The Web is a Conversation
Saturday, August 2, 1997 by Dave Winer.
I started writing yesterday's piece, He Was Beautiful, on Thursday night when we believed, based on Jobs's email to Pixar employees, that he was going to phase out of Apple after 90 days.
But after Larry Ellison spoke on Friday morning, my head was spinning and so was the story! It sounded like Jobs was going to continue to take a very active role at Apple for a lot longer than 90 days.
Then later in the morning news started coming from individuals at several clone vendors, not for attribution, that Apple was withdrawing from its licenses. Ex-Next people said this tactic is "pure Steve." What a confusing situation. Some think it's a trial balloon, a test to see what the audience reaction would be. If so, it would be cheaper to do some focus groups.
It makes some sense for Apple to want out of the clone licenses. An easy way to quickly boost their numbers. It is also a way to quickly separate from the loyalty of Macintosh users, many of whom own machines made by Power Computing and others.
One of the differences between the Mac market of 1997 and ten years ago is the web and email. We can respond more quickly now. On Friday morning I asked for inside stories, by the afternoon they came.
And the conversation continues... Earlier this year we were quiet when Exponential folded. Now, an alert that Power Computing may be next. I believe it. A call from inside Softbank yesterday says that MacUser is shutting down. This morning the story is on the Wired News website.
Motorola and IBM could finance an acquisition of the Mac OS. Another OS/2? Perhaps. Or a vibrant platform of users and developers who would appreciate a steadier ride.
Please think longterm now. Mac users will be buying computers for fifty more years. Maybe they'll be buying machines that don't have PowerPC processors or run the Mac OS.
Think of Mac users as you think of people who drive Saturn cars. An association of goodwill that can be purchased very inexpensively right now. Is it a good deal? That's up to the CEOs of the two companies to decide.
Sure Motorola and IBM have already invested substantially in the Mac platform. Please see the bigger world, everyone was misled, cloners, developers and users. Get over it.
It's time to make a new investment, for all, or get out.
I suggest that Power Computing may be better aligned with the interests of Mac users and developers than Apple Computer. Power Computing also has a management team and a functioning board of directors, and has the respect and goodwill of developers. They do great marketing.
What's standing in their way? A license that could be purchased even if Apple's current board of directors doesn't want to do the deal.
Ellison and Jobs promote the use of the Mac OS as a platform for network computing. I think this is a great idea! I've been promoting it for a long time and have done a lot of thinking and listening, so here's a plan for Mac-based net PCs for 1997...
A ultra-thin notebook form factor. Big color screen. An Ethernet port and lots of RAM (64MB minimum); a one gigabyte hard drive; fast CPU. Starts at $2495, but as the market develops, the price goes down.
Minimal bundled software. A web browser and an email client. A simple HTML text editor. A server farm for downloading other tools and browsers and for storing and managing user websites. New application management software running on the client makes the Macintosh Installer app work over the Internet.
Easy to position. Windows makes a great web client. The Mac makes writing for the web really easy. Open up the web as a two-way thing. Very consistent with the Mac's positioning. Totally doable for 1998 and beyond.
Web authoring can be as easy as email.
I know this can be done.
Right now, maybe... In the future, probably not.
Opportunity knocks, maybe for the last time.
PS: I have a hunch that OS/2 continues to be used, even though it didn't displace Windows.