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October 1, 1999

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Apple is NOT a box maker

Author: kmdesignfools

I wanted to step back a bit and type some thoughts out regarding "Apple, the company" as opposed to "Apple, the box maker."

As most here know, Apple is in the midst of a legendary comeback of monumental proportions. Whether the masses agree with me is neither here nor there--it's hard to argue with raw numbers since those numbers have been very grand indeed in the last few 10-Q's.

But I think something is getting lost in all the hoopla over whether or not Apple is gaining market share, or if MacOS9 or X is the "next big thing", etc. etc. What then is it we're missing you ask?

For starters, let's review Apple's product line--the tangible stuff we love to caress in our local CompUSA:

We have the PowerBook G3. It's power-full, as the name implies, slick, thinner than before, super-fast, and has a Steve-a-liciously described "gooorrrrgeous" display.

Next up, the [fill in color choice] iMac [fill in current chip speed]Mhz. Wow. What can we say. This product single-handedly turned Apple around. Why, just last night I read on c|Net that IBM is bringing out multi-colored Thinkpad i's... i's!!! Plagerism IS the sincerest form of flattery!

Following is the new desktop G4 in stealth-bomber gray. It has that hinge door, and so much processor speed that dictatorships the world-over can't have it, for any price (legally, that is). Magnificent machine.

And the baby of the bunch, born 10 years old from the get-go, we have the new, but mature iBook, borne from PB genes, but without an umbilical cord, if you will, a.k.a. wireless AirPort technology. The handle is too brilliant for words--funny how the obvious is always so hard to discover.

So, that takes care of the product review. All in all, a whiz-bang line-up, with something for everyone, consumer to professional, butt-in-chair to hyper-mobile.

But why the synopsis of what we already know? Because it's important to understand that Apple is NOT just the above products by any stretch of the imagination.

Let's move on to something I mentioned above--AirPort. We all know what it is, but do we really? I believe Apple's AirPort will be the biggest, busiest hub in the universe some time soon. More passengers will travel AppleAir than any other carrier. Mark my word. It's being built into every new product they make (w/o exception, to include the rumored products too, no doubt), and is fast becoming the virtual "link" to that Apple portal everyone just loves to complain isn't being done. Yes, Apple is creating a network of users so closely tied together and already wireless, the AOL's and Microsofts will be clamoring to fly their jets form AirPort too... for any price. Remember that Lucent doesn't give a darn about whether it Mac or PC. The technology is standard and Apple co-developed it. Apple is not blind to the real world. They see the biases and work with and around them, all the while trying to keep comfortably "proprietary".

Sherlock II. III. IV. What does the future hold here? MacOS 9 is the first glance at what is in store for users and it's called, dare I say, and integrated desktop. Microsoft must be fuming at the ears knowing what Apple has done with the shopping technology, the searching straight from the desktop, the co-branding, the plug-in's, in Sherlock. Consider what the government did to MS for integrating the browser into the OS. Now consider how Apple has done the same, WITHOUT CALLING IT A BROWSER. Much has been said about the interface/GUI design to QT4. But the interesting observation is how Sherlock II will look--just like QT4. Same design, same feel. Sherlock + QT4 = AppleBrowse. It's that simple. QT4 plays every know media type, runs every system-level language (Java/JavaScript/etc.), integrates with the OS seamlessly, and in internet- and streaming-ready. This IS Apple's killer technology. They will change surfing the web drastically very soon. It's here, MS doesn't have it, the government doesn't have a clue about it, and we all benefit.

Akaimi. What can I say about this investment. CSCO. MSFT. AAPL. And hundreds of thousands IPO-hungry investors are going to make the caching industry one of the most explosive growth areas the market has seen in years. Like the satellite sister stations of CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, etc. that have thrived for years providing the network for their parents, so too will Akaimi thrive, providing the same to the web. They might not be the monopoly everyone thinks they will be, but they will be a gorilla of gigantic proportions. And Apple... yes Apple! was one of the first major investors to see (and use) this company's technology. Coupled with AirPort and the QTTV network, Apple is reinventing itself into a broad-based internet broadcaster. And don't worry about the content (everyone is worrying about the content). The web is vast a long. It's not about who they sign-up as much as one's ability to access "it" quickly, from anywhere in the world, without fail, streaming real-time, as if one was plugged into the server itself. This partnership will be huge.

And lastly (I know this is long already), I give you this: Apple is NOT a box maker... because it is so much more. I've outlined some of what it is beyond the boxes. Here is the last bit...

It's brilliant minds: fantastic marketing, a brand identity that is so strong the design of it hasn't changed since Clement Mok created it almost 15 years ago, financial and logistical management that's first-rate, it's Steve,

and it's you and me.

Don't fret about the earthquake in Taiwan and iBook production (my thoughts are with those lost or injured), or the Motorola G4 supply problems, or the earning warning, whether Steve is leaving any time soon, or any rumor that might flash across your monitor.

The best is yet to come from Apple. And it ain't all boxes. Apple has the chance to be Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, and AOL all in one company. I see no other company out there today that has the opportunity, the potential, or the technology to do just this... except Apple Computer.

I might be wrong about how the puzzle will come together, but I know I'm right about what and where all the pieces are.

Fool On!