FUD You Too!
Thursday, April 13, 1995 by Dave Winer.
April 12, 1995 turned out to be a normal day. No disasters, no upheavals. My life on April 13, 1995 is pretty much the same as it was yesterday and the day before. Whew! I learned that April 12 was a big day for Franklin D. Roosevelt, he died on April 12, 1945. It's Dan Levy's birthday (happy!). And it was a big day for Andy J. Williams at Dartmouth, back in 1986. He didn't say why.
I had a nice meeting here with some programming buddies of mine yesterday, showed off new software, figured things out. It was cool. And fun.
A famous venture capitalist showed up unexpectedly at my office just before dinnertime, we talked for a bit. I got flamed on Apple's behalf. Well maybe the VCs aren't quite ready to invest in Mac-related development, even if the Mac is participating in the booming worldwide web software business. 'Tis a shame because there's so much upside here. I heard a lot of vented anger, and I paid attention, and agreed not to name my source. My VC friend said "I really think this time Apple is going to go away." I gulped! I said I thought there would be a lot more creativity flowing into the Mac business. The more dominant Microsoft gets, the more interesting the Mac platform is going to get, I argued. He didn't go for it.
Should I go ahead and install Windows 95? Yes, maybe it's time. Seriously, this PowerPC revenue boom that's feeding Apple's feelings of strength is an ephemeral thing. When the pipefill is over what will they be left with? Are they ready for rock and roll? Not without some big strategic changes. Details follow.
First, I got a reply from Dan Eilers, firstname.lastname@example.org, the new marketing czar at Apple, who I've known for many years, saying yes -- he's ready to have some fun. I'm going to try to work with Dan. I think he remembers how to do win-win deals.
I also had an email exchange with Ike Nassi, email@example.com, Apple's VP of System Software Technology. He works for Dave Nagel.
Here's how the exchange went.
I said (in yesterday's essay): "Apple says they have a client strategy, but I don't buy it. They're preparing to blow past the leading edge with CyberDog, which everyone knows is a web browser and much more, based on OpenDoc. In a meeting with Apple people at the show I asked what CyberDog was. They refused to say. I found this irritating. Blowing past the leading edge is a mistake! Catch it, move it, own a piece of it. That's how you play the technology game. It's amazing how synergistic competition can be."
Nassi said: "Not sure you're reading this right. Of course we want to build the best products we absolutely can build. Who doesn't? In a nutshell, acessing the 'net today means dealing with a bunch of apps. OpenDoc is a way of integrating software components, hence OpenDoc and the Internet is a natural. Cyberdog takes a lot of the good ideas out there and *integrates* them. Sure we're building software for it from scratch, but only as we need to for purposes of seamless integration."
I said: "Re building great products -- At what cost? Missing the market? Netscape is doing it now. An ounce of extra power in today's Netscape is worth a ton of new features in CyberDog. There's so much more you can do on today's Mac, but you're letting Netscape define the Mac as just another client machine. They aren't taking advantage of the unique power of the Macintosh. CyberDog may be a great idea and a great implementation. But when a great idea misses the edge, it's wasted. I think you'll see that 1995 was like 1990, a year Apple could have challenged Microsoft, but chose to look inward for the answers instead."
Re "acessing the 'net today means dealing with a bunch of apps."
Apps! What's wrong with a bunch of apps? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. [No, I won't say it again!]
This makes me so angry! This is a new strategy. What happened to the old one, the one that said apps would wire up to Apple Events and be integrated thru scripting? If you were paying attention in the early 90s, this was Apple's mantra. Surprise, it worked. In the Internet space, now, that "bunch of apps" are all wired up and scriptable. We won. It's harvest time.
What does Apple do? FUD their own developers. Heeeere we go again!
Remember Hypercard. Remember Taligent. Remember ScriptX. Remember Newton. Oh it's so boring! When something starts working, like System 7 or Macromind Director, even the Mac itself, what does Apple do -- declares it obsolete and invents something new.
They focus the spotlight on the wrong thing, the journalists look there, and miss what's really going on. They point their light where they think the leading edge is going to be five years ahead.
Apple's technology strategy is academic, not opportunistic. They invent stuff, then fail to commercialize it.
We get great disertations, but the markets don't happen, and the developers go away, either thru attrition, or thru navigation.
To be totally clear: the edge, right now, is Netscape and Eudora, not OpenDoc. Don't begrudge them their position. Let's work with them.
PS: DaveNet is made possible by scriptable Internet apps. So are the new servers Apple is shipping. This is very important technology because it is being successfully deployed right now in imaginative and enabling ways. There's a lot of latent power here that Apple is trying to blow by.
PPS: And the market share head trip refuses to go away. It's all over the trade weeklies, in the page 1 reports on Apple's reorg last week. Instead of market share, let's focus on profitable growth in the app base. It's an easy problem to solve.
PPPS: FUD stands for Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. See for a definition.