Sunday, December 4, 1994 by Dave Winer.
Jeff Braun, CEO of Maxis, makers of SimCity 2000 and other incredible software toys, has grown a very successful company in the consumer software market.
Maxis makes products for both Macintosh and Windows, and for game machines such as Nintendo and Sega. And I believe also for some versions of Unix! Maxis is shipping two new products, SimTower and Widget, both for Macintosh.
Jeff has a unique perspective, and strong opinions about the relative suitability of Windows and Macintosh for consumers. It's a great, passionate piece, written by the president of a company that makes great, passionate software, and I wanted to share it with you all.
Why is it that platform vendors are always striving to be what they are not?
Microsft Windows is primarily a business operating system, very successful in the office, but a disaster in the home, because unfortunately, most homes don't have MIS departments. Yet, Microsoft spends money on TV advertising asking consumers where they want to go.
If consumers are smart, they will go to Apple. At least you can install Macintosh hardware and applications with a minimum amount of fuss. But for some reason, Apple, the creator of the computer for the "rest of us," is aligning with IBM and Motorola for an offensive on the business market.
If Windows wins in the consumer market, the consumer will rebel because of ease of use. Apple is the consumer's only hope.
I hate the Windows platform, as a guy who markets consumer software. If the consumer has a problem with SimCity 2000 they call us, we tell the consumer that it is a hardware problem (and it usually is). So they call the hardware folks, who have horrible support staffs, mostly because the consumer is a tightwad and bought the cheapest junk hardware made in Bulgaria. And Microsoft and Intel make money in this environment.
In my school days I learned that a dissatisfied customer talks to 14 people on average about the experience, and you must be on another planet if you haven't heard people bitch about Windows.
The next big market by most accounts is the consumer market. And the #1 demand by Mom & Pop in Montana is ease of use. Apple wins hands down here. Why is it that Bandai is building a $500 Mac? Why isn't Apple setting the standard for the low end computer? What is needed is cross platform data and hardware compatibility. From the Newton to the Performa and up. This licensing thing can be good if it keeps everyone in line, but there might be problems lurking, look at 3DO.
3DO licensed their platform (like Apple to Bandai) to Panasonic. When they licensed the platform they gave up control of the features of the final device to Panasonic. The original 3DO was short of RAM and had no storage. 3DO would have been better off doing the manufacturing for the first year or two then licensing a proven success. By giving up control of the device, 3DO's fate was in the manufacturer's hands. This loss of control, more than anything else, caused the lack of success of 3DO.
Apple should take the consumer market seriously and build a series of platforms from $200 on up that are all plug and data compatible. Give up the office focus and aim for the home. This is where the action will be in the next 10 years. The battle for the home has just begun. Once a platform is stable it can be licensed to create lower cost alternatives.
A stable platform will be key in the consumer market. If Microsoft releases a new operating system every year consumers will panic. This will create an opportunity for Apple to become an oasis where life is calm and stable.
Someday Apple will wake up and find out that Steve Jobs's vision of the Mac as a closed toaster box was not far off from what the ultimate consumer platform will be. Once again Steve was a little ahead of his time.
Thanks for the comments Jeff!
And I hope you're all having a grrrreat Sunday afternoon!
Approximately 1,685,058 shopping seconds before Christmas