Is That Opportunity Knocking?

Coming up with the right product, the right offering, that next insanely great iThing is half the battle. In and of itself that's more than enough of a challenge for just about any entrepreneur. That said, the other 75% of the battle is finding the right time to introduce your widget to the world. Maybe, just maybe, Apple is going to get that one last chance we're all looking for.

Some of you may be way out of the loop. Perhaps you're just returning from an archeological dig on one of the planets of the Aldebaran system. Maybe you've been on Safari in the wilds of some post-Pangea jungle at the end of the Cretaceous period. Those are a couple of the very few places you might have been that would excuse you from knowing that the bustling tech-onomy came to a sudden and screeching halt and has languished for the past couple of years.

Well, it halted if you were anywhere but the development labs of Apple Computer.

Businesses and schools had gotten into this three-year cycle of dumping whatever ancient workstations they were limping along with. Then they replaced just about everything they could with the latest and greatest silicon that money could buy for the foreseeable future, or at least until tomorrow's price list was published by their favorite manufacturer.

Here we sit. Its 2003. It seems that almost nobody has been buying nuthin'. All of the frenetic tightening of budgets has created an unexpected sea of opportunity. But that's just the beginning of our recipe. You see, there is also a veritable plague of common sense that seems to be taking hold. Some people are waking up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the bits and bytes flowing out of Redmond aren't necessarily a good trade for the 80% profit margins enjoyed by the accountants adding up Bill's personal fortune.

Those two factors, sooner or later, should pave the way for an awful lot of purchase orders. Of course, that's barring something catastrophic like a war or a terrorist attack.

There are plenty of would-be leaders with the title CEO or CIO at the top of their stationary who will go along with the status quo. They'll demonstrate their propensity for following the herd and doing what "everyone else is doing". There are some who will embrace Linux as a terrific way to cut costs. To a large extent they'll be right. There's one other category of executive though. They're the true leaders. They'll survey the technical landscape and their sites will focus on this little Cupertino computer manufacturer who produces products for the rest of us.

Keep up with my changes, I'm going to digress for a moment.

I ran across the oddest thing this weekend. You might say I "struck lame" in the same way that a prospector strikes oil. I didn't go looking for this, mind you. It just popped up on one of the various Mac sites I frequent. I never had a clue that there were winblows sites out there, just like there are Mac sites out there. This one in particular makes the iSteve's reality distortion field look, well, undistorted. One of the, ahem, author's claims, is that Windows is more stable and secure than Linux. For the record, I had a tough time typing that line. His rationale is that Windows has been in development for decades, while Linux is a relative newborn. I'm sure that the fact that Unix dates back to the 1960's, and serves as the precursor to Linux wouldn't have any bearing on the discussion of maturity. Perhaps the fact that NT is a somewhat derivative work, cousin perhaps, of VMS is what drives his comparison. Who knows? I really enjoyed the comparison's between G4's and PIII's. I'm here to tell you, there ain't one. I've spent quite a bit of time with MacOS X on G4/350 and G4/400 hardware. I've also spent too much time with PIII/500's running NT and XP. Suffice it to say that one platform is more than usable. The other is merely an overzealous test of one's patience.

Okay, okay, I'm coming back on track.

I mention this amusing little web page just to point out that there are people in the world who will adhere to the mantra of m$. I've read enough Mac sites to know that while we have our fare share of zealotry, we who eschew the dark side of computing are usually more objective about our platform of choice that Apple would like us to be. We're more demanding. We expect things to work. We do not reschedule our weekends around reimaging our workstation just because we tried to install the latest dot revision to some silly application we didn't need in the first place. People like the author of that page won't get it and will continue to spend atrocious amounts of money on installing and maintaining their software (emphasis on soft).

The question is, how many people out there, people with real buying power, have a clue? How many will be leaders and try thinking differently? How many will carry the title of leader, but will in fact follow the crowd into the virus-laden, target-rich peecee-centric environment?

Time will tell. There is a potential window of opportunity just waiting to open up. Apple has the pieces in place now to offer up a serious challenge to their footstep following competition. But a world-class operating system, solid hardware, and bleeding edge development won't be enough. They're only the ingredients in the recipe.

I just hope the next corporate pie is of the well-baked Apple variety, rather than some Dull also-ran special recommended by a dud named Stephen and billed by a monopolist named Gates.