Mac Scope

Is Apple Looking for a Smack in the Head?

Stephen Van Esch - 2002.08.14

Everyone remembers those old milk churns that were used to transport milk all over the country. Most of these churns have found new life at country fairs and as overpriced flowerpots. If you haven't seen one before, it's essentially a cylinder with a hinged lid on the top.

There is an old Dutch saying that goes something like this:

"If you try to get the last drop of milk from the bottom of the churn, the lid will likely smack you in the head."

In other words, greedy people get what they deserve, a smack in the head.

It looks like Microsoft is about the get a smack in the head. Its subscription scheme was specifically designed to do two things. One is to lock in current users for the long haul. The second is to charge them more for the same product.

This strategy is designed around a single premise: that users are so dedicated to Microsoft and Microsoft products (ostensibly because they are vastly superior to the competition) that Microsoft can do whatever they feel and charge whatever they want.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is not the case. Recent studies have shown that many companies are seriously considering opting out of the Microsoft tax. Whole governments (like Norway and Peru) have mandated that, at the very least, Microsoft should compete for contracts.

The lid seems to be coming down.

All of this is good news for Apple, of course. Upgrades are costly and difficult to implement. For many companies, wiping the slate clean now and starting fresh with something other than Microsoft would be just as costly to implement, but it would save them scads of cash because they wouldn't have to sign up for Microsoft's expensive and controlling licensing plans for Office and Windows XP.

Of course, Apple is not immune to greed. The recent decision to charge full price for OS 10.2 upgrades and to charge users for .Mac demonstrates that Apple is no different from any other company. Profits must be made, and investors must be satisfied. It would be easy to sling mud at Microsoft

Apple's monopoly position in the Mac market gives it the same power Microsoft enjoys.

and claim that Apple is a better corporate citizen, but, truth be told, Apple would likely do the same things if their positions were reversed.

Essentially, Apple's monopoly position in the Mac market gives it the same power Microsoft enjoys. Like it or lump it, we're wedded to the machines we use everyday. Apple and Microsoft know this and are willing to exploit it - until the lid smacks them in the head, that is.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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