Whither Apple?

UPDATED: Apple keeps confounding naysayers in the computer industry. But in what direction should it head: iPod or otherwise? Check out two different views of Apple's chances and opportunities.

Apple keeps confounding naysayers in the computer industry. Against great odds, the company has survived to post another profitable quarter, even after many sounded its death knell more than a decade ago.

One such call in the fall of 1994 appeared on the pages of PC Week (eWEEKs predecessor), in an article titled: "A terminal Macintosh earns a premortem." In the article, author Jesse Berst parroted the talk of Microsoft sales directors predicting the demise of the Macintosh. Also quoted was Gordon Eubanks, then Symantec Corp. CEO, adding that the Mac would be relegated to vertical markets and Apple would be bought out.

Certainly, Apples current sales can be found primarily in certain core markets, including professional content creation and scientific and technical segments such as biotechnology.

/zimages/4/28571.gifApple recently introduced a package of its Xgrid software, Xserve G5 server and bioinformatics software. Click here to read more about the clustering software.

However, more exasperating to its critics is Apples constant knack of reinvention. In its latest fiscal quarter, the company showed its greatest gains not in its lines of Macintosh desktops, notebook computers, Mac OS X operating system or Xserve servers, but in its consumer market iPod audio player.

For some, the success of the iPod signals yet another potential new direction for Apple. And a chance to get out of the PC market.

However, others consider that move premature.

/zimages/4/72957.jpgIn a column, Ziff Davis Internets Editor in Chief Jim Louderback offers that "Apples time in that market has come and gone."

"When it comes to servers, notebooks and desktops, the company is now a follower and a failure, not a leader. Luckily, the innovative company still has a bright future," he says.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read Louderbacks commentary.

/zimages/4/31626.jpgAnalyst Rob Enderle responds with his own analysis of Apples chances. He suggests that following Apples recent financial report there are "two questions on the table: What business is Apple really in, and does it even make sense for Apple to be in the PC business anymore."

"Granted Apple has shifted its marketing from a hardware focus to other things and to some the company appears to be trying to get out of this business. But Apple hasnt exited the party yet and until they do, the company remains one of the most important players in this segment," Enderle says.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read Enderles commentary.

/zimages/4/53050.jpgIn a column responding to both opinions, eWEEK.com Senior Editor Sean Gallagher wonders why Apple must buy into the "bifurcated marketing approach that PC vendors seem to be following."

"Why split the home and office apart, the desktop and mobile computing apart," he says, pointing to the quality and reliability found in Apples computing hardware and software.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read Gallaghers comments.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about Sean Gallaghers column.

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