Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tiger Burning Bright: Apple's Latest Mac OS X an Increasingly Important Content Venue for Scientists

You have to be careful about drawing too may conclusions from a single day's headlines but it is interesting that there are announcements today both from Elsevier MDL and from Thomson ResearchSoft regarding features newly available on Apple's Mac OS X "Tiger" platform. Based on a highly tweaked version of the platform-independent Unix operating system the Tiger platform offers high graphics and analytic performance for scientists that need a high level of reliability and accuracy in their research. The portability of Tiger has allowed Apple to announce the migration of Mac OS X from its current Motorola processors to Intel processors over the next couple of years. It's therefore likely that Tiger will be a growing presence where there are specialized corporate and scholarly users who need greater performance using ubiquitous Intel-based hardware. Not coincidentally these high-end users are where many publishers and aggregators would like to make their mark.

It's not likely that we're going to see a flood of users embracing Tiger any time soon, even in rarefied scientific circles, but it's important to recognize that Tiger is but one instance of growing platform diversity in major institutions that must keep publishers and aggregators thinking broadly and openly about their content platforms and packaging. Be it on mobile devices important in medical work, in specialized field equipment or in desktop devices, it's important to verify carefully the changing relationships between content users and their equipment on a regular basis. We may yet see Tiger burning more brightly on everyday desktops, but in the meantime there's a good amount of high-margin money to be made with content that caters to its existing specialized users.
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