Being Kind to the Mac
Thursday, February 20, 1997 by Dave Winer.
This piece is brought to you by Ruby Tuesday, a character invented in a song by the same name from the Rolling Stones.
Don't question why she needs to be so free, she'll tell you it's the only way to be.
She just can't be chained to a life where's nothing's gained and nothing's lost.
Goodbye Ruby Tuesday! Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day, still, I'm going to miss you.
Oh man. She's dying all the time. Lose your dreams, and you will lose your mind. Yesterday don't matter if it's gone. No one knows. She comes and goes.
Goodbye Ruby Tuesday!
Good morning DaveNet!
Oh man, up down up down. We're spinning round and round in Mac land.
In late 1995 I wrote a piece called White Boy Welfare, a term which I incorrectly attributed to Denise Caruso, when in fact Cathy Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org, coined the term. It's worth another look if you want to understand the Apple situation in early 1997.
At the top of Apple they talk of digging out by making Windows/Intel boxes. It's serious talk. People are resigning over this issue. No Mac software will run on these boxes. Apple may still make Macs. But when they meet to decide what ads to run, they'll be betting on the Wintel stuff. How will you feel then?
The wrong people own the Mac. They're going to kill it to try to save the company. There's a disconnect between the public story and the business plan they're creating. It's out of synch with the interests of Mac users and anyone who wants a real choice other than Windows.
There's no keeper of the Mac vision. I don't trust Steve Jobs. He brought a different operating system with him. It's not the stuff we've built on, all that gets thrown out when Apple makes its transition.
I've heard the plan from inside Apple, not the current publicly stated one. I believe there will be no place to run Mac software, blue box or no blue box, except on old machines, ones that never get upgraded.
Last year Apple management listened to the big money analysts from the east coast who told them that they need a protected mode OS or they won't sell any computers. That's why they bought Next.
What the analysts didn't tell them is that if it weren't the protected mode problem, they'd invent something else. There was no way for the Mac to win with them, so why did they try?
By the way, NT 4.0 machines crash. It's OK. I think all computers do. NT is a good operating system. Many people use it. I do too. I just bought a second Dell box to run NT 4.0. Good stuff.
Does NextStep crash? I don't know. I've never used a NextStep machine.
Instead of listening to the analysts, let's listen to Jeffrey Veen, an editor at WebMonkey and a longtime Mac user. He drives a VW bug, a car that hasn't been made for many years. Other people take care of the VW platform. Veen says he will use his Mac no matter what happens at Apple.
Paul Snively writes elegantly on the DaveNet mail site that the users of Infocom's Zork games have kept that platform moving forward for a decade after the disappearance of the company. Platforms go on, he points out, they have lives after the white boys get thru with their adventures.
Maybe it's time for Mac users and developers and clonemakers to make an offer to Apple and the makers of the PowerPC chip, Motorola and IBM, to separate our destiny from Apple's. I have thought about this a lot and decided that I'm in favor of anyone but Apple owning the Mac OS. Not because they're bad people -- because their interests and the interests of Mac users are out of line.
I want a steady ride. I don't trust them. They're going to panic and dump the baby.
Instead, a new privately held company, 250 people, could own the Mac OS and license it to Apple and the growing community of clone vendors. Engineers and webmasters, keeping the system current, fixing bugs, improving performance. Distribution of add-ons thru the net. Connections with the developer community, Netscape, Be, Apple and Microsoft.
Such a company, properly managed and developed, could have a high market cap, and could quickly do a solid IPO. There's a business here -- it can't support a $9 billion company, but it could do $250 million in its first year and grow from there.
Who would capitalize such a company? Who would make the offer to Apple, Motorola and IBM? Whoever they are, if they are interested in focusing on these goals, I would help them, and I bet a lot of others would too.
We could support Apple's Rhapsody-based future more easily if they were kind to the Mac now. I don't think they can be kind as long as it's inside Apple. I'm hoping that we can all be friends, that we can grow beyond the white boy legacy, get real, and do something positive as we go our separate ways.