Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Take Apple, for instance. If there is an older dog out there pulling off new tricks every few months then wheel them out.
Apple has succeeded in keeping the wolf from the door by constantly reinventing itself and the markets in which it operates. Anyone with a history in IT knows that way back in the IT stone age, the arguably superior Apple operating system (OS) could have been the Windows of today.
However, Apple's desire to maximise licensing revenue allowed Bill Gates to build a large following by giving his fledgling OS away free. Linux users will appreciate the irony.
Apple has found itself facing a similar, although less crippling, scenario in recent times with its FireWire (IEEE 1394) high-speed transport technology.
USB 2.0 might have taken years to arrive but it's here now and the massive performance gap between FireWire and USB 1.1 no longer exists.
Whereas USB 1.1 offered a paltry 12Mbps transfer rate between the PC and peripherals, FireWire has been blasting along at 400Mbps for some time. USB 2.0 now clocks in at 480Mbps, and is fast becoming the new standard on PCs.
Sensing an uncomfortable bout of déjà vu, Apple has just announced that it will be giving away the software needed by device makers to add FireWire support to their products.
The move is necessary, since it is doubtful whether FireWire could compete with USB 2.0. Despite the next version of FireWire, running at up to 800Mbps and arriving now in samples, Apple knows that success is not in the details, it is in the take-up.
Since FireWire chipsets are more expensive to incorporate into PCs and smaller devices like digital cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and MP3 players - largely price-driven commodities - Apple knew that something drastic was required.
Its 'free software' move is designed to sway the mobile sectors. FireWire is more than just a fast transport technology because, unlike USB, it is not tied to the PC. FireWire allows portable devices to communicate directly, without needing a PC in the middle.
Considering the swing towards a portable lifestyle, being able to transfer data quickly between, say, a notebook and a PDA is a strong selling point.
If Apple and the rest of the FireWire camp can make it even cheaper to install in devices, there is a good chance of the technology becoming more mainstream. If that fails, then the old dog will no doubt come up with a new trick.
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