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As Apple Enters the Mainstream...

Over the past few years, Apple has continually been moving more and more into the mainstream consumer electronic scene. The introduction of the iPod turned Apple from an old, dying computer company into a hip, new electronics brand. Whilst the iPod has dominated the music-player market, the Mac has always held a back-seat position in the consumer computer market. However, this has changed in the past few years as Mac sales continually climb. It is no longer rare to see someone using a Mac (especially a Macbook). Apple is now a mainstream brand.

A few recent events have caused me to realise how Apple has changed as a company now that it has entered the mainstream market. First, Steve Jobs didn't give the keynote this year at the annual MacWorld San Francisco conference. Steve Jobs has always been the face of Apple and made Apple seem closer to its customer base. Second, Apple is pulling out entirely from MacWorld and, basically, the trade-show scene altogether. MacWorld is an integral part of the Mac culture because it has always meant some new gadget from Apple. Granted, working their release schedule around MacWorld (which inconveniently is after the holidays) may not be easy for Apple, but it is important in keeping their loyal user base happy. However, Apple finds their private press events (which, I will note, are not open to the public like MacWorld) more effective.

I will say that, in my opinion, Apple's products are still getting better and better, but I feel that their attention to their loyal fan base is diminishing. This year's MacWorld wasn't exactly spectacular and Apple is having a hard time keeping up with the rumour mill, but the new iLife suite is pretty nice and the new 17" Macbook Pro is stunning. I think that if Apple wanted to please their loyal fan base and still exit the trade-show scene, they should at least have had Steve Jobs perform this year's keynote. If his health was an issue, they could have done MacWorld for one more year so that Jobs could give the last keynote. That would have made for a better exit, but instead Apple is more like "Steve Jobs will not be giving the keynote this year ... and it's our last MacWorld too".

Lately, I have become less obsessed with Apple. I think the rumour mill has gone way too far and Apple announcements are more of a casual read for me now. Perhaps being at university has given me less time to be obsessed. However, I think Apple's move into the mainstream market and drawback from their traditional exclusivity has a part too. I just hope that Apple's move into the mainstream doesn't affect the quality of their products and their general attention to design, even if it affects the general Macintosh culture.

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