Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Catching up with Apple - what about iLife ?

It was interesting to see all manner of companies trying to put up their Apple challenges at the recent CES. There were music devices, music sores, digital entertainment hubs and what not.

With all this attention on competing with Apple via the hardware route, its almost shocking to see the complete absence of any serious challenge to the main reason people are buying Macs - iLife !!

OK, ok, so people also buys Macs because of its ease of use, security and crash-proof performance, sure. But iLife is an increasingly impressive suite that simplifies 90% of the tasks that the average user needs to do on this computer. And don't take my word for it. A Fortune article from about a year ago says: "We asked Steve Jobs how he did it (hint: It's the software, stupid)"

The opportunity is huge. Think about it. Apple has, what 5% of the desktop market ? or is it 7% ? either way, who's got the bulk of the rest ? Its Windows of course - and its likely to be overwhelmingly Windows for a long time yet.

So the bulk of the people buying iPods, Digital cameras, videocam phone and all those digital content creation tools are actually Windows users.

And they have nothing like iLife to help them work with their creations. Nothing !!!

Sure there are individual products. Picasa does great for pictures, as does Photoshop. Windows Media Player 10 series is actually pretty decent with music, or you could use Winamp or a ton of other perfectly decent products. There is Firefox for browsing with a ton of wonderful extensions.

But there is no single, unifying theme here that recognizes the needs of today's home users.

Imagine if someone could come up with a suite that ties all these functions together in a simple, seamless suite, with a consistent and elegant interface and a name that captures people's imaginations.

I think it would be an instant hit.

And the best part is, you don't even have to worry about Microsoft or Apple ! Yes, Microsoft is trying to do something like this in Vista - but there are three reasons why that will not pose any challenge to such a suite:

  • First, its still a year away – if not more given past performance.
  • Second, not everyone will want to upgrade. Given the sheer number of users, it will be a long long time before everyone moves up to Vista.
  • And three, Microsoft is very likely to get it wrong and overcomplicate things.

As for Apple, they are unlikely to do a Windows version of iLife since iLife is such a complelling reason to buy a Mac !

Its kills me that people are trying to compete against MS Office with open source office suites, there is even talk about a Google office suite. MS Office is entrenched in the lives of millions of people. The decision to replace Office in the corporate world will be taken be procurement people after long deliberations. It can be done but it will be a long uphill slog.

And all the time, there is the huge, gaping opening of a personal content creation siute, with no real current competition ! Do a Windows iLife already, somebody !!!!

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