If you're an Apple follower, this sort of news gets filed under "the end of times": sales of Mac-based desktop publishing software--the one area that the Macintosh has truly dominated--were down 30% last year. Sales of Windows-based desktop publishing software rose 14% as well. Making matters worse, all of the major publishing vendors are ramping up their support for Windows.
"If \[desktop publishing\] people get the idea \[at the Seybold convention, held this week in New York City,\] that Apple can't possibly win, then they will change \[to Windows\]," says Peter Dyson, online editor, Seybold Publications and Seminars. "The sharks are circling; they smell blood."
Apple first popularized desktop publishing a year after the Macintosh was released when Aldus Corporation and Adobe created publishing software that took advantage of the machine's laser printer. Ironically, Adobe will team up with Compaq Computer and Intel Corporation this week to discuss the benefits of desktop publishing on Intel-based Windows machines. Adobe says the company can continue making money on the Mac solely by servicing the existing 25 million Macintosh owners with upgrades. Currently, Apple diehards Adobe and Fractal Design make half their money on Windows sales and Windows sales are rising as Mac sales falls.
Another problem facing Apple is that the company has to not only convince developers to stick with the platform, but also beg them to port software to their next-generation operating system, code-named Rhapsody. Apple hasn't announced a coherent migration strategy for developers yet, largely because work on Rhapsody is still in its infant stages.
While Apple still holds a few technological advantages over Windows, the gap is closing quickly. The Macintosh features color-syncing technology that will appear in the next version of Windows (code-named Memphis) and Windows NT 5.0. The Mac had always managed memory better than Windows, but Windows NT closed that gap as well. Also, publishing is quickly moving away from paper-based production to the Web, where Apple has no inherent superiority. In fact, Apple is way behind Windows on the Web as Web-based development tools are more widely available for Windows and are of higher quality since they are developed first on Windows.
Apple, of course, will attempt to fight back this week with figures and graphs explaining that Mac-based solutions are better, cheaper, superior. In the end, the market will decide, but Apple has their work cut out for them