Letters from Steve: No One Bought the Xserve

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In what looks to be another email response to a customer question, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explains exactly why his company is discontinuing the Xserve: It wasn’t selling.

The French Mac Web site macgeneration reported that Mr. Jobs’ response to one Apple fan’s plea for the Xserve was “Hardly anone was buying them.”

Apple’s Xserve

Apple quietly announced at the end of last week that its Xserve rack-mount server would be discontinued January, 2011. The company will be offering customers a Mac Pro or Mac mini with Mac OS X Server pre-installed in its place.

The Xserve is Apple’s pro-level server product. It includes Mac OS X Server, three hot-swappable drive bays, an option for a redundant power supply, and takes up 1U or rack space.

Assuming the email from Mr. Jobs is correct, it isn’t a big surprise that Apple chose to discontinue the Xserve even though the company looks to be gaining a foothold in the enterprise market. Dropping products that don’t perform well in the market in favor of supporting more popular sellers is common place, and it looks like that may be exactly what happened to Apple’s pro-level server.

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42 Comments Leave Your Own

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Look for lots of nobodies to come out of the woodwork this week. And read El Reg’s take on why this cancellation is especially bad.

MacKeeper_fan_Mod

It’s very strange to read such article: I had just opposite information about selling of this device. As far as I know it was sold not so good, as for example iPhones or something else but people really buy and use it. Of course, Apple government could hide necessary information if they didn’t want to scare clients but whatever it looks some strange from my point of view.

Nemo

Dear Bosco:  You are, are you not, completely oblivious to the irony of your comment?

Helge

We were buying it. Is a great peace of hardware. But thats not my point: Apple is moving away from pro products. Next thing will be to cancel MacOS Server. I work as a system admin for a motion graphics. Many of our artists prefer to work on Macs for obvious reasons. We maintain a complicated active directory/open directory structure and as well as FC SAN (we had to move away from xasan because Apple canceled windows support). Bottom line: Without Xserve I will have to build a Hackintosh Server. Without MacOS Server the Macs in our company will be history. And my work will be a lot more easy.

Lizzymcbee

Maybe the days on needing servers are numbered. Maybe Apple’s cloud services will be the future.

Tiger

The XServe was the computer equivalent to the Edsel. A nice solid and staid device, but considering they probably never sold more than 300,000 of them cumulatively, this should not come as any big surprise. In fact, it’s surprising that it took this long!

We looked at them, liked them, and in the end opted to avoid them.

If you’re buying huge numbers of servers, you’re going to invest in more robust hardware. If you’re buying one server, you’re not likely to worry about the form factor. Our four servers are all the size of the Mac Pro (3 Dells, one HP)

But to be fair to all who have them, it’s not like they’re going to quit working now that they’re discontinued. Far from it. Most servers are built to last. We’ve had one of our Dell servers going on 12 years (and many times thought it was dying only to be proven wrong).

And who’s to say that Apple won’t come out with a totally new solution? The new Blade SSDs sure give some new options.

Lee Dronick

Maybe the days on needing servers are numbered. Maybe Apple?s cloud services will be the future.

They are numbered, but it is a very high number.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Maybe the days on needing servers are numbered. Maybe Apple?s cloud services will be the future.


Unless they have invented a new kind of physics that yields gigabit ethernet transfer rates with local latency over long distances cheaply, there is a certain class of Xserve customers they cannot service from the cloud. There are actually reasons why companies have servers on site, and dreaming about Apple and it’s *magical* cloud servers doesn’t get rid of those reasons.

@Nemo: It’s only ironic if you choose to read it that way. The foul here is not canceling a product. It’s reneging on a commitment. So when these customers start coming out of the woodwork, like Helge above, you’ll hear what they bought into and how they won’t get fooled again.

Helge

Maybe Apple?s cloud services will be the future.

Haha, wonder what they are using. As long as there are clouds, there is the need for servers I would say. Moving to a cloud is no option for us - as long as there is no 10GB LAN to the cloud.
Ok, as long as there is MacOS Server a linux XEN box will do wink

Tiger

So I’m guessing the few but proud who bought XServes now feel like people who bought Saturns and Pontiacs.

MOSiX Man

The foul here is not canceling a product. It?s reneging on a commitment.

For a relationship of any type to work, there has to be commitment from both sides. Of course a lot of people and/or companies bought XServes, but if the number of people who bought them wasn’t enough to make them viably profitable, then can you really fault Apple for discontinuing them?

A lot of people really loved Oldsmobiles, but cutting the Olds was a smart business decision for GM. Did GM reneg on a commitment, too?

Nemo

There is much talk here about the cloud.  Well, the cloud simply means that the server moves from the customer’s server room to someone else’s remote server room, but you still need roughly as many servers that are located in remote and vast server farm. So the only difference is who owns the server and where it is located, but you still have customers for servers.  Apple’s problems is that it wasn’t selling enough servers to either customers that maintained their own servers or to customers who operate remote servers, a.k.a the clouds.

As for Apple’s commitment to keep producing Xserves, perhaps, Bosco, you could show some evidence of the existence of any such commitment, something in writing or at least something witnessed.

Son of Jobs

Why doesn’t everyone stop compaining about Apple’s decisions. They obviously know what’s best for their customers. They are trying to craft the best experience for everyone. Just sit back and let them do their job. Sheesh.

vasic

Digging further into the French site with the quote from Jobs, I was able to find that they were selling less than 10,000 Xserve machines per quarter—total of less than 50,000 per year, cumulative total of less than half a million over eight years (fewer than the number of all other Mac OSX -based computers Apple sells in a single month).

Considering the amount of labour (and parts) that go into manufacturing these devices, compared to the retail price (and comparing that to the same costs and price for the other Mac machines), how can any business justify sustaining such a product? For EIGHT years???

ilikeimac

Maybe they got sued (like HyperMac) but I recall there was a company selling iMac innards rebuilt into a 1U form factor once upon a time. Perhaps someone will fill this gap and dare to sell rebuilt Macs as rackmounts again someday.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

As for Apple?s commitment to keep producing Xserves, perhaps, Bosco, you could show some evidence of the existence of any such commitment, something in writing or at least something witnessed.

I would hope you knew what I meant by my comment. Your reply indicates that either you don’t know or you think it’s such a stupid, quaint, last millennium kind of notion. And if you do think that, you Sir, are worse than Hitler.

But I sense a need to explain anyway… Xserve is unique device that can’t be drop-in-replaced by anything else legitimately available. As the El Reg article points out, it packs 6x the number of processors into equivalent space as a rack mounted Mac Pro. It runs Mac OS X Server, which no other rack mountable can legitimately do, even in a VM. One example i’ve pointed out where these requirements intersect is render farms. A render farm can basically scale over time by adding more boxes. So maybe you budget to add and/or replace 5 or 6 1U rack servers per month. And you’ve had custom plugins or software written that can run on your desktop Mac or on those servers and get the exact same byte-for-byte results. This is what a typical Mac-centered creative company does. I’ve written software for setups like these as consulting projects. These customers bought into end-to-end Apple hardware because it was available, it was sold to them by Apple reps as “end-to-end” with all the advantages discussed above. And they expected to grow their businesses around that model, not just for 12 months, but many years.

There are parts of business that Steve Jobs clearly does not get. He does not get when people don’t jump on his new way of doing things. Google for an account of his pre-iPad-launch meeting with the Wall Street Journal. He does not get what will attract the ire of regulators, especially the European variety. See War Against Adobe. He also does not get that the cost of honoring implied commitments is often very low compared to the cost of not honoring them. Here’s one where he could have inexpensively licensed the design and right to produce 1U rack mounts that run Mac OS X Server while canceling their own branded kit, and instead, we get a migration document that suggests an adaptor to stick two Minis on a 1U slider.

Love Steve or hate him (there seems to be little in-between), when someone continually picks fights, he is bound to pick the wrong one at some point. I don’t think the wrong fight for Steve will be “China” or “Microsoft” or even “DOJ”. I think it will be surprising. And I think the fight he just picked with creatives could be the one that enough people understand to start to change perceptions.

Nemo

Rambling deflections; statements about what you think that customers expected; false statements about the Xserves being irreplaceable, after all, Apple was able to replace them and so will the customers that presently use them, though the alternative may be inferior; but still no commitment.

commitment:
noun
1 the act of committing or the state of being committed.
? dedication; application : the company’s commitment to quality.
? a pledge or undertaking : I cannot make such a commitment at the moment.
? an act of pledging or setting aside something : there must be a major commitment of money and time.
2 (usu. commitments) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action : business commitments | young people delay major commitments including marriage and children.

The applicable parts of definition have to do with a pledge or undertaking, that is, a solemn promise to do a thing that imposes an obligation that restricts freedom of action to do otherwise than what was promised.  Where by word or action could one reasonably find that Apple had promised to continue providing Xserves?  I am certainly aware of no such promise from Apple that would be legally enforceable, nor am I aware of any statement or action by Apple such that a reasonable person could conclude that he has Apple’s promise to continue to provide Xserves for any period of time.

Lee Dronick

No more Xserves, but maybe will soon see iServes

The server for the rest of us

MOSiX Man

Wow. Stating that another poster is worse than Hitler? That’s a new low even for you. If you’re serious, you should be banned from TMO’s discussion boards. If you’re trying to be funny and/or ironic, you’re failing miserably.

Of course, you won’t get banned from TMO’s discussion boards, no matter what, because the site’s management knows that you hang out and spout Apple-bashing nonsense at any given opportunity, and that in doing so you stir things up and get people to post more, in turn giving them more reason to give this site more page hits.

I could, and would like to compare you to various and sundry unsavory things, due to you’re one-sided attitudes and willingness to treat others around here as stupid (and apparently worse), but unlike you I have the taste and intelligence to not to treat others poorly based on the fact that their opinions differ from mine.

I hope you know what I mean by my comments.

vasic

MOSiX Man:

Apparently, you didn’t click on that link with the ‘Hitler’ line. While I almost always disagree with Bosco, I must say, there is no way the “you, Sir, are worse than Hitler” line could be construed as anything other than an amusing joke. And if that wasn’t clear right away, following the link would provide enough of an explanation.

vasic

Nemo,

Nobody here is arguing that Apple had legally committed itself to supporting/providing Xserve to their customers.

However, it is obvious that enterprise hardware lives (and dies) by different standards from consumer hardware. There is a reason why you can still run DOS software in Windows Vista—enterprise expectation forced MS to continue legacy support.

There seems to be a very heated (and intelligent) discussion about the fallout of Apple’s decision regarding Xserve. I honestly don’t believe it will be of much consequence, though, judging by the total number of machines Apple sold over the 8-year life of the product. There simply aren’t that many users of it, and even among those, it is unlikely that many will rip all of their hardware out and replace it with something else (Windows? Linux?), just because they can’t buy Xserve anymore.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I am certainly aware of no such promise from Apple that would be legally enforceable…

I guess when you’re a lawyer, everything looks like something to screw. I didn’t say anything of the kind. This is about reputation, not contract. In business, both are important.

@MOSiX Man: Where you excel in taste and intelligence, you lag in link clicking. All three are important.

mrmwebmax

+

@Bosco, regarding “commitment”:

If Apple had provided IT managers with a product roadmap and a contractual obligation to continue producing XServes, then yes, they would have had a commitment to keep doing so. But no one will ever be able to find proof of such commitment, because Apple provides no roadmaps (which is one reason they don’t do so well with IT departments).

Bosco, let me explain the cold hard facts of life to you: Just because you want a commitment to be there does not mean that one is. In 2004 I leased a Saturn Ion, rather than purchased, because I’d planned to upgrade to the new model when my lease was up. When the lease was up, I found that Saturn was no longer producing Ions. Worse yet, they were no longer producing any models with polymer body panels.

Here’s value proposition for you: Polymer body panels are what drew me to Saturn cars to begin with. But no where in my original lease does it state that Saturn would continue to make Ions, or cars of any kind with polymer body panels. It states I pay $X per month, I get to use the car, and when the lease is up I’d have the option to buy. That’s it. That was the agreement, and I can hold my breath ‘till I turn blue that no more Ions are available—after all, when I’d leased the car I’d planned on upgrading when the lease was up—but that doesn’t mean Saturn had any commitment to me to keep making a car that wasn’t selling well.

I bought it, and will drive it till the doors fall off. At least I won’t have to worry about body rust.

Note, too, that when I leased, and then bought the car, no where did GM state it would keep Saturn up and running. Ions weren’t selling in particular, and Saturns weren’t selling in general. End of story. That’s life. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t change what is, nor does it mean Saturn and/or GM broke a non-existing commitment with me, despite my plans.

Oh, the list goes on. My favorite TV show was/is Firefly. Cancelled, despite me being emotionally invested in additional seasons. T:SCC? Cancelled after two seasons, despite me wanting more. But FOX had no commitment to keep producing shows that no one was watching. The movie Serenity? No sequel, despite my wanting one. Hey, didn’t Universal know the only reason I went to see it is because I thought there’d be a sequel? They broke a commitment to me inherent when I purchased a ticket!

Even you must realize how silly the above is, yet that’s exactly what you’re arguing.

MOSiX Man

vasic: I did follow that link and there was some humor there, but I still don’t think that comparing anybody to Hitler (or any other monster of that level) is appropriate or funny. Also, even if you leave the part about Hitler out of my original post, the rest remains true in my eyes.

ctopher

Lemmie get this straight… Apple cancels Xserve without so much as a “how do you do” and the result is the creative community will shun Apple products?

My graphic designer, with an iMac and a MacBook Pro will chuck it all and get a Sony Viao because some large art department is pissed?

I’m sure there are people who were counting on the Xserve product line. It will cost real dollars to regroup and retrench and many will no longer be customers of Apple just to spite them.

Bosco Brad seems to think this “planned” or “Unplanned” obsolescence will engender ill will among the creative class which will spill over into the consumer class?

There have been lots of examples of products and technologies whose end-of-life has caused business and personal pain.

But the world as a whole moves forward. It has always been thus. Sometimes losses have to be cut, even if it hurts someone, it’s better in the long run.

Just ask an ex-girlfriend.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@mrm: The problem with the Saturn analogy is that there are few opportunities for lock-in on that Saturn. It is, in most conceivable cases, easily replaceable by a different brand of automobile. Did they offer accessories that you can’t take with you to a Dodge?

My graphic designer, with an iMac and a MacBook Pro will chuck it all and get a Sony Viao because some large art department is pissed?

Did I say that? High level here… This hurts Apple’s brand, especially with some of the bigger end-to-end shops. How much is anyone’s guess.

Gerald Shields

I hate to say this, but the argument here is pretty much about form factor, not hardware. With a Mac Pro, you would have to set it in a custom made place, whereas with XServe, you can place it in a standard 1U rack.

mrmwebmax

+

OK, all, this gets interesting. From a story at Cult of Mac:

Soon afterward [after the XServe announcement], Apple Senior Product Manager for server sales Eric Zelenka posted a note expressing the companies continued commitment to supporting servers.

?Apple remains committed to the development of server products, technologies and services. Today?s announcement does not impact the future of Xsan or server software on Mac OS X,? Zelenka wrote at Xsanity forums over the weekend. However, nine hours later, the post was deleted, prompting some to ask why.

vid99

I remember when the 1100 xserves that VA Tech made news…

http://www.apple.com/science/profiles/vatech2/


Our company bought 2 xserves when the intel models came out and we will miss them when its time to upgrade in a few years…

CityGuide

I don’t think the car brand analogy works well unless you change a fundamental operating parameter. For instance, if you bought into a plug-in hybrid and renovated your garage with dual-outlet charging system with paddle connectors, and perhaps upgraded or added solar panels to feed into it, that is your infrastructure. If the manufacturer of your car suddenly decided to abandon paddle connectors and in-car charging, and sold replaceable charged battery packs that you could pick up at any local gas station, you’d probably feel like your renovation was wasted, commitment or no.

The company that employs me has thousands of headless servers in a dozen data centers, locations that are strictly hardware with no cube farms. The first Xserve we installed came via a vendor providing an integration solution for archiving email. The fact that it was a rackmountable solution helped sell it as it was the first time many of the data center managers had ever even heard of the Xserve, much less touched an Apple computing product.

There is no way a MacPro or Mini will be installed in these DCs, and our policy does not permit server-level systems to be installed outside of them. So when the Xserve reaches the end of its supported life, we won’t buy any more for our environment.

Nemo

No major tech company, not even IBM, Intel, and HP, do anything more than provide a road map, which they make clear is nothing more than their intention or expectation of where a product is going.  And we’ve all seen revisions or delays of such road maps that amount to or, in fact, do cancel a product that many customers were depending on.  Microsoft is famous for doing that, notwithstanding having provided a road map. 

Apple, however, never provides road maps to any customers for any product of service, at least not during Steve Jobs’s tenure as CEO.  All that Apple ever provides is a commitment to support what it has sold for a commercially reasonable period, which it is doing here with Xserve.  So no customer has any basis for saying Apple breached a commitment, either legal or moral, because, as the industry customarily understand the idea of making a best-efforts commitment to accomplish a road map, Apple didn’t provide any road map for Xserve, which is consistent with Apple’s practice of never providing a road map for any product or service.

John Martellaro hasn’t written about Apple’s refusal to provide road maps and explained the reason for it:  Apple insist on being free to modify or cancel any product or service in any way so that it can pursue at least useful innovation in the markets where it wishes to compete or its business priorities without any moral or legal restrictions arising from promises to provide or develop a product or service according to a promise.  And that is what Apple has done here with Xserve:  Cancel an unsuccessful product with a commitment to support existing products for a commercially reasonable period.  As for Apple’s obligation, either legal or moral, to do otherwise, it simply never existed.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

As for Apple?s obligation, either legal or moral, to do otherwise, it simply never existed.

And again Nemo, nobody is saying that Apple has either a legal or moral obligation, so that is a strawman. You do light it on fire quite effectively, if that’s any consolation.

However, there is some take-away for IT decision makers, which is irrefutable (please try, Nemo). If you buy from Apple, there is risk that the product may be discontinued with no available drop-in replacement from another vendor. This may be acceptable or not even an issue for some kinds of deployments. It may, however, be a significant issue for others. As a general rule-of-thumb, if you stick to the Wintel or Lintel stack from client desktop and portable devices to servers, there will probably be another source for replacement and expansion devices if your original one goes away.

I can think of a lot of people that this change in perception will hurt, including those in enterprise who want more Macs. More Macs means more scrutiny now. Necessarily.

Nemo

Well, if Apple doesn’t have a legal or moral obligation to maintain Xserve, that pretty much covers the Universe of obligations, so Apple doesn’t have any obligation to maintain Xserve.  And there is nothing surprising about any of this, because Apple has never provided road maps, at least not under Jobs, so there have been no surprise or violation of reasonable expectations.

As I said, supra, and elsewhere, Apple is crystal clear:  Where a product is successful and/or were Apple can innovate in a way that it believes will make a product successful, that product has future, at least until the market renders a verdict against it.  However, customers know that existing products will be supported.  Compare this to Microsoft and others where there is either no significant innovation or a road map is provided but is revised and delayed so often that products are effectively canceled, if not canceled outright. 

Frankly, I prefer Apple’s approach.  I know that my products will be supported over their expected useful life.  I know that if a product is successful, it not only has a future, but Apple will be constantly be innovating in an effort to achieve insane greatness.  I also know that, where a product isn’t successful and Apple can’t innovate in a way that will make it successful, that product’s future is in doubt, because Apple will not be a commodity producer of a product, unless there is some other strategic reason for it to do so.  So with Apple, notwithstanding no road maps, you know exactly what to expect, success and innovation or nothing.  It reminds me of that great line from Patton:  “If we are not victorious, let no one come back alive.”

Andrew

I’m most frustrated by my lack of options for dealing with this change. If Dell dropped its server line, asinine as it might be, we’d all move to IBM or HP or some other vendor and carry on. With Apple dropping the Xserve, there’s nowhere for us to go because the EULA for MacOS doesn’t support buying and installing the OS on non-Apple hardware and the only hardware remaining from Apple is too cumbersome to deploy in a data center.

I administer a continuous build/integration system for Mac, Windows and Linux, for a very large company. We have about 50 Xserves dedicated to building a pretty large collection of Mac applications. Hundreds of developers in our organization depend on the convenience, speed, and reliability of our build infrastructure, so it’s not going away any time soon.

I find it laughable that Apple would suggest that I could get by with Mac Minis. Compiling millions of lines of code hundreds of times per day requires massive computing power, high reliability, and high density. At least the MacPro has the computing power to be a viable replacement, but how on earth do they expect me to replace 50 Xserve machines with MacPros? Data center space is at a premium and we’re constantly swapping out larger machines for 1U units just to keep up with growth. I don’t see any way I’ll be able to get any additional space to use for my Mac servers. The Xserve fits 1 machine per U, whereas the MacPro only fits 2 machines per 12 U. Even if I ignore the incredible number of racks I would have to purchase and the abysmal utilization of space in using 50 MacPros, there’s still the matter of trying to perform maintenance. MacPros aren’t built to be housed in racks and don’t have any hot-swappable hardware. See this article for some more details about that issue.

I can understand how small businesses and other groups could reasonably replace an Xserve with a Mini or a MacPro, but it’s arguable that folks who can do that never actually needed Xserves in the first place. For the rest of us, who have Xserves because we absolutely need the power, reliability, size, and ease of server-grade hardware, it’s impossible to imagine how we’re going to get by.

It’s not like anybody at Apple would care to listen to my argument here, but if they’re going to drop the Xserve, it sure would be nice if they could make a few concessions elsewhere to help us get by. Here are some possibilities.

Dear Apple:

1) Design a new MacPro case which is only as tall as a standard rack is wide. If you want to keep the oversized handles, at least provide the ability to swap out the handles for rack rails. That way most folks could use it as a desktop, but those of us who need rack-mount units could order the rackable variant without the handles.

2) Re-design the insides of the MacPro case to allow for hot-swappable drives. I’m sure home and semi-pro users would love that just as much. An easily-replaceable power supply would be nice, too, but isn’t as important as the hard drives.

3) The best solution would be this: License the hardware designs and software platform so third-party vendors can produce hardware to take the place of Xserves. Want to keep a tight lid on those hardware specs? Fine. Want to charge $1000 a copy for the license to run the server OS on non-Apple hardware? Fine. Want to force me to phone up Steve Jobs to get a license key every time I need to reinstall the OS? Fine. You’ll make a killing because companies that depend on these things will bear just about any cost of money and time necessary to make it work.

CityGuide

No major tech company, not even IBM, Intel, and HP, do anything more than provide a road map,

I don’t mean to pile on but this is simply not true. HP, Compaq before them, and IBM provides training on upcoming products, datasheets on architectural changes in the pipeline, and has SEs who assist in datacenter updates when requested. HP and IBM are known for their professional services groups who work with certain accounts to ensure their data center strategy aligns with product roadmaps. Despite the ridiculous amount of money spent on racks and floor equipment, neither of those companies over the past fifteen years has told us they are tossing specifications for the framework we use. Until the recession we regularly replaced servers within that framework to stay with the pace of innovation in a fiscally responsible manner. It’s neither a strictly legal or moral obligation, but for business to stay in business it requires a framework it can rely on.

Nemo

Dear CityGuide:  You aren’t piling on; you’re just wrong.  IBM is ruthless in terminating any business that doesn’t hit its numbers.  It ditched its entire PC client business; it has ended lines of mini-computers.  And more importantly, that HP, Compaq, IBM, and others spend money to train and provide paper plans does not legally obliged them to provides any product based on a road map, at least not until contract are signed for them to provide that product or service. 

What you are describing is HP and IBM persisting in what are main lines of business for them, which is no more a sign of reliability than Apple producing the next iPhone, iPad, or OS X computer, which are among Apple’s main businesses.  Servers weren’t a main line of business for Apple anymore than client PCs were a main line of business for IBM.  IBM ditched PCs; HP ditched it consumer media players and smartphones, though it may be reentering the smartphone business; Apple ditched its 1U servers; there is no difference in principle. 

The difference for you is that your company is a customer for IBM and HP/Compaq in their main lines of business, which is servers.  Apple exhibits similar reliability in its main lines of business.

And Andrew your company’s fifty Xserves don’t make that a main line of business for Apple, anymore than a partner’s-and this was a while ago—HP smartphone made that individual smartphone a main line of business for HP.  He wined when HP obsoleted his rather new smartphone.  HP did it anyway.

Companies concentrate their efforts on their main revenue and profit producing businesses, doing other things only to the extent that they either present new lucrative opportunities or are necessary for other strategic reasons.  That is true for HP/Compaq, IBM, and others.  Apple is not different in principle, though its main lines of business are different, and, therefore, the products that Apple decides to terminate will be different, but all companies, including Apple, terminate peripheral products that aren’t successful and don’t serve some other essential need.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, how about this… Would you blame Andrew if he was now less likely to buy or recommend Apple products than last week? Curious.

Nemo

Depends on which products.  If it was 1U servers, no I wouldn’t blame him.  But in Apple’s main lines of business, iPhone, iPod Touch, OS X client computers, iPad, iTunes, App Store, Final Cut Pro, Pro Logic, and few others, Apple is without peer.

vasic

IBM is a rather bad example in this story. My workplace has a massive All-IBM contract. Before they sold PC business to Lenovo, we had their PCs and Thinkpads (now we buy Lenovo devices); SAN storage, RS/6000, AS/400, even before that, old S/36; we squeezed the last drop from OS/2 on desktop before moving to Microsoft. Hardware service and maintenance, plus wall-to-wall Lotus/Domino solutions (Messaging/Scheduling, KMS, e-Learning, Desktop Office Suite…). You won’t find more monolithic shop anywhere.

So what does IBM do? They simply kill a product (the e-Learning solution, the WCL), without providing migration path to the next product (they’re selling Saba’s e-learning product). We are now stuck with an e-Learning product, which they advertised as the best and the greatest barely a year ago, which they no longer support, and for which they have one single engineer in maintenance mode. Not to mention that the product sucked big time in the first place.

IBM has a long-established track record of advertising and selling a product/service/solution, only to completely abandon it later, after acquiring a competing (and arguably better) product, or abandoning it altogether with no migration path, if the product sold poorly.

While this kind of approach may be excusable in the consumer space, it is simply unacceptable in the Enterprise. Yet, it is so frequently done by some big players. No wonder MS is so popular with Enterprise; they NEVER abandon obsolete, poor products.

Tiger

Just a short comment…a half a million units in 8 years sounds like a very measly return on what was likely at least two to three years in development costs. And with hardware failure probably around 2-3% per years (typical for devices), the realistic number of actual XServes in the wild was a shrinking number. So, their ditching the dinosaur isn’t that big of a shock. It was a bigger shock when Apple dumped their printer division. Sort of like it was a shock when IBM dumped their printer division. And IBM dumped their PC division. (Other than servers, what the heck does IBM do now?)

Again, I go back to my Edsel analogy. The XServes were a nice, staid device and those in the wild continue to run. Will Apple provide a future solution other than what they’ve laid out so far?

Only the good folks in Cupertino know that. But I don’t see a “Team Coco” like groundswell for the XServe. It’s doomed to be a fossil.

gslusher

It?s reneging on a commitment.

What commitment? Is it like the commitment Apple made [NOT] to keep OS X compatible with PowerPC Macs forever and to keep Classic support forever, as well? I have an iMac G4 and a 12” PowerBook G4. I’m replacing the iMac with a few-year-old iMac Duo Core, but not the PowerBook. Thus, I cannot use 10.6, much less 10.7. Should I sue? I have programs that run in Classic that either haven’t been updated or, in one case, went from $25 to $200. Should I whine and complain?

None of us knows what Apple has planned. Perhaps X Server will be allowed to run on other hardware. Also note that NOTHING was said about not supporting existing Xserves—e.g., parts, tech support.

In addition to fans of Saturn, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile, should those of us who liked Inspector Morse mysteries burn down Colin Dexter’s house because he killed off Morse? There probably are more Morse fans than users of Xserves. Where are the last three Star Wars movies? Wasn’t there a COMMITMENT by George Lucas to produce three trilogies? We’ve had #4, 5, & 6, then 1, 2, & 3. What about 7, 8, & 9? (FWIW, IIRC, Lucas said that he intended to produce three trilogies.)

The world changes. We must learn to adapt or we’ll fall by the wayside.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I guess you didn’t read the discussion gslusher. Nobody claimed there was any legally binding commitment by Apple to continue to ship 1U rack Mac servers. Nor did anyone claim they had a moral commitment. But there are other kinds of commitments, despite Nemo’s claim above. One such commitment is a market commitment. If you position yourself as a single source end-to-end provider, then you are committed to providing things end-to-end. If you renege on the commitment, you don’t get sued and you don’t get damned to hell. But your reputation *may* suffer.

How these things play out in the grand scale of Apple’s reputation nobody can predict. That is the sum of how they play out thousands of times on a smaller, personal scale. I have a few creative company customers who are very proud of their end-to-end Apple systems, but who do churn and grow their server rooms. In the next year, they will face some very tough decisions involving not just hardware, but software because a critical piece of their end-to-end Apple infrastructure won’t be available. You’re right. Their world will change. They will have to adapt. But it could easily end up more costly than just adopting a safer mixed environment to begin with. How do you think they will feel about Apple’s commitment?

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