January 09, 2004

I Guess Jobs Meant It After All

Shortly after arriving back at Apple, Steve Jobs, cancelled the disastrously expensive licensing scheme for Macintoshes. Overnight, customers of UMax, Power Computing, etc. were left high and dry. Commentators were absolutely sure that Jobs was pulling Apple back permanently into niche producer status where systems would only ever be produced by Apple and the marketshare enhancing idea of licensing your technology was dead.

Not so, replied Jobs. He claimed at the time, and has maintained his position that if somebody came up with a reasonable deal, he would license Apple technology. Nobody believed him. They probably should have.

Carly Fiorina just came up with a reasonable deal.

HP is getting into the iPod business and will be putting iTunes, along with its music store on all its Windows desktop and laptop PCs. What's not mentioned much is that the Quicktime multimedia framework is also coming along for the ride. This creates a huge win for Apple and its technology suites. At the same time it is a very big win for HP. They instantly become a seller of the market leading portable digital music player in the world. Their distribution chain will ensure that they will be able to push huge numbers of units, likely more than Apple itself could manage to either produce or distribute. And in a year where every computer maker is trying to catch up to Apple, now they're chasing both Apple and HP, a much more difficult task as the gibes about Apple's 'think different' culture don't work against HP and any criticism of HP's image will likely not work against Apple.

The biggest missed story in all this is that Macintosh clone dreamers now have living proof that Steve Jobs will do a licensing deal after years of imagining that such things would have to wait for his corporate departure. Fire up the business plans and financial spreadsheets people, the dream's back from the dead.

Posted by TMLutas at January 9, 2004 04:03 PM