Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Apple Decides to Sell Software Technology: Too Little, Too Late?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Apple Decides to Sell Software Technology: Too Little, Too Late?

Article excerpt

IN what could be a case of too little, too late, Apple Computer Inc. yesterday outlined plans to license its technology to other manufacturers.

Analysts say that the Cupertino, Calif., company should have moved years ago to get other computermakers to run their machines on its software. By licensing its easy-to-use software platform, it could have gone head-to-head with Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash.

Now Microsoft, which has dominated the software industry even though analysts view its Windows product as inferior to Apple's Macintosh, is preparing a slam dunk - a new version of Windows that is expected to close the performance gap with Apple.

That leaves Apple and rival International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), of Armonk, N.Y., scrambling to remain strong players in the market for the most basic computer software - the operating environments in which other programs run.

With perhaps eight months left before Microsoft releases its new platform, Apple is finally pushing for broad distribution of Macintosh. Or is it?

Where Microsoft, with its software-only mission, sells to any and all hardware makers, Apple, as a maker of hardware, appears to be taking a much more selective approach.

In a press conference on Friday, Apple vice president Don Strickland said the company is looking for licensing partners who will use Apple's software, and its related hardware designs, in market niches that Apple does not currently serve. The company hopes that the strategy will add about 3 percentage points to its overall 11 percent market share in personal computers.

But Mr. Strickland said Apple is not aiming to puts its software on PCs that run on chips made by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif. Intel chips and clones of them account for almost 90 percent of the PCs sold today.

Instead, Apple and IBM are peddling a new chip architecture called PowerPC that they say is more powerful than Intel's.

The problem, says Dwight Davis of Windows Watcher, a newsletter about Microsoft, is that people "buy more on the basis of software now than hardware. …

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