18 January 2008

Go Apple!

Well, another MacWorld keynote has come and gone, and as usual the press (and the diehard Mac community, by far Apple's toughest critics) are bitching and moaning that the shiny new toy they wanted didn't materialise. Instead, they got the MacBook Air, which in my view is an amazing product so chock-full of yet-to-be-mainstream technologies and philosophies I'm half-convinced Steve has secretly invented a limited form of time travel and stole the Air from the Apple of the year 2015. But try telling that to the scruffy-nerd community. They were hoping for a combination of Mac Pro (in a MacBook form factor) merged with an XBox. Didn't happen. They're bitter.

There were some other announcements and neat stuff too, but if you listened carefully, the whole keynote had a tone of big-picture hints and announcements, as well as a central theme: Apple is going to invent the future.

This is a big relief to me. Apple may be a large multinational corporation (with some of the sins and baggage that being one brings with it), but they are by far the most genuinely benevolent money-grubbing capitalist tool in the world by a long margin. They actually like making things that make people happy! And that's probably the first time you've heard that sentence uttered about a company since Santa Claus incorporated his toy-making North Pole facility!

So for Steve to stand up there and, with a suave aplomb that would make Robert Goulet envious, casually leapfrog over the whole "Blu-Ray v. HD-DVD" war (which had dominated tech headlines only the week before!) and announce that the future of movie rentals is online and here's exactly how it will work and Netflix-slash-Blockbuster can't do diddly squat about it makes me tingle with admiration. Discs? That's so yesterday.

Whenever he does something like that, I always think that if Apple ruled the world, I'd be living in a Jetsons-like poptopia by now.

Lest you think I'm just a raving victim of Steve's legendary Reality Distortion Field, I point to Exhibit A of my belief that Apple owns the future: this chart from Changewave Research I spotted in the Baltimore Sun:

The big story has been missed by a lot of business and tech writers (who really should have been paying more attention), but over the last two years, Apple has doubled their market share. Doubled. And let's not even look at the stock's performance over the last two years, I don't feel like kicking myself just at the moment thanks.

You may not think going from 3.5 percent to seven percent (and rising) may seem all that impressive, but each one of those percentage points is about a billion dollars a year in extra revenue. It's actually hard to manage growth that explosive, and there's no sign that 2008 will slow Apple down in the slightest -- quite the contrary. The big debate in Cupertino these days isn't about how to keep this revolution going, it's picking what day should they announce the iPhone rev. 2.

Microsoft, by comparison, has soured even the mediocre mainstream with how crappy Vista turned out to be. I know lots of PC users, and without exception every one of them that could avoid running Vista did. Today I read that MS has decided to accelerate the release of "Windows 7" (which, knowing their marketing department, they will probably end up calling "Windows Nirvana") and get it out sometime in 2009 (yeah, like that's gonna happen). Why the rush? Is it because of heat from the Apple competition? Hardly -- it's because MS's relentless crap parade has finally pushed their long-suffering userbase -- their customers are jumping ship in droves, and the ones who haven't are making threatening noises. If they don't produce something genuinely better pretty soon, they are looking a full-fledged revolt.

And since I'm happy to push those lemmings over the cliff of computer enlightenment, let me just mention that the coup de grace, which again isnt' coming from Apple -- but actually from Microsoft itself (kind of): SilentBanker.

Heard about this yet? Don't worry, you will. It's yet another Windows virus (actually, a trojan) but instead of merely erasing your files or popping up porn, this one raids your bank account. Even better, you'll never know what happened until it's too late. Sure, chances are your bank will cover this theft -- at first -- but it's a nightmare that could, if widespread enough, cripple the financial industry. As Emeril might say, the virus writers have "kicked it up a notch."

Still feeling good about that PC purchase? Did I mention that Macs are (as always) immune to this crapola?

Okay, I understand. You can't switch right now. It's cool. Here's a workaround: take your money out of your bank, and put it in Apple stock.

This will not only protect your cash from SilentBanker, but in a few months you'll be able to afford that new Mac thanks to the dividends.

Don't say I never did nothin' for ya. :)

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