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Fri, Mar 14, 1997, 2:00pm Central Well, it's 'the day'. The day when Apple will cut itself in half. Or maybe only reduce its size by a third, or a fourth; no one knows yet.
A great deal of speculation is going on about what's being cut (OpenDoc, scanners, monitors, printers, Newton, AppleScript). Some things are certain to stay (the Mac OS itself, Rhapsody, WebObjects, Java Java Java). The Mac news sites have been quieter this week, as though everyone's holding their breath.
It's a strange moment for Mac lovers, suspended in anticipation like this.
In a couple of hours we'll know. Which of our favorite technologies will vanish? What products will no longer be in stores with six-color logos?
Nothing much to do except speculate...here are a couple of my thoughts on what they could/should consider:
- Peripherals are, well, peripheral. Scanners, printers, monitors and digital cameras are an unnecessary tangent to Apple's core business. There are plenty of other makers of such things with better reputations for first-class examples of such products than Apple. UMAX "&" Agfa "&" Microtek scanners. Hewlett-Packard printers. NEC "&" Sony "&" Mag monitors. Kodak "&" Canon digital cameras. In these markets Apple is a 'me too' candidate. Get out of these particular hot kitchens and spend your time on the Mac OS.
- AppleScript development should stop, but the idea behind it should carry on in the form of UserLand Software's Frontier.
Inter-application scripting (the Open Scripting Architecture) is the reason I prefer to work on a Macintosh; no other platform lets programs communicate with each other so easily and lets you automate tasks in such customizable ways. However, AppleScript's syntax is unnecessarily cumbersome, AppleScript is still not a PowerPC native OS component, and Frontier is already the scripting environment of choice for serious Mac scripters.
Dave Winer has hinted that something like this might come about in one of his DaveNet pieces recently; this would be a smart thing for Apple to do.
- What about OpenDoc? That's a good question. A very good question. I hear good things about what OpenDoc should let you do, but I have yet to do anything with it but dabble; I haven't found a good reason to use it in my own work.
Cyberdog 2.0 seems adequate as an Internet environment to live in, but nobody's been able to pull me away from Eudora for mail and Fetch 3 for FTP and Internet Explorer 3 for Web browsing. Not many other people seem to be adopting OpenDoc either, yet I like the idea behind it.
There are plenty of pockets of loyalty to OpenDoc, and a couple of cool web sites evangelizing it, but it's hard to argue for the continuation of a technology that has been adopted so little in the Mac community as a whole. If OpenDoc stays, fine; it may be worth trying a little longer to convince people to try it. But if it goes, I won't be that sad.
Who's to say? I certainly don't think it is -- my title was intentionally over-dramatic. But more important than the fate of Apple the corporate entity (as many others have stated before me) is the fate of the MacOS platform, and signs there are rather encouraging. If Apple declares bankruptcy today, people will still run systems using MacOS 7, and will be willing to pay someone for upgrades to their system software. Plenty of people make a very nice living off of the Mac OS market, and plenty would be willing to take over development of the OS, possibly jointly if need be.
But it won't be coming to that, at least not for a long while. System 7.6 sales are healthier than Apple initially projected; Mac OS market share actually rose by some measures in the last year (imagine!). What if Apple made itself small enough to just worry about making the OS the best in the world and live off the licensing fees? Exit the hardware business altogether? Microsoft doesn't sell its own PCs...
Well, it's getting close to time to find out.
It'll be a different Mac world after today.
Maybe it'll be one where Apple can make a profit.
Look for updates to Apple's situation on http://apple.www.conxion.com/newsRoom/welcome.html
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