Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.The above quote is the current boilerplate in Apple's press releases and it exhaustively lists which market segments the company is pursuing. The focus on the latter one -- consumers -- came out in the recent switch campaign. The trouble is that those segments are rather different, and thinking differently enough for some of the old guard (no pun intended) to feel uneasy with a one-size-fits-all OS X that is so obviously designed for a broad consumers base. This single focus is sometimes reaching kafkaesque dimensions when OS X Server -- not exactly fit for the average consumer base (again, no pun intended) -- demands that you update iTunes or displays broken links in users' dock for iMovie and iPhoto on an Xserve! Apple is in a difficult transition that is taking too long and has slipped into a bad time. Mac OS X requires computer resources that most two year-old machines cannot deliver (an unusually short life span for Macs, which until now used to fade into obsolescence much slower than PCs). The current economical conditions simply prevent the high-end customers to throw premium price for top of the line computers that will increase their productivity, and Quark plays the last village gaulois that still resists to the invader. Add to that the recurrent "catch me up" fight with Intel about who's got the fastest processor (guess where the pendulum in the GHz war is now) and this turns the 68k-to-PowerPC transition into a piece of cake. I think Mac OS X is not fully baked, yet I am very positive about it. Baking continues. Big ISVs such as Microsoft, Adobe and Quark have credited Apple for listening to them and improving OS X to fit their needs. Apple knows that its customer base is not reduced to brand whores. I had the chance to test an Xserve for two weeks (thanks to Apple Europe) and I can testify how eager they are to get feedback from their customers. Finally, I've never felt so comfortable with a Mac than now. There is nothing I run on my Unix servers (both Solaris and Linux) I cannot build on my PowerBook with OS X. The mix of open-source versatility, Unix rock-solid stability (I never shut down my laptop), world-class UI, same office tools than Windows with which it integrates nicely (my colleagues cannot tell I'm on a Mac on the company network), and broad choice of browsers and email clients make it my platform of choice. As the permanent challenger Apple has to be on top, otherwise it will disappear. It simply cannot be on top every day. Just often enough to make you aware that even though the grass looks always greener on the other side of the fence, it's not worth crossing.
Is Mac OS X fully baked?
Zeldman is finally tasting Mac OS X after numerous unfortunate attempts. Zeldman's comments are those of a designer, Apple's core market.