Apple finds new enemies
It's kissed and made up with Wintel. But now Cupertino is taking on everyone from Adobe to Yahoo!.
SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0) Macworld Expo is no ordinary trade show. For Apple fans, it's a yearly chance to gird for battle.
But Apple (Research) has clearly moved on from its old war, the clash between Apple Macs and "Wintel"—PCs running Microsoft Windows on Intel (Research) chips. To see who Apple's new allies are, you only had to keep your eyes on the stage during CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address Tuesday. The only on-stage guests to share the spotlight were Intel CEO Paul Otellini, and Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft's (Research) Macintosh Business Unit.
Otellini helped unveil the new Intel-powered Macs, while Ho announced that Microsoft had signed an agreement with Apple to keep making its Office productivity suite for Macs for five more years. Apple and Wintel made love, not war.
Apple may no longer be fighting the forces of Wintel, but it's found a new battlefront. So who are its enemies now? Anyone who makes creative software that doesn't meet Jobs' exacting standards for design and usability.
Today Apple's CEO declared war on bad software and introduced iWeb, a new Web page-building program.
Web page-creation software—a category that's easily a decade old—is either too ugly or too complicated, Jobs said in his keynote address. iWeb, which will be the newest part of Apple's iLife digital media software suite, aims to change that.
iWeb lets you drag and drop photos from iPhoto, playlists from iTunes, and videos from iMovie to create your own Web page. Naturally, you can also use it to create blog entries and podcasts.
GarageBand, an audio-editing application, has also been updated with podcast tools, while iPhoto has new photo-sharing features that seamlessly send your photos to friends.
That's bad news for the likes of Six Apart and Odeo, startups whose services help users create blogs and podcasts, and for FilmLoop, which broadcasts users' photos to subscribers. It also puts Apple in competition with Google (Research) and Yahoo (Research), which both offer blog-creating and photo-sharing software.
Apple also has a line of professional photo- and video-editing software which competes with offerings from Adobe, a longtime Apple partner. Adobe (Research) has already discontinued one Mac software product, Premiere, citing competition from Apple's Final Cut Pro.
To be sure, Apple's software today is mostly limited to the Mac. Of its iLife suite, only iTunes runs on Windows at present. And Apple itself sees iLife chiefly as a selling point for its Mac hardware—to get iPhoto and the rest, you have to buy a Mac first.
But as iTunes has shown, Apple's engineers are capable of writing software for Windows. And that thought should strike fear in the heart of every software executive around.