What about support? This is clearly a question on most Mac owners' minds. Apple is not likely to regain the strength it once had, but that hardly means the company is going to disappear anytime soon. And even if it vanished overnight, 28 million Macintosh computers in use today all but guarantee there would still be support for Mac hardware and new versions of the most important Mac software. The Mac user base remains much too big an opportunity for other companies to ignore.
Besides, Apple seems to be stabilizing after several years of trouble. The company is now shipping the most powerful personal computer available: the 300 MHz Power Macintosh G3. It's inviting customers to customize and buy machines directly from its Web site. CompUSA, a major computer retailing chain, is re-emphasizing Mac-related products in its stores. Microsoft has plowed $150 million into Apple to help boost product development. And Bill Gates himself has vowed that Microsoft will continue to create Mac versions of major programs such as the multifunctional Office 98 suite. While none of these developments will restore Apple to its previous size or luster, they certainly show that the marketplace has not given up on the company.
And as more of the world's computing takes place on the Internet, more programs are being written and made available in standardized, universal formats. The Web's HTML, for instance, is designed specifically to create pages of information that look the same on all types of computers, from PCs and Macs to the strangest gizmo you might find in the back of a research lab. Likewise, the Java programming language is designed to allow any program to run on any computer. Granted, that ideal may never be reached; various computer companies are fighting over Java's technical details, and many software makers have yet to fully switch to the language. But there's no question that the computer industry is eager to adopt standards, which will surely make the Mac more viable than ever.
Grierson Consulting, grierson@mcs.Net
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