Apple Talk: Let's talk about Apple, just don't mention the Mac

Apple has come a long way since Job's "milk the Macintosh" mantra

Apple has come a long way since Job's "milk the Macintosh" mantra

Apple seems hell-bent on rebranding itself as a mobile devices company but it should not forget the machine that made its name, says Seb Janacek.

What's in a name? Quite a lot. Regular Minority Report readers may have noticed that the title of the column has been changed to Apple Talk. There is method in this madness and here are the workings.

First, it has Apple in the title, which is good news for the company's search engine optimisation team. Secondly and more importantly, Minority Report was first conceived as a reference to Apple's minority share of the PC market back in 2004.

At the time, the name had relevance as the Mac was Apple's defining product. Certainly, the iPod was beginning to emerge as Apple's white knight. At the time, the iPhone and iPad were mere glints in the eyes of people working in the Cupertino labs.

In 1996, a year before he took the helm at Apple - albeit in an interim capacity - Steve Jobs talked to Fortune magazine. Jobs was asked what he would do to turn around the ailing company he had founded.

His reply was "milk the Macintosh for all it's worth - and get busy on the next great thing". He wasn't joking.

Since the end of 2004, the Mac has increased its share but remains niche. It wasn't even mentioned in the recent developer keynote. The iPod has waxed and is starting to wane, the iPhone is triumphant and the iPad is starting its own journey.


The iPad is just starting its journey
(Photo credit: Apple)

iPod, iPhone, iPad - these are the main focus of the company's business. Apple is about far more than Macs these days. Arguably, Apple's brand is barely about Macs as it continues its quest to rebrand itself as a mobile devices company.

That rebranding is a shame both for new and established customers. The iMac I got in 2007 remains the best Apple product I've owned - iPod, iPhone and iPad included.

This shift is indicative of the evolution of a company but also an industry. For so long a minority player, Apple is setting the agenda for technology at a point where it is increasingly spilling over into the mainstream.

When the iPod went supersonic, people talked a lot about the Halo effect. Positive experiences with the consumer tech of the iPod converted people into Mac users. These days the so-called Halo effect extends to products such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. These are the plainly sexy models strutting the Cupertino catwalk. However, the Mac remains a special entity. It is rather splendid; it will endure.

In the years since this column launched, the company has been transformed. The tech landscape has done the same. Unthinkably, Apple has turned into the biggest tech company in the world, passing IBM, Google and last month, Microsoft. Amazing. It is a compelling, inspiring and frequently, a hugely frustrating corporate identity.

I thought I'd share articles from the vaults for each year the column has run:

The past six years have been a fascinating time for an Apple watcher. It's been a fascinating time for technology. Here's to the next few. Let's talk Apple.