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Platform is Chinese household

Saturday, October 29, 1994 by Dave Winer.

To Apple, and the rest of the world -- market share is a head-trip. It isn't the issue. Developers are key. Apple's economics are out of whack. Definitely. But increasing market share isn't what it's about.

Love is what it's about.

This is going to take some explaining.

When I woke up this morning there was a bunch of flowers in my mailbox from Bill Gates. What a guy! At the end of my last essay I said that I didn't have a Windows 95 beta to play with. Bill-the-Platform-Vendor correctly read the message. Dave wants flowers. The love letter in my mailbox began "Bill Gates requested that we add you to the Windows 95 Beta Program." Ohhhh.

Another platform vendor who gets it, Jean-Louis Gassee (Be Inc, jlg@be.com), had sent me a love letter too. I can't repeat his message here, it was too sexy.

Have you read the Celestine Prophecy? These guys were getting me ready to write this angry love letter to Apple Computer. Reminding me that love is out there. There *are* options.

Developer relations is a mating game. The platform vendors are the guys. Developers are the girls. Send flowers. You always score big. Like wives and girlfriends, developers just want to be cared for. It's the little things that count. That's a big secret. You sent flowers last week? So what! You gotta send them every week, rain or shine.

Apple always made a big deal of how many girlfriends it had. And it went for the sluts (Lotus, Borland, etc) and ignored the ones that cooked the meals, cleaned the house, made the babies. You can hear a lot of that in the Gates piece on Apple.

I've gotten my share of flowers from Apple, mostly in 1986-87. There was a renaissance at Apple in that period. The Macintosh market was booming. Emerging from hard times, good people digging out, and a big party for the faithful and lucky developers who survived the mess of late 84-85. I remember those times very fondly. I did win-win deals, almost routinely, with Apple. Many thanks to Guy Kawasaki, Bill Campbell and Jean-Louis Gassee, who understood very well that a good developer is worth a hundred promiscuous girlfriends. In those days my mailbox overflowed with floral arrangements. And I cooked some great meals!

Then, a very predictable thing happened. Kawasaki, Campbell, Gassee and people of similar spirit were forced out. A legion of employees invaded the platform, hired by other employees to replace the developers with high-paid, low-output, loveless computer scientists. That's the major reason Apple's economics are way out of whack right now.

Back to Gates... I have never heard him say a negative thing about the Macintosh. Quite the opposite. An example. At the System 7 rollout, not a single Apple exec could explain why the new OS was so cool. I sat in the audience, amazed that Bill Gates was the only one on stage who could get me excited about System 7. (It was also amazing that I was in the audience. I was the only developer in the room that was actually building on System 7 in a meaningful way. I was being punished for that. I could have given a very stirring speech, but Apple people were afraid that some of them would lose their jobs if I was successful.)

On October 23, in an email to me, Gates said "Other large developers have humiliated the Mac thru their statements or by dropping support in some cases many times. Over the last few years we have introduced more new titles for the Mac than any other company. This is despite Apple suing us and discriminating against us..."

Has Apple ever thanked Bill Gates for developing for the Macintosh? What about Paul Brainerd? John Warnock? Tim Gill? Marc Canter? Nat Goldhaber? Don Brown? Leonard Rosenthol? Andrew Singer? What about me???

Why not take Gates at face value? If he's produced so much Macintosh software without any gratitude from Apple, maybe he'd support the platform even more enthusiastically if Apple showed just a bit of appreciation.

1994 is the ten-year anniversary of the shipment of the Macintosh. Did Apple honor the developers who were there at startup? Absolutely not. Not even a plaque. Not even an email saying thank you. I was really pissed. Didn't say anything.

At the ten-year celebration at Moscone Center in San Francisco on January 6, I sat in the audience, fuming, listening to Bill & Andy talk about the magic of the Macintosh, how great *they* were, without a single reference to any developers. Where was Spindler? Didn't he have anything to say at this important milestone?

Today, Macintosh is an empty loveless house. Not a home. All the developers walked but left the babies behind. Not because of market share, that can be fixed with economic tweaks. We walked because Apple is a lousy lover.

A platform is a Chinese household. One rich husband. Lots of wives. If the husband abuses one wife, it hurts all the wives. All of sudden food starts getting cold. The bed is empty. All of a sudden husband isn't so rich.

Dave Winer

PS: As always, if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward it anywhere you like. The list is expanding -- I'm always happy to add new names.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."