Apple walks on water and WiMax Mobile

Apple walks on water and WiMax Mobile

Summary: In the days and hours before the Macworld Expo, it seems that anything is possible from Apple. Competitors are already angry (and scared) enough by what the company can do and likely will do. But it must be infuriating to many in the industry when Apple is given credit for doing things it simply didn't do.

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Apple walks on water and WiMax MobileIn the days and hours before the Macworld Expo, it seems that anything is possible from Apple. Competitors are already angry (and scared) enough by what the company can do and likely will do. But it must be infuriating to many in the industry when Apple is given credit for doing things it simply didn't do.

A Friday afternoon ValleyWag post riffed on sightings of Apple's banners at Moscone Center in San Francisco reading "There's something in the air." Their take is that WiMax support will be added to the heavily-rumored ultraportable MacBook as well as the rest of the MacBook Pro line.

Now, my guess is that the article meant to say was that Apple might add support for WiMax Mobile, or 802.16e, to its notebooks. This makes a lot of sense.

Intel announced its intent to ship a combo WiMax Mobile chipset in 2006, which would support current 802.11 Wi-Fi networks as well as the faster WiMac Mobile connections. At the fall Intel Developers Forum, the company said that a number of major system vendors would support for this multiband chipset, including Lenovo and Toshiba.

Of course, Apple wasn't among them. It never pre-announces products or technology adoptions. But Apple might want to get a bit of a jump on the competition and ship such a product, as it did with the first Core Duo machines. So, the "something" in the Macworld banners could be WiMax.

According to analysts, Intel has poured something north of $1 billion to develop and promote WiMax technology. So, the company has good reasons to encourage Apple to adopt the chipset.

Then again, that "something" on the banners could simply be the next round in Apple's switcher media campaign, describing the company itself, or the Macintosh. Is Vista in the air? Springtime? Nope, it's the whiff of a Mac running that sweet Mac OS X. Home cookin'.

Read Jason O'Grady's take on the banners.

However, the ValleyWag article went deeper into uncharted waters.

[Apple's support] would be a huge win for WiMax, which suffered a blow when Sprint and Clearwire abandoned plans for a WiMax joint venture. But Apple has proven it can popularize technologies -- think USB in the original iMac, and Wi-Fi in the iBook -- even with a scant market share. If anything, its position is stronger now than ever before.

No doubt, Apple's iMac and iBook teams are pleased to accept credit for having popularized, or saved, the USB and Wi-Fi standards, respectively. While those kind words will bring smiles to the branding team down in Cupertino, it must rub the hackles of engineers around the world.

USB long ago was developed by Intel, and while the connector shipped on the original iMac G3 in August, 1998, the standard was already adopted by PC vendors.

It's true that the PC market was slow to adopt USB. The holdup was twofold: support for the technology was problematic in the first rev of Windows 98, which shipped in June, 1998; and the PC installed base had plenty of inexpensive PS/2 keyboards. Cost is and always has been king in the PC market and USB devices cost more back then.

So Apple didn't save USB or really popularize it. The Macintosh rode the USB wave. If anything, the big boost to widespread USB adoption came with Microsoft's fixes in Windows 98 SE released in 1999.

Perhaps a case can be made for Apple's popularizing Wi-Fi. Maybe. The 802.11b wireless networking standards pre-existed Apple's 1999 announcement of Airport in the iBook, and cards and access points were available from a number of vendors.

Apple's genius was bringing a solution to the consumer market rather than focusing on the enterprise (as had been the case in the PC market), providing its usual excellent level of integration in hardware and software, and offering customers a easy-to-setup wireless router.

Intel pushed 802.11a instead of Wi-Fi for a while that confused the market. But the integration of Wi-Fi by PC notebook makers and Windows drove the market and lowered prices.

In fact, Apple's adoption of USB and Wi-fi are examples of a strategy to support industry standards rather than Apple's historical preference for home-grown connectors and standards. When the iMac G3 shipped with only USB and Ethernet ports, it heralded the company's abandonment of the long-standing Apple Desktop Bus connector.

There's only one interface that comes close to the claim of being popularized and saved with support from Apple: 1394, a.k.a. FireWire. Of course, this standard was invented at Apple and then given over to an trade association to further its development. It's still standard on Apple's computer line, even the new Xserves. although now missing from the iPod.

Can Apple prop up a standard? The company hopes so. We will the proof over the course of this year with progress towards industry-wide support for Webkit, the Web browser engine used by Safari in Mac OS X and on the iPhone.

Then again, it may be that the real propping up of WebKit in the future will come from Google rather than Apple. According to reports, Google's Android Mobile Platform will use WebKit's rendering engine.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Networking

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145 comments
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  • Dongle

    As I Cringley observes in the [url=http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080111_003899.html]End Game[/url] article, Apple hardware is a dongle.

    You can only run their software applications on their hardware, with only a few exceptions.

    They need to diversify because with recent changes to expanded drm-free music availability (e.g, SONY to sell rights to Amazon) they won't be able to control the cash cow music revenue stream anymore.

    I personally feel that getting charged on a per song basis and the tedium of managing music to that level of manipulation will eventually become passe and obsoleted by WiMAX streaming on demand music.

    As for the future of the digital music market, Real Rhapsody is a good example of a reasonably priced, well implemented, on demand monthly streaming music subscription service--very simple to use and all of that file transfer syncing avoided. Just go to a genre, artist, album, whatever and just listen.

    If Apple doesn't open up they risk being left behind in a world of increasing 'openness'. Same goes for Microsoft.

    When it comes to cell phones and convergence, Nokia have a good product development philosophy, marketing concept and are a force to be reckoned with: 'Open to Everything'.

    iPhone doesn't have anything going for it, excepting a unique interface which will be copied within a short period of time by the competition.

    It is relatively 'featureless' when compared with for example the Nokia N95.

    We'll see what next week brings and if Jobs can 'walk on water' or not. My prediction is it will be more closed architecture glitz. If you are into that well then by all means please enjoy.
    D T Schmitz
    • What a genius!

      You are kidding, aren't you?

      Your post shows the highest level of naivete about the technology business and
      Apple's role in it.

      How is the MS or the Linux model different? Their software works only on their
      stuff with a few exceptions, right? Right.

      Any market that anyone opens evolves, right? Right.

      Nothing in life is permanent with the exception of perhaps how a few self-
      proclaimed knowledgable geeks still think Apple is just a second - rate technology
      organization.

      Well, here's new for y'all: a marketing phenomenon like Mac OS X takes years to
      ramp up and years to ramp down and overcome. Vista, the biggest consumer rip-
      off since Office 2007, is selling like there's no tomorrow because people just want
      to have the latest stuff. It doesn't actually do anything for anybody but Microsoft
      and developers. Apple is in the same game, they just control the hardware at the
      same time.

      If I'm going to bet on any tech company, I'll bet on the one that brings new ease of
      use to consumers at a reasonable price - that would be the Mac platform.

      The market says so, the shareholders say so and it's going to be like this for
      awhile.

      Google might upset the Apple-cart but don't count on that happening soon. This
      is the Apple decade.

      We'll see in 2011. That is where Steve and Steve are thinking now.
      mlindl
      • Nothing like losing your audience right up front

        "How is the MS or the Linux model different? Their software works only on their stuff with a few exceptions, right? Right."

        Nope, not right. I have installed Windows on countless different vendors' platforms. Gigabyte, IWill, DFI, Dell, Compaq, the list goes on and on and on. In fact, Windows even supports Apple hardware! (As does Linux, I believe, but haven't tried.) A cross-platform feat that OS X has not yet been able to do in any supported fashion. It is unable to run without the EXTREMELY expensive Mac dongle.

        You have missed the entire point of the post you were responding to.
        KTLA
        • Let me ask you....

          Why? You already have a MS. You already have a Dell and all the other wanna be's or
          clone makers. Why do you want Apple to jump in that crowded pool? How do you
          think Apple would be any different from anyone else if it ended up doing the same ole
          same ole? I'm bored just thinking about the tech world with yet another flavorless rice
          cake company in the mix.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
          • Why not?

            If the OS is available on any hardware, it's not just one more swimmer in the pool, it's one of a handful of operating systems that are available for consumers to choose between. As it is, Apple isn't any more or any less of a choice than Dell or HP or eMachines. It's true that it's a unique choice, but to the general masses the question isn't, "Should I get Mac or Windows?" it's "Do I want to buy the Dell that's on sale or the eMachine from Costco or one of those Mac's everybody's been talking about?"

            Making the OS available to more hardware will expand their market and insure that at least their OS is more successful.
            p0figster
          • Hardly.....

            What makes a Mac a Mac is not the OS nor the hardware it's the hand n glove
            relationship between the OS and the hardware. Make it available to other hardware
            and you loose the Mac in the mix. Then it's just another well MS except smaller and
            likely to be drowned out. Also Apple hardly needs this increased success as Apple has
            a great lead of success and that seems to be increasing at a healthy clip. No Apple
            becoming another Dell or MS does nothing for the consumer or Apple for that matter.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • You couldn't be more wrong!

            But then, you probably aren't the CEO of a company with a market capitalization
            greater than Sony or Dell.
            mlindl
          • Agreed

            You are dead on correct that Apple is right to stay out of the crowded PC market where they could never compete with their far higher prices. In their current current whiz-bang niche market they will continue to do quite well.
            admin93
        • Mind if I butt in?

          Keep in mind this is in response only to the 'losing audience'
          post.

          You claim: [i]"Windows even supports Apple hardware!"[/i]
          In this I beg to differ greatly. At this time, Windows will NOT
          operate on Apple hardware without either Boot Camp (for dual
          booting) or virtualization software like Parallels or VMWare
          Fusion. By no means is Windows supporting Apple in this case;
          but rather Apple is allowing for Windows to be run on its
          hardware. Without Apple's support or third-party software,
          Windows cannot run on a Mac, just as OS X cannot run on a non-
          Apple x86 machine.

          Now, believe it or not, x86 virtualization has been available for
          the Mac for well over 10 years, even back to the days of MacOS 8
          through an independent application called VirtualPC (later
          purchased by Microsoft.) With Boot Camp and the shift to Intel
          processors Apple has made such Windows support easier and
          more intuitive; making it possible to literally drag-and-drop files
          from one platform to the other within the same machine (as
          compared to its ability to copy files between different machines
          and platforms just as easily before.)

          In other words, the majority of your comment stands from a
          position of ignorance of the facts and the history of the Apple
          computers. I don't deny Apple made a lot of mistakes before
          Steve Jobs resumed the post as CEO of Apple back in '96,
          mistakes that Steve fought as far back as '88 before he was 'fired'
          from the company he founded for disagreeing with Corporate
          decisions. Since his return, Steve Jobs has managed to completely
          turn around Apple's slide into insolvency and again make it a
          leader in desktop technology that everyone else strives to
          emulate.
          Vulpinemac
          • Actually macuser wrong again ! (whats new)

            Yes you can install Vista on a Mac with NO boot camp.

            You need to use the Mac disk utility to reset the boot record to MBR. Then reformat the drive and install Vista on it.

            And you got the innovation wrong. They themselves take others work, repackage it, and resell it. Almost nothing they have is "innovative".

            And Jobs was "FIRED" (more like stuck in an empty office across the street" because of such huge losses Apple incurred. They recovered uite nicely after 1-2 years after Jobs was not in Apple.

            But because Apple was always pissing off developers and trying to gouge developers/manufacturers with royalties and locking their products they were screwed. Apple scrapped its OS, and went to BeOS, stamped their names on it, made it bloated, and locked it down .. AGAIN.

            Yes, Apple has come back again (minimally) but they are going to fail utterly as they have in the past for the same reasons. No amount of hype can over come that.
            JABBER_WOLF
          • Actually - wrong again

            Sure, you can install Vista on the Intel Macs.
            But I think that you missed the point about innovation.
            All the major platforms have taken someone elses work and repackaged it.
            Apple have taken the same road to locking down various technologies that ALL other major platforms have, no exceptions.
            The innovation lies in how the various platforms have painted themselves in their marketing and branding.
            I am always intrigued why the various views on individual platforms illicits such flames.
            It's about choice, so if you don't like it spend your money where you want and let others do the same, without sneering at their choices.
            Pheck
          • So Utterly Wrong !

            "Apple scrapped its OS, and went to BeOS, stamped their names on it, made it
            bloated, and locked it down .. AGAIN."


            It's amazing. So entirely wrong. Apple did not buy BeOS.

            Apple bought NeXt, Steve Job's OTHER company, to get the NeXt operating system.

            The owner of BeOS DID try to sell it to Apple, but Apple passed on it.

            They also passed on going with a Linux microkernel, and if rumor is correct both Jean-Louis Gass?e and Linux Torvalds were kind of pissed about it.

            As for Jobs being "fired", he hired Sculley for his marketing skills to promote the new
            Macintosh computer.

            Somehow Sculley seized control and the Board of Directors stripped Jobs of his
            responsibilities.

            Jobs walked, and on his way out he did two things.

            He tapped some engineers on the shoulder and offered them a better job.

            And he put up about $26 million bucks in his Apple Stock for sale. IIRC Apple had to
            buy them off him to avoid a major shock to the stock price.


            The new Company, NeXt, invented a new operating system based on BSD Unix with a
            graphical user interface.

            The NeXt OS eventually became cross-platform, running on the Motorola chips and
            Intel x86 chips.

            THAT's what Apple bought when the original Mac OS needed an upgrade: and Apple
            paid $400 Million dollars for the privilege.


            Meanwhile, Sculley was the joker who signed the contract with Microsoft that let
            them steal the Mac OS and get away with it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Sculley
            Jkirk3279
          • Windows Runs on Mac

            I need to correct this i guess. I'm running Windows Vista Home premium on a MacBook. No bootcamp, no OsX. I wiped off the hard disk completely and formatted the hard disk to use MBR Partition instead of the apple GUID partition. Thats it... i was able to install Vista on it.
            nabeel_z
          • True, I ran Windows '95 on Mac OS 8.5

            'Nuff said. You Windows wackys are really something to read!!!
            mlindl
          • I think it was

            a Mac wacky who made the claim in this case. Need to read the previous commentor's post.
            alaniane
      • You misread the sentence

        [i]You can only run their software applications on their hardware, with only a few exceptions[/i].

        In other words, can you run OSX, iWork, ect on an HP, Dell, Gateway, Acer, ect? Nope.

        On the other hand I can run Windows on an HP, Dell, Gateway, Acer [b]and[/b] Apple.

        So let us speak of naivete once again with your comment on [i]We'll see in 2011. That is where Steve and Steve are thinking now[/i]

        That is 2 years too late, so if that is true, then they will be out of the game.
        GuidingLight
        • You need to read . . .

          This dunderhead's post further down the list. HE claims that Apple:

          1) Invented the personal computer.
          2) Invented the mouse.
          3) Invented Ease-of Use(I'm still trying to figure out this one . . .)
          4) Security. (Multiple times, even!! :) )


          He's not worth the time to respond to . . .
          JLHenry
          • ROTFL!

            I HAVE to respond to his other post! :)
            GuidingLight
        • words again

          ETC not ECT is the correct abbreviation.
          dhays
        • Puh-leeeeze

          Really, get over yourself.

          Steve and Steve are thinking about 2011. You are thinking about today.

          Microsoft doesn't make computers, do they? Why not? Why don't you complain
          about Microsoft not making computers?

          They have X-Box (junk), Microsoft Mouse and Keyboards (wow, high tech) and, oh
          yea, that also-ran, the Zune.

          MS should make computers, then they could control the whole user experience and
          give Apple a real run for their money. HP and Dell don't like it? Let them make
          their own damned OS.

          LOL
          mlindl