Comments by Visionaries
Monday, December 5, 1994 by Dave Winer.
Having lots of fun here... Getting great essays from the readers of this net. That's allowed me to spend more time with the software. It feels like I'm coming up two sides of the same mountain at the same time, from the content side (the part that you can see) and from the technology side (the part that's still in development).
Here are comments from Amanda Hixson, Dan Farber, Randy Battat, Ted Leonsis, Stephanie J. Vardavas, Don Norman and Jeffrey Henning.
Amanda Hixson, IDG, firstname.lastname@example.org
I think Spindler admitting a lack of vision is probably better than some former Apple top-dogs who were labeled visionaries by the press and bought into the hype when the reality was that they couldn't have had a vision if they had eaten a pound of peyote.
Dan Farber, editor-in-chief, PC WEEK, email@example.com
Markoff's story was revealing. Spindler is an interesting interview. He has a vision... it is very practical -- focus on core business, figure out licensing, give Dave Winer more users to sell to and help Esther avoid junk mail. Apple is into set top, interactive, Internet, on line services, system software, objects and deals.... but the first priority is to build confidence in the platform -- sell lots of PowerMacs.
Apple and IBM simply aren't as good or as focused or powerful or visionary as Microsoft -- and MS still acts like a starved tiger searching for food. Apple and IBM don't have the guerilla marketing attitude that is required to do battle in the marketplace with MS. Yet. IBM is like a huge ocean liner that needs to move like an America Cup yacht. Gerstner and company probably have too many visions and they don't cohere. Gerstner has salvaged the stock for now, but they are still slow, reactionary and dealing with too many internal conflicts. It would help if the vision were clear and not a moving target, or that the CEO and CTO shared a brain, but not so.
Ted Leonsis, president, America On-Line, firstname.lastname@example.org
I totally agree, and don't understand why Apple is running business oriented ads when more PCs are being shipped into the home than televisions. Must be that vision thing you were talking about yesterday. [Ted also had some interesting things to say about Microsoft Network, they'll run in a later piece.]
Stephanie J. Vardavas, ProServ, email@example.com
Dave, I don't mean to jump up on my soapbox again, but the missing piece of info here is that *many, many* home computer buyers want the same kind of box they have at work. Home computer buying decisions are not made in a vacuum. Apple would be much better off if they were!
Jeffrey Henning, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mac is much easier to use, and the interfaces of the applications tend to be of much higher quality, as Mac developers usually have been developing for the GUI longer than Windows developers.
Randy Battat, Motorola, email@example.com
While I've avoided most of the Apple dialogue, I feel compelled to contribute to the "vision" thing.
It's very sad Michael Spindler is quoted as saying he's against "vision." All companies must have a sense of purpose and direction in order to survive. Their stakeholders -- customers, developers, employees, shareholders -- want to know what the place stands for and where it's going. This overarching direction is, by definition, based on a point of view about the future.
That said, I'm sure that Spindler was reacting to what he perceives as industry over-hype and that the company does have a sense of its direction. Toning down the hype *is* appropriate. But Apple shouldn't have to oppose the future when it opposes Gates and Grove. There is a difference between delcaring that a new product will create the "mother of all markets" and expressing a point of view of how a company will create value for its constituencies.
Apple has been articulating a more compelling view of the future than its competitors for almost 20 years. Given such a deep rooted tradition, I'm sure this article captured more about the momentary frustrations of a CEO than a change in the DNA of an organism.
Don Norman, Apple Computer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't worry. Spindler is *not* Gerstner. His line refers to the fact that all vision and no action is deadly. Moreover, in the past year, the most important thing for Apple was to get its act together -- stop visioning and get focused. We did that. Now it is time for a focused vision. And we have it.
One more piece is running this afternoon, it's from Danny Goodman, speaking about platform vendor CEOs. Stay tuned!