Apple has long had the problem of catering too much to drooling geeks who have a tendency to think too much of themselves. Apple makes good stuff, but they tend to market it to people who want to wear it like a type of geek status symbol. I’ve said before if Apple wanted to maximize profit, they would make a mass market machine that would run Windows and be sold alongside other machines in the usual places such as Office Depot, Office Max, etc., etc. just like iPods. They’ve made a start towards this, but they have yet to go far enough to really make much of a dent. The old Apple tendency to sell over-priced gadgetry to people who are looking for geek status symbols may end up rearing it’s ugly head and interrupt the process. In the meantime, Microsoft has made mistake after mistake, but since Apple is so inept with mass-marketing, Windows has dominated by default. Apple may eventually start making a bigger dent, but since it’s a closed system it would be a long time before they could ever really start to turn the tide.
Vista certainly has it’s problems, but in a year or so when Microsoft actually gets Vista right and things come into line, the marketplace will be back where it started — Windows and a host of hardware manufacturers will continue to dominate the market, and the exclusive Apple machines and OS/X will continue to have a relatively small marketshare.
If Apple would release a version of OS/X that would run on any hardware the way Windows does, even if I had to pay a premium to get it I’d likely buy it.
If you take a look at digital SLR’s, cell phones, A/V receivers, etc. no one company dominates the market. Yet in the world of computer operating systems, Windows dominates. The reason it dominates is because you can choose parts from thousands of different vendors and build a machine out of it that Windows will run on. Windows does all of the basic functions. Even with the blunders Microsoft continues to make they have a guaranteed market because they have no real competitors. Apple isn’t a real competitor to Microsoft, because OS/X is tied to Apple hardware. Linux isn’t a real competitor either since it’s generally hard to use and filled with geeky naming conventions with software programmed by geeky, egotistical programmers who want to see themselves as being “above” the average computer user. It sort of boils down to a war between egotistically-driven geeks who want to see themsevles as “special” and everyone else. The “everyone else” is where the real market power lies.