting for the perfect vista from which to spot snow leopards. Bring a jacket if you want to come along.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (6)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2009, at 10:45 AM, vbernier wrote:

    That is a cheap upgrade, but it's still an upgrade. And you have to have previously purchased Apple hardware\OS to get it. Until the OS runs on non-proprietary hardware, or those hardware costs drop significantly, businesses will still be slow to replace PC's with Mac's mainly because of cost. Not to mention the infinite # of everyday apps which would require to be ported to Mac. I love Apple, I buy many of their home and consumer based products. But the Windows platform is just too ingrained in the business world to really have an announcement like this make a dent in it's share.

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2009, at 11:23 AM, xmmj wrote:


    You are right to a degree. But the Mac "price premium" is less than you think. Putting aside all "fanboy" opinions on how fabulous the Mac OS is (grin) ...

    Just on a hardware level, too often Windows diehards argue that you can buy a Win box cheaper than a Mac, and this is true. But if you really try to configure a PC to equivalent hardware (CPU, graphics card, etc) then most (maybe not all) of that cost savings disappears.

    Additionally, if you look at their servers - which are essentially a Unix server with Mac OS overlay - then you can find HW configurations that are actually CHEAPER than equivalent Dells - PLUS the OSX Server software comes with unlimited seats, so you you do not have the licensing costs associated with MS.

    Finally, the quality of the HW means that Macs hold their value better and thus have a longer lifetime. So if you buy can buy a Mac for $2000 or a truly equivalent PC for $1800, but you get 5 1/2 years from the Mac and 4 years from the PC - which is the better deal?

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2009, at 11:50 AM, xmmj wrote:

    This article has some useful info and comments. Mine are posted under jmmx2.

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2009, at 11:53 AM, xmmj wrote:

    "Jen-Hsun Huang (of NViDIA): They could also be used for all kinds of very computing-intensive applications, from a fluid dynamics computation for people who are trying to simulate how air flows over a car, to a nano-molecular dynamics for somebody who is trying to simulate a virus. And so the number of applications and uses for the GPUs [graphics processing units] parallel computing architecture that we invented is just absolutely astounding."

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2009, at 1:12 PM, UrbanBard wrote:

    vbernier wrote:

    "That is a cheap upgrade, but it's still an upgrade. "

    No, it is a complete rewriting of the operating system using new technologies and API's which leave behind old, obsolete code. Snow Leopard is small, fast, flexible and geared for future developments. The compromises necessary to bring NeXTstep to the MacOS in 1997 are being sidelined for extinction.

    "Until the OS runs on non-proprietary hardware, or those hardware costs drop significantly, businesses will still be slow to replace PC's with Mac's mainly because of cost. "

    That is Microsoft thinking. It is looking at past trends, not the future. There are processes at work now which will blind side you.

    Apple is not interested in Enterprise. It only caters to Small to Medium sized businesses, not the bureaucratic government and big business markets which have IT departments.

    Apple intends to out excel Microsoft software. The first OS that becomes fully 64 bit will take away the market. That is Apple; it will have 90+% of its apps in 64 bit code next year. Microsoft has a very long and difficult migration ahead of it.

    "Not to mention the infinite # of everyday apps which would require to be ported to Mac. "

    An ever smaller number of apps are exclusively Windows. The quality is much higher on the Apple side. Apple will be expanding its iPhone application store to deliver Mac applications, but it has content delivery problems that it must fix first.

    The iPhone App store is a revolutionary means of securely selling software. It allows developers to get paid for their work, rather than having 80% of their user base stolen from them. If the developers get paid for every app, they can price that app much lower. Fewer people are tempted to steal apps when they are reasonably priced. Honesty has its advantages. Apple proved that in music downloads.

    "... the Windows platform is just too ingrained in the business world to really have an announcement like this make a dent in it's share."

    Apple is making an end run around the business market. It is working with Google and their Chrome OS.

    Apple and Google intend to divvy up different sections of Microsoft's market. Apple gets the upper end of the market which needs heavy duty apps and Google gets the lower end internet search engine and web apps.

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