Is Apple's revival all about iPods? Has this been the saviour of the company? According to a lot of the people in the industry, yes - however I think things are a little different. Here's a bit of a story as to why I think these people are missing the mark.
I've been using computers since the age of 4. Migrating from system to system, learning how to operate each one, and hacking those lovely classics for the ZX Spectrum including Jetpac and Manic Miner. As time went on, things got faster, better, and a lot more complicated.
As we fast-forward through the 8086, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium 2, Pentium 3, and todays Pentium 4 based systems (and yes, I've owned them all!), a lot has changed in how computers run. One thing has pretty much stayed the same since the Pentium era began. Windows. Now while Windows is a lot different under the hood that it was back in the first releases of Windows 95, the user interface is very much the same. It still has the same annoyances, people still have the same problems, and the usability is just not there.
As I personally have been very involved with the underlying workings of a computer system, I naturally gave Linux a try. The control you get is just great. You can tweak anything and everything you like. You have complete control over your system - unlike trying to persuade Windows into what you actually want to do! So what is wrong with this 'Control Freaks' OS? The GUI is crap. The multimedia system needs a lot of work. You'll be trying for weeks to get everything just the way you want - as you have to change everything manually. System integration between the basic areas of what a GUI should be are just not there leaving huge gaps in functionality.
So what is there left for the computer industry?
Apple. Now I have to confess, that I would scoff, make fun of, and dismiss anyone telling me that Apple Macs are superior up until a few months ago. This was really based on the hell that was OS9 - and even some of the mac zealots would agree that it was well deserved. Then came OSX. OSX is exactly what people like myself want from a computer. You get a great looking UI - and you get to keep the 'Control Freak' element in tact, as OSX runs on a FreeBSD based system. This means with my purchase of a 12" Powerbook G4 gives me a shell on the road or wherever I am, native access to rsync, and a whole host of other goodies from DarwinPorts.
Since my learning curve on Apple systems, there have been a number of people within my workplace and social circle that have been slowly dumping the Dell laptops and Windows XP in favour of Apple hardware and OSX - most of these people don't even own an iPod. I believe that the people who say Apple is only getting a comeback because of iPods should sit down with a Mac running OSX and experience it for yourself.