The Back Page - Apple Death Knell #40, Enderle vs. Chaffin Finale

by - May 14th, 2004

You knew it was coming: Rob Enderle has let ring his 5th Apple Death Knell in just the last few years. Today's entry in the Apple Death Knell Counter comes in part 5 in the heads up debate between Mr. Enderle and myself in MacNewsWorld's Death Match. This cements Mr. Enderle's lead in the Apple Death Knell Counter; with1/8 of the entries we have chronicled so far, no one else comes even close. As I noted in the ADKC itself, however, there are additional Death Knells from even the last few months that I have not yet entered, but I am betting Mr. Enderle maintains his lead for some time to come.

In today's installment of the Death Match, the last such installment unless we do a new question, we were asked "To what degree is Apple moving in the right direction, and to what degree should it switch its course?" A brief quote from our responses:

Me: There are only two pieces of the puzzle that are missing, in my never-humble opinion, and that is Apple's pricing and its (lack of) marketing for the Mac


Understanding that the laws of economics would never allow Apple to compete head to head with Dell, Apple has chosen to compete on style, lifestyle and quality. By doing so, Apple has managed to create a market where it can charge enough to properly fund research and development, which itself has led to such things as the iTunes Music Store and iPod.

Note that toaster-maker Dell has had to go the rebranding route to compete in these markets that Apple effectively invented, despite the fact that Dell is the king-daddy PC maker. Apple's industry-high margins are what have allowed this to happen, and I am a strong believer that the high-margin strategy is an absolute requirement for a sustainable Apple.


However, there's a glaring hole in Apple's approach, and that is in the entry-level market -- the market from which new users typically come.

Rob Enderle: With Panther, Apple finally began to make its legacy hardware business more compatible with Windows standards. With iTunes and the iPod, it embraced the massive Windows installed base. Had it not done so, the company probably would not have been profitable for much of the last year.

Its software has gotten more and more competitive with products from companies like Adobe as it evolves from being less platform-centric and more customer-centric. Meanwhile, its message is less about Mac versus Windows, and more about what you can do with the software and accessories that it sells.

In short, Apple slowly is becoming less and less of a Mac OS company and more and more a firm that will go where its customers want. It simply isn't moving fast enough.

Now, that's the portion of Mr. Enderle's response that I focused on in my rebuttal, which was published today as "Mac Death Match, Round Six: Chaffin vs. Enderle."

The rebuttals are our opportunity to respond to each other, and I have heretofore used this column space to rebut Mr. Enderle's rebuttal. No need for that this week as the only thing really needing rebutting is Mr. Enderle's assertion that "Apple doesn't play in this [entry-level] segment much at all, and isn't even close to the $600-$800 sweet spot.

Bryan's Rebuttal: eMac: US$799

That was easy.

Ironically, however, I am also saying that Apple doesn't properly address the low-expectations market, so my rebuttal is more like a correction, than a rebuttal. Go figure.

In any event, what about this new Apple Death Knell? In his response to MacNewsWorld's question, Mr. Enderle includes the following gem:

Apple has about 24 months to get its act together and position itself for the post-Longhorn world of Linux and Windows. If it doesn't offer solutions that will play on those platforms the way iTunes currently does on Windows, it will probably become a footnote by the end of the decade.

Pulease! Hear that long low dooooooonnnnnnnnnnnggggggggg in the background? That's simply YAADK (Yet Another Apple Death Knell). Pay no heed.

If you ignore my advice, though, you can read my full response to this nonsense in part six of this series at MacNewsWorld, Mac Death Match, Round Six: Chaffin vs. Enderle.