Apple’s “Piracy Strategy”

An “opinion piece on Apple Matters yesterday”:http://applematters.com/index.php/section/comments/apple_computer_is_piracy_the_pathway_to_profits/ suggests that users running pirated copies of OSX on generic Intel hardware (once it is released) could be to Apple’s advantage. The article was picked up on “Slashdot today”:http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/14/1322208&tid=181&tid=3

The basic argument of the piece seems to be that the value of the mindshare Apple gains might exceed the lossed revenue from sales of Apple branded hardware. A slashdot poster points out that Microsoft is rumored to have been accepting of Windows 3.1 piracy because it helped drive widespread windows adoption.

What I think everyone is missing, as far as I’ve seen, is that the hardware & OS revenue is just part of the pie for Apple, just as the OS revenue was just part of the pie for Microsoft back then.

Back before windows 3.X, Microsoft was primarily an operating system and developer tools company. Their application software for the PC sold reasonably well, but other people dominiated. Windows 3 shifted the playingfield quickly. For one thing, Microsoft had its apps ready, while WordPerfect took time to make a serious effort. For another thing, Windows undermined WordPerfect’s superior collection of printer drivers, by abstracting the print model and making the drivers the resoponsibility of the driver maker. The more copies of windows installed, the fewer chances for WordPerfect, and the more opportunies for Word.

It obviously worked very well for them.

Apple has similar opportunities if MacOS for Intel is widely pirated.

Each home PC running MacOS is one PC that isn’t going to be running Windows Media Player and buying music encumbered with Microsoft’s DRM, which reinforces iTunes Music Store and the iPod’s advantage. It also helps out any fledgling Internet video offering Apple has. In addition, their are the iLife applications, and .Mac, which, togeather, can mean $200/year to Apple if people stay current.

Of course, I have to wonder how likely people pirating the OS are going to be to buy any of Apple’s other offerings.

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