What a Difference a Decade Makes

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What a Difference a Decade Makes

In January of 1998, you could have bought as much Apple stock as you wanted for $4 per share. There was no iTunes, no iPod, no iPhone, MacBook, or really, much of anything save for the solid operating system software known then as Macintosh.


But even that was mainly the private little secret of a handful of graphic designers, music producers, and elementary school students sprinkled across the country.


As the 2008 Macworld Expo opened on Tuesday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Apple's share price was $175 and the company's market capitalization was over $140 billion.


The newest version of its Mac OS X software, released just three months ago, has already shipped over 5 million copies, and its latest revolutionary gadget, the iPhone, captured nearly 20% of the domestic cellular telephone market in its first six months for sale.


Clearly the company is on roll and more and more people are finding reasons to investigate its line of premium software and hardware products.


When founder and CEO Steven Jobs announced the arrival of iTunes at Macworld on January 9, 2001, few observers understood that Apple would be revolutionizing the music industry and its product distribution model, nor did they recognize the cash cow being led from the barn. Today, the purchase of music and the purchase and rental of cinema products online makes up an ever-increasing share of total sales for the music and movie industries -- and for Apple.


Later in 2001, the company introduced the iPod, a line of digital media players now nearing the 120 million units sold mark.


Other significant innovations introduced at Macworld Expos in recent years include the partnership between Apple and Intel, with Intel Duo processors replacing PowerPC chips in all Apple's computers and servers manufactured since 2006, and of course, the iPhone in 2007.


This year the company turned its attention less toward personal entertainment/communication devices and back to computing hardware.


Jobs announced yesterday the availability of The MacBook Air, a super-thin, super-light, notebook computer destined immediately for top-of-the-line status among all portable computers.


The success of the device is predictable, with the intuitive soundness of its marketing campaign based on "Thinovation," and the company's unblemished record for pleasing, impressive, simple design.


Everything about the MacBook Air exudes "the Future", and since that's where we are headed anyway, many people are going to want to get there toting one of these computers.


I ran into influential publicist and tech blogger, Andy Abramson, on the floor of the Expo Wednesday and asked him what was his big take away from this year's show. He answered without hesitation, the MacBook Air. "I had mine ordered as soon as the slide came up in Job's address this morning," he said.


Some critics may claim the company really hasn't offered up anything as groundbreaking as iTunes or the iPod, however, to this writer, the new notebook computer and the company's new "Time Capsule", a beefy (500 gigabyte and 1 terabyte versions) external storage device that doubles as a wi-fi base station both constitute solid new products that will add revenue to the company's growing stream of funds from streamed media and software sales.


And as Farhad Manjoo, the tech critic at salon.com noted Wednesday morning, software updates for the iPhone announced yesterday make "the iPhone you bought last June...actually better now than it was back then." In an industry where obsolescence is usually measured in weeks or months, the fact that Apple can improve the value of its devices over time speaks volumes about the foundations of the company's success.


It's hard to imagine Apple could possibly replicate over the next decade the phenomenal growth it has seen since Jobs returned to the C level in 1999. But even if it only doubles its share price and market cap, as Microsoft, its only true rival has since then (Jan 98 - $15 per share; Jan 08 - $34), it would be quite an achievement.




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Luis J. Juarbe

Hi, as an avid fan of Mac|Life, previously MacAddict, having read almost every copy of the publication, and as the president of a MUG in Puerto Rico, I find the advertisement politics of Mac|Life a little disturbing and insulting.

I am so upset I don't know where to begin. Let's try. Let's say you walk into a Ford dealer and ask for a brochure, for instance, for the Edge car. How high will your eyebrows raise if the brochure reads "Sponsored in part by the new Honda Civic"?

Let's have another example. Walk inside a Sony Store and they hand you a Sony Style Magazine. Then you flip the page and you find the new MacBook Air.

Can I ask what a VAIO has to do with a Mac? Does it run MacOS X? Is it better than the MacBook line? Do you people know something we don't about Sony and Apple working together on a VAIO?

I repulse at the fact that most of your web pages, podcasts, pages before I get to pages, and even inside covers of the magazine are filled up to the brink with Sony VAIO ads!

How can I honestly recommend a "would be switcher" to your publication when you are doing a disservice to the very brand you cover in the body of your magazine?

It may bring you money, but I find it disgraceful and unethical to the highest on your part and an opportunistic lack of respect and a charlatan act from Sony.

I remember when ethics were part of a business. I remember when anything non-Apple represented an insult to MacAddict personnel; but what a difference money makes now. To be honest, it now looks like Sony is in the background running Mac|Life.

It is my regret not to renew my subscription and make this an open letter if I don't receive a positive response from this. I will reproduce the letter on our website and I will no longer recommend Mac|Life or give away copies or subscriptions as I often do for our MUG.

I can deal with Sony camera ads; I can deal with camcorder ads. I can deal with any Sony product that hooks with my Mac. But this is like me walking into a Starbucks with a Mc Donald's coffee cup. How can you allow ads from one of the direct competitive products of the MacBook line? Here in Puerto Rico the VAIO advertisement and store coverage is massive, and then you expect me not to be frustrated with one of the few outlets I have to show how good the Mac is, when it’s pushing the VAIO down my throat?




i agree What is a sony vaio doing in a MACLIFE magazine. are they trying to get us to switch to vista? please. I always skip it. I want to see commercials about stuff that will make my mac better. pc stuff is everywhere ,make your magazine mac only,please


George Powell

Lazar's insights are well thought out and cogent, as is his blog "I Just Have to Say." As a true Macworld Expo veteran (this was my 22nd) Apple has indeed come a long way since Jobs resumed being the CEO. Just a few historical observations. Before the Cube was the TAM (20th Anniversary Macintosh). Conceived before Jobs took over, this was a truly exclusive computer, that pushed the bounds of both hardware and software in 1997. It was available for viewing at Macworld Expo 1997 on a high pedestal, with a security guard and was initially sold for $9,000. It was the first desktop to have a flat panel screen and had many other innovative features. I bought one in 1998 when Jobs put them on clearance at $1,999 in the Apple Store. The iMac today is a 21st century version of that sleek design, but far more powerful and capable, thanks to hardware and software advances.
The Mac OS in 1998 was called System 8.x or system software 8.x. It topped out at version 8.6, before the final Classic OS, System 9 superseded it.
I hope this answers some of the questions of the Mac newbies and switchers.



Good insight and probably really exciting to be in the room at one of these unveilings.

I don't really care what the formal/ market name was for OS 8- I'm having as much fun with my book now as I did with my desktop back then. The technicality couldn't matter less. Keep scribbling, Lon!



it's hard to remember life without all the gadgets. thanks for recalling.



Who is Lon Lazar? And why should we care about his opinions? I'm not saying we necessarily shouldn't, I'd just like to know if he has any credentials that might make him worth listening to?



Who is asking?
The dude was on the floor of the Expo, I wasn't, I appreciate the insight.
And wish I'd bought some of the $4 stock. If Lazar did, the drinks are on him.



I sold at 18. Oh well.

Apple's record for pleasing, impressive, simple design is not, I would say, completely unblemished. The Mac Cube was a Jobs exercise in elegance that went begging. It was beautiful but lacked expandability.

The Air also lacks expandability. Yet I know another veteran computer journalist besides Abramson who ordered one immediately. The minimalist formula may be right this time. Anyone who's handled one has to admit, the Air's build quality is way beyond any other product of its kind. Will let my friend the writer play guinea pig.

Time Capsule is a forward looking product-- will very likely get one.

I would underline Cringely in his pbs.org column that Apple's iTunes-Hollywood film rental deals are the big announcement of this MacWorld Expo.



Can't wait to buy the MacBook Air!



You can buy a MacBook Pro for about $200 more or a MacPro for about $300 less (if you choose the max MBA configuration). What is it about MacBook Air with its slower processor, smaller hard drive, and limited connectivity that makes it more advantageous than either of these Macs?

Obviously, the MacPro isn't portable, so what other features of the MacBook Air captivates you? And please don't say it weighs significantly less than a MacBook. The average weight gain for an adult is almost 2 pounds a year, meaning that within 1 years use the advantage of MacBook Air's thinness would succumb to the general trend of body mass increases. Why not take the cash you would have spent on MacBook Air and do yerself a favor by getting a membership at a fitness center? You would have a more functional device, a better looking body, and improved your health.



"In January of 1998... save for the solid operating system software known then as Macintosh."

Would that be the OS known as Mac OS 8 then? As far as I can remember, the OS was called either "System Softwate", "System **" or, since OS 8, the offical name is Mac OS **.

In short, there has never been an OS called Macintosh.


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