Apple didn't just piss off Microsoft, either. They have all the PC OEMs in a massive race to see who can create the best looking product at the most affordable price.
The PC OEMs already build a more reliable product, as this widely circulated user video comparing a MacBook Air to a Lenovo X301 showcases. Each one first competing to be the first to say "Hey Apple you can kill my " at first and not focused like lasers on each other to make sure no other OEM does it better than they can. And for the first time in over a decade the PC OEMs are in lock step on the Windows 7 launch.
This design focus has already had an impact. For instance in this month's consumer report, for the first time I can recall, a non-Apple All-In-One computer took the top spot, and it was from Dell.
Without Apple constant nagging I doubt that would have been the case.
In addition, many of these firms are looking at matching Apple with Smartphones touting next generation designs coming from HP, and even Dell is thinking about getting into this mix. Though it is RIM, Palm and Google they really have to worry about.
By doing this campaign, and doing well in the market, Apple has placed concentric circles around its products and brand and the PC guys are taking aim.
Where they are already hitting hard is with Netbooks.
The big change we will be seeing over the next several months is with Netbooks and not just those from Microsoft. Google is in test with several of the big OEMs and one is already apparently working on an enterprise version of the product.
Lenovo is supposedly working on a ThinkPad Netbook offering that will likely have technology like a TPM and biometric fingerprint reader for security and centralized management back end to make it all work. Initially most players will be based on Windows 7 and Windows XP, but Google Android is coming and Google plans to really stir the pot.
This last is kind of interesting. Because of all the cell phone platform vendors Google is actually the closest to Apple in the market. And they are already prepping their second generation hardware to go against the third generation iPhone.
Google already has nearly as many developers as Apple does and, with a number of hardware vendors ramping up (including HTC, Motorola, and Samsung on record) they will have a wider choice of phones on the market about the time that the latest generation of iPhone launches.
Recall that Sun's excess focus on Microsoft made them miss the Linux wave that slowed Microsoft's growth but obliterated their UNIX based market. Google is attempting to build a platform that has Apple's user experience and Microsoft's multi-hardware vendor approach.
In effect the first vendor that Google will be applying the "embrace, extend, and extinguish" model to isn't Microsoft, its Apple. And this probably won't end well for Apple unless they wake up and smell the roses.
Apple's excess focus on Microsoft is causing them to drift towards Sun's model at a time when Google is ramping up to move into the market and possibly take Apple out on their way to their ultimate goal of displacing Microsoft.
This could repeat the Linux attack on Microsoft which, while not intending to take UNIX out, had that result even though the initial Linux effort was supposed to be targeted at Windows.
Apple needs to get over its PC envy, find a way to respond to the Netbook, PALM, and Google threats, and figure out how to survive without Steve Jobs. It faces an event like it hasn't seen since the Windows 95 launch, a Windows platform that is vastly improved, better marketed, and comes at a time when Steve Jobs may no longer be able to function in his traditional role.
In short, they need to go back to reminding people why they should want a Mac before Oracle buys them (they tried before), and shuts them down, too. Granted, Larry is probably one of the few people that might be able to replace Steve Jobs so this might not entirely be a bad thing. But I have a hard time believing that the Apple fan base would be particularly happy with this outcome.