Apple ramps up

Apple computers has a lot to be thankful for in the dog-eat-dog world of computers.

They have a loyal following who are willing to buy a system that is all but incompatible with more than 90 per cent of all the computers on the market. They seem able to weather any storm, and aren’t afraid to innovate and take a few chances. Not everything they make is a hit, but at least they’re trying new things.

They have a few markets cornered, including graphic arts and publishing, and seem unlikely to lose much ground in those areas any time soon.

As computers get more complex, Apple has kept things simple. At the same time, their computers, operating system and software has remained state-of-the-art.

Did I mention customer loyalty? Check around the net sometime and you’ll see that Mac supporters are not your typical computer geeks. Wired Magazine even refers to this group as the Cult of Mac, and it includes some unlikely people.

For example, according to an article by Wired Magazine’s Leander Kahney on "Macspotting", Microsoft’s Bill Gates uses a Macintosh, as does Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, Sylvester Stallone and Martha Stewart. One column at MacCentral, /famous/, regularly updates a list of celebrity Mac users, and Mac appearances in movies and on television.

At the recent MacWorld conference earlier in January, cultists were given a few more reasons to strut around like they owned the place. Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs used the annual conference to launch a couple of surprising new applications for Mac users that will go a long way to putting Apple back on top, at least for a while.

The first is a suite of applications called iLife, which includes new versions of Apple’s iMovie, iPhoto, iTune and iDVD software programs which should be available on Jan. 25. Jobs boasted that iLife will "do for our digital lifestyle what Microsoft Office did for office productivity."

The second new release is a new Internet browser called Safari. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the browser wars, but let’s just say the U.S. Superior Courts had to get involved, and several companies, including Netscape, are crawling back from the brink of extinction.

Various studies peg Internet Explorer as the Internet browser of choice by a huge margin – between 72 per cent and 95 per cent of all computer users have a recent version of IE. The other users, except for a small percentage, use Netscape.

Trying to carve a niche in this browser market would be as daring as launching a new cola to take on Coca-Cola and Pepsi – if it weren’t for that core group of loyal supporters that will try anything with an Apple on the label. Most will at least give Safari a chance, and if all Apple is saying about it is true, then Internet Explorer is going to lose some market share.

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