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The extraordinary thing about Macs is its ability to convert sales into profit — no other computer manufacturer does it as well as Apple. For every $100 worth of computer that Apple sells, Apple makes $19 of profit whereas competitors are lucky to make $4. That’s more than 4x the margin, which is amazing.

PC makers feel the sting, but Macs still comprise less than 7% market share so Microsoft hasn’t felt the same kind of pressure. The Redmond company soon will, however. In Apple’s latest quarterly report, Macs grew 21% compared to the previous year’s quarter, over a time when the overall PC market is flat. Apple hasn’t done as well since 1995.

Apple has traditionally focused on the high end market; but more and more, Apple has been willing to compete in the middle. That’s why Apple is still selling the the non-retina MacBook Pro, the original iPad mini and the iPhone 5C, even though those products aren’t likely to garner the same high customer satisfaction scores that Tim Cook often brags about.

While Mac units shipped grew 21%, revenue only grew 18% — evidence that the average selling price of Macs sold has declined. This is a signal that Apple intends to grab market share.

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Didn’t know what to write today, and then @nilanp came to save the day:

My answer to that is great design is everywhere. Lots of tech companies have great design. The problem is not everyone cares.

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If a PC company had flat sales, you might think its CEO would go, “Phew, not bad when the overall market is declining.”

Not really though: Lenovo, HP, Dell Acer and ASUS all increased sales the past quarter even though the overall market declined. Apple too. It’s not clear which PC company is suffering, but the strong get stronger while the weak exit.

So flat iPad sales — despite whatever Tim Cook may say — is alarming to Apple and Apple watchers. Moreover, now that Apple is selling larger phone sizes, people are finally realizing that you don’t need a big phone and a small tablet. The bigger iPad will need to grow a lot faster for the overall business to grow.

The iPad may not be one of the weak, but it is not one of the strong either. What should Apple do? The company has two possibilities: 1) make the iPad more appealing to a new market segment, and/or 2) deliver the same proposition to the existing market segment better.

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Vanity Fair has a fascinating piece on the rise, fall and reboot of Microsoft. The story is really about leadership; from the days of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer; to Ballmer succeeding as CEO; and finally to Satya Nadella. It’s a great piece and definitely worth reading.

I’m a big admirer of Ballmer, but must call him out on something he said in the article:

“The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004,” says Ballmer. “And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.” Who shoulders the blame is a matter of debate, but the fact is neither Ballmer nor Gates stopped the failure from happening, even as almost everyone else saw it coming.

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Now that Windows 10 Technical Preview is out, opinions are flooding in about Microsoft’s oddly named OS. One of the common remarks is how modern Start Screen from Windows 8 is out the window because, you know, people hate it.

I disagree. Whether you like colorful live tiles is a subjective choice — it’s an opinion about aesthetics, like how one person could like TouchWiz but another could abhor it — but the Windows 8 Start Screen is not functionally inferior. As an app launcher, it’s actually superior to the traditional Start Menu.

But if flat, colorful boxes aren’t your thing, that’s understandable. That’s an opinion.

You may not like how TouchWiz looks, but that doesn’t make a Samsung phone objectively bad.

Windows 8 was objectively bad, but for other reasons.

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Microsoft just announced Windows 10. It’s a horrible name, and Microsoft is setting itself up to be made fun of just like they did with Surface’s “no compromises” tagline.

Here’s a joke already making the rounds: It’s Windows 10 because 7 8 9. Argh. Every time Windows 10 fails, and it will inevitably fail for something sometime, Windows 9 will be the easy barb.

Why not just go with something like Windows X? It even implies the number 10.

Name aside, Windows 10 looks promising. I’ve been sketching ideas on OneNote with my Surface Pro 3, and redesigning Windows 8 is a favorite subject. High up on my wish list is a touch mode and desktop mode; triggered when you detach or attach a keyboard to a 2-in-1 device. That’s in Windows 10 and which Microsoft calls Continuum. It looks good.

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