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Apple Changes

Friday, March 14, 1997 by Dave Winer.

I just got off the phone with Guerrino De Luca, deluca@apple.com, vice-president of marketing at Apple Computer. At 1:30PM Pacific, forty-five minutes from now as I write this, after the stock market closes, Apple will announce changes in their product strategy and changes in the Apple organization.

I was not given the number of people who would be laid off, or the financial charge that the company would take for the restructuring. Details will be on the website, address at the bottom of this email. I agreed to a one hour embargo, so that's how much time I have to get this piece together. More real-time web writing. OK.

First I'll transcribe the notes from my conversation, and raise a few questions about the future, some of which De Luca answered and some which need to be answered next week as the dust settles from the announcement.

Apple will focus in the following areas, according to De Luca: great PCs, great OSes, plug and play, ease of use, multimedia, and the Internet. The goal is to reduce costs and be more effective in communicating what Apple stands for.

Previously Apple had 22 marketing organizations, after the reorg they will have a single marketing organization. Before the reorg, Apple had six business units for the Macintosh, after the reorg they will have one.

The result will be a streamlined product line, across all price points. The Performa line will disappear. This brand-name, according to De Luca, resulted from the need of a separate profit-center/marketing organization to have a separate identity. After the reorg, there will be a single product -- Macintosh.

In April, Apple will introduce a new entry-level Macintosh. That's what they'll call it. No more Performa name.

Mac OS 8 will ship in July. They are abandoning the idea of a twice-yearly OS release schedule. The next release after the 8.0 release will be called 9.0, its code name is Allegro.

Apple is going to stop development in several OS technology areas. These include OpenDoc, CyberDog, Open Transport, Games Sprockets, Mac OS Development Tools, speech technology and videoconferencing. AIX, Apple's implementation of Unix, will be frozen at version 4.1.5.

These technologies will continue to ship with the operating system, but will not be enhanced. Bug fixes and minor performance improvements will happen.

De Luca said that scripting is essential to the publishing industry, which is a key part of their Internet publishing strategy (I agree) and that the plans would be coordinated with developers, including my company, UserLand Software and our scripting environment, Frontier.

Newton and Claris, separate business units, are unaffected by the restructuring. No layoffs in these organizations. No changes. This suggested to me that they may be planning to sell them off. I asked about it. "We're keeping all options open," De Luca said.

That's the substance of the announcement. Now for a brief discussion.

WebObjects is a mainframe Permalink to WebObjects is a mainframe

I asked De Luca to help me understand the positioning of Next's WebObjects platform. My concern -- will WebSTAR and other server products, and the communities behind those products, have any reason to make the transition to the Next-authored operating system? His response: "WebObjects is a mainframe. The price is $25,000 per server."

I wonder if the $25K price will be justified when the Next people discover how deep and powerful an enviroment the Mac web developer community has created.

Last night I spent two hours discussing the future of the Macintosh web server platform with Chuck Shotton, cshotton@biap.com, the lead developer of WebSTAR, which I think of as the core product in the Macintosh OS server environment. We're both still confused about how WebSTAR and its community will go forward.

I asked De Luca the question about WebSTAR on Rhapsody. He said "We desperately want WebSTAR. WebObjects is not the end-all on the server side." I asked if he and the Next people in Apple were in agreement on this, and he said yes, they were.

Clones Permalink to Clones

I forgot to ask about clones, how Apple will compete with the products from PowerComputing, UMAX, Motorola and IBM and others. Reports in the trade weeklies say that Apple is changing the license pricing structure. I'm concerned that the choices, which have become an essential part of the Mac environment, will be lessened if this happens. I'll look for more information on this next week.

Compare Mac to Windows Permalink to Compare Mac to Windows

"Mac is better than Windows," he said. "You know that."

I actually say something different. The Mac is not Windows and Windows is not Mac.

Highlighting the differences is good for the platform. Going head-on is not.

What about the Internet? Permalink to What about the Internet?

"Mac is bigger than the Internet."

I don't agree, but I understand why De Luca may feel this way. No doubt in his world Mac *is* bigger. But my view changed dramatically in mid 1994. I see myself as a net developer. I do a lot of work on the Mac platform, and have no regrets about that choice.

Other stories Permalink to Other stories

We're almost finished with our coverage of InternetWorld live from the Apple booth. There's a pointer at the bottom of this emai. Some great stuff.

An interview with musician Thomas Dolby. Photos from the show floor. A fantastic collaboration between a lot of interesting technologies.

There will be more to say when the dust settles, but the moon mission thing happened, lots more stuff is possible now, but comments and new software will necessarily wait till we get home and regain perspective.

Still diggin!

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."