Saturday, April 08, 2006

PCs running OS X?

Robert X. Crinkely in the New York Times suggests that the intention of AppleComputer's Boot Camp , which enables dual boot up of its new Intel-using MACs into either Windows or OS X operating systems, is designed to lead PC users to use MAC operating system on their PCs.

My bet is that once Apple has Windows Vista running smoothly on its operating system and helping its business sales, the company will try a more profitable avenue: marketing a version of OS X able to run on regular PC's that now use Windows.

This strategy would turn Boot Camp on its head, as the company selling all those $140 retail copies of its operating system would be Apple. And with hundreds of millions of Windows machines in the world, getting even 1% of PC users to switch to OS X would be a huge new business for Apple. It would also create another headache for Microsoft. And that, in the end, is what Apple does best.


rabee said...


Is there an economic argument for the present market structure in the market for desktop operating systems? That is a program that tells other programs how to run your computer.

The present market structure is a single operating system that almost completely dominates this market (MS Windows). It is not the best operating system but it is the most popular.

There are tremendous barriers to entry into this market.
a) Barriers to entry related to getting hardware manufacturers to design drivers for their hardware. Drivers are programs that tell the operating system how to let other programs access the hardware.
b) Getting software manufacturers to write programs for the operating system. This is costly since and in many cases it is difficult to do. The main cost I think is in keeping two versions of the program up to date and debugging the two programs.
c) There barriers to entry are amplified by network effects arising from the benefits that users get from having many other users use the same operating systems. If one important communications program, like Skype, is not cross platform, then the people using the program would loose a lot if they switched operating systems.

There is also something that is nagging me and that I don’t fully understand. Operating systems are simply a communications protocol for program writers to use. They are not so much the user experience. They are like the convention of driving on the left or right hand side of the road. I think that there is an argument for emergence of an international standards body in this regard.

Tom Davies said...

The important question here is: How many hardware sales does Apple lose, relative to the number of software sales they gain? We haven't seen enough of Apple's Intel line up yet to see how competitive they'll be.

hc said...

Tom, A good point as MAC hardware more expensive. MAC users might switch to PCs that ran OS X. Then, as you suggest, there would be a tradeoff.

Tom Davies said...

The odd fact is that Apple make their money on hardware sales, but their sales depend as much or more on the quality of their software rather than the quality of their hardware.

So selling OS X for generic hardware would in a sense be changing Apple from a hardware company to a software company.

It's also worth noting that supporting only a few types of hardware makes life simple for Apple in the driver department, and makes the user experience smoother.