He suggests that Apple’s tight control of their products, from design to software and hardware development and third party components allows them to do what “open” systems cannot. I agree.
Beyond control, this approach both limits the possible combinations software needs to support and allows it to integrate tightly with the hardware.
From its beginnings, Microsoft’s O/S ran on multiple hardware configurations, PC-DOS on IBM PCs and MS-DOS on the IBM clones. I don’t agree entirely with John that the PC architecture was open; IBM didn’t open its architecture; it was legally reverse-engineered. Maybe it was accidentally open or improperly closed.
Anyway, by supporting multiple hardware configurations, Microsoft set its course. This path allowed it to dominate a market, which it continues to do today. Tough to argue with that business strategy. In so doing, Microsoft has to maintain millions of lines of code on hundreds of different hardware configurations.
Imagine how much code handles the hardware differences between Dell’s Inspiron and Latitude laptops. Even hardware from the same vendor is different, and even components from the same vendor behave differently in different hardware configurations, e.g. an Nvidia chip in a Dell Inspiron vs. the same chip in an Alienware XPS.There’s a lot involved there, whereas Apple standardizes configurations across its product lines.
By burning less development time and effort on various hardware configurations, Apple can spend more time designing and building products.
I don’t know anything about product design and development at Apple. Very few people do. They’re secretive that way. So, I won’t speculate about better or worse design and development practices. The problem of scale across hardware configurations is enough to illustrate one reason why Apple does a better job at just working.
This problem brings up an interesting point. Linux distros have done a great job blending “it just works” with scads of hardware configurations, although sometimes your configuration didn’t get enough development time.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter though because the future is good enough, whether or not “it just works”. As Chet has noted a few times, Windows is good enough for pretty much everyone, and they don’t care enough to make a switch and try something new. These are the people who feel that Windows 7 and Ubuntu are the same; these are people like my wife to whom the biggest difference between her iMac and her old PC is speed.
We live in a little corner. We fiddle with technology for fun and for work; we like shiny things and are confident in our abilities; we debate the virtues of software and hardware; we own several computers and tons of gadgets.
We fix those people’s computers.
Your thoughts + comments = win.