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Hardware vs Software

January 20th, 2004 · No Comments

NYTimes looks more closely to Appl’s Steve Job’s initiatives:

Mr. Jobs has already received widespread credit for breaking the digital impasse between the recording industry and music consumers with Apple’s iTunes store of downloadable songs. But the sales success of the iPod player indicates he may be onto something even bigger for Apple.

Mr. Jobs’s next big thing is buttressed by mounting evidence of a post-PC era in which silicon, not software, will be king. That is likely to bring wrenching changes in the technology world, largely dominated by Microsoft for the last decade. Under Microsoft’s hegemony, hardware became a low-cost commodity. Now it may be software’s turn.

Richard Wallace, a columnist for Electronic Engineering Times, a trade publication, captured the shift in an article he wrote from the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “The irony is that while software gets the glory,” Mr. Wallace wrote, “it’s silicon that’s at the heart of the industry’s next darling: pervasive media.”

For Microsoft, the issue transcends online music. The foundation of Microsoft’s power and leverage in the computing industry is based almost entirely on a set of software sockets known as application programmers’ interfaces, or A.P.I.’s. It is those A.P.I.’s that other software publishers must adapt to in writing programs for use on Windows machines. By controlling the shape of the sockets, and what can fit into them, Microsoft has a powerful advantage against its competitors.

Now, with the new Apple-Hewlett alliance, Mr. Jobs finally has a QuickTime bundling arrangement. The program, which allows for the playing of video clips on a PC, will be a standard feature of every Hewlett-Packard computer. So will another Apple software technology, Rendezvous, which is an A.P.I. designed to let the computer identify and create links to any printer, camera, music player or other digital device without complicated configuration procedures on the user’s part.

Simply put, Mr. Jobs has managed to inject Apple’s DNA into the PC world, meaning that it will be increasingly easy for his company to offer PC users any kind of iPod-style device – whether for music or other media – the company may create in the future.

Tags: Software

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