I use a lot of Apple products. Anyone involved in publishing gets to spend a great deal of time in the Cupertino eco-system, in part because programs like QuarkXPress and PageMaker and later InDesign are so strongly tied to the Mac platform. I have PC products, but my home WiFi network, my desktop, laptop, cellphone and now tablet are all Apple products. As is my music computer, a pre-unibody MacMini, run headless. It all works very well and seamlessly.
It's not just those of us in publishing. Chances are if you walk into a room at a show demonstrating a system using computer audio, it will be using something Maccy, perhaps with Pure Music, Amarra or Decibel supplementing or even replacing iTunes. Generally, the exceptions are those who have their own music server solution. There are a lot of iPads in audio demonstrations as well, using Remote or a proprietary app to navigate the music held on the computer. And it's not hard to see why; for good or ill, the 'halo effect' of associating that new DAC with Apple's latest wonder works. Some take that halo a stage further and end up with products that almost have a symbiotic relationship with the iPad; arguably, Linn, Naim and Sonos products work so much better with an iPad it is almost inconceivable today to consider one without a tablet in the mix
On the other hand...
Apple's domination of the 21st Century music market through iPods and iTunes helped create what audio companies consider to be a 'lost generation' of listeners who seldom experience music beyond the white earphones supplied in the box, although recent In-Ear Monitor developments demonstrate the audiophile spirit prevails. In fairness, if it hadn't been Apple it would have been someone else, but the effect the iPod had on the audio industry was marked, quick and irreversible. Apple's short-lived iPod Hi-Fi wasn't the game changer Steve Jobs expected it to be in 2006, but his "I'm an audiophile and I'm getting rid of my stereo" comment rubbed salt into an open wound.
Fast forward to 2011. Sales of iPods are falling, because that market is now buying iPhones and iPads. This means that what was once the Soundtrack to your Life became just another App, something to do between replying to an email and playing more Angry Birds. Worse, Apple's mid-year product roll-out includes a MacMini without an optical drive, "Because these days, you don't need one." The company has discontinued many of its retail box versions of its software at the same time, and the plan is to move software sales to the App Store.
Effectively, this means Apple is calling time on the optical disc. The optical disc market is so heavily built on the games and computer market today that if the big players in those markets begin to move away from the format, it begins to unravel. Remember that although it wasn't the first to drop the floppy disk, the floppy-free 1998 iMac caused a huge stir, and yet less than a decade later the floppy was all but dead. Apple has set its sights on pulling the same trick on CD.
I think the death of the optical drive is greatly exaggerated. Even many audiophiles who have migrated to a computer audio solution still recognize the need for the optical drive, because they use their CDs as one-time data carriers, instead of relying on iTunes as Apple would like you to do. But now if you want to rip those discs on a new MacMini, you are going to need an external drive, or another Mac that will rip the files and beam them to your shiny new computer.
Is this a step too far, too soon?