The Macintosh Internet Strategy
Tuesday, July 16, 1996 by Dave Winer.
Sometime this week Apple will restate its Internet strategy. It's hard to tell when it will happen, because the Apple website, www.apple.com tells you who, what, where and why, but they didn't say (maybe I missed it?) when. So I imagine Larry Tesler's presentation is either happening today or tomorrow. Whatever. It might be happening right now.
Whatever words Tesler actually uses, I bet the message will come down to this. First, we're doing really cool stuff at Apple. And we're sensitive to the needs of developers and we're trying to support them. This means that even though we will compete with developers, we'll only do it when it's in our interests to do so. We won't compete with developers in order to punish them or limit their growth. And we will provide compelling technical and business propositions to developers. We can't do it all.
Macintosh web sysops will sit in the audience and wonder what the future holds for the software products they depend on. Developers will wonder if others will follow Apple and try to fit in. The press will report Tesler's remarks against a backdrop of even more financial misery in the Mac market. Venture capitalists and large customers will continue to stay away in droves.
Another step on the road to decline and irrelevance of the Mac platform? Yes, but an unremarkable step, because now there's very little belief in the larger world that this platform is moving in any direction at all, much less moving in the direction of growth and profits. Let's fix that!
I'm a Macintosh-based Internet developer. I've shipped shipped seven major releases for the Mac in twelve years, the most recent one in May of this year. I've got a stake in the Macintosh Internet strategy.
I've started two software companies. I have experience dealing with investors, board members, customers and employees, and have done partnership deals with all sizes of companies, from Microsoft and IBM to Bare Bones Software and Aladdin Systems. I've been doing the software company thing for seventeen years.
I've been the CEO a medium-sized company. The investors in my first company made 15 times their money off a $1.25 million investment in six years. I know what it feels like to win. I vastly prefer winning to the alternatives.
I've made it my business to develop working and personal friendships with all the leading net-based Mac developers. Realistically (I'm not bragging) I'm a leader in this community.
That's where I'm coming from.
These ideas are nothing new, but it's the first time they've been put in writing, or stated publicly.
We, the Macintosh net developer community, have a plan for the evolution of all aspects of the Macintosh Internet world.
Great content tools are the center of our strategy, because that continues to be the center of the Mac market: writers and creative people.
We're building on WebSTAR and compatible server products, to provide access to Mac-based LANs thru the web. It doesn't matter what Apple bundles, we've made our choice, WebSTAR defines the standard server APIs on the Macintosh. If Apple does their own server, it must be compatible with WebSTAR in every respect, in order to preserve the investment that the community has already made, and to encourage continued investment. We will work with Chuck Shotton and his team to define the evolving web server standard for the Mac platform. It's an exciting future. Shotton's role, on a personal level, is central to this process.
We will also work to develop easier and faster links from content tools to FTP clients such as Fetch and Anarchie, to make it almost as easy to serve web content on Unix and NT servers. The choice will be with the sysop: serve some or all of your content on other platforms. Always use the right tools and systems. We encourage sysops to be smart, to design the most effective server systems for their authors and users. Our customers are the smartest people, they know what's right. We listen!
Connections between Frontier and content tools such as BBEdit, Globetrotter, PageMill and Home Page will be enhanced, allowing people who prefer to work in a wizzy environment to be part of the system management features in Frontier. Our goal is to make the Mac the most powerful environment for all aspects of website management, from the written word to delivered page. We'll keep digging!
In partnership with other Macintosh developers we will move Internet Config into the next generation, to support more shared information between applications, and to act as the persistent storage system for all activities on the Macintosh, not just net-related activities.
We will develop standard APIs for controlling net based protocols from all levels of software, from C applications to scripts. There's been too much re-invention going on in this market. FTP, HTTP, Telnet, Gopher, etc. are standard protocols that must be supported at the shared library level, and accessible to all software running on the platform.
In terms of market share, we want to at least hold the approximately 20-percent share that the Mac platform enjoys in the Internet world, and increase the share in this space by five percent in the next year. This is a good financial strategy because the growth in the net is much greater than growth in other market segments. Profits are available here that are elusive elsewhere.
Perhaps most important, we will develop versions of all our standards for deployment on Windows and perhaps Unix. We will offer this software to Microsoft for distribution with Windows. Having listened carefully, I believe Microsoft is open to supporting standards that come from the Mac development community.
It's clearly in the interests of the Mac community to see our ideas become broadly popular, not just for Mac users. I believe, with Microsoft and other's support, cross-platform web standards can come from the Mac community, as they have come from the Unix community. The benefit for Windows users is that their world grows more quickly, as unique know-how flows from the Mac to other platforms.
If we can develop this flow of standards, more developers will be able to raise money and do public offerings. This is really important, not just for developers; Mac users will benefit because the flow of new stuff on the Mac will continue, and in some important areas, the Mac platform will lead Windows, and that lead will be understood and respected and acknowledged by the press and large customers. That's the only way to stop the erosion in sales and market share. We require public confidence to return to growth.
It's a new attitude. Let's take ourselves seriously. That will encourage others to respect us too. We define ourselves. We do great stuff on this platform! No more waiting for Apple. Apple's role in this world is clear -- sell computers that run our software. Fix bugs. Make it faster. We will offer Apple compelling business and technical propositions. They will choose to listen or not. We'll go ahead in either case.
To developers, qualified venture investors, platform vendors, Microsoft and Apple -- do you support this plan? If so, send me private email and a URL and I'll start a page of pointers.
It's all negotiable. If you'd like to see changes, or if I missed anything, let's start a discussion. Step one is to get into agreement. Step two is to get the money flowing. And step three is to ship wonderful new software. Let's go! It's time...