News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 9/4/97
I think I've finally come up with a metaphor for Apple:
From: email@example.com (Dethe Elza);
Sent at 9/5/97; 7:37:15 AM;
When a samurai goes into battle he must commit himself to dying. As long as he is dedicated to dying he will fight without holding back, and thus more likely to live. Paradoxically, if he is trying to survive, his energies will be divided and he is almost certain to die (Zen is full of paradoxes of this nature).
Apple is the samurai trying to survive.
Be, on the the other hand, is the samurai committed to dying. They know the odds, they know the conventional wisdom that they don't have a chance. After all, who needs a new OS? Especially one that boots in 5 seconds and runs apps 5-7 times faster than Mac or Windows?
Linux servers, Be clients. I'm THERE, dude!
I read your summaries and noted that you are as much in favor of a more open hardware world for MacOS, much like I am. From what I gather across the sites I have sampled, Jobs is intent upon stifling CHRP from arriving anytime soon.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (bedwin);
Sent at 9/5/97; 6:40:32 AM;
phone conversation with jobs
You mentioned that he hinted upon Apple releasing a CHRP system possibly. I wonder what the point is in doing so, if others will not be permitted to have their own similar systems? I do a lot of BeOS work and feel that Be users would appreciate the more open hardware more than the age-hardened mac crowd. Either way, we really deserve the prospects of CHRP. As users, developers, or just geeks, nothing else seems to be in the position to bump hardware innovation quite like this. I hope that he is just buying time for their own hardware and will ease the restrictions soon.
If you speak with him again, could you please mention again how it is important to release this technology to the mac-centric industry? I wouldn't need to contact you if Apple was more vocal about its actions and plans. This is another problem that hasn't improved much. (otoh, Devworld is shaping up a bit.) Thanks for your time.
So Steve Jobs just shot the cloners in the head, indirectly doing the same to the growing percentage of Mac users who prefered cloned Mac systems to Apple's own. So his message to everybody was no different than it was at Day One: all I want from the rest of you is your money and your appreciation for my Art.
From: email@example.com (Doc Searls);
Sent at 9/4/97; 7:00:11 PM;
Re:Is it time to quit?
It was a nasty move, but bless his ass: Steve's art has always been first class -- and priced accordingly. There was nothing ordinary about it. The Mac "ecosystem" Steve talks about is one that rises from that Art, not from market demand or other more obvious forces. And that art has no more to do with developers, customers and users than Van Gogh's has to do with Sotheby's, Christie's and art collectors.
See, Steve is an elitist and an innovator, and damn good at both. His greatest achievements are novel works of beauty and style. The Apple I and II were Works of Woz; but Lisa, Macintosh, NeXT and Pixar were all Works of Jobs. Regardless of their market impact (which in the cases of Lisa and NeXT were disappointing), all four were remarkable artistic achievements. They were also inventions intended to mother necessity -- and reasonably so. That's how all radical innovations work. (Less forward marketers, including Bill Gates, wait for necessity to mother invention -- and the best of those invent and implement beautifully, even though that beauty is rarely appreciated.)
To Steve, clones are the drag of the ordinary on the innovative. All that crap about cloners not sharing the cost of R&D is just rationalization. Steve puts enormous value on the engines of innovation. Killing off the cloners just eliminates a drag on his own R&D, as well as a way to reposition Apple as something closer to what he would have made the company if he had been in charge through the intervening years.
The simple fact is that Apple always was Steve's company, even when he wasn't there. The force that allowed Apple to survive more than a decade of bad leadership, cluelessness and constant mistakes was the legacy of Steve's original Art. That legacy was not just an OS that was 10 years ahead of the rest of the world, but a Cause that induced a righteousness of purpose centered around a will to innovate -- to perpetuate the original artistic achievements. And in Steve's absence Apple did some righeous innovation too. Eventually, though, the flywheels lost mass and the engine wore out.
In the end, by when too many of the innovative spirts first animated by Steve had moved on to WebTV and Microsoft, all that remained was that righteousness, and Apple looked and worked like what it was: a church wracked by petty politics and a pointless yet deeply felt spirituality.
Now Steve is back, and gradually renovating his old company. He'll do it his way, and it will once again express his Art.
These things I can guarantee about whatever Apple makes from this point forward:
1) It will be original.
2) It will be innovative.
3) It will be exclusive.
4) It will be expensive.
5) It's aesthetics will be impeccable.
6) The influence of developers -- even influential developers like you -- will be minimal. The influence of customers and users will be held in even higher contempt.
7) The influence of fellow business artisans such as Larry Elison (and even Larry's nemesis, Bill Gates) will be significant, though secondary at best to Steve's own muse.
But will it succeed? Depends on how much Steve's own energies are divided, and the speed at which the infrastructures for componentized computing emerge. Steve must be coming to terms with the first. I don't see anybody coming to terms with the second, including the Java community, which is still more an anti-Microsoft cartel than a real force in the marketplace.
Should be interesting.
As far as the whole Apple mess is concerned, I find it ironic that Guy Kawasaki says:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Philip Suh);
Sent at 9/5/97; 10:58:05 AM;
Re:Is it time to quit?
The bottom line on the clone issue is this: our greatest barrier is the public's perception that Apple is going to die, so it is afraid to buy Macintoshes. Short-term profitability has become not simply a financial issue but a marketing one!
I think it's obvious that the revocation of licensing causes much bigger marketing problems than the lack of short-term profitablity. And the argument that if Apple goes, the clones will go as well, is a notion I find quite frankly neurotic. It echoes o f a mad king, who, as he perceives his life and kingdom slipping away, takes the lives of his generals so he can once more ride out into the field to victory. It's desperation thinking, bred out of years of being holed up and isolated. I believe Guy's i nvocation of religious terms only enhances that isolation: "Keep the faith! It's dark now, but salvation comes." On the other hand, maybe Guy's terminology is appropriate. Only a supernatural act could save Apple now.
Those who argue that the licensing situation was economically untenable for Apple are close to, but just missing a vital truth. It's not the clones that are the problem; the problem is that for years the value has been in the OS, and Apple's cash flow co mes from the machines.
So Apple kills the value of its OS by refusing to let it grow, in order to save a hardware business that is not economically sound anyway.
I believe Apple is trying to survive *as it is*, intact. Can't be done. Isn't adaptablity to new situations one of the hallmarks of species that survive? Growth involves change. Survival demands it. Death is change, too. No use fighting it.
There's a song on the pop charts here in Japan, with a really catchy, high energy refrain, "Change change change, Change Yourself!" Right on! We don't like to do it, but we have to.
The truth is--There's a lot more to be gained from listening, being open to change, and learning to work with people rather than putting up fences all the time.
I find this personally true, and I believe true for Apple. I learned this the hard way, and it looks like Apple is going to learn it the same way as well.
On a different note...
I'm just getting started in a career doing Internet stuff; setting up websites, running servers, and using Frontier. Hopefully my next job (don't have it yet!) will involve lots of internet, lots of Frontier.
I've invested alot of time learning the Mac (or more accurately, Mac-based apps). I'm very comfortable with it. I'd like to use it for a long time. But it doesn't have a good home, Apple isn't taking care of it, and it's a dead end for a young person b uilding a career. It's sad, but that's life, and I need to move on.
I'll continue using Macs for as long as they can support and use the tools I need.
I've also invested a lot of time learning and using Frontier. I'm very comfortable in this environment, I love the power of the software, and I like the people who use it. Also, I think you're taking good care of your users, and since you're providing a cross-platform release, you give *a lot* of piece of mind to me. I think I can build here, and grow.
Thanks for feeding the geeks! And taking care of your users.
I cannot believe that amount of BS that is eminating from the mouths of Macintosh supporters everywhere, including yourselves. The fact of the matter is that the Mac OS is the best OS in the world today! Is that not why we use it? Why is it so much better than anything else? Simple. R&D.
From: email@example.com (Chris Anthes);
Sent at 9/4/97; 4:59:03 PM;
Apple spends large amounts of money on R&D to make the Mac OS as good as it is. Nobody else does that. So, is it fair to compare licensing fees of Microsoft to Apple? No.
Microsoft doesn't do R&D, they only do D (they let Apple and others do all their research for them). Secondly, Microsoft subsidizes their OS development with their other software sales. Third, Microsoft sells much higher volumes. All three of these things make a comparison between Microsoft licensing fees and Apple's unbalanced.
So, is it wrong for Apple to charge higher licensing fees? Absolutely not. What is a fair fee? Only those who know Apple's internal finacials can decide (who is *ANYONE* to argue with Apple's CFO, Fred Anderson, about Apple's financials?) Apple currently uses its hardware sales to subsidize the development of the Mac OS. Without Apple's hardware sales, the Mac OS does not get developed, or supported. You also have to remember that the costs of OS development cannot be compared to other software development. When you are developing an OS, you have to not only support users, but hardware and software developers. This is VERY expensive. If Apple does not have hardware sales to subsidize the OS development, the only alternative is to raise licensing fees. Is this fair? Yes. There is only one question to ask: is the Mac OS worth more money than Windows 95? I say yes. I would certainly pay 2 to 10 times as much for the Mac OS than Windows (which, in fact, I have buy purchasing Apple machines).
I ask you to imagine this scenario. Anti-trust actions force Microsoft to split its OS and consumer software divisions. Does the price of Windows 95 increase?
I think its time that people start pulling their heads out of their asses and decide that they want to support the Mac OS. This means supporting Apple. Instead of making up facts, they need to turn the tables and tell the clone manufacturers that they are willing to pay $100 or $200 more for a machine that runs the Mac OS. Doing this might prove to the clone manufacturers that they can still make profits even when paying more for the OS that makes their machines worth something more than doorstops, and they might decide to accept Apple's terms for higher licensing fees. That is truly what is best for all.
And finally, leave Steve Jobs alone. He is 1000 times smarter than all of you put together.
While reading the grim PowerComputing news, I came across your Outliners & Programming article. It really took me back to the '80's and refreshed my perspective on the current sorry state of things. Yours was a telling connection for me since I also published an outline processor, in 1986 (Thinking Cap for Commodore 64 from Broderbund). Of course, this was an obscure product on a fading platform that never established itself in the business world. History wouldn't dare repeat itself, would it?
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lee Powell);
Sent at 9/4/97; 3:19:08 PM;
Outliners & Programming
Our outline processor wasn't modeled after ThinkTank, but on a hierarchical message threading interface I'd seen on a BBS in Felton, CA, called Stuart II. It was really an "in the thick of it" brainstorming tool rather than a structured overview browser. Click on a topic (message), and the full text would be displayed in a rect in the middle of the screen. The first line of its subtopics (replies), would be follow in a vertical list, while its ancestor chain appeared as an outdented list above it. What was cool was abandoning the WYSIWYG outline hierarchy (still available in an overview mode) in favor of bouncing from topic to subtopic in free-form thought association.
It really surprised me to see that you'd developed the same kind of thing with LBBS, including the user-specific chronological message scanner for power users, which Stuart II relied on as well. Did you ever hear of it? It also ran on an Apple II. I remember checking out the Well at that time, and gagging on the Unix interface. Too bad you couldn't have sold them on LBBS.
Thanks for reminding me of those days; it was an exciting time. It's sad to see Mac loyalists like yourself getting screwed over by Apple's determination to resurrect its tattered Communist empire. It was also around 1986 that the PC industry realized that it had outgrown IBM, and that a decentralized anarchy was developing that was bigger than any one player. With Power Computing's success, it looked like the Mac still had a chance to break free of Apple's death grip; I think only the FTC can save it now. Take heart, next it's Microsoft's turn to try and defy history.
I too have anguished over the past several days regarding the clone situation. I am vehemently opposed to what Apple has done, and how it has done it. My reasons are similar to the many others who have eloquently spoken on the subject.
From: email@example.com (Hugh Rogovy);
Sent at 9/4/97; 12:31:46 PM;
It's a price increase, pure & simple
In the morning after calm, I can see that this is a price increase, pure & simple. Apple knows it has a base of devoted customers, many of whom will be upgrading in the near future. If you do not want to live with Windows, you will pay a bigger premium. And with Power Computing in the picture, an increase in prices could not as easily be implemented.
Apple is counting on the loyalty of their existing base to bring them to profitability. Short term, it may work.
In the long term, however, Apple is foreclosing on its many other options. There a too many lost opportunities to be mentioned here.
The forward momentum of the clones and CHRP is lost. Further, many developers such as ourselves are bailing. We are voting with our feet.
Corporations have a culture. Apple always has had trouble hearing and understanding its customers. More significantly, Apple has never learned how to play to win - it only plays not to lose.
A little-known side-effect of Apple's recent anti-clone decisions is that life just got a little tougher for the Amiga and its dedicated community.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Duff);
Sent at 9/5/97; 12:57:08 PM;
You may laugh, but the fact is that PowerPC upgrades for Amigas are on the verge of release. The Amiga community has invested heavily in the PowerPC as its next-generation CPU. Apple's decision to reverse its course on cloning can only mean a further shrinkage of the PowerPC market. This will not be good for the Amiga.
Apple is not the only one to blame. As one of your respondents stated, Motorola and IBM have done nothing to promote the PowerPC or the CHRP platform. What makes this all the more unfortunate is that Motorola is working on super-fast bus designs which will deliver stunning data transfer rates. Maybe we'll see them, maybe we won't.
Mac users can learn something from the Amiga experience. We have been there already. We have developed unique capabilities in order to survive. One of them is to take advantage of the Amiga's ability to emulate a Mac at full speed for a given CPU. Current Amigas based on the 68060 CPU are considerably faster Macs than any 68K Mac ever made, for example. A new PowerMac emulator is in development to take advantage of the coming PowerPC accelerators. The AmigaOS is not even PowerPC-native, but apps can be written to take advantage of a PowerPC CPU on multiprocessing boards where the OS is run off a 68K and a PowerPC is called for CPU-intensive apps, like raytracing. Meanwhile, independent developers are working on a portable AmigaOS.
Another independent developer created The Siamese System, an ISA card and software package that allows an Amiga to fully control a PC, whether it's running Win95 or NT, and whether it uses a Pentium or Alpha CPU. The latter is especially desireable for Amiga LightWave users who need Alpha speed but want to keep their Amigas. There is actually much more going on, including cloning, but I'll stop here.
In the end, what really bugs me about Apple's moves is not just how it effects my future as a Mac user, but how it impacts on so many people who founded businesses and built dreams on developing Mac systems and software, or who wanted to share in the future of the PowerPC. It hasn't all gone completely by the boards, but an increasingly bitter taste is left in one's mouth as one dream after another goes down in flames.
Killing dreams is an ugly thing.
What ever you may say, I don't think Apple really had that much choice. Power Computing was able to hype the G3 boxes which would have put a big chill on Apple sales since the chip won't be available in volume until the end of the year and because of past indiscretions, Apple can't afford to pretend to sell boxes it can't deliver in volume on time.
From: email@example.com (Peter A. Janick);
Sent at 9/4/97; 3:01:38 PM;
Re Apple Buyout of Power Computing
The most jarring image to me in the "Triumph of the Nerds" was the deserted buildings from IBMs Boca Rotan PC head quarters. If they weren't a huge corporation to begin with, cloning would have killed IBM entirely. Where it not for the fact that IBM had ceded development of DOS to Microsoft, the IBM PC story could have been the same as the Apple Mac story
This bring to mind the biggest question to me - Where the hell is Motorola. They have done nothing to promote their own chips. They have done nothing to ensure that their new chips are not prematurely announced before they can be obtained in volume. They don't seem to have any influence on Apple. They have abandoning their own chips for the computers in their own organization what message does that send to everyone else. IBM is no better - at least they have a PC business and it would be a conflict of interest for them to promote the Mac OS.
Before you blithely abandon Apple, shut off all your Macs. Turn on your PC and see how much of what you can accomplish on your Mac you can substitute with your PC. If the PC meets your needs, then I'd ditch Apple too. I was given a Pentium Pro with all the extras at the beginning of the summer. I flunked the test and I hardly ever use the PC now.
The two other player who have been silent and have just as much to lose are Adobe and Macromedia. Sure slightly more than half their sales are to the PC market but they cannot survive loosing the other half of their market. Isn't it incredible that 3% of the computer users are responsible for nearly 1/2 of their sales.
I don't always agree with your opinions in your column, buy you're right on the money with this article. As we try to grow our own business it becomes increasingly clear that we may not be able to do so in the current environment.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Chen, Rockstar Studios, Inc.);
Sent at 9/4/97; 11:07:14 AM;
Mac Developer Response Is it time to quit? Article
Our original plan was to build a solid, if not spectacular (saleswise), Mac product base and use revenues to port to Windows, realizing the inherit limitations of the current MacOS market. That said, I'm not so sure even this is feasible anymore. Conseq uently we are looking for ways outside of this plan to move product over to Windows.
The current situation at Apple in regards to clone licensing may or may not be good for Apple and its developers. However, as a developer, albeit small, we feel improperly apprised. Apple has had no way for developers to respond to its position regardi ng clone strategy. Perhaps they have had closed door talks with larger Mac development houses, but they have not even offerred an email address to the general development community in which to voice concerns.
This is terrible. As a developer, and as you correctly noted, we care solely about platform growth for the OS, to spur sales. We don't care who makes the boxes, just that the boxes can run the MacOS, and consequently our software. I personally fear the latest moves will scare new customers off the platform. Not what we need during the season when sales should be their highest.
It is increasingly frustrating to develop products for a platform whose progenitors seem to largely disregard the profitability aspect of developing for the platform. Its even more frustrating to watch this play out with no venue to voice concern (at lea st where it can be heard by someone who has any power).
In a more perfect world, Apple would clearly communicate to its developers the strategy of their latest moves. In a more perfect world, Apple would address the problem of sagging software sales on the platform. In a more perfect world, Apple would be ge nuinely concerned, if not frightened, of losing one developer after another.
Good job. I've reached the same conclusion. I enjoy watching. I'm making biz decisions, not emotional ones now. Apple can do what it wants. If we still fit in the same category using Mac hardware and software, then I'll treat them like a provider and they'd better treat me like a customer--otherwise I'll go else where.
From: email@example.com (Bruce Jorgensen);
Sent at 9/4/97; 11:22:18 AM;
on Is it time to quit?
Long time listener- first time caller. As one of those that Apple appears to have reduced to a mailing list AND a core market- "content creation", part of me is delighted that Bill Gates will speak at Seybold later this month.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Harry Wilson);
Sent at 9/4/97; 11:43:48 AM;
Bill at the Gates
I know I'm just a fringe player (not that the fact I've worked for three publishing companies over the last 10 years as a "publishing technology executive" is important- after all, all I do is buy HW & SW all day long) but do you think that anyone is paying attention in Cupertino?
My understanding of the latest is: no lapclones, no greater than Mac OS 8 clones, and especially no CHRP clones. Fine. Us "content creators" in the day-to-day, we're still running 7.5.5 shops, will bleed our investments out and see what's up in another year. I'm sure the vendors that really matter at this point to multi-CPU shops in publishing (Adobe, Tim, et. al.) will give us a free/cheap cross-platform upgrade path.
Right decision, Dave. Business decisions have to be made with your head, not your heart.
From: email@example.com (Amy Wohl);
Sent at 9/4/97; 9:55:17 AM;
Re:Is it time to quit?
But I hate what they've done. And I believe that they have doomed the Mac/OS in the process. What can rescue it now?
Apple is, in effect, abandoning CHRP. This seems to show that they are not terribly committed to pushing the performance of MacOS systems, or lowering the cost of production.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matthew Ball);
Sent at 9/4/97; 8:25:38 AM;
Time to quit?
From this and statements at MacWorld, I'm inclined to believe that Apple is concerned about immediate profitability, which is to be gained in their high-margin (relative and current) stronghold of graphics. With Rhapsody, they are going to pursue a narrow slice of the enterprise market. (CHRP would have, in my opinion, helped keep the MacOS strong in education, but there is no reason to believe their slide won't now continue.) This is all at the expense of 1. the Mac's reputation (only a artsy toy), 2. personal users, and subsequently, 3. the Mac's actual and/or perceived viability.
With Rhapsody, platform will be basically irrelevant, so we can have an Intel box and run NT and Rhapsody anyway. While the MacOS is selling well, it is a dead end as far as a modern system.
Thus, I can't help but wonder....
Dear Henry Norr,
From: email@example.com (John MacDonald);
Sent at 9/3/97; 11:10:22 PM;
Re:"The Big Lie"
Thank you for your column about The Big Lie and the facts that you have pointed us readers to.
But, who says (as some have) that Apple isn't competitive? I'd say that Apple is competing vigorously with the Valdez disaster for the public relations blunder of the century!
The messages eminating from Apple are so confused, nobody should believe them. "We need to return to profitability by no longer subsidizing the clone-makers several hundred dollars per unit." [my paraphrasing] Eh? $100 million would at that rate - if that rate is to be believed - subsidize 500,000 machines. More than the entire clone market sells in a year, according to some estimates. And that's only one licensee. So are they going to wait a year or more to return to profitability? Obviously not. Clearly, the only logical reason for their action, then, can be that by buying out the clones, and returning to a monopoly, they hope to regain the machine sales that the clonemakers were enjoying. And we don't even need to see Power Computings S-1 to figure this out. But, all this prevarication and mumbling from Apple is really a feable attempt at hiding the truth: that Apple a short while ago promised to continue supporting the clone market, and then it did a 180-degree turn. And where does that leave its other promises?
I'm somewhat used to Apple's lousy PR. It's horrifyingly amateurish at the best of times. While usually they only shoot themselves in the foot, this time they seem to have aimed straight between the eyes.