Are Apple and Sun destined to decline together?

  • Posted: 20 October 2002 05:17 PM

    Recently came across an analyst who argued that Sun and Apple deserve each other - both are scheduled to take increasinlgy declining market shares: is this the case?

    “It’s similar to how Apple Computer Inc.‘s Macintosh computers run on non-Intel chips and a different operating system from the rest of the PC world.

    “Sun risks becoming the Apple of corporate computing, cool but less relevant,” Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Milunovich said in a research report this week.

    What about Mac OS X?
    Is Sun too proprietorial about Java?
    What about Apple’s hook-in with IBM?
    Can Apple continue to make it alone?

    what do you think?

  • Avatar

    Posted: 20 October 2002 11:16 PM #1

    Great questions, and thoughts, Alistair!

    I feel very strongly that analysts predicting Apple’ demise simply do not understand the company.  Specifically, they see the Wintel hegemony and are not able to see that the hole that Microsoft, in particular, is digging itself.  I am not saying that Apple’s future is entirely a golden one, but it is Apple that is truly positioning itself to have products with relevance in people’s lives. 

    In the PC World, Dell is focused on commoditizing its own product, Intel has painted itself into a corner with its own pursuit of the MHz Myth, and Microsoft is fighting a rearguard action to control every facet of its customers’ use of the products they use, pleasing the entertainment world, and forcing its users into perpetual software rental agreements.

    None of that is what people want, and though few realize it, Apple is making people what they want.

    Sun’s position is another one altogether, but Sun too is able to move to meet what its customers want, as opposed to focusing its energies into forcing those customers into solutions that benefit Sun.  That, in my opinion, will allow Sun to stay relevant, though perhaps not as the company they are today.  That said, the Sun of today is not the Sun of 8 years ago, either.

    So again, analysts with these pronouncements don’t understand what’s happening all around us, the change this industry is currently undergoing, and in the long run, they will join the ranks of the many, many, many people who have proclaimed Apple’s death.


    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 08:40 AM #2

    Excellent post Bryan!! smile

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 09:53 AM #3

    This year is pivotal.

    Coming out of a recession + coming out of an IT-buying-slump + the ongoing consolidation/bankruptcy/whatnot on the PC side.

    I think we can judge Apple’s prospects by watching the developers - and it _seems_ like there’s more developers & more developer interest than ever before. All of the much-touted pieces working together: Cocoa, unix-based, opensource. Even ProEngineer and AutoCad have made mutterings about potentially porting to the Mac. Given the history of those companies, that’s a major shift.

    On the PC side, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. It looks like Dell’s got a lock on things. Whether they keep dropping prices to kill off their competitors, or sit back and make mongo profits for awhile, not clear.

    On the OS front, there are a LOT of people that finally ‘get it’ wrt MS. Most don’t necessarily want to swear off of MS products or anything, but they do recognize and resent the way things work. So they don’t automatically pick a IntDoze computer for every task, and do ask if there’s some other way of doing whatever it is without buying yet another OS license.

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 10:33 AM #4

    Old Proverb…

    ‘Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back!” :innocent:

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 10:33 AM #5

    This is an old story, “The Decline and Death of Apple.”

    Ever since Apple’s earliest days people have been writing these same forecasts, albeit with different details.  First Commodore would wipe out the Apple.  Then the IBM PC would destroy the Apple II.  Then the clones, color PC’s, the Amiga, on and on and on.  And that was just the 80’s. 

    Interestingly many of the companies and concepts that were predicted to destroy Apple have themselves disappeared or been absorbed and diminished. 

    No one flips out and complains that Mercedes and BMW only have a 5% market share.  You don’t hear these companies complaining that they don’t sell as many of their cars as GM.  Why?  And do you really hear Apple complaining that much about it either?  Nooooo…it’s the computer tech-heads and Monday-AM market analysts that are making so much noise.

    It is only in the American economic philosophy that a company isn’t doing well unless it is the biggest.  Only in the US is the biggest considered the best.  Apple and Sun will continue and do very well in the future without having to be the steroid-inflated jugernaut of MS and other such corporate behemoths.  (And remember what steroids do to “creative abilities…”)

    Articles declaring Apple’s death are like listening to the rantings of a horsepower-crazed self-proclaimed-expert 15-year-old who is about to get his drivers license.

    Where is the perspective?

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 02:52 PM #6

    Great topic


    A real discussion on real issues. Microsoft is quickly becoming the K-Mart of the computer world. Mass produced schlock. Intel is the Martha Stewart for them.

    May they all end up in jail.

    Apple and Sun have long been content to be niche players of consequence. They develop, they innovate, they reinvent themselves every so often. It works in the entertainment industry, so why not the computer industry. Remember, the man running Microsoft these days still hasn’t admitted he knows what a monopoly is….I need to send him a t-shirt that says “Lead, Follow, or get out of the way.” Preferably the last.

    I saw a demonstration today of .NET technology and the new TabletPC. New face on old technology. Same as XP. If you think the tablets are going to be cool like in Star Trek, think again. Gateway might have well as designed them. UGH!

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 03:55 PM #7

    .Net exists? And answers to todays toughest questions…

    You actually saw .Net in action? I thought it was a myth!

    But seriously, how long have analysts been predicting the demise of Apple? I think it should come as no surprise they try yet again.

    That quote you found… I like it. It expresses how little these analysts really know. So what if Apple doesn’t use Intel. 70% of all PDA users use a machine that uses a Motorolla chip. More than 75% of all gamers use a non-Intel chip. What bearing does this have on how well Apple is going to do in the future?

    As for Sun “risking” becoming “the Apple of corporate computing,” I think Sun would like that. Personally, I haven’t seen one business that uses Sun. Now, I don’t know for sure how well they are doing here, but I think it is realatively safe to say Apple is doing a tad better than Sun in the corporate world. Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

    Mac OS X is the best OS I have seen yet. It has all of the ease of use Apple has had all along, plus you can get downright geeky with it. It appeals to all people. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to make an OS. Because of this, I cannot see OS X going down. Right now, I think OS X is the best part of Apple. IMHO, Apple hardware is not as fast as they could be. I like Apple, but I think it really is time for an upgrade to their consumer desktop line.

    Now, I may be mis-interpreting the question. I have been known to do that, but I think Java is the least proprietorial… what do you call it… thingamajig (can’t think of what it is called) out there. It runs on anything and it runs anything on those anythings. I can get a Java environment for my Palm and run software that has been made for a 160x160 screen. I can run that same software on any PC, any Mac, any Linux device and any Sun system. Sure, you need the environment, but Sun offers it for soooo many platforms it is crazy. Some people have written their own environments for other devices.

    I think Apple’s hook-in with IBM is good for Apple. It lets Apple concentrate on what they do best—software and hardware design, while letting IBM design the best chip ever. It really is a win-win situation. Apple can pump out awesome software and hardware and IBM rakes in the cash from processor sales.

    Could Apple make it alone? No. They need at least a few other companies. They could do without MS, if that is what you are wondering. But without companies like nVidia, ATI, Toshiba, Phillips, IBM, et. all, we would not have the quality Macs we have today. Not only should we give a big round of applause to Jobs for keeping this company alive, but we also need to thank those that work behind the scenes—those that we rarely see but who do lots for our favorite toy.

    That Mac will live on. The Chicken Little analysts do not find the source of the “falling sky,” they only proclaim it. I say they should go look at the giant in Redmond and then tell us which sky is falling.

    Now excuse me while I go weap in the corner because I don’t have a Mac and because this Palladium nonsense is coming…. :(

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 04:45 PM #8

    I thought I’d add the following from the JDC Industry Newsletter - of course the product speaks for itself - Apple, Java & Sun - products of the highest order

    but take a look at the following, just to get get a hook on some of the issues that seem to be precient at the moment. 


    JDJ Industry Newsletter * Special *
    What Do The Sun Microsystems Job Cuts Mean For Java?
    —“Java code will never die” say developers—
    By Jeremy Geelan

    (October 22, 2002) - At the end of last week, Sun Microsystems reported its first quarter results, and announced dramatic workforce and facilities reductions.

    Commenting exclusively to JDJ Industry Newsletter, Alan Williamson, editor-in-chief of Java Developer’s Journal, avers that there is nothing ominous for Java in last week’s news.

    “Sun, at its heart, is a hardware company, competing in a very tight and competitive market,” Williamson says.“Scott McNealy is making the transition to a software company, encompassing the Linux OS and their SunONE product lines. I don’t think these cuts signal anything in particular for the Java community. Hardware sales are dropping, so it’s inevitable that some roles will no longer be required.”

    Judging from the response to our “Breaking News” item on this last Friday, Java developers around the world are keener than ever to share with each another their thoughts, hopes, and fears for what Alan Williamson always calls “the beautiful language that is Java.”

    Not everyone in Javaland agrees with Williamson that the cuts are not relevant to Java itself, though many agree with his view that such cuts are just part and parcel of the ebb and flow of capitalism and have little or nothing to do with the well-being of Java.

    What do you think? (Read and respond…)

    “.NET Will Rise Above Java…”

    Here is a selection of some of the best of the comments received by JDJ Industry Newsletter. “Java is indeed in trouble,” asserts Bruce Brodinsky (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), adding somewhat gloomily, “Sun’s coming demise will mean a significant decline in Java interest. Its day is over.” What does Brodinsky envisage taking its place? You guessed it: .NET.

    “.NET will rise above Java, and deservedly so,” Brodinsky contends. “Much as we dislike the Microsoft monopoly, it turns out better, more stable products when it is pushed to do so. Java has accomplished that, pushed Microsoft to do better. But, Java’s days are numbered, as are Sun’s.”

    “Java Will Be Fine…”

    Eric Evans (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) disagrees. “Java will be fine,” he says. “The Java language has grown beyond a Sun product at this point. If Sun went under, IBM and others would continue to provide tools. It would continue to be the lingua franca for object-oriented development.”

    Ethan Rider (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), a Sun employee, echoes Evans’s optimism. “Speaking as a private citizen, and not as a Sun employee,” he says, “I don’t think that this will have a significant impact on Java as a programming language.”

    “Sure, a reduction in staff may translate into some projects either slowing or being cancelled altogether, but Java as a whole will remain largely unscathed. Even if no further work were done to expand the development tools that are out there (JVMs J2SDK, IDEs etc.)...there would remain a large and quite skilled developer community making progress on and with Java technology.”

    “Furthermore,” Rider observes, “I can’t imagine Sun abandoning such a community after investing such substantial amounts of money, time, and energy fostering it.”

    “Too Many Players for Java to be Affected”

    Kevin Duffey (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) makes the point in a slightly different way. “With so many people moving to J2EE, and every major company except one involved with Java, most with pretty powerful solutions, not to mention the numerous smaller ones (Jetty, JBoss, Orion, Resin, Pramati, JRun and so on), millions of developers and probably billions of lines of code written, I can’t imagine Java will be going away in the next decade or two even if Sun folds.”

    Duffey continues, “With so many big companies involved, I am willing to bet a lot that Sun would open-source the Java platform and language if they were to go under. There are already many trying to get Sun to move in that direction anyway.”

    “As many have said,” Duffey concludes, “there is WAY too much momentum for anything, including MS and all its might or even Sun folding, for Java to disappear.”

  • Posted: 21 October 2002 05:39 PM #9

    the infamous ‘Doom & Gloom’ scenario!

    Analysts are like gamblers… the odds are always stacked against them!  Analysts are usually full of bull and their philosophy often slanted in the wrong direction!

    Isn’t Merrill Lynch one of the companies in trouble for over estimating the dotcom fools gold rush?!

    ‘nuff zed!!!

    :D raspberry LOL

  • Posted: 28 October 2002 02:02 AM #10

    Apple and Sun should get together

    They talked about this in the mid 90’s. I wish they would buy eachother out and make a more viable distributed solution. Their market share each dwindles because neither of them has what the other has:

    Apple doesn’t have a decent hold or solution for the Enterprise Market.

    Sun doesn’t have a decent hold or solution for the Desktop Market.

    Neither of them have a definate hold on Enterprise Database Technology which will define business IT for the next 10 years. They both need a paried system that will convince businesses to really switch.

    How about a trade-in policy?


    Howard L. Salter
    Ravenwhite Productions
    Milwaukee, WI