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MacFive: Oct 26: Top News of the Week

MacFive™ for this week looks at the what we view as the top 5 most important stories breaking in the Macintosh or Apple news world. For October 26 we review Apple University, Apple’s new hard-hitting TV ads, Apple’s stellar financial results and $25 billion in cash, Apple and Proposition 8, and finally Linux is to Vista what American Idol is to Britney Spears.

No. 1 – Apple Hits Back at Microsoft Hard – New Ads Mock Redmond

The first top story of the week concerns an article by AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski, entitled: Apple to Microsoft: You Can’t Put Frosting on Manure. The article is referring to Apple’s latest hard-hitting Mac vs PC ads. Have you seen them yet? These two (The V Word and Bean Counter) mock Microsoft for trying to promote Windows Vista without mentioning the product by name. The Apple ad is making reference to the Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates ads that Microsoft released several weeks ago. The Apple ad (Bean Counter) pokes fun at Microsoft for spending so much money on that Seinfeld ad series rather than spending that money on fixing Vista itself. 

No. 2 – Linux vs Vista – American Idol versus Britney Spears

On a more interesting note perhaps is the related comment by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst saying that Vista marks the end of “planned software.” 

ZDNet UK noted Whitehurst as stating that the big issue with closed-sourced planned software like an OS like Vista is that you cannot foresee all the problems that will arise with it. “If software gets too big, it cannot be organized. This is an indicator of what can be planned,” he said. The article is interesting as it discusses advantages of open-source, modular development strategies versus the big monolithic planned release by a single vendor. Even more impressive is Whitehurst’s comparison to American Idol versus Britney Spears. 

On American Idol Whitehurst said record studios were able to spend far less marketing the eventual winner because audience participation accurately showed which singer was preferred before the competition was even over. On the other hand, a multi-million dollar investment in Britney Spears is not necessarily a sure bet when the record hasn’t even been released. 

What Whitehurst is describing is the difference between Software as a Service (SaaS) versus the monolithic, planned and packaged software release. This issue came up at COFES in 2007 where I attended and participated in a round-table open discussion about SaaS. My comments were limited to my experience with 37signal’s Basecamp Web application. But the overall discussion pointed out several interesting advantages to SaaS over packaged software.

One such advantage is that Web applications are delievered over the Internet and therefore subject to similar types of analysis like a typical Web site. With SaaS you are able to see statistically what features of an application are being used, being ignored, and giving end-users trouble. And you can see this in real-time. This is a lot like “audience participation” in the American Idol versus Britney Spears comparison. 

No. 3 – Yale MBA Dean to lead Apple University

I believe this story has lots of possible merit. Apple has hired Yale University’s School of Management dean, Joel Podoiny. What he will be doing exactly in helping to create and shape Apple University is anybody’s guess. My guess is that it will not be like Pixar University or McDonald’s famed Hamburger University. It will be a pure educational initiative that further cements Apple’s long standing strength within the educational market. Apple University may be nothing short of a total transformation of education within the United States. Or it may be just a bogus and lame attempt to further leverage iTunes U — which is a great program by the way. 

No. 4 – Apple’s Revenue Bomb – Hey Microsoft! Watch out…

Apple released its quarterly and fiscal year earnings this week and the news was nothing out of the ordinary: another very positive record quarter. But the highlight of the news about Apple’s biz is that they reported non-GAAP earnings of $11.68 billion or $2.69 per share. Bear in mind too, this 4th quarter is not Apple’s strongest — that would be next quarter, during the holidays.

A while back someone wrote that Apple would surpass Microsoft in total revenue within 5 years at its curren rate of growth. I think that person may need to adjust that calculation. Take a look at this chart in this Fortune article titled, “Graphic: How Apple is gaining on Microsoft.“ 

No. 5 – Apple Fights Against Same-Sex Marriage Ban – Joins Google in Cause

My last highlight touches the world of politics, always a very sensitive area. Google took the lead on this one but Apple has followed suit in proclaiming its stand against California Proposition 8, which would legally band same-sex marriages. 

“We strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation,” an Apple statement said. Apple has also donated $100,000 to fight the proposed ban. 

 

If people are surprised by Apple in taking this stand they shouldn’t be. They are either too young to have witnessed it or have forgotten Apple’s award-winning Think different campaign — an advertising campaign that specifically told the world who Apple’s heroes were, those that chose to speak out or break out: for truth, for liberties, for justice, for pursuit of knowledge, for pursuit of wisdom and for the pursuit of advancements in the arts.

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