Another Offer to Apple
Wednesday, July 30, 1997 by Dave Winer.
A couple of weekends ago I went to a private retreat for about seventy creative people, all involved in the online business in one way or another.
I agreed not to write about the conference itself, and I won't break that promise. But I want to talk about a few experiences I had there, stuff that I'm still thinking about almost two weeks after the event.
On Saturday evening during dinner, between courses, I took a walk, went around the back of the building, chatted with two men, one an attendee at the conference, and another, an older gentleman who was part of a wedding party, not part of our conference.
All three of us were Mac users. The older man asked if Apple could survive, my fellow attendee responded and I listened. No one is developing software for the Mac. Everything comes out first on Windows. Corporate MIS directors won't let people buy Macs.
Something interesting happened -- I got angry! Took a deep breath. What's going on here? It's not true that there's no new software for the Mac. It's also not true that everything comes out first on Windows. Certainly some people are limited by corporate policies, but I am not one of them. I can use whatever kind of computer I want to. I still use a Mac because much of the software I use doesn't run on Windows. That's my reality.
But I'm mostly angry because the younger man is interfering. Why does he have so much at stake in the outcome of the Mac that he's willing to believe things that are not true? Perceptions! he argues. It doesn't matter if there's valuable software that only runs on the Mac. People think there isn't any, and that's what's important.
I got angry because he's interfering with my livelihood both as a developer who continues to invest in the Mac, and as a writer and webmaster who uses tools that only run on a Mac, some of which will probably never be ported.
The evangelist in me came out... I went back to the dinner table on a mission to fully experience the world thru the eyes of a Mac zealot, to seek their truth, and at the same time to keep my eyes and ears open, to see if I could learn something here.
"I want to keep using my Mac," I said. "What do you all think?"
The Mac is dead. No software. Old operating system. Apple is failing. Can't use one in a corporation.
Probe deeper, every person at the table is either a current Mac user or a cross-user (someone, like me, who uses both a PC and a Mac in their daily work). Once this is clear, new ideas come up -- there's nothing really wrong with the Mac, it's just that Apple is evaporating, fueling the downward spiral, making Windows a safer choice for software developers and corporate planners.
I have this belief too, as I've said many times in DaveNet. I felt that the Mac had a strong Internet story, and that the growth that Microsoft is now experiencing was available in a smaller dose for the Mac market. Only Apple could stand in the way, and of course that's exactly what they did.
I hope they get some calm, mature, professional marketing people in the next Apple organization. I hope they run focus groups with Mac users from a variety of walks of life -- creative people, students, teachers, geeks. I hope they listen, and before they run their ads, form a strategy around the undersold assets of the Mac platform, programs like WebSTAR and BBEdit that do powerful things for Mac users that you can't do on Windows. Reinforce the position of the software that Mac users depend on, the stuff that makes it so difficult to switch.
One attendee pointed out that the Mac is a great text machine. It's true! The wealth of tools is amazing. Any Apple person who wants details, send me an email, and we'll talk. There are unmarketed nuggets scattering the Mac landscape but still in use. Like a SimCity with a broken power plant, just turn the power back on, even at this late date, all that's needed is a will to win, and a philosophy of win-win.
Once again I'm making offers to Apple.
Each time thru this loop I've learned something about myself -- I don't give up easily! Oh man.
We keep working on our Windows software, but our Mac stuff is so far ahead, why can't we all work together and make something happen here?
Can Apple afford to keep saying no to people and companies who have invested in the Mac platform?
PS: A clue -- text tools are essential for web development. Ask any webmaster.