DaveNet: Wednesday, September 3, 1997; by Dave Winer.
Conversation with Steve JobsI had a brief phone conversation yesterday with Apple board member Steve Jobs. We spoke about platforms and the future direction of Apple. I also asked questions that probed the reasons why Apple has shut down cloning of Macintoshes.
The key issue, according to Jobs, is that it cost Apple several hundred dollars per OS license, and the cloners were paying Apple much less than that.
Since there is no cost of goods associated with an OS license, I wondered what the "several hundred dollars" number was based on.
He said they employ several hundred people working on the OS, marketing and supporting developers.
These additional costs form the crux of Apple's issue. He wasn't willing to share a breakdown of these numbers. I wondered if there wasn't some way to adjust the expenses so that Apple could have continued licensing.
I asked him to tell me what the Mac OS is. He said they'll have an answer for that towards the end of the year. I asked him if Apple had a choice between building their future on Java or the Mac OS, which would he pick. He chose Mac OS. I said I was glad to hear that.
He said Apple might do a CHRP box.
I asked about the better machines that Power Computing had in the pipe. He said Apple has them too, but they have to wait to build inventory before they can announce or show the products. Power dealt in much lower volumes, so they could show their work more quickly.
I said I thought that Apple could have benefited from competition with Power, and said that in my recollection Apple had never risen to a competitive challenge. He said that wasn't true, that in the early days of the Mac, they had launched a product against the IBM PC.
I didn't ask how the search for a new Apple CEO is going, I wish I had.
After the conversation, I don't feel any differently about the cloning issue. I doubt whether Apple's numbers are good enough for them to know that they're acting in the interest of the Mac "ecosystem", a term they use repeatedly, which I find irritating. I think the people who made this decision haven't got a clue about the Mac ecosystem. They certainly have a better understanding of Apple's economics, but they haven't been willing to share that information.
See Is it time to quit? for more comments.