Mmm, That’s Good Kool-Aid
Dedicated readers will remember that a few days ago I made some observations regarding Apple’s latest product offerings.Today, über-Apple fanboy John Gruber weighed in on the same subject, and made the following curious observation while doing so:
In addtion to completing the architectural switch to x86 processors, the Mac Pro also completes Apple’s “Mac” nomenclatural consolidation. Gone is the “Power” prefix from “PowerBook” and “Power Mac”; in is the word “Mac” in every computer Apple makes. Every computer but Xserve, that is…
[W]hy not the Xserve, too? Clearly it’s not just because “MacServe” sounds bad, otherwise we wouldn’t be stuck with “MacBook Pro”. One explanation could be that Apple’s marketing executives just don’t care enough about the Xserve to demand a name change. That doesn’t ring true to me, though. It probably is true that the Xserve is much less interesting to Steve Jobs than any of Apple’s other computers, but it’s not like the Xserve is lost in a labyrinthian Dell-like product matrix: Apple sells two notebook brands, three desktops, and one server. That’s it.
My bet is that it’s because the Xserve is the one machine Apple sells where they expect a significant number of customers to run an OS other than Mac OS X, full-time.
What the hell? Is he serious? Gruber really thinks Apple is planning for people to buy XServes, wipe them, and load ’em up with Red Hat?
As I noted earlier, Apple’s server offerings are generally priced at a significant premium compared to other low-end servers. This can’t be explained by the hardware inside them, which is generally pretty basic stuff for a 1U server. The best explanation offered in my comments for this was that the Apple premium is for the software — the administrative tools that come with OS X Server, which make basic administrative tasks much easier than is typical for a Unix box.
I can buy that. But apparently, Gruber cannot. As he notes, Apple’s tardiness in renaming the XServe (not to mention the loooong delays between hardware refreshes) probably means one of two things:
- Apple wants to distance the XServe from its "Mac" product line, or
- Apple doesn’t really give a shit about the XServe.
He can’t bring himself to believe #2 (surely His Steveness would not sell us a product that he didn’t believe in, heart and soul!), so the answer must be #1: Apple figures that people buy XServes to run with other OSes — in other words, to run as something else than Macs.
Which seems pretty screamingly implausible to me. Seriously, does anybody buy servers from Apple to run anything other than OS X on? Why on earth would you do that when Apple charges you a 40% premium for commodity hardware?
The idea that Apple’s heart is on the desktop and not in the server closet doesn’t strike me as too hard to believe. I’m not sure why Gruber has so much trouble with it.