Welcome back, Apple. Seriously.

Leopard - they still do computers

Apple may have dropped the "Computer" from the company name earlier this year, but its latest OS released today gives it a chance to remind everyone where its real value lies.

Thanks to success of the iPod, Apple is now bigger than the entire global record business - digital downloads included. That's an incredible statistic - and reminds us that the Recording Industry Ass. of America, far from being the omniscient oppressor of popular mythology, is more of a mangy and toothless old dinosaur these days - pawing at a fly.

With European countries poised to legalise P2P, history may well judge that Jobs jumped into digital music too early. The peerless iPod has helped quadruple Apple's revenue in five years, but looks like leaving Apple with a nasty antitrust taste in the mouth from the EU - and all for what, exactly? With subscriptions rendered "invisible", and no DRM, paying for music piece-by-piece makes as much sense as a square wheel. And as for the much-vaunted movie experience - I believe mobile video is a cunning trick to persuade the phone industry to squander its fortune, leaving it ripe for takeover. So far, it seems to be working.

For me, however, it's the marriage of hardware and software found on the modern Mac that gives Apple the real difference. And while pundits confidently predict the death of the personal computer - as they've been doing ever since it was invented - the Mac goes from strength to strength.

Today's release of Leopard is particularly well-timed, too. Windows Vista has arrived years late and well short of expectations. The niggles and annoyances that come with a new OS release have grown, rather than diminished, over the course of the year. So rather than clamouring for higher-specced machines to run Microsoft's new OS, users are clamouring to get the six-year old Windows XP back on their old machines. That certainly wasn't in the script.

So what does Mac OS X have to offer?

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