(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Apple Offers Users Professional Level of Performance, VP Says
October 15, 1998 (TOKYO) -- In a turnaround from a year ago, when the
company was in dire straits, Apple Computer Inc. is now mounting a major
comeback with the growing popularity of its iMac model personal computer.
|Phil Schiller, a vice president of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer,
gave a keynote address at the WORLD
PC EXPO '98 exhibition. Nikkei Personal Computing (Nikkei PC) interviewed
Schiller during his stay in Japan, and inquired about the background
of the iMac's success and Apple's strategy for future products, including
Nikkei PC: What are the reasons for the success
of the iMac?
Schiller: There are several factors behind its success.
First, its design is even more highly accomplished than users had expected.
Also, there's the fact that it is a very good product in terms of cost-performance.
It incorporates some key technologies, such as its PowerPC G3 microprocessor
and a low-flicker display that is easy on the eyes.
Another reason is simply that it is very easy for users to set up.
The final reason is that we've scored a marketing victory.
Nikkei PC: Will the iMac become a catalyst that brings about an
increase in the number of Mac users?
Schiller: The iMac is being marketed to three main user groups.
The first of these groups is made up of existing users, and there are
more than 10 million of them, who are already using Macs in their homes.
The second group consists of all the potential new users who have never
purchased a personal computer. The last target group is the so-called
PC Switchers, or those who have owned a Mac in the past, but have since
switched to using PCs.
Regarding the first of these groups, the iMac is proving particularly
attractive to existing Mac users who bought their current model around
four years ago and are now looking at newer models for an upgrade.
In the second target group, that of users who are new to the personal
computer market, there are about 5 million to 10 million people joining
the ranks of personal computer users every year, and we are working
to make sure that our brand appeals to them.
As for the PC switchers, we just want them to come back once more and
try using a Mac again.
As for all three target user groups, we are proud to have come up with
the type of product that consumers are finding attractive.
Nikkei PC: Now that the Mac market is active again, are companies
that formerly produced Mac software and peripherals returning to the
fold and working to develop new products for the Mac platform?
Schiller: Since the launch of the iMac, many developers, with
Microsoft Corp. first and foremost among them, have announced plans
to release new products or new versions of existing products for the
Mac platform. Our program for developers has been undergoing changes
since last year, and we've also been strengthening our support infrastructure.
Nikkei PC: Can you tell us about the iMac Portable that reportedly
will be released in 1999?
Schiller: It's incorrect to call it the iMac Portable. It will
be a portable Mac for the consumer market, equipped with a full-spec
Mac OS and not a trimmed down or light version.
We are paying attention to factors such as its size and weight, and the
length of its battery life, but we think there are other more exciting
things that we ought to be concerned with.
Of course, it will be important to set the price at a reasonable level.
Just as with the iMac, we will try to offer it under the concept of
'a machine with professional-level specifications, but available at
an easily accessible price.'
The development team includes some members who were responsible for development
work on previous products, such as the eMate, a notebook machine aimed
at the educational market, and the Newton, a personal digital assistant
(PDA). So, we can look forward to seeing a good final product.
Nikkei PC: Exactly how "portable" will it actually be?
Schiller: There is a certain demand for sub-notebook size personal
computers, such as Sony Corp.'s VAIO and IBM Corp.'s ThinkPad 560, and
that's something we recognize as important, particularly with regard
to the Japanese market.
However, at present the basic policy at Apple is to try to develop 'worldwide
products,' and as a result we are working to create products with common
specifications for the whole world, which means that the number of our
individual products is decreasing.
Looking from a global viewpoint, sub-notebook personal computers still
constitute only a small-scale niche market. They are simply out of reach
for the average consumer.
But, having said that, that doesn't necessarily mean that we are satisfied
with the size and weight of the current PowerBook G3. We need to make
the new product both smaller and even more light.
Nikkei PC: If you recognize the fact that sub-notebook personal
computers are popular in Japan, why don't you just license the Mac OS
to a Japanese manufacturer and have that company produce the hardware
Schiller: There's absolutely no possibility of that happening.
We accept that Japan is an important market, second only to the United
States in terms of size, but we have no plans to start producing different
models specifically for particular markets or regions.
Nikkei PC: When will you start shipping the Mac OS 8.5 that was
demonstrated during your keynote speech at the exhibition?
Schiller: I'm unable to reveal the exact date. However, it will
be soon, and we will also try to release it at the same time all over
the world. The success we had in marketing the iMac has given us confidence,
so we are also planning a large-scale marketing campaign for the Mac
Nikkei PC: The Mac OS 8.5 was originally scheduled to be released
in July of this year. Is it likely that the delay will in any way influence
the development schedules of your future OS products?
Schiller: Overall, a delay of 90 days is not such a big deal.
There are cases involving other companies where delays in the scheduled
launch of new OS products can be measured in units of years.
At Apple, our plans for the future launch of OS products will remain
exactly as before, with releases going according to schedule. Next year
will see the release of our Mac OS X (ten), and before that we'll be
marketing a Mac OS X server.
Related story: iMac
Stimulates Japan PC Sales in 4th Week of August
(Nikkei Personal Computing)