June 21, 2012

One TINY way Apple should imitate Microsoft

Normally Microsoft makes software and leaves it up to other companies to build the hardware. But with their upcoming product the Surface, they’re keeping control of both the OS and the hardware, not unlike a certain multi-billion dollar company named after a fruit. Apple’s strategy of tight integration and control of both hardware and software is definitely working for them. I’ve pretty much already covered that, but the point I’m trying to make is: Microsoft is borrowing Apple’s strategy for one part of its market. But Apple should be doing the same thing to Microsoft.

They’ve actually tried it before. Does anyone remember that Apple used to let other companies build Apple (clone) computers? Here’s an article (link) from when that was a thing, waaaay back in the late 90’s. Apple should start doing this again, not for their laptops or all-in-one devices, but for the Mac Pro. Apple should let an outside company (or companies) build the Mac Pro. Based on their barely-incremental update of the Mac Pro, some users are complaining that Apple isn’t making products for pros anymore (one example here, though this are also articles to the contrary). There is already a fairly vibrant community of users who build “Hackintosh” computers that run Mac OS on off-the-shelf hardware (link). The legality of these DIY Macs is questionable, but they are proof of what’s possible.

I understand that Apple has a certain reputation to uphold; they make beautiful computers that work intuitively. Though Apple's entire line of computers is nice to look at, Mac Pro towers are just that—towers. I don't have one myself, but I'm assuming plenty of Mac Pro users keep their towers out of sight anyway. Mac Pro users also represent a customer willing to spend extra money for the latest hardware, and yet Apple is very slow to upgrade these machines. They could pick one or two computer companies to manufacturer a Mac Pro line (preferably two, for competition). They could have a VERY limited license agreement that allows the companies to create only high-end towers (nothing that would really compete with MBP or iMac). These companies could then work with Apple, Intel, and other motherboard and video card manufacturers to create something that is both worthy of the Mac OS and can stay completely up-to-date from a hardware perspective.

Mac Pro
Only USB 2?
Last year’s graphics?
No Thunderbolt?

One issue might be Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is actually a joint venture of Intel and Apple, but I’ve only ever seen it on Apple computers and peripherals designed to work with them. Are motherboard manufacturers allowed to include Thunderbolt on their products? I can’t find a definitive answer. While Apple fanatics might resent the inclusion of this I/O in non-Apple devices, I think it would jumpstart the creation of more peripherals that make use of the technology.

This is my second post in a row directed at an industry that will never see what I’m saying, but it feels nice to post it on the Internet anyway. Thanks for reading!


  1. Good reading ! A thought on thunderbolt... They are developing add on pcie cards for windows machines... Don't know about availability yet.

    1. Thanks! Actually since I wrote this I also spotted thunderbolt on a high-end motherboard as well...so I guess PC users like me (us?) will (slowly) get some love.