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Wall Street Journal Reports Apple To Shift Focus To "Killer Apps"

Wall Street Journal Reports Apple To Shift Focus To "Killer Apps"

by , 7:00 AM EST, January 8th, 2001

In a week already fraught with anticipation, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is in the midst of shifting its focus away from being focused on making killer hardware. Instead, the company is working very hard to bring what the WSJ calls "Killer Apps" for the Mac to market. This, it is hoped, will bring more people to the Mac. The reason behind this is that Steve Jobs has realized/admitted that Apple cannot compete with the Wintel juggernaut on hardware alone. According to the WSJ:

Since founder Steve Jobs returned to the personal-computer maker in 1997, the Cupertino, Calif., company has risen from the near-dead on the strength of sleekly designed machines and other whiz-bang hardware. But over the past few months, as computer sales have cooled and Apple prepares to report its first quarterly loss in three years, the company has decided to try to remake its image into a purveyor of "killer apps," or groundbreaking software programs that computer users can't live without.

The corporate refocus comes with an concession from Apple's management that Apple can no longer fight the Wintel giant -- the powerful combination of the Windows operating system and Intel Corp.'s microprocesser -- on the hardware front alone, say people who have met with Mr. Jobs and other top executives recently. The Apple officials believe that new Apple applications will give Wintel users a reason to supplement their existing Windows-based systems with Apple hardware, these people say.

In conference calls recently, Mr. Jobs disclosed that Apple plans to roll out several new software apps, hinting that two will be launched in the first half of 2001. In private, Mr. Jobs has described one of the applications as being "on a par with iMovie," and the other as "the greatest thing that Apple has ever done," according to people who spoke with him.

Just what are these new applications? Mr. Jobs won't say. But analysts and Apple-enthusiast Web sites are guessing that Apple may unveil an application called iMusic, designed to make music recording and MP3 playing easy. Some of these sites believe that Apple recently purchased CD-authoring software and hard-drive formatting technology from software-maker Radialogic, a subsidiary of Prosoft Engineering Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif. A Radialogic spokeswoman confirms that the company has sold its music technology but declines to comment further.

The report also goes on to say that Apple is working hard to bring more bundled deals to its customer, and has "been getting more aggressive in working on incentives with hardware and software partners." That, according to an anonymous developer.

Please read the full report from the Wall Street Journal for more information. It is an excellent report.

The Mac Observer Spin:

The mainstream media has been quick to pounce on Apple's current financial setbacks as the obvious evidence the company is doomed. The reality is that once again Steve Jobs is ahead of us all. Should this story prove to be correct, and we place a lot of faith in the WSJ, it shows that Mr. Jobs and his executive team are able to react to market realities, no matter how sudden. In this case, we think that they are doing more than reacting and are indeed being proactive with, perhaps, a little prodding.

The computer industry is changing, and while we are not of the opinion that desktop systems are anywhere near as near to extinction as many pundits suggest, business as usual will put a good number of companies out of business. We have said this before, and we will say it again, Apple is one of the few companies that can successfully make whatever change is needed.

Lastly, we hope that this report is indeed accurate because compelling software options that are available only on the Mac are indeed one of the things largely lacking for our favorite platform. Those of us knee deep in the Mac know and love its interface. Those of us who have embraced Aqua see it as the future of computing. That leaves a lot of people out there who don't get it, and killer apps is what will bring them. We do hope that Apple takes some time to pay more attention to the gaming market while in the process of refocusing.

It will be interesting to see how the markets react to this piece from the WSJ.

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