So Apple quietly announced Boot Camp Wednesday and it’s been covered by pretty much everyone since then. It was at the top of Memorandum Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night (okay, it was third at 9:50 Friday) and it’s at the top again tonight.
It’s of course been covered by the usual folks such as Mac Rumors and MacWorld. It was covered in Business Week this week, was on the cover of USA Today, and Walt Mossberg has already weighed in on it. Nowadays Apple gets a lot of coverage from the mainstream media, but this level of coverage is unprecedented. Every variation of “Hell has frozen over” and “pigs are flying” has been used to describe this event.
My first thought when I read about Boot Camp was “Goodbye, Dell.” My initial feeling was the Mac would now work as a full-fledged Windows PC and the early tests already appear to confirm this.
From now on it will Macs all the way for me. My PowerBook and Dell will eventually be replaced by a single MacBook Pro. I’ll dual boot it using Boot Camp or its successor, or maybe I’ll use a virtualization solution like Parallels or VMWare. (I didn’t know until this week that emulation and virtualization are two very different things from a technical perspective. No more Virtual PC for me. My bet is Microsoft kills the product.)
Even if I need a second or dedicated Windows system for some reason (I hope I won’t) I’ll just buy an additional Mac. I like the hardware that much better. Life’s too short to burn money on another annoying Dell laptop.
I’ve been thinking about the impact this will have on Apple’s business and what it means for their product strategy. In general I think it will bring more folks to the platform, both “typical” folks and enthusiast users.
I’d guess dual booting will serve as a nice security blanket for potential switchers held back by fear of being unable to run Windows programs. How many of those individuals ever actually dual boot their system is another question, though configuring a dual boot system should get easier when Apple integrates Boot Camp into Leopard. Configuring a dual boot system would seem to be a nice value added service for whatever remains of the independent Mac reseller channel.
Interestingly, Nicholas Carr postulates (with credit given to Daring Fireball) the dual booting capability will be particularly attractive to “high end” or enthusiast buyers who are more profitable and this is the reason for Apple’s dramatic stock price increase following the announcement:
It’s not that Apple may be able to expand its general market share by a couple of percentage points; it’s that those percentage points are likely to represent many of the most attractive customers in the market.
I consider myself an enthusiast buyer and the capability is obviously attractive to me, so I think the argument holds water.
Will Macs that run Windows ultimately marginalize the Mac OS? I’m not as confident as John Gruber at Daring Fireball, but in general it seems that, given exposure to both operating systems, folks find Mac OS X more appealing than XP. The Apple-developed Mac-specific software like iLife and Final Cut Studio are also selling points for the Mac OS.
With regard to third-party software available on both platforms I don’t think the picture is as clear. If Leopard and subsequent versions of the Mac OS continue to keep Windows as a dual boot option instead of providing some sort of cleanly-integrated virtualization solution it would seem most of the dual platform developers will probably continue to create Mac-only versions.
If, however, Windows runs within the Mac OS in a fashion similar to the Classic app integration I wouldn’t be surprised if some developers scuttle their Mac versions. Software like Quicken, which has a weak Mac version, comes to mind.
All this is speculation, of course. Apple’s been playing things pretty smart, so I remain optimistic. This is great news for me personally. I’m a lot more anxious to get a MacBook Pro. Paging Apple: please deliver the 17-inch version.