Some economic analysis of Apple's move to x86

Mike Hearn mh at
Sat Jun 11 14:55:10 CDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-06-11 at 12:36 -0700, Scott Ritchie wrote:
> Well, increased Mac-only API usage would only be caused by an increase
> in Apple's marketshare.  But if Apple's marketshare is going up because
> it is more useful now that Wine works in more instances, then Linux
> would be experiencing the same growth in utility.

Well, I am not sure I agree with this proposition. The problem is that
MacOS would now be Windows compatible, Linux/BSD compatible and Mac
compatible. But there is no Mac emulator and probably won't be one for
many years, if ever. So Linux can't match that level of compatibility,
neither can Windows, therefore Apples utility would increase faster.

Basically the classical supply/demand based free market can't cope with
the idea vendor lockin at all, it seems to degenerate into monopoly.
Same is true in the digital TV market for instance.

> Even if Linux doesn't grow that much during this period (which would
> be unexpected given its rapid growth and the increasing utility of
> Wine), I'd still rather Apple be gaining ground instead of Microsoft.

Hmm, why? I don't see them as being any better than each other, really.
Microsoft has good points Apple lacks, Apple has good points Microsoft
lacks ... it's a bit of a wash.

> People switching from MS to Apple helps Linux too, in an indirect way -
> it lowers Microsoft's ability to break standards (standards that Linux
> wins on), and it is slightly easier to make things Apple/Linux
> interoperable than Windows/Linux interoperable.

I'm not sure I agree with this either. Why is it easier? Mac apps are
not written to POSIX, they are written to the old Mac (Carbon) or NeXT
(Cocoa) type APIs. 

> In the unlikely event Apple becomes big enough to become the next
> Microsoft and Linux users have to start worrying about how to run Cocoa
> apps without equivalents, well, there's already a wine-like project to
> get them working :)

If you mean GNUstep, they chose long ago not to go for Apple
compatibility. Many interesting apps (like Photoshop or iTunes) also use
Carbon not Cocoa. So I think it would be a Wine scale effort. Like, 10
years to get something that can run a few popular apps. Well 10 years is
a long time ... in that period (the 1990s) Microsoft grew from being a
small company into a really big company.

thanks -mike

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