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Apple Businesses

Amelio, Raskin, Gassée On What Apple Means 317

Posted by timothy
from the great-fruit-really-tart dept.
John Paczkowski writes: "SiliconValley.com is currently hosting the third in its series of online Roundtable discussions. Our topic is 'Does Apple Matter?' and as you might imagine conversation has been quite spirited. Among our guests: Jean-Louis Gassée -- chairman and CEO of Be and former head of head of product development at Apple, former Apple chairman and CEO Gil Amelio, former Macintosh project manager Jef Raskin, and Mark Gonzales, a former senior Apple product manager who worked on the company's 'Star Trek' project. You'll find the introduction to the event here and the discussion itself here."
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Amelio, Raskin, Gassée On What Apple Means

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  • http://www.be.com/press/pressreleases/01-08-16_ass etsale.html
  • Innovation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) on Friday August 17, 2001 @02:58AM (#2110063) Homepage Journal
    Many folks forget just how many things that Apple has contributed to the computer industry.

    The home PC. Would it have happened? Yes, but Apple was there first with some innovations like built in video with color, built in BASIC etc.etc.etc... Apple was the first to offer color in the personal computer industry. And by the way Woz designed the whole damned thing. Apple I and Apple II........ himself. No engineering team needed until packaging and optimization were required.

    The GUI thing has been hyped to death and yes I know that they bought the rights from Xerox. But what about the CD drive? Remember having to install applications using floppies? Hell, M$ office was a little skyscraper of floppies. Apple adopted the CD drive mechanism and ended up paying the cost via a lawsuit from Apple records claiming music infringement. And while we are on removeable media, Apple essentially standardized the little 3.25 in hard plastic floppy. Yes they were around, but nobody in the PC business was using them until Apple in the IIe and Lisa.

    The first real portable computers. Yes I remember the Osborne. But at 50 pounds with a 4in screen I hardly call that portable. The Mac Portable was still 25 lbs but you could carry it on an airplane and fit it under the seat. However the first real portable that we consider being laptops was again Apple with the original Powerbook. This computer standardized the palm rests with they keyboard in front and the pointing device between the palm rests.

    What about USB? Yes it is an Intel standard but nobody was really using it until Apple standardized it on the iMac. And what about Firewire? Again, Apple.

    The PDA. The Newton was way ahead of its time, but would we have Palm Pilots without it? Probably not.

    How about Colorsync? Thats color matching software for those that don't know. It was a bit of a stealth software package but many industries rely heavily on it.

    Hey, BUILT IN NETWORKING!!!! Back in 1985 Apple started shipping systems with built in networking presaging the concept of networked computers and the Internet.

    Apple was the first company to combine TV with a PC. Back in 1993? I think I can remember seeing MacintoshTVs in our campus bookstore. They were black. Pretty cool. This essentially is years ahead of where we will be in the next three years with TV and PC's.

    Speaking of multimedia, Quicktime. Back in 91 I think, Apple comes out with this cool software that does it all. Video sound and other multimedia that is cross platform.

    Plug and play. Apple was years ahead of anyone else here and they still are. Damn, remember all of those ISA bus conflicts and how hard they were if you happened to have two or three cards installed at the same time? Also Apple allowed any configuration to be done in software instead of cracking the case and playing with DIP switches.

    Essentially fronting the development of the laser printer and making it practical. Apple funded Adobe to get their start and produce software to drive laser printers. Thus starting the whole desktop publishing industry.

    Case design. I am not talking about iMac juicy goodness. I am talking practical case design to allow one easy access to the guts. The 8600 and 9600 models started this with easy open sides and flip apart cases that allowed easy access to memory and PCI cards.

    We could go on and on here with past innovations, but is Apple still relevant and is the industry still following their lead? Yes. Apple is the first company to really take UNIX by the horns and make it a mainstream OS for the masses that still retains the power and flexibility of UNIX. This is huge. They are still driving engineering with Firewire (something the rest of the industry is now adopting. Even Intel) Quicktime has yet to reach its stride. Eventually it will become a platform of its own for the dissemination of media. M$ knows this, they know that Apple has better technology and it scares the piss out of them.

    iMovie and iDVD are revolutionary in the power they give to the average consumer that never before was available unless you wanted to spend $5-10k on software and hardware. Now you can purchase an iMac for less than $1000 that will do this.

    Apple was the first company to go to an all LCD line. We all knew this would happen, but Apple is again the first company with the balls to do it.

    One has only to look at M$ in their software products. M$ Windows certainly owes much to Apple, but so does their bread and butter product Office. Apple fronted development of Excel for the Mac and Powerpoint from another company. Even today M$ borrows heavily from Apple in all of its software. Control panels, trash cans, in older software, newer software contains all sorts of appearance issues, interface issues and applications that can all be seen cropping up in XP and their product previews for after XP.

    Again, we could go on and on here, and I have no idea why Apple does not spend any marketing efforts on showing the world how innovative they are, but as any individual or company that is truly innovative and running so far ahead of anyone else, they are busy doing the next big thing and not focusing on the past.

    • The home PC. Would it have happened? Yes, but Apple was there first with some innovations

      I'll grant you this one. Woz deserves the credit, though, more than "Apple Computer".

      what about the CD drive?

      Ummm... Microsoft pushed it just as hard as Apple. Even before MS had a decent GUI, they were shipping "Bookshelf", a CD with reference works on it. MS hosted an annual CD-ROM conference, back when few people had CD-ROM drives. Apple had it on all their machines first, but that was just because they had control over the platform and were able to force the customers to buy things.

      And while we are on removeable media, Apple essentially standardized the little 3.25 in hard plastic floppy.

      This is the benefit of not having an installed base. PCs needed to ship with 5.25" drives because that was the standard. Over time 3.5" drives won against 5.25" drives because people wanted them, not because Apple used them. (And I find the use of the word "standardized" sort of interesting, since Apple used a weird disk format for years.)

      The first real portable computers.

      Good grief, man! Here is where you lost it! PC users had real portables for years before Mac users! Mac users were begging Apple to ship decent portables, and years went by without any, and then Apple shipped the giant and heavy Mac Portable, which actually sold a few since people were so desperate but it wasn't what the users wanted. Yes, the PowerBook was a perfect home run; it was exactly what the users wanted... years late. Don't you remember how third-party companies were buying complete Macs, taking them apart to get the ROM chips out, and building laptops with the ROM chips? These laptops cost $7,000 or so each, since the cost-of-goods for each one included an entire Mac at retail! Summary: no, Apple does not get credit for this one.

      The Newton was way ahead of its time, but would we have Palm Pilots without it?

      Yes, we would. The Newton was one of several PDAs, none of which sold well. The Palm Pilot was invented single-handedly by Jeff Hawkins, and was successful because it fit in a pocket, cost under $300, connected to your PC, and had reliable text entry. Which of these did the Newton pioneer, exactly? (The price of the reliable text entry is that you have to adapt to it, by learning "Graffiti"; the Newton tried to adapt to you, but was not reliable.)

      I'm going to skip over most of the rest of your points; your article is too long for a full point-by-point. I'll just make the general observation that Apple liked making cool hardware that was really expensive and not especially high-performance. They had total control of the platform, which really helped with plug-and-play, but didn't lead to lower prices. Apple spent a pile of money on research and development, and most of it never turned into saleable products... example, one "first" you didn't mention, Apple was first to ship voice-command software on all their computers. It was sort of interesting, not all that useful, and it didn't sell any computers.

      Apple was the first company to go to an all LCD line.

      Scores no points with me. If the users want a CRT, Apple should sell them one. Why is it visionary to try to force your customers to pay more money for a smaller display?

      Windows certainly owes much to Apple

      Both Windows and the Mac owe much to the research at Xerox PARC. And some of the well-loved Mac interface widgets were invented at Microsoft when they wrote Word and Excel; the flow of ideas wasn't one-way.

      I have no idea why Apple does not spend any marketing efforts on showing the world how innovative they are

      They have tried this. When Windows 95 first shipped, Apple ran an ad with two columns: "News" and "Old News". Basic GUI stuff the Mac has had since 1984 was "Old News"; fair enough. The stuff under "News" was all pathetic: balloon help and such. I was thinking to myself "This is all they have invented in 11 years?"

      Apple, with its complete control of the Mac platform, had some advantages (better plug-and-play, for example). But because they insisted on doing all the engineering themselves, the Mac fell further and further behind the rest of the industry. 3D cards did not appear first on the Mac!

      Back when Apple had the only decent GUI, they charged rapacious prices--they had the highest margins in the industry by far! Now that Windows is a decent enough GUI to compete with the Mac, they can no longer force their customers to pay too much for locked-in proprietary hardware. Now, Apple is actually using standards such as IDE, and selling decent products at affordable prices (still too much IMHO but at least not insane). And Apple now will actually make deals with other companies; at least they aren't trying to invent their own 3D chipset or something.

      steveha

      • Actually Palm's first product was Grafitti for Newton. I have it running now on a MessagePad 120. A Newton with grafitti is far better IMHO than a Palm. We're just now starting to get a PDA that incorporates all that the Newton was. Pick one up on eBay $50 including a modem.
        • Actually Palm's first product was Grafitti for Newton.

          True. Palm's original idea was to be the Microsoft of PDAs -- i.e. they would not build a PDA, they would release software that ran on everyone else's PDAs. But everyone else's PDAs sucked, so sales of PDAs were low, so there was only a small market to sell Graffiti into, so they weren't making enough money. One day Jeff Hawkins was complaining, saying everyone was doing PDAs wrong. A member of the board for Palm was there and said (paraphrased from memory) "Let me get this straight. You say everyone else is doing it wrong, but you know how to do it right?" Hawkins said yes. "Then let's do it." And that was how Palm decided to get into the PDA business itself.

          A Newton with grafitti is far better IMHO than a Palm.

          Hey, if you're happy, that's great. A Newton doesn't fit well in my pocket, and that matters to me. I think it is too bad Steve Jobs betrayed you and all other Newton owners.

          steveha

      • Scores no points with me. If the users want a CRT, Apple should sell them one. Why is it visionary to try to force your customers to pay more money for a smaller display?


        Why? It would just cost more then everyone else's monitors. It isn't like you can't use 3rd party monitors. As far as I know the old monitors were relabeled monitors from elsewhere. I always assumed they gave up on CRTs because they couldn't sell them cheaply enough to be profitable, the "LCDs are cool" thing is just a ruse :-)

    • Come on. I think you're forgetting about the Commodore Amiga (not to mention several other revolutionary 8 and 16 bit platforms from the 80s). Apple and Commodore, together, established much of the early personal computing, multimedia, and gaming markets. About the same time that Commodore faultered and started to fail, Apple nearly disappeared, too.

      Is it any coincidence that nearly all the non-IBM platforms disappeared by '90 or so? Not really, IMHO. They may have had very different reasons for their failures, but, thanks to their inept marketing, bad management, poor decisions, etc, the IBM clones were able to seal up the market and push the surviving companies into miniscule niche markets.

      Most of the non-Intel PC and workstation companies are starting to disappear now, a decade later. DEC? Dead. SGI? Nearly dead. Sun? Losing marketshare quickly to Microsoft, of all people. Cray? Dead. (No pun intended. RIP Seymour Cray). Who's left, really? Hewlett-Packard, who's now working with Intel? Motorola, who is known mostly for cell phones and embedded chips? The future doesn't look so bright to me.

      I was never much of a fan of Apple or their products, but I do mourn the slow death of competition in the PC and workstation markets. The most recent Apple products do give me hope that Apple can recreate the success they acheived in the 70s. Maybe competition and innovation aren't dead, but they sure are starting to smell funny.

      Apple has never really been about innovation, IMHO. They've been about dumbing down computers so that "the rest of us" can use them. That's why I personally never liked Apple much. Going to the PowerPC chip architecture was a good move, and using the NeXT architecture as a next-gen Macintosh was also a great idea. However, neither of these are innovative... just good decisions.

      Innovative? No. Not since the 70s or early 80s. Potential competition to the growing conglomerates? I hope so. Nobody else is rising to the challenge, except a bunch of poorly-run Linux companies that are dying off faster than they can make up business strategies.

      I feel that I know the solution to the problems we're facing today (lack of innovation, giant monopolies, slouching market, bold companies driven to niche markets) -- return to the glory days of the 80s, the epitome of open computing, choice, and competing architectures. If that means pumping Federal money into Apple, so be it.

      I'd rather not be labeled a kook or a troll, but I suppose either fits.
      • They've been about dumbing down computers so that "the rest of us" can use them.


        Get one of Tog's books and see how hard it really is. Even something as simple as getting someone to tell the Apple II demo program if there is a color or black and white display takes a lot of work. And his books make it an amusing story.

      • They've been about dumbing down computers so that "the rest of us" can use them. That's why I personally never liked Apple much.

        dumbing down? we don't need a world full of programmers...

        Apple made personal computers a reality... Computers for average users.

        As more and more people use computers in their daily lives, there will be more of a need for "average user" machines.

        Desktop publishing, a GUI that's intuitive and responsive, an interface that is not intimidating or confusing to a new user, reliable for those who don't upgrade very often... quality hardware that lasts... and more recently, easy to access the internet

        These are the things that matter to "average" users. They don't want to learn command prompts... they have simple needs, which shouldn't be hard to meet

    • Re:Innovation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mr_burns (13129)
      I come from an Apple family. I saw the first cd-rom drive for a PC a year before any of you did. It was cool. My dad had just gotten back from Japan, and he had to make me swear to tell nobody about what I had seen in our den. It was my first exposure to manga and anime. I had never thought of images that cool coming from a computer. It was a breakthrough. Yes, there was macpaint, and the function in or near it that allowed you to animate (in the mid 80's!!!), but this was the stuff...650MB..that was unheard of.

      This was a formative experience for me. It was the day when I learned that computers weren't for sitting around and typing, it was a way to say something profound.

      Now, there will be kids having the same experience . Only nowadays, it will be with emacs/VI and gcc. Maybe they'll use the GIMP or Broadcast2000.

      The question is not if Apple matters. It's if kids, and to a greater extent humanity matters. If a legion of kids can have the same revelation with Open Source that I did because of the CD-ROM drive, then maybe Apple will have really changed the world for the better.

      Making UNIX usable for my grandma, and my future kids is an innovation that only Apple has pulled off.

    • Re:Innovation (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mj6798 (514047)
      Your history is just completely messed up, and you get just about every point wrong.

      When the Macintosh came out, it was basically a low-cost, stripped down version of desktop workstations at the time. Desktop workstations had good graphics, built-in Ethernet networking, lots of memory, and a large screen.

      CD drives, USB, Firewire, and other technologies were developed for the PC or consumer market. Yes, Apple could deliver them a little earlier, but only because their machines were already premium priced.

      In terms of laptops and handhelds, Apple was late to the party. The laptop form factor was most clearly described by Alan Kay with his Dynabook, more than a decade before Apple did anything. The TRS-80 Model 100 was much more portable than even today's Apple laptops. Handhelds predate the Newton by many years as well, and they were going to happen with or without Apple.

      I think if you examine it closely, Apple has invented and innovated very little. What they do have is style, better taste than Microsoft, and a customer base that is willing to pay a premium price for the latest, slickest hardware (within limits). But I don't think that makes Apple an essential part of the computer industry.

      • Oh, come on. The fact that a concept existed, or possibly had been implemented, somewhere in the world of computing doesn't make it trivial that Apple brought it to personal computing.

        When the Macintosh came out, it was basically a low-cost, stripped down version of desktop workstations at the time. Desktop workstations had good graphics, built-in Ethernet networking, lots of memory, and a large screen.

        And you don't thinking there's anything notable about giving PC users what MIT students and a handful of engineers had access to?

        CD drives, USB, Firewire, and other technologies were developed for the PC or consumer market.

        And Apple made them part of computing. There's a reason why until recently it was hard to find USB goods that weren't translucent blue.

        In terms of laptops and handhelds, Apple was late to the party. The laptop form factor was most clearly described by Alan Kay with his Dynabook, more than a decade before Apple did anything. The TRS-80 Model 100 was much more portable than even today's Apple laptops. Handhelds predate the Newton by many years as well, and they were going to happen with or without Apple.

        I think he's overstating Apple's importance in laptops but -- the Dynabook? Come on, at least talk about the Osborne. And while there was lots of talk about handhelds (Go!, that vaporware Microsoft came up with to crush Go!) Apple actually committed and did it.

      • At first this post sounded like a troll, but at the end it appears you actually believe what you posted. Soooo.....

        >Desktop workstations had good graphics, built-in Ethernet networking, lots of memory, and a large screen.

        In 1984???? Hardly. Perhaps if you were using SGI's at $40,000 and up and even then they did not have built in networking or a GUI etc etc etc...

        >CD drives, USB, Firewire, and other technologies were developed for the PC or consumer market.

        Dude, the CD was developed for the consumer music market. Apple was the first to put them into PC's. As for Firewire, that was totally an in-house Apple project. USB was stagnating until Apple made it a standard.

        As far as the Dynabook goes, yes Alan did conceptualize it twenty years or more ago, but it was a concept. It never came to fruition. However, many things from Alan did become reality while he was at Xerox PARC not the least of which was icons and smalltalk. And he did end up working at Apple becoming a Fellow.
  • I think they matter (Score:4, Informative)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Friday August 17, 2001 @02:01AM (#2112762)
    I am a mac user and have been for a long time. Its hard for people who aren't mac users to understand why we like the mac. Most people on slashdot can understand our aversion to windows but few know exactly why we like the platform.
    Let me take some time to explain. I'm going to use os 9 for my explanation even though I use osx because the intereface design for osx is still pretty new and unrefined. One reply to the article referred negatively to the macs "flowery" interface. Although I think the interface is rather pleasing to the eye, at least on the default platinum theme, the primary force behind its design was functionality.
    There is consistent well thought out design present in the interface. It is responsive and every feature present in the system software is easily accessible. The system software rarely crashes unless there is some conflict with the extensions (well os9 crashes a lot more than linux but to be fair os9 and linux were never competing on any front. osx on the other hand can hold its own ground.). Since the os vender is also the OEM all of the new hardware that runs the mac os will run it well (after a brief stint with clones apple decided that they were a bad idea for a company that makes most of its money from hardware sales).

    I don't know if that made anything clear to anyone. I'm not trying to get any linux users to go buy a mac but I dislike how some linux users seem to not understand how any intelligent person could ever prefer the mac os. I mean its not like were windows users and just use it because it came with the box (although it did) and runs the latest games.
    • I think Macs have their place. I think its great that OSX is Unix based, and I think that Apple has been a real driving force in the industry. I'm sorry, though, I just can't but a Mac until they figure out how to make a mouse with more than one button. ~_^

      Zeus_tfc

      "Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a dog. Inside of a dog its too dark to read." Groucho Marx
      "A man is as young as the woman he feels" Grouch Marx
  • A lot of people are saying that Apple doesn't matter because thay don't innovate anymore. I think I can counter that.

    AFAIK, Apple is the only organization thus far to make UNIX available to the masses. Additionally, I know of no other modern desktop OS that uses a vector-based graphics engine (this will be a very important model for future graphics hardware technology). They're pushing hardware design with convection cooling and compact hardware, as in the G4 Cube. Apple also helped to show the benefits of DV by making DV editing available to everyone in a truly usable package. I also believe their vision for the direction of personal computing, as being the "digital hub" for embedded consumer devices. Most importantly, Apple is the only real alternative that consumers have to Microsoft (before you flame me, understand that Linux is not ready for general consumption yet)

    Can anyone say that none of this matters?
  • while i find linux to be very interesting, i think that everyone recognizes that the primary influence of linux will be behind the scenes. it will matter on the server and in the embedded/appliance markets. to work in the last area it needs a simplified ui. but, while i have been on slashdot for a few years, and this subject has continually reared its head, i have yet to see a ui that is useful. while i can program to an extent, i do not use a cli enough for it to be truly useful to me. apple on the other hand, has in this time developed a "new" gui on top of a bsd base that combines the usefulness of each environment. does it matter now? if you asked a windows use what their machine was good for, what would the answer be? i would be willing to bet that many mac users are rather pragmatic about their computers. they work. certainly not on lans, but on wans at least.
  • My $0.02 ($0.03 CAN) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clevershark (130296) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:53AM (#2118061) Homepage

    For some reason I have always had a predilection for underdogs... and that's why I'll always have a soft spot for Cupertino. Without Apple I really do feel that the computer industry is headed in a very dull and bloated way, especially with the Gates-and-Uncle-Fester mantra of "all your base are belong to us".

    At the same time I am frankly quite tired of fighting that old fight. OS X is good, but frankly, where are the big apps? Adobe is shamelessly dragging its feet, even after Apple went out of their way to create Carbon as a way to port the "classic" apps to the new OS natively. Apple itself has dumped some technologies that were pretty essential to the old OS (like Input Sprockets), and for all its UNIX underpinnings OS X remains a classic Jobsian top-down project. Sure, you can hack it, but only to a certain extent. So it fails in achieving the sheer usefulness in graphic design that the "classic" MacOS has, the do-it-yourself aspects of Linux, and the ubiquitousness of the lowest common denominator, which shall here remain nameless.

    Technologically OS X was a great idea. In the practical world it didn't quite turn out that way. This isn't about whether people like Aqua or not, this is about whether the OS can deliver a platform which is useful in my daily life, and sadly I can't say that it does at this point.

    And that's why my Mac gets used less and less, and my cheap "roll-your-own" Linux box with a 1.3G Athlon processor gets most of the attention at my place these days. "Back in the day" I was an ardent a fan of Apple as they get (I'm one of those weirdos with a tatoo, of all things), and I don't regret those days, but people change. Computers change. And computer companies sure as hell change. I just think that Apple has seriously lost its way, and that instead of concentrating on their concrete, established strengths they have decided to open whole new cans of worms for the sake of some abstract (though very valid) OS concepts, and in doing so they really lost track of what put them where they were -- not the majority by any stretch, but a strong minority that was loyal as hell and a constant pain the Borg's butt.

  • Somebody mentioned it in the forum. I never thought of it and it actually makes sense. If a server version of OS X is released for intel computers, it will become easily popular. Mainly because of the UI of OSX. Even system admins like to have a easy to use interface and apple proves that they can deliver it. That is mainly the reason of increasing NT/2000 server sales. Not because they are more stable or more secure. They are easier to setup and administer for inexperienced system admins (who are the majority).
  • is not quite the same as everyone else's. FYI, to 'innovate' actually means to 'invent.' It's been thrown around way too much lately.

    In 1969, Raskin wrote a paper called "The Quick Draw Graphics System," or something like that. His argument was that processing power should be devoted to aiding the user, by drawing graphics to present an interface.

    That was pretty unthinkable at the time. Parc hadn't been founded yet, and for those who don't know, it was Raskin who started the Macintosh project at Apple, before they ever went to Xerox.

    Historians take a look at the past from primary documents. News reporters don't, and there are a lot of false truths out there, like "Xerox invented the GUI, and Apple took it and popularized it." Don't believe it's true unless if you hear it from the horse's mouth [jefraskin.com].

    He helped change the course of computing. He doesn't feel Apple's doing that anymore (and they're not, they're just helping it evolve).

    Still, I think he wants Apple to do too much too fast. Apple could have made landmark changes with Mac OS X's interface, but who would have wanted to use it? If it can't run Office, people won't buy it.

    At this point, Apple's best off bringing change in bits and pieces, because Mac OS users are already freaking out with the changes in OS X.

  • First impression (Score:3, Insightful)

    by osgeek (239988) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:00AM (#2128855) Homepage Journal
    <rant>
    I haven't had time to do more than just glance at a few of the commentaries, and I'll go through it in more depth later -- but my initial impression is:

    WHAT A BUNCH OF PRETENTIOUS WHINY ASS CAN'T GET THEIR OWN SHIT TOGETHER SOUR GRAPED LOSERS!

    I mean, sure, criticism has its place. Just because someone makes more money than you do, or is more succesful in other ways, doesn't make them above criticism. I've been mightily critical of Apple in the past, and will continue to harp on them here and there. How much genius does it takes to see that multi-buttoned mice with mousewheels are a boon to productivity? Oh, man, and don't get me started on that stupid hockey-puck mouse that Steve just refused to discontinue, no matter how many people internal to Apple complained about it.

    It's just the smell of arrogance that you get from reading a forum of "experts" on "Does Apple Matter," with the headline "expert" being Gil Amelio, the dumbass that almost finished destroying the company. He's like that idiot in every Mafia movie, than talks too much, thinks he knows too much, fucks up a lot, then he gets whacked. You maybe feel a bit sorry for him; but you know that if he hadn't been such a moron, he would have lived a lot longer.
    </rant>

    Sorry, I'll go chill out for a bit.
  • by henrikg (444714) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:10AM (#2130856)
    Well, isn't it interesting to see the self-serving comments by people trying to rewrite history, whether it is a former engineer or a former CEO, to make themselves get the credit for the success of Apple or the Mac.

    There are a lot of myths out there about Apple, and especially about the birth of the Mac. Fortunately, today there is a great source of historical facts for those who are interested or just care about the truth:

    Making the Macintosh: Technology and Culture in Silicon Valley [stanford.edu] at the Stanford Computer History Archives.

    Go there to find out that Apple did not "rip off" the GUI from Xerox. For example, a large piece of the truth is that the people at PARC who invented these concepts had to leave for Apple to find a company that was interested in their ideas.

    Go there to find out why the Mac mouse has one button.

    Go there to find out the reality behind Jef Raskin's claims that he created the Mac. Yes, he started the project. But in his vision, it should not have a GUI, neither a mouse. But he was very much concerned about it having a "programmable calculator-like programming language". Although he did want it to essentialliy have an Internet connection (in the late 70's). Engelbart's NLS was also an important inspiration.

    Or just visit that archive to find out about the genuine innovations that were made at the time when a mediocre box called the IBM PC was put together. You don't have to be an Apple zealot to appreciate it, the material there has much more general relevance. But the space of a /. comment is too small to do it all justice.

  • Does Amiga matter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:27AM (#2133717) Homepage
    The future of Apple may look like the present of the Amiga. [amiga.com] There's a hard core of fanatical users. Machines are still manufactured and sold, although in very small volume by PC standards. New models come out occasionally. New releases of software appear now and then. And nobody outside the fan club notices.
    • And nobody outside the fan club notices. [slashdot.org]

      I know, I was surprised too.
  • Bias? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:25AM (#2134431) Homepage Journal
    You can't really have much of a roundtable if most of the people there blatantly hate Apple.

    Gil Amelio was thrown out in a boardroom coup. He killed the clones, and failed as a CEO in most respects of success, losing millions. His only good thing was hiring Steve Jobs back.

    Jean-Louis Gassee quit Apple, then became a big critic when they refused to buy Be, taking NeXT instead becaue it could run existing apps while Be couldn't.

    Jef Raskin went on record in March Mac OS X saying that OSX 10.1 "isn't worth the upgrade, because it's just "another face-lift" with "an awful lot of minuses.""

    Jon Fortt, who recently wrote an article called "Mac platform good to a point" that basically said Windows XP is going to kick Mac OS X's butt because it's got really great "built-in instant messaging capabilities." Oooooo

    As for Tim Bajarin, well, I've certainly got nothing against him-- he was the one who recently wrote that once the PC price war is over, the two main contenders left in the consumer market are likely to be Sony and Apple.

    Maybe more of a slanted table. Who's next? John C. Dvorak?

    • Gil Amelio is the one who opened the door for the mac clones, he didn't close it. Steve Jobs did away with the clones. He also killed off the Newton in a fit of juvenile revenge simply because it was the brainchild of John Scully. He did this in spite of the fact that it was a successful product that makes a palm pilot look like a bad joke. It used an arm processor, which is incidentally the same CPU family that palm is being moved over to. Coincidence?

      Apple didn't buy Next because NextStep could run existing Mac apps, or even because it would be easier to get it to. They bought it because Gassee wanted more money for Be than they were willing to pay, and Jobs was more than happy to sell. At the time that Next was bought, it was no better suited to running MacOS apps than Be was, it was just cheaper. Apple had dumped a boatload of money into Copland and then discovered that they couldn't make it run existing MacOS apps without running a copy of the old MacOS in a virtual machine ala vmware. Why they ever thought Next or Be could any better I don't know. Even now in OS-X you run an entire instance of MacOS-9 when you run classic apps.

      Personally I don't think Apple matters one bit. The reasons are many but they all boil down to the fact that the company has not had its act together for as long as I can remember. The mark of Steve Jobs' personality runs as deep in Apple as the mark of Bill Gate's personality does at Microsoft. Apple is like a intellectually gifted but emotionally immature adolescent that refuses to accept that the world is not as it wants it to be. That does things that it claims are attempts to compete or excel when in fact they are thinly veiled assaults on the way things are, assaults that ammount to nothing more than the company throwing itself on sharp rocks...again. The truth of Apple is that it is a failed monopoly. The position that Microsoft holds through and understanding of how things work is the same exact position that Apple thought it could gain by changing how things work. Steve Jobs summed up Apple best when he said to John Scully, "Do you want to sell sugar water all your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?" That kind of mentality, that you have some kind of high purpose behind what you are doing, is exactly the kind of attitude that makes you sacrifice what is practical and pragmatic because it threatens the purity of your vision. In a situation where there is no opposition or competition this doesn't matter, but that isn't exactly how the computer industry works now is it?

      I'm personally amazed that the company is still in business. Part of the reason they are is that Microsoft worked to keep the company around as token competition. Now that doing so won't help protect them from anti-trust litigation I don't know that they're going to do anything to keep apple afloat anymore. I mean do you really think that Office was ported to the Mac because it was profitable? It was ported to make the mac a viable competitor to the PC, but a competitor they could control. Of course there is always the fact that by porting Office they pre-empted another company from creating a viable office suite for the Mac, one that could then be ported to the PC. By having mac users use Office, it is easy to move them to a PC once Apple has dropped from the tree so to speak.

      Lee
      • Before some moderator on crack gives you an "interesting" simply because you wrote a lot.

        > Gil Amelio is the one who opened the door for the mac clones,
        > he didn't close it.

        A move which nearly bankrupted Apple. No matter what you think about cloning, it's typically not a good idea to do any moves which will bankrupt a company.

        > A the time that Next was bought, it was no better suited
        > to running MacOS apps than Be was, it was just cheaper.
        NeXT was $425 million, Be wanted around $150 million, so clearly NeXT was more expensive, but it was a better value. Remember, at the time BeOS couldn't even print. Also Jean-Louis didn't want to sell Be to Apple, he wanted to license BeOS to Apple. He wanted Be to be the Microsoft to Apple's IBM. By buying NeXT, Apple got Jobs, Tevanian, and the NeXT crew. And being a user of Mac OS X, I'd say it ended up being a smart move.

        As for the rest, it's just flamebait: you're ignoring Apple's successful profitable quarters, high inventory turnover, the fact that "monopoly" doesn't mean what you think it does, the fact that Apple dumped just about every non-standard hardware component to kill the not-invented-here problem, the fact that MS Office is profitable for MS, ... oh forget it.

    • Re:Bias? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cryptnotic (154382)
      Actually, Be was the one that could run old MacOS apps (when running on a PowerPC and using an app called SheepShaver). NeXT didn't have that ability. NeXT didn't even have a PowerPC port when Apple bought them. What NeXT had was Steve Jobs.

      Cryptnotic

      • NeXT had Avi Tevanian, who explained to Amelio in very clear terms why NeXT was better than Be.

        Coding for Be is a bitch, coding for NeXT is a walk in the park. Apple needed apps. Once the legacy software issue was figured out (BlueBox), it was a no-brainer.

        Of course, this comes from the OpenStep/WebObjects support guys who sat three cubes down from me at Apple, so take it how you will.

      • What NeXT had was Steve Jobs.

        I'm not sure if Jobs would be considered an asset or simply an ass . Read Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing [amazon.com], and Apple : The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania, and Business Blunders [amazon.com] and tell me what you think. Granted, these are rather slanted opinions of Mr. Jobs, but I've always felt he was a bit of an eccentric, egomaniac loon, rather than this golden-boy visionary he's so commonly portrayed as. Of course, this panel wasn't exactly the best resource for good opinions of Apple, either.

        I think the key to remember is that Apple hired some good people in design and engineering, not necessarily management. The Apple name was built by those people, building good products in spite of the idiots upstairs. Apple matters because it was and is a good product that brought new technology to the computer user, not because it has shiny cases or a loud idiot for a CEO.

        • Also sprach mmaddox:
          I've always felt he was a bit of an eccentric, egomaniac loon, rather than this golden-boy visionary he's so commonly portrayed as.

          He may well be an eccentric, egomaniac loon, but he seems to be a pretty effective eccentric, egomaniac loon.

    • Without Jef Raskin there surely wouldn't be this discussion. Without Raskin, Apple had no Mac - he was the main driving force behinde the Macintosh, and it took him a quite while to convience Steve Jobs of his idea.
    • Could people PLEASE check facts before they post or mod?

      The roundtable participants don't hate Apple any more than they hate Microsoft... I could have phrased that better. Regardless, anyone who reads it will find an excellent roundtable; not so much whether Apple matters, but more why and how, and growing opportunities (which I expect Apple to mostly ignore, as it most always does).

      About the facts:

      Amelio, far from killing clones, initiated and championed Apple clones - for the first time in Apple's history - contrary to Steve Jobs stupid, gutless, counterproductive, anticustomer, antideveloper, anticompetitive, long established and soon reinstated whine, shout, hunt, & kill clones policy.

      You only need to use BeOS briefly, or just watch a demo, to find many of Gassee's statements justified.

      Raskin's criticisms of OSX and its rejected opportunities have received ample support from every independent authority on UI design; for one example, you can drop these in your browser.
      http://asktog.com/columns/034OSX-FirstLook.html
      http://asktog.com/columns/035SquanAdv.html
      http://asktog.com/columns/044top10docksucks.html

      Jef Fortt has his work at http://www.siliconvalley.com/hottopics/apple/ for anyone who wants to read a fair sample of it.

      Why doesn't mr100percent name, or even mention, the other 3 or 4 panelists? Did he or the moderators not even click on the link?
      Finally, would Dvorak "hate Apple" just because Apple ignored priceless consulting that he (and nearly every analyst in the industry) repeatedly gave them for free?

      Incidentally, at the end of the introduction of participants [siliconvalley.com]
      it states, "Note: Despite our best efforts, Apple has declined to participate in this conversation. [Care to guess why?] MacNN publisher Monish Bhatia, while originally scheduled to participate in this event, is unable to do so."

      Apple matters. (USB ports anyone?) You can't read the roundtable without thinking that Apple would matter far more if its management would let it. That has rarely changed since 1986.

    • Re:Bias? (Score:4, Informative)

      by bbum (28021) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:38AM (#2131272) Homepage
      I was going to say much the same thing. To add to it:

      Amelio: Not only was he a failure of a CEO, but he went on to write one of the whiniest books around on his "tenure" at Apple and how Steve "stole" his impending success, blahblahblah...

      Gassee: The Be machine was pretty sexy, but the OS was doomed from the start! All C++ and you basically had to multithread from the get go. The development docs basically said "Everything is threaded. Threading is hard. Be careful. Have a nice day!". Worse, Be made every mistake that NeXT and others made-- but 10 years after the market no longer tolerated that kind of BS. Proprietary this, closed that, etc... *yawn* Don't get me wrong-- it was really cool to look at and play with, just utterly doomed to simply not matter when the history books are written.

      Raskin obviously has a serious bone to pick over the whole 10.x/NeXT thing. He consistently slams 10.x on things that are simply different than the MacOS he helped build. Quite a number of his points are valid, but saying that 10.1 is just a "face lift" with a lot of "minuses" clearly indicates that he is bitter about something. 10.1 cleans up a boatload of little details and is loads and loads faster. Clearly not just a face lift and without any minuses. Besides, Mac OS 9 is an utter joke-- for all intents and purposes, the memory and multitasking model is about as modern as DOS, but with a really pretty face.

      Fortt's love affair with XP's built in instant message is a good sign his is smoking whatever Ballmer was smoking before the recent Monkey Boy episode.

      As for Bajarin, he is likely the only one that can stand up straight for lack of a mondo Apple related chip on his shoulder. Of course, the fact that he would agree to be on this "panel" in the first place raises a few questions...

      Hell, I'm surprised they didn't pull in Spindler, Hancock, and Sculley.

      What a total joke... the sad thing is that it will be completely unsurprising when CNET picks up whatever the result is as a sure sign of Apple's impending doom.
      • Besides, Mac OS 9 is an utter joke-- for all intents and purposes, the memory and multitasking model is about as modern as DOS, but with a really pretty face.

        As someone who uses MacOS 9, Win2K, and Linux on a regular basis, I gotta say that OS 9 still works quite well, even if it doesn't have all the latest tech. The cooperative mulitasking and old skool memory management aren't great, but *as long as programmers code carefully* the apps work fine. Memory protection and premptive multitasking just make it so that apps CAN'T screw anything up, even if there is something wrong with them. This means that I need to reboot OS 9 more often (maybe every other day), but that only takes about 2 minutes, and it's well worth it for me because of the quality of the OS for everything else. OS 9 is not perfect by any means, but hardly "an utter joke".

        Now OS X (which DOES have all the latest tech buzzwords) is, unfortunately, a complete joke for now. I managed to use it exlusively for three days last week (and get everything I needed done) but it wasn't pleasent, and I finally rebooted to OS 9 and haven't looked back. What happened Apple? You were always so good with usability, but this is worse than Win2K in that dept (as a long time Mac fan, I would much prefer to use Win2K than OS X in it's current state). Classic apps are unusably slow (on a G4/450 w/512ram), the finder is slow, windows don't remember where I put them the last time they were opened, the finder crashs, preference panels aren't well thought out, everything just seems kludged together. It's nice to be able to open a bash shell and run all my unix stuff, but with OS9 I can just telnet to my linux box and do that there. I'll give 10.1 a look when it comes out, but I'm not holding my breath...
      • by CaseyB (1105)
        Fortt's love affair with XP's built in instant message is a good sign his is smoking whatever Ballmer was smoking before the recent Monkey Boy episode.

        Here's a link [ntk.net] for those who haven't witnessed this incredible spectacle. Warning: make you're you're not sipping coffee over your keyboard while viewing.

    • First, Gil didn't kill the clones, Steve did. As for his performance in the job, he inherited a basket case of people who simply wouldn't do what they were told, and it took someone like Jobs to kick the necessary ass (read: fire the dead wood) to get the company turned around. As for the losses, those were mostly a matter of facing facts that Spindler wasn't willing to face. Gil took the hit, but he didn't cause the losses.

      Second, Gasseé *isn't* a big critic of Apple. I have yet to see anything from him that sounds like sour grapes to me. Also, Gaseé deserves the credit for the Mac II, which certainly saved the Mac line from extinction.

      Raskin, I pretty much agree is no more qualified than John Dvorak to criticise Apple or the Mac, since he was off the project so long ago. See the Canon Cat for Raskin's idea of what he wanted the Mac to be.

      Fortt I've never heard of, but he sounds like a lightweight.

      Bajarin's claim to fame seems to be nothing more than having been quoted a whole lot by reporters who don't know anyone with first-hand information on anything they're writing about. Did this guy *ever* do anything in the industry, or has he just made a living through cleverly exploiting his keen grasp of the obvious?

      -jcr
    • Re:Bias? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tswinzig (210999)
      You can't really have much of a roundtable if most of the people there blatantly hate Apple.

      No, but you can have a roundtable of people that are/were Apple fans, and are able to see the issues clearly.

      Jean-Louis Gassee quit Apple, then became a big critic when they refused to buy Be.

      Exactly where did you get the idea that he's become "a big critic"? If you'd actually read his two posts at the roundtable, you might be surprised that he still sounds like a fan...

      It's clear that he dislikes Steve Jobs. It's even clearer that JLG is smart and able to assess any situation with a seemingly unbiased viewpoint.

      Here's a guy that was competing with Apple, that probably now regrets not selling to them for $125 million when he could, that must eat humble pie when discussed alongside Steve Jobs. And yet, he's discussing Apple in a nice way at a roundtable specifically about Apple.

      Would Steve Jobs be able to do the same thing if the roles were reversed?
      • that probably now regrets not selling to them for $125 million when he could

        You bet your sweet ass he does! [cnet.com]

        $125 million (when he owned more of the company, I'll bet) or $11 million... hmmm, which would I choose?
        • $125 million (when he owned more of the company, I'll bet) or $11 million... hmmm, which would I choose?

          You know, money doesn't mean everything, and frankly, past the first ten million, just how many more Ferraris can one man drive? Integrity means a lot, and so does reputation, and so does independence...

          Furthermore, the people we are talking about are Übergeeks first and anything else second. If you're a geek, you know that what motivates you is getting to build the next big one, not how much loot you get.

          • You're forgetting that was 125 million when Be was in good economic standing, and this is 11 million when they're basically worthless and in debt. Gassee and company need to distribute most of that money to their shareholders now.
          • frankly, past the first ten million

            Gassee won't be seeing much of the ten million, if any. In order to get the backing to go public, you sell your soul to VC's. If it doesn't go well, they normally own everything. I'm sure that Gassee would have only benefited if Be had done fairly well.

            Integrity means a lot, and so does reputation, and so does independence...

            If what they were doing meant so much to them, they should have sold to Apple. Apple could have put the heart of the BeOS on millions of machines in a relatively short time. Instead, they're going to be forgotten in some corner of Palm, no more significant than WinCe or PalmOS. Bleah.

            If you're a geek, you know that what motivates you is getting to build the next big one, not how much loot you get.

            Don't think of money as little green bills. Think of money as freedom. Once you have enough money, you have the freedom to buy geeky toys out the wazoo, you have the freedom to sit at home and just work on the programming projects you love, because your income is assured. You have the freedom to financially help projects that satisfy your geekiness.

            • Gassee won't be seeing much of the ten million, if any. In order to get the backing to go public, you sell your soul to VC's.

              That depends on how well known you are, how profitable you are before you take money, and how self financed you are (and how much money you take). Some places give 95% or more of the ownership to the VCs, some more like 60%. I expect a very few places may give even less.

              If what they were doing meant so much to them, they should have sold to Apple.

              On the other hand they had, what, two more years to dream the big dream. Two more years without an external beucracy crushing them... that had to be worth something. Not $109mil to me, but it might be worth $109mil if I already had, say, $15mil!

              Don't think of money as little green bills. Think of money as freedom. Once you have enough money, you have the freedom to buy geeky toys out the wazoo, you have the freedom to sit at home and just work on the programming projects you love, because your income is assured. You have the freedom to financially help projects that satisfy your geekiness.

              I think the point was once you have (say) $10,000,000 you won't get much more freedom from the next $190,000,000. For $10,000,000 you can buy all the geek toys you want (well, not many supercomputers, but other then that...). You have to start collecting art or buying real estate to dispose of that kind of money.

              Plus, as a CEO he doesn't want to buy a ton of geek toys and code. He wants to do the CEO equivalent of codeing -- building a successful company.

    • by rho (6063)

      More importantly, most of them have a reason to be in a blind rage regarding Steve Jobs -- blind enough to overlook the good things and concentrate on the bad just because "it's Steve".

      Amelio, as you say, was tossed out on his ass by Jobs. Unjustifiably, I say, since Amelio was given the thankless task of doing the dirty work for the Apple board, plus he hired Ellen Hancock(!!). But, as his book attests, he's pretty bitter towards Jobs.

      Gassee was hired as a sort of kindred-spirit to replace Jobs after he left. Gassee was Scully's boy-toy -- but Gassee didn't have Jobs's panache, and knew it. He was more of a testosterone charged computer guy, whereas Jobs was more "visionary". Basically, Gassee added slots to the Mac line. Then, at Be, Jobs snubbed him (with good reason) by going with NeXT.

      But the worst is Raskin. I've alwasy liked Raskin, and honestly, since he was the guy who *started* the Macintosh project (it was named Macintosh because that was *Raskin's* favorite kind of apple) it's hard to NOT have respect. But, Jef has always rankled at Jobs's buttinski attitude, and when Jobs pushed him out the Macintosh team's door at Bandley 3, he was pissed. Basically, Jobs stole Macintosh from Raskin. That is hard, hard, hard to let go, especially when your vision of what Macintosh was to be (he did build it, called the Canon Cat) failed without so much as a whimper.

      This roundtable is like getting B'nai B'rith, Winston Churchill and Jesse Jackson around a table to discuss Goebbels.

      • Raskin still says that he would rather run a Mac than Windows, however abysmal both of them are. So perhaps he's not quite as hostile to Apple as one might think.

        I'm unabashedly pro-Apple. I've bought two Macs in the last year, one in anticipation of OSX (a G4 450 dual processor) and one because I needed a portable (the G4 Titanium/400). Both have performed superbly so far. Yes, X is a work in progress, but it's still the coolest Unix around, and we shouldn't forget this when we review its many shortcomings.

        D
        • by rho (6063)

          Not the point -- Raskin loves Apple, sure. My point it he has good reason to loathe Steve Jobs.

    • Re:Bias? (Score:3, Informative)

      by joshy (9772)
      I think you are being a bit harsh here.
      All of these people have been big Apple supporters and recognize the dream of Apple. They've all just gone about perusing them in different ways.

      Gil was the best thing that ever happened to Apple. He brought reality back to the company. He killed some popular projects that were hurting the company, got Apple's debt rolled back and refinanced, and then brought in the people necessary to make the company great again. If it wasn't for Gil's 18 months, there would be no Apple. Out of business. Kay-put! Because of him they now have 4 billion in assets instead of debt.

      JLG quit a long time ago and for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps he's a bit grumpy now because Next+Apple fulfilled his dream of a next-gen media OS better than Be did. At least he's always been nice about it. You should read the letter he sent to Gil when he found out Next was chosen over Be. Very classy.

      Jef Raskin was quite misquoted in the article you are thinking about. His point was about all modern OSs, not just OSX. He wants to see a radical change in the way we think about computer interfaces. Changes that I agree with and hope to see/build one day. OSX with it's full vector based 2d system actually comes closer to his vision than anything else today.

      Can't comment on the other two, but they both seem
      to be respectable people.

      Many brilliant people can disagree about something like the Apple vision and still have their minds on the future. I think they are more than adequate to discuss Apple.
  • Apple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:18AM (#2135991)
    Apple does count.

    1) They have created a user interface that their users have grown to love and protect (in holy wars). The 20% grey philosophy of their ui with allowing their users to throw in accents if they saw it fit was what held their user base for as long as they did. The single function buttons and uncluttered desktop mindset has also allowed Apple to maintain the same interface for YEARS. (are you listening micro$oft?) Simplicity also yielded stability and made the interface adaptive for designers and artists who wanted as little as possible when interfacing with their machines.

    2) They have a reputation for building solid hardware. The introduction of third party hardware with Power Computing showed that Apple's OS wasn't all that was essential for their reliable systems nor was it all that they had going for them.

    3) They have been able to adapt their technology as time forces them to change it. OS X (that's ten, not "ex", I've been corrected time and time again) is Apple's answer to the market demand for businesses that want machines that they can reliably network and don't want Dells. Before OS X apple+network = no as many frustrated admins know. Damn that NETATalk.

    And above all these reasons for apple counting are coming from a biggoted PC user!!!! I've never seen such a strong following from a fringe operating and hardware system, and until recently I saw practically no reason for it. Well, I see you Apple, and yes you will be a contender for some time.
    • Re:Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zico (14255)

      I'm not saying at all that Apple doesn't count, but I've really gotta take issue with one of your points.

      The introduction of third party hardware showed that Apple was gouging their customers. Those cloners were putting such a hurting on Apple that the company was bleeding money to the point that they finally killed off all the cloners.

      • Re:Apple (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, one thing people don't understand is that Apple is a signifigantly different company than it was years ago. Years ago, yes, the gouged their customers. But after the return of Jobs, things have gotten better. Prices have fallen dramatically although people fail to realize that. Machines such as the PowerMac G4 are still overpriced, but have been getting closer and closer to PCs pricewise with every itteration. Products such as the iBook are unquestionably cheaper than PC equivilents. A lot of people here are living in the past, not realizing that Apple has moved on from competing with PCs under the dark days of Amelio and Co. to becoming an innovator of PCs. While they have been slow to adopt some technologies, they pioneer or push for adoption of others (USB, Firewire, etc.) One size does not fit all. Linux is not ready for mainstream. Macs aren't ready for penny pinchers. Windows... well. They all matter. They all push each other further along. You don't have to look too hard to find traces of influence from other platforms in the platform you are using, whichever it may be. So how can any of these companies/platforms not mattter?
        • Re:Apple (Score:2, Informative)

          by Zico (14255)

          I'm not sure how you say that the iBooks are unquestionably cheaper than the PC equivalents. This isn't something I want to spend all night on, so I just went to the Apple store and picked the cheapest iBook, then went to Sony's site and picked a VAIO that cost the same. They're both listed at $1299.

          • Screen: Mac, 12.1-inch TFT XGA. VAIO, 14.1-inch TFT XGA.
          • CPU: Mac, 500MHz G3 w/ 256K L2 cache. VAIO, 700MHz Mobile Celeron w/ 256K L2 cache.
          • Memory: Mac, 64MB SDRAM. VAIO, 128MB SDRAM.
          • Graphics: Mac, "ATI RAGE Mobility 128 w/ 8MB SDRAM and AGP 2X support." VAIO, "AGP," "Intel® 815 EM Chipset integrated with up to 11 MB video SDRAM (shared)."
          • Hard drive: Mac, 10GB Ultra ATA. VAIO, 15GB Ultra ATA
          • Media: Mac, CD-ROM drive. VAIO, DVD-ROM drive, removable floppy drive.
          • Connections: Both have built-in 56K modem, built-in 10/100BaseT, video output, 2 USB ports, and 1 FireWire port. In addition, the VAIO has serial and parallel ports built in. I couldn't tell what kind of cards the iBook accepts. The VAIO will take 2 Type I or II PC Cards.
          • OS: Mac, MacOS 9. VAIO, Win2K Pro.

          Note that I just went to Sony's site and went with the first $1299 notebook I could find (All-In-One FX series). If I wanted to hunt around, I expect that I'd be able to find a better deal than my first pick. Then again, maybe not.

          • Let us not forget that the VAIO has these Dimensions:
            • Width: 12.8 inches
            • Thickness: 2.2 inches
            • Depth: 10.5 inches
            • Weight: 6.7 lbs
            While the iBook has this:
            • Width: 11.2 inches
            • Thickness: 1.35 inches
            • Depth: 9.1 inches
            • Weight : 4.9 pounds

            Now . . I don't know about you . . but try using one of these bigger laptops on a crowded SEPTA train (philly mass transit) or full AirTran flight . . it sucks. With the iBook I can really take it anywhere and just get my work done and not worry about finding a space . . or getting the right bag for it . . lugging it around time . . etc.

            That and I've yet to use a pc notebook (though I've only had a dell and ibm) that lasted longer than 2.5 hours . . I've used my iBook for 4.5 hours at a time.

            There is no need to argue this shit to death . . every has their own opinion . . I just thought it was important to point out the size/weight difference. I mean the iBook is meant as a sub-notebook . . I don't use it as a desktop replacement . . I want a small, light, dvd/cd-rw capable notebook . . end of story. That all-in-one FX simply doesn't meant the small and light requirements I have.
          • by iso (87585)

            Well that's a rediculous comparison. First of all the iBook is smaller and lighter, and size is one of the most expensive aspects of buying a laptop. Second of all the Celeron is a bad enough chip in desktops, but a mobile Celeron is a piece of garbage. You have to at least compare to a mobile Pentium III 700.

            ..but whatever. If you're buying 100% on price then you don't buy a Mac (or a BMW), same as always. The iBook is still fiercely competitive however.

            - j

    • Before OS X apple+network = no as many frustrated admins know.

      That's strange, I could swear I've seen lots of stable, nicely running mac networks at various graphic design firms.
  • by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:17AM (#2139263)
    Aside from playing R&D lab for the rest of the industry, and the fact that Apple stories here (a mainly Linux crowd) generate the interest that they do.......

    I think one of the panel members summed it up best by saying something along the lines of... "If they didn't, why would we be talking about them?"

    =)

    • Apple stopped playing the R&D lab for the industry years ago. Microsoft has finally stepped up to the plate and started pouring money into research (although Microsoft research hasn't produced much yet).

      Apple's significance today is largely that it is the only alternative to Microsoft/Intel that's still around. But they fulfill that role only at Microsoft's pleasure--Microsoft could pull the rug out from under Apple whenever they like.

    • Aside from playing R&D lab for the rest of the industry, and the fact that Apple stories here (a mainly Linux crowd) generate the interest that they do.....

      I always laugh when the inevitable post pops up in an Apple story: Why are Apple zealots so enthusiastic about a company that {threatened some web site for violating an NDA; protects their IP; sells an OS that only runs on their hardware; doesn't allow clones; uses one-button mice}?

      What I always wonder is how people can get so passionate about companies that make components that are 10% faster/bigger than they were the year before, manufacturers who screw those parts together or game developers who write new engines to push 10% more polys through the new machine. I mean, that stuff is all necessary but if Nvidia, AMD or Dell didn't do it, ATi, Intel or Compaq would do exactly the same thing.

      For better or worse, Apple tries to make computers qualitatively _better_.

      An aside: why are people so infatuated with the idea that Apple "stole" all their GUI ideas from Xerox? It's blatantly false and _somebody_ had to have done it, right? Why is it so much less painful for them to believe that work was done by Xerox and not by Apple?

  • Does Apple matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m51 (255152) on Friday August 17, 2001 @01:15AM (#2139489) Homepage
    Well, it depends on what you mean when you say "Does Apple matter?" If you mean "Does it matter in the course of computer history?", the answer is yes; it's place in history is undeniable. "Does it matter to it's users?" Again, the answer is yes; ask any Mac addict. As for the question "Does any of that matter?", the answer depends on how much money Apple is making as a company. ;) That's life for you.
    • If you mean "Does it matter in the course of
      computer history?", the answer is yes; it's place in history is undeniable.


      It probably means "Does it matter to the future of computing?"
  • by mr_burns (13129) on Friday August 17, 2001 @02:46AM (#2141913)
    Amelio wanted to host MacOS on top of the NT kernel. Freakin' idoit.

    All I have to say is; next time you set up a Windows or Linux box, and you're a few days into it, know that you could have done this all in 15 minutes on a mac.

    I love the fact that grep, openssh, perl and apache are standard with the current macos, and I don't have to spend any time cursing xfree getting it to work for me. Apple is or at least will be the known universe's largest distributor of UNIX.

    Penguin and VA will never get in the hands of a 5 year old kid. But starting in september, some of those kids will go to school and notice, emacs, VI, gcc, apache and gnu/bsd in their classroom.

    If you want to raise a nation of hacker kids; kids who find their own uses for technology, then you realize that Apple matters.

    And even if you don't buy into that, you might dig the peace of mind gained by not being forced to give your personal info to passport.
    • >Amelio wanted to host MacOS on top of the NT kernel. Freakin' idoit.

      No, he *considered* NT, along with Solaris, Linux, BSD, and the other alternatives, and he and his VP of software development made the right choice. Do you have a problem with that?

      -jcr
    • Amelio wanted to host MacOS on top of the NT kernel. Freakin' idoit.

      I think you're a bit confused about what the kernel does.

      The kernel is just a small part of the operating system, very tiny in the case of NT. It doesn't even include the graphics system. It certainly doesn't include all the UI policies mac users love to despise. There's no reason that a far superior alternative to windows couldn't be built on the NT kernel, or even reusing much of the non-kernel parts of the OS. Pretty much, that is what Microsoft has been doing -- albeit slowly and with other agendas foremost.

      For that matter, I wouldn't mind if the Mac had a few of the NT virtues. Mac file systems give me the heebie-jeebies, esepcially combining huge disks with an OS that has not memory protected until OSX. NTFS is far superior (although better alternative exist to that).

      • I know what a kernel is.

        Perhaps I could have been more clear in the meaning of my sentence. Hosting on top of the NT kernel would be a bad STRATEGIC move. What if M$ just up and decided to not let Apple use it any more? What then?

        And yes, they did consider many kernels. MacOS X's kernel is mostly MACH with flavors from BSD, NuKernel and MK Linux.
        • Perhaps I could have been more clear in the meaning of my sentence. Hosting on top of the NT kernel would be a bad STRATEGIC move. What if M$ just up and decided to not let Apple use it any more? What then?

          Well, that clarifies your position considerably, since in your original post you went on to lambaste Windows on usability issues.

          My opinion on the strategic inadvisability is that's why you hire lawyers. Perhaps the unliklihood of coming to acceptable licensing terms was part of the decision not to build on NT. Technically, it isn't so impossible to imagine working, given what they have done with Next. There would have been some interesting potential strategic upsides as well. I don't see how it is idiotic to consider a possibility just because it would shock most people, especially as he didn't take this direction in the end. Of course opinions sometimes come across stronger than we intend when filtered through a keyboard.

          There are certain decisions of Gil Amelio's that I very strongly disagreed with. In particular I think the abandonment of OpenDoc was a horrible mistake. But he was in a tough spot and he made some tough decisions, that unfortnately for his reputation he did not stay around long enough to benefit from them. Jobs did a lot of important things, particularly slimming down manufacturing times and inventory and adding panache to Apple's increasingly beige designs, but it wasn't a case of his messianic qualities working in a vacuum that "saved" Apple -- Amelio deserves part of the credit.

    • All I have to say is; next time you set up a Windows or Linux box, and you're a few days into it, know that you could have done this all in 15 minutes on a mac.

      That may be, but if you put me and another guy on two different (or even the same) linux machine, setting it up for a few days, and come back and compare, you'll see two completely different environments.

      On the Mac, 15 minutes later we'll both have made change that can be undone in less than 3.

      which tells me that although the mac interface is intuitive and simple, and there is not much setting up that needs to happen... there also isn't much change that can happen. We'll both be conforming to someone else's vision (probably) and that is unacceptable to me. Vi and Emacs are both extremely powerful, speedy editors---but only for those who have taken the time to learn them. By the same token, whenever you watch someone edit their Autoexec.bat in Notepad, you see how slow and inefficient the "intuitive" means can be.

      Use Ion [students.tut.fi], your efficiency will triple because you won't touch the mouse and won't screw with any windows. It's the pinnacle of the "steep curve = more better" debate for window managers.

      Daniel
  • If Apple wasn't around who would the other companies copy?
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:42AM (#2154618) Homepage Journal
    A lot of these posts are going back and forth about whether Apple really invented the GUI, or whether 3.25" disks were really driven by Apple.

    I submit that those details are secondary to this question.

    What really matters, if we're actually talking about Whether Apple Matters, is that Apple as a company has certainly pushed the personal computer's adoptation by society.

    1) The personal computer - a computer that you could go to a story and buy, that you didn't have to solder together yourself, that let you do fun stuff like play games and write letters and even program. Sure, Apple didn't make the first personal computer, but let's not forget how important the first Apples were in popularizing home computers. The first time I ever thought a computer was "cool" was playing four-player Asteroids on my friend's Apple IIe.

    2) The GUI - yes, this is a hot-button topic. Did PARC create it or was it Apple, or even the Martians? Again, who cares. Apple popularized the desktop metaphor and allowed consumers (yes, those people who go to stores and spend money and don't work at universities or research labs) to buy a computer that used a GUI. I recall many a conversation with my DOS-using friends back in the pre-Windows days: "That graphical interface sucks! I'll NEVER use something like that. You have no real CONTROL over what you're doing. What a useless TOY that Mac is!" Of course, the world has gone GUI. Even die-hard UNIX/Linux folks are getting into the act, crowing from the rooftops about the superiority of Gnome. I'd be willing to be that without Apple, there would be no Gnome and no KDE.

    3) Making computer hardware and an OS that work together in a way that turns people into Mac Evangelists - laugh if you will, but it's interesting to note why people evangelize different OSes. In my experience, while Windows zealots go on and on about how many zillion different first-person shooters there are for Windows and how you can't go wrong with Windows because it's ubiquitous, Linux users preach the elegance of the kernel, the efficiency of the UNIX approach with small, sharp tools and transparent underpinnings.

    Mac users are as often as not people who now love computers (their Macs), even though they'd never loved or even enjoyed using a computer before that. With their Macs, they can actually get things done - things that had eluded them for whatever reason on more intimidating systems like DOS and Windows.

    4) Desktop publishing. 'Nuff said there.

    If not for Apple constantly pushing (not always succeeding, but at least trying) to make the user experience actually usable by people who aren't interested in learning about the inner workings of their computers, I really doubt that personal computing would be anything like what it is today. Would Microsoft (not to mention UNIX hackers) have seen the worth of a GUI without the competition from Apple? Would Compaq and other competitors be making hardware with the ports clearly labeled, with easy to use instructions and easy access to the innards? Perhaps, but my guess is that the Mac towers helped to push them along.

    So that gets us to now. As to whether Apple Really Matters in the Future, we may be surprised yet again. Apple has been on the verge of extinction for years - since before the Mac, really. I can't count the number of somber articles I've ready during that time, delineating the reasons why Apple is irrelevant. Yet somehow, they've managed to survive. In fact, they're looking pretty solid right now.

    The concept of the personal computer as the hub of a digital lifestyle is, again, not a new concept to the geek readers of Slashdot. But to the general public, it is a novel idea. Apple has adroitly positioned themselves to take advantage of the covergence of several technologies.

    They're making desktop video a consumer reality. Again, they didn't invent it, but they're making it so easy to use and clearly orienting their products around this core function, that desktop video could take off the way desktop publishing did in the 1980s.

    They've brought UNIX to the masses. Apple is already the largest-volume UNIX supplier in the world. The "not invented here" syndrome that crippled Apple in the 80s and 90s has been rolled back quite a bit under the second Jobs tenure. Put another way, although the Mac hardware is proprietary, the OS itself plays well with others far better than Microsoft OSes.

    Finally, Apple isn't afraid to think creatively about the personal computer. They're not afraid to take chances. Some of their big gambles, like the celebrated failures of the Newton and the Cube, have made them look foolish. Think of Apple as you would a person - does any person who never takes chances ever *really* get ahead in life? Does that person ever inspire others, or get people excited? Like Apple or not, when they push their latest hardware or OS, people talk. People argue, people re-examine what's good in personal computing and what isn't.

    Is Apple relevant? Yes.

  • Summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oncee (216065)
    Is there a summary somewhere? I'd really like to get to the heart of what they said without reading all the seperate messages.
  • Jef Raskin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasterVidBoi (267096) on Friday August 17, 2001 @02:12AM (#2158716)
    I find Raskins comments on Apple's lack of innovation interesting.

    He says that apple doesn't innovate at all anymore. While that is true from one point of view, it's quite false from another.

    So Apple didn't invent USB. Who cares? Without Apple, it would have never caught on. Even the GUI was pioneered at Xerox PARC. Just because you didn't come up with an origonal idea doesn't mean you didn't play an extremely important role. If the technology is never adopted, it's greatness doesn't mean anything.

    Apple has proven itself pretty damn good at taking someone else's technology, and making it popular, and you can't discount the importance of that.

    Raskin talks about how Apple also isn't innovating with GUIs anymore. He says that X is just another 'WinMac GUI,' and he's right. He says that Apple needs to adopt a totally different strategy and use the mac as a cash cow while this new innovation catches on.

    He says "What I would build wouldn't be a traditional OS, it wouldn't have a traditional GUI, but it would run on Macs, it would run on Wintel boxes, and we'd license it so as to make money from our competitors."

    Of course, no mention what it would be. I don't think he really has a clue what this next 'super innovation' (like the mac was in '84) should be, but he blames Apple for not coming up with it yet.

    Of course, I've never read The Humane Interface, so maybe this little issue is explained there...
    • So Apple didn't invent USB. Who cares? Without Apple, it would have never caught on. Even the GUI was pioneered at Xerox PARC. Just because you didn't come up with an origonal idea doesn't mean you didn't play an extremely important role. If the technology is never adopted, it's greatness doesn't mean anything.
      s/Apple/Microsoft/g
      Apple has proven itself pretty damn good at taking someone else's technology, and making it popular, and you can't discount the importance of that.
      s/Apple/Microsoft/g
      Of course, no mention what it would be. I don't think he really has a clue what this next 'super innovation' (like the mac was in '84) should be, but he blames Apple for not coming up with it yet.
      Techies generally aren't gasbags. If he's been involved in the nuts and bolts for 20 years, then it's safe to assume he has a clue (and if he won't talk about it, it's safe to assume he has some funding).

      My guess is he's going to productize the persistent-object system (e.g. EROS, Grasshopper) and pattern the UI after OS/2's object-based UI. There are so many advantages to this approach: instant-on/instant-off, highly modular (take a moment to imagine what you could do if painting to the entire video screen were represented by a class like any other and you started applying design patterns to it... PCanywhere, multi-head, instant resolution change, etc. etc. would be easy and straightforward), easy fine-grained security, easy rich-media handling, document embedding as a way of life, and the list goes on.

      If this isn't what Raskin is working on, I'd be surprised if it weren't something even better.

      -jhp

    • Obviously, you didn't read his book. Jef explains his idea of a revoutionary UI looks like, and it makes sense to me.
  • I can't think of a better way to discuss the future of a company by asking a bunch of ex-employees!

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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