The Back Page - Apple Death Knell #47: Longhorn Will Spell Apple's Doom

by - September 20th, 2005

It's time, once again, for a visit from Rob Enderle, for he has trod into the Land of Logical Fallacies and pronounced Apple's doom. Mr. Enderle's latest kick is that Microsoft's next operating system, Longhorn, will be the end of Apple when it ships in another year or so. That makes Apple Death Knell #47, his 7th!

What always makes deconstructing Mr. Enderle's criticisms of Apple both easy and boring is that he relies on some of the most absurd ideas and theories to back up his claims.

For instance, according to Mr. Enderle, asserted that "Historically staid companies like Gateway, HP, Acer, and even Dell are much more aggressive on design today, often surpassing Apple, which was preeminent in this area in the 90s. While this design parity clearly hasn't impacted the iPod market yet it is incredibly evident in the PC space."

In the 1990s, Apple's design was better than the Wintel world, to be sure, but that's like saying a Ford Escort is better looking than a Yugo. While true, is that really a position a sane person would want to defend? Apple was known for having better looking hardware in that decade, but today, the company is known the world over as the leader in industrial design.

Indeed, the idea that Wintel industrial design is even in the same ballpark as Apple's is, to be kind and gentle, laughable and delusional. In a previous sentence, Mr. Enderle does mention outstanding companies like Voodoo and Alienware -- two companies I personally think make very cool looking PC cases -- but the funny thing about both companies is that neither completes on price, and both serve specialized markets willing to pay a premium for performance and cool industrial design.

To those keeping score at home, that also describes Apple.

But those other "staid" companies? They couldn't design their way out of a wet paper bag, and they don't pretend to even try. They're in a commodity business, and they know it. It's Mr. Enderle's usual misdirection and fact-through-assertion that he so often employs to justify his positions.


My next favorite gag from Mr. Enderle's never ending Bag O' Tricks is the idea that Apple has time to respond to Longhorn:

"Glass," he opines, "is the user interface enhancement that appears to improve on what Apple currently has with Tiger. Granted, Tiger is shipping and Vista isn't, which gives Apple time to respond. Still, this is the closest to Apple's capability we have ever seen from Microsoft and for those of us who simply cannot use Apple machines this will be very well received."

So, let me get this straight: Making it a given that "Glass" is a better user interface than Apple's Tiger (another laughable assertion), the fact that Tiger is shipping now gives Apple the chance to respond to a product that is, at best, 12 months out?

That makes sense only in upside down world, and I don't mean our friends Down Under. It's Microsoft that has time to respond to Apple, and the best it can do so far in Mr. Enderle's own words is to "appear to improve" on Tiger. Microsoft is playing catchup to Apple in every way, shape and form.

Market Share

Mr. Enderle asserts that the market moved away from the Mac "years ago." While true -- Apple did lose market share for many years -- the fact is that the Mac has gained enormous market share in the last 18 months. During that time, Apple's unit sales have risen dramatically faster than the market as a whole, which makes Mr. Enderle's point merely more misdirection and obfuscation.

There's more in the full piece, including a look at some of Longhorn's new features for those interested, but I'll close out with Mr. Enderle's conclusion:

"If Apple and the Linux community can't make the hard decisions needed to address this competitive threat the negative impact on both of them will cover a broad range and will be unavoidable."


"This suggests that 2006, at least after August, will be great time for buyers and sellers of PC hardware and that has to be a good thing for everyone -- except Apple."