See You In The Market
Friday, May 24, 1996 by Dave Winer.
Yesterday I wrote about Microsoft's Embrace & Extend religion.
Microsoft is a reformed fudder. They made a transition, it happened in the 80s. When the market moves differently from their plans, Microsoft tries not to fight it. The truth: they still FUD, but when it doesn't work, they E&E.
Apple, on the other hand, hasn't learned.
Developers unrealistically expected that a $740 million loss and a new CEO would signal a change at Apple. No. It's business as usual. More so than it was!
I'm tired. I spent the last two months in crunch mode shipping Frontier 4.0, then 4.0.1. This was on top of a year and a half of research into the art of web content development. My bet was that the Mac would turn out to be the best platform for building large dynamic sites with lots of authors.
From a technology standpoint, it turned out that way! It's exciting. I believe I've finally reached nirvana in website building. It's all happening on the Mac.
It's a gift Apple had no right to expect. After all the abuse they've heaped on developers, all the botched plans, all the interference, they don't deserve it.
I did this work while they were embroiled in internal conflict at Apple. Losing huge amounts of money. Shipping system software that didn't work. Completely missing every wakeup call that the net was offering. If you doubt me, read the back issues of DaveNet.
I marched forward, inventing new things that they're only waking up to now. Exercises in web content. Trial. And errors! I learned a lot. Rendering, macros, templates, glossaries, hierarchies, connections to standard tools. I built a huge lead.
Two days after I shipped Frontier 4.0 they announced that they believe it's irrelevent. They're going to do everything I do. They're telling me to go away. I swear, they didn't even look before they attacked. Unbelievable arrogance.
My dream: someday I'll deliver a great product for the Mac, and Apple will thank me in a meaningful way instead of telling me to go away. But I'm dysfunctional! I believe anyway. I want to hit another Mac home run. I need to take a deep long look at this. Why? Can I ever win here?
They're losers at Apple Computer. And they don't want to change. They love their losing attitude. They depend on it. And they insist that I be a loser too.
A message to myself and any other Mac developer, a message in a time capsule:
"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."
I wrote this in October 1994. It's never been more true.
Lesson learned. Again. Apple is cheap. There's nothing I can do about it.
Peter Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org, is one of the heroes of the Macintosh Internet software world. I depend on his software, so do a lot of other Mac users. Lewis went to Apple's developer conference, and he reads DaveNet. Here's what he said:
"I hear they plan to have personal web serving in 7.6. We shall see. It certainly makes me less inclined to grab Copland and start work on an FTP/HTTP server as soon as they release DR1. There isn't much point in doing that if they will have their own version when they ship 8.0.
"The whole conference (while vastly improved on last year's feel) was still about Apple doing the big stuff and how developers could fit in to the cracks. Yeah, I want to write a little plug in for Apple's web server. Sure, I want to write a plug in for Apple's FTP client. Unhuh."
Yaya! The attack was pretty universal. Without people like Peter Lewis, there would be no Internet strategy for Apple because there would be no Apple! In effect, Apple said, thanks Peter, we'll take over from here.
With Apple's recent track record at system software, remember Open Transport, we all lose if Peter doesn't keep NetPresenz and Anarchie up to date. But logically, we can't blame Peter for looking elsewhere for new challenges and new fun.
What about Chuck Shotton and WebStar? I don't plan on switching to Apple's server software. I bet most sysops feel the same way. Why fix it if it isn't broken? WebStar works. I wonder if Chuck will keep WebStar up to date?
We also noticed that Metrowerks, the company that shipped native PowerPC development tools when Apple had none, who saved Apple's butt bigtime, weren't included in Apple's Internet strategy.
Everyone uses their tools. It's likely that their Java virtual machine will be the best one for the Mac. There's a lot of power in Metrowerks. It's being left on the table by Apple.
Netscape is great! But are our interests, as content developers and software developers, served by their dominance of the web browser market?
I can work with Microsoft. Apple chose not to.
I want to be independent of Apple. I want to not care what they think. Without a big paradigm shift at Apple, there's no way to win with them.
So, my response to Apple -- see you in the market! We embrace AppleScript users. If you want to produce web content using the new features in Frontier 4.0, welcome! We speak AppleScript here. When Apple ships their content tools, take a look. Until then, know that my 4.0 isn't the end of the line. I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve. I'm sure some of them will wait for Apple. But I'm also sure that some won't. If Apple wants to ignore my stuff, fine. I'll bring my case right to the users.
Users have tuned into the disaster area that Apple Computer is. They're getting independent too. Users will have to make a choice. You can thank Apple for that.
To other Mac developers -- let's work together. Let's stop blaming Apple for our mess. We can take care of ourselves and each other. We don't need them.
To everyone in the Mac community -- you can wait for Apple, and you'll wait forever.
Or we can have fun, as we have been, without Apple.
PS: On the other hand: I wonder if the strategists speak for the troops at Apple? I've received lots of email from Apple people over the last few days asking about my new software. This piece is air cover for them. Let Amelio know. I can only point out the problem, I can't fix it.
PPS: I hear the complaints from Apple's execs: Where is it safe for us to work? How can we move forward without alienating developers? Answer: make the file system faster. Get the bugs out of Copland. Add new slots to the Finder. Make our software run better and faster. And save money, give your shareholders a dividend! Invest in independent developers. Why do you have to employ so many software writers? With independent developers you get the code for free. And you cover markets you don't even see. Apple is ineffective at market development. Get smaller. Let your internal developers be the entrepreneurs they think they are. Set them free. Let them face the realities of the market by being part of the market, instead of being the market killers they try to be.
PPPS: The power to bundle doesn't mean as much as it used to. People who use the net like to download software. It's fresher stuff!