What is Apple’s core business in the personal computing industry?

Does Apple rely on its hardware products (i.e. “Superior technology” like its iMacG5) or software products (i.e. Mac OS X)? I think most Mac users will tell you that it’s the “whole package” – both its hardware and software working seamlessly together to create one hell of a user experience (I know, I’ve tried one).

Unfortunately, Apple suffers at the hands of the ubiquitous PC-based Windows OS. Apple Mac users are happy to be “counter culture” but as I remember reading somewhere – “never mistake Mac users’ enthusiasm for Apple’s 22% market share” (Apologies to the accuracy and veracity of this quotation. Please help me find the source).

Which brings us to the latest move by Apple: The Apple Boot Camp for Intel based Macs. Here’s the pitch for it:

Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows. Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

(By the way, I like the whole “Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don’t have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.” Awesome user experience – an Apple hallmark)

I’m not entirely sure this will work.

From a business point of view – it looks like it makes sense. After all, Apple is not here to do charity – they live or die on their profit margins. So what can you do but go after the mass market, right? And if the bulk of the market uses Windows OS, then let’s have Apple machines work with Windows.

Yet, I’m already wondering how it will adversely affect and alienate Apple’s core consumers. After all, there are Mac users who already see Microsoft and Windows as “the enemy” – so does this mean their beloved Apple is sleeping with the enemy?

I also wonder whether this will have an effect on Mac’s software development. Will they now churn out half-assed solutions ala Microsoft in order to keep the market hungry for more? Will there still be any initiative for Mac to churn out great software that will cause users to make the switch? After all, this does seem like a bit of a sell-out – “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Maybe Apple hopes to entice users by using Windows on their machine first – then eventually winning them over to a Mac OS. Or maybe it will result in nothing but the status quo – the only convenience being afforded to those who already use two machines anyway: a Windows PC and a Mac.

However, I think most users are like me: We’d love to use a Mac (after experiencing one) – but it’s just that our environment is just too immersed with Windows. So we just go with the flow. We are not tempted by a Windows-operating Mac since clone PC models are so much cheaper.

Of course, that brings another thought to mind. By doing this Apple will lose its niche – the distinct awesome user experience. The draw of Macs was the fact that you could only use Mac software on Macs – and they were made perfectly for each other! It was, as I said earlier, one hell of an experience. I don’t want to “enjoy Windows” on a Mac. It’s rather pointless, don’t you think?

So where does all this lead us? I think it’s a great thing that Apple is doing (very thoughtful of them!) – but I doubt it will cause a great revolution of more people turning to Apple’s machines (i.e. increase market share). People do like choice – but once they’ve made that choice (like for Windows), they tend to get rather comfortable, contented… and resistant to change.