Thursday, March 13, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Good afternoon people! This piece was written late Tuesday night in Hollywood and edited Wednesday afternoon on the InternetWorld show floor in downtown Los Angeles. An unusual lead time and an edit process that spans two days. This piece is not a slice, it's a span. Interesting.
We've got a backlog of stories on our site, but I want to get this piece out first. So onward. Please check back again in the next couple of hours for new pictures, opinions and news.
Someone said the energy of this show is just like the energy at the early Mac shows in the 1980s. Not exactly. It's got its own kind of energy.
Walking around the floor yesterday afternoon I was tremendously excited! There will be a lot of stories at this show. Yes, I'm showing software many times at this show, but I feel like a reporter and an editor and a booth person this time. I'm getting good stories. And I really like the energy at the Apple booth.
We don't have the biggest booth on the floor, but it's a big one. It's about developers this time. For the first time in 17 years I'm part of an Apple booth. Pinch me. It looks different from this perspective. What growth! People talk about Apple getting smaller. It looks bigger to me than it ever has, because it's big enough to include me and my friends, other Mac software developers.
Apple is positioning the platform just right. Web content development. No it isn't the central battleground in the Internet. But who would choose to be in the central battleground?
As we'll see over the next few days, the battleground, the domain of Microsoft, Netscape, Sun, IBM and the second tier, Pointcast, Marimba and the other push proponents, is a dangerous place. I'm under embargo on a couple of stories, can't write about them right now. We'll tell the stories later today and thru the rest of the week on the site.
Microsoft had the first announcement of the show. In a press conference that I attended last evening, they revealed that they had been working on a proposed standard called Channel Definiton Format, in conjunction with Pointcast, Backweb and others.
I got a heads-up call on this last week, and agreed (wearing my software developer hat) to support it. A no-brainer. Sure, we'll generate CDF stuff in our Frontier-built websites. But I don't support the statement that they made tonight. It's not the standard, or even a standard.
So much posturing. Netscape is going to do one. Marimba says Castanet is emerging as a defacto standard. This is not a peaceful land. So much fear. This is not the Internet anymore. This is not InternetWorld. It's Fear world.
I have some advice for Marimba and Backweb and the other small startup companies camped in the push market.
Marimba has the cachet of being the team that built Java at Sun. They also have Bongo, which appears to be an excellent product and is much needed in the Java world.
Why not use their marketing brilliance and strong team to market acquired products that fill other open niches in the land of Java? A Java-implemented email client-server? A great database integrated with Java?
Why do it the hard way? I wonder sometimes if there aren't smaller developers who would love to have their products marketed by Marimba.
Backweb says they have special capabilities on the server side that make it possible for them to co-exist with Microsoft. I don't believe. As with Marimba, they could look to the last year as a time of corporate development.
My advice -- lose the aura of platform vendor, camp in niches too small to interest Microsoft. Develop your company and gain experience marketing commercial software. Grow into the net instead of launching yourselves at a brick wall. It won't work.
Why try to play the platform vendor game? Why not grow innocuously? Hide out in a niche, build great Java apps and net apps and content tools.
Do what guerillas do. Head for the hills.
What a strange world. On Tuesday morning I heard the speech that Gil Amelio of Apple will deliver tomorrow at the keynote. Such a positive statement! We support creative people. No one includes Apple in the warfare. And this is good for Apple and the Mac.
We're in quiet cul-de-sac, in a position to observe all that's going on, and to supply computers and development tools to people who are doing websites. It's exactly the right place to be. Who wants to be relevent in the warfare of InternetWorld? Much better to be relevent in the growth of the net.
A source at Apple says that System 7.6 is selling 25,000 copies per day. People are surprised at how many people are upgrading. Me too. But I bought a copy for $99. Why not?
This suggests that the Mac upgrade business is a good one. I think the Mac platform is alive. It's alive for me. That's what counts. To me, of course.
I can't go to a show without figuring out what the song is! Everyone is asking me. Dave, what's the song? I'm not sure.
I have Patti Smith singing on the CD player of my loaner PowerBook 3400c, which is a stunningly beautiful and fast computer. A huge screen. Color. Fast. Great sound. Great connectivity. Needs some more software. It's a very nice box. Yeah it's irrelevent, unless you admire great products, if so, it's quite relevent.
Patti is singing about things that aren't mentionable on this channel. I go ahead and listen, and know that Patti really got it right. What does she do with the future that she doesn't do much with the past? That's the unmentionable thing. If you know Patti you know what I mean. She's outside of society. Uh huh...
So instead I picked a happy song -- the theme of a great TV show. Grrrreeen Acres is the place to be. Farrrrrm livin is the life for me. I'll stay making great content tools. And leave all those silly battles to the foooools.
That's not really how the song goes. ;->
It's an exciting show because there's so much fighting and so much money at stake. Ye-hi, I get to cover it. Should be some great stories.
Here we go!