Tuesday, July 15, 1997 by Dave Winer.
One night, two parties. You have to choose. You never know what's waiting for you! Which way to go? Either way you go, life will be different.
Life is totally about choice. Bonnie Raitt sings "I'm going to stay with this man until a better one comes along."
People ask who would make a good choice to run Apple. Someone with a soul and a personality and a friendly nature. Someone whose handshake means something. A person with passion for products and people and a businessperson who understands that the customer is always right.
Thanks to Jobs and Amelio the Mac OS has been buried in a confusing maze of blue, yellow and green boxes. Does anyone blame Mac users for being confused?
A new CEO. First day on the job. "What's the OS situation?" We have a dual-OS strategy! Hmmm. "Wouldn't it be simpler if we had just one OS?"
This reminds me of a story from Ries & Trout. A drinker walks into a bar. "Give me a Johnny Walker," he says. Red or Black? "The hell with that, give me a Chivas."
Coors and Coors Light. Volkswagen Dasher, Golf, Rabbit and Jetta. Yellow boxes, blue boxes, green boxes. If the new CEO has any marketing sense, he or she is going to see that the market is hopelessly confused.
Want bigger sales? Want to move forward? Clear up the mess.
I think Steve Jobs understands that a choice is coming. It's the only logical way to proceed. One OS or two? Which one to toss and which one to keep?
Jobs is smart. He knows a choice is coming. He wants to save the day, drama is needed and the Mac has to die. He's the semi-visible hand pulling the strings at Apple. David versus Bill Gates playing Goliath. Lee Iacocca versus Japan. Ross Perot versus the Iranians. Steve Jobs was always right. Next really is next.
Why should I care?
Jesse Berst of Anchor Desk incorrectly stated that The Sure Road to Bankruptcy contained a plan to save Apple. I'd appreciate more careful characterization. I said it would have been smart for Apple to have spent $400 million investing in developers instead of paying off Next's debt. That was history, not a recommendation.
The money is gone, unless Apple has a deep reserve of cash that's usable (I don't think they do). I was looking back at what could have been. Now there's no time for new investments to incubate, even if Apple had the cash.
It's inevitable Apple will choose one OS and dump the other.
It's just as inevitable as the demise of OpenDoc was last year. They couldn't afford to keep all those researchers on the payroll. Focus was required.
This summer, if they're serious about the Mac OS they have to devote all their attention to it. Same with Rhapsody. There's the problem. This is a company in dire trouble. In such situations focus is essential. Split attention is a disaster. Cutting losses is the only way to go. You have to make a lot of choices. Big ones.
In Being Kind to the Mac 2/20/97 I said "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."
"Instead, a new [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 capitalization, 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."
You know what? I think the new 250-person company would have a higher market cap than today's Apple.
I have respect for Avi Tevanian and his team. They deserve a chance to focus on Rhapsody. We need to split up. Avi, go for it! If you're kind to the Mac now, I think that kindness will come back to you later.
The good Mac people are all outside, at Netscape, Be, Power Computing, Connectix, Metrowerks, and Microsoft. Give us the Mac, let it go.
Good luck with Rhapsody. Let everyone have fun and let the Apple shareholders have a good ride.
In April of this year, while Larry Ellison was teasing us with his idea of buying Apple, an Asian government was also interested. I met with a representative to talk about their idea.
Development, marketing and support in the U.S. Back in the home country factories turn out cheap and reliable systems. A big web server farm and Dell-like warehouse in the midwest and overnight delivery. Cheap reliable Macs with steady reliable software delivered overnight.
I thought it was a good idea. They asked me to write a business plan for the software arm of the new Apple. I wrote one...
Please read Being Kind to the Mac and Can Apple Survive? Inbetween these two pieces is my current recommendation. In April keeping Apple whole was my call. Now, in July I want a split. It's inevitable. If it doesn't happen now, it'll happen later.
Mac and Rhapsody are two different directions, two independent companies that cooperate but don't coordinate. Metrowerks provides the glue. Rhapsody can have the Apple name and Apple brand. Mac gets a fresh start. If Rhapsody truly is superior and compatible the Mac may wither (it won't). Users need insurance in case Rhapsody is the next OpenDoc. Microsoft is providing insurance. We want the Mac OS to be in the insurance business too.
Let the users choose, let the shareholders win.