Is it time to quit?
Wednesday, September 3, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Interests shift. What does it mean to be a Mac zealot these days? Just a couple of months ago it was a lot clearer.
The ride has been rougher than usual in the Mac world for the last few weeks. That's saying a lot because it's been a pretty rough ride for quite some time. Are we presiding over the demise of something? Yes. Do I want to be here for this? Yes, because there's a lot to learn as the ball unwinds; and there is opportunity too.
I have opinions on the events as both a user and a developer. My user perspective isn't that unique. I never bought a Power Computing product. But I liked having a choice. I don't trust Apple to move the hardware platform forward without competition.
I spoke with Apple board member Steve Jobs yesterday. My notes from the interview are on the web at:
There are a few brief comments on that page, more conclusions follow...
As a software developer, building a base of users, I am interested in seeing the OS run in as many places at possible. I'm pretty radical about this.
I've asked Apple to free the Mac OS, to let it live out its days not as a cash cow shackled to Apple's balance sheet, but to let it find as many desktops as possible; given the commodity that graphic OSes have become.
I wish you could go to Fry's and buy all the pieces of a Mac for $600, including the ROMs and the OS. I wish anyone could be a cloner. It's in my business interests for the Mac OS to be as free as possible.
But it's not going to be that way.
I didn't get what I wanted.
So the inevitable question arises.
We're working on Frontier 5. We're driving into an open space in the market, powerful cross-platform web scripting. It's very important that the software runs on both Mac and Windows. There are still lots of Quadras and 9500s out there, PowerBooks and Power Computing boxes that do a lot of web development and site hosting. We know the Mac users really well. Still getting our sea-legs on Windows. Being cross-platform is totally important for what we do.
We hope Apple can do something to steady the ride and make it possible for us to build a business selling software to Mac users. Regardless, even if we give away our Mac software forever, it's worth it for us to continue to invest in the Mac OS platform, even if Apple has brought a halt to cloning.
We've had to swallow our pride for business reasons many times over the years when dealing with Apple. Now is no different. The question is whether it makes business sense for us to be here. It still does.
Talking with a reporter yesterday, he expressed surprise at the low $100 million price Apple paid for Power Computing. I said that was no surprise to me. There are lots of bargains in the Mac market waiting for someone with a checkbook. Lots of power, lots of unique software. Cash-starved developers everywhere you look. Lots of bargains.
From my point of view it's silly to quibble about desktop OSes. Windows and Mac are pretty close in functionality. The differentiation is in the software that runs on the OSes. With the constant soap opera at Apple lots of diamonds have been passed over. I keep hoping things calm down, and some rational business deals can be cut to leverage the talent and software that's accumulated around the Mac OS.
If you've been reading DaveNet, you've heard this song many times. But there are new people listening now with fresh perspectives.