Rolling fruit

by Giles Turnbull

If I were an Apple executive, I'd be feeling very pleased with myself at the moment. As the company heads towards 2006, it seems to be riding a wave of good news and optimism about the future.

And it's not me saying so. Lots of folks are taking opportunities to big up the big Apple.

Walt Mossberg, for example, declares the new iMac G5 to be "the gold standard of desktop PCs". He goes on: "To put it simply: No desktop offered by Dell or Hewlett-Packard or Sony or Gateway can match the new iMac G5's combination of power, elegance, simplicity, ease of use, built-in software, stability and security." This from a man who's been objectively reviewing computer kit from all kinds of manufacturers for years now. He's not some random Apple-gushing Mac evangelist (like, uh, me); he's someone who's spent a large chunk of his professional life trying out all sorts of computers. He knows good stuff when he sees it.

Then there's analyst Shaw Wu, who's been quoted saying: "We believe Apple is well-positioned to continue above market growth rates with arguably the industry's most powerful and complete stack of hardware, software, and service." He thinks Apple will reach $21 billion revenue in 2007. By comparison, the most recent quarterly revenue figure was $3.68 billion.

Another analyst, Citigroup's Richard Gardner, is quoted predicting 2007 revenues of $24.3 billion. He's told his clients that he's convinced an Intel PowerBook will show up as early as January.

Gardner's not the only one expecting new stuff shortly after New Year's Day. There's been a series of rumors for weeks now about how the Intel machines are coming along faster than anyone ever expected them to. Think Secret says it'll be an Intel Mac mini Tivo-ish media center. With Front Row. Mmmmm.

Put it all together, and it makes for quite a pleasing little package of news and opinions for the Apple management to chew over. I'd say it was more than enough to make up for the SANS Institute's odd assertion that Mac OS X is one of the 20 most critical internet security vulnerabilities of the moment. I'm the first to admit that OS X has holes, just like other operating systems, and that it needs to be kept up-to-date. But to declare it one of the 20 most serious security problems around strikes me as inappropriate, to put it mildly. In my (admittedly limited) experience, it's my neighbours and friends running Windows whose computers tend to require frequent repairs and re-installs as a result of picking up nasties from the net; I've never heard of any of my OS X-using friends having the same problem.

Anyway, here's to the (presumably) happy guys over at Infinite Loop. Let's hope the next couple of years turn out to be as good for them as all the financial gurus are predicting.


2005-11-30 23:41:23
It's in the fine print these days...
After reading your comment about OS X being one of the SANS Top 20 Internet Vulnerabilities, I just had to check what it said on that organization's site. Apparently, they've heard similar criticism before, because at the very top of the OS X section ( of that list it says in rather fine print:

"Multiple questions have been submitted asking whether the entire MacOS is a security risk. Of course not, any more than the entire Internet Explorer is a security risk."

It's not as bad as you make it sound! ;-)

2005-12-01 00:39:26
It's in the fine print these days...
Yes, I saw that note. But that caveat didn't stop them damning the entire operating system by including it in their list *anyway*. I find that very strange.

I contend that there are other, more specific, security problems (quite possibly on the Mac) that they could have listed instead.

2005-12-02 00:32:59
It's in the fine print these days...
There is a valid point - that a community of people taking no active interest in security IS a risk. Think Windows users.

The million dollar question of course is whether it's because they don't know anything about computer security (which was the situation with Windows users until they learnt the hard way) or that they do know about security but trust Apple rather than a third party to provide it.

I'd put myself in the latter category - unlike the Windows world there is no evidence that a third party offers better security than Apple themselves.

The recommended solution from the report was :
Don't turn off the firewall and download all the Apple updates.
Which means most Mac users are doing the right thing, either intentionally or by ignorance.

The other thing that really needs to be born in mind in these reports is where the vulnerabilities are, and who the audience is.
For a home user, a vulnerability in Safari is a risk, one in Apache less so. For a server administrator, it's the latter that's important (they may never run a browser on their server).

The other thing I've not seen, yet, is anyone accusing Apple of sitting on patches to the open source components, which you'd think would be quite public. The auto-update means they're often better at rolling out the patches than many of the projects themselves.