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Steve's Scribbles...


Could the computing world be slowing down?

Tuesday, June 9, 1998

I haven't seen many other folks discuss this new trend, but this fellow is right: Cur! (an old Piker term meaning "Yes! I agree with him!") (I'll explain the derivation someday.)

He's speaking mostly of Internet software and Net revenue models, but there are no huge upheavals on the immediate IS horizon either, mostly thanks to the continuing delays of Windows NT 5. Windows 98 is a blip. There's no imminent release of a new version of Office. Merced's six months further away than it was two weeks ago...all's quiet on the Wintel front!

Applequakes also subsiding

When I started writing my almost-daily bits of noise a little over a year ago, one big thing which prompted me to "Do Something! Say Something! Anything!" was the general alarm I felt about Apple's future and the uncertainty about what could be done to "save" Apple from ever-dwindling market share and eventual bankruptcy and irrelevance., I think they're pretty well on their feet again. Which makes covering daily changes in wind direction a bit less urgent.

In fact, not only do they have their house mostly in order (showing profits, no less!), they even have some favorable press in major media outlets:

And a new miniseries by HBO and Tom Hanks on Apple's history (unexpected!): And, Moody's has upgraded Apple's debt rating. And oh yes, their stock is near its two-year high. Huzzah, Apple is "back"! I can relax now.

Of course...

There are still wildly inaccurate stories being disseminated, though in this case it's wildly positive press from former Apple-basher Stewart Alsop: Some choice quotes, emphases mine:
"Some of you might remember a column I wrote early last year saying Apple did the wrong thing when it bought NeXT Software in December 1996."

"[Jobs'] most recent decision--no surprise to me--was to sideline the NeXT operating system, now called Rhapsody. Instead, Apple will look to a new operating system called Mac OS X, to be delivered to customers by the end of next year. While this new system will have many of the same features that NeXT/Rhapsody had, it will be homegrown by Apple's engineers so that it runs existing Macintosh programs."

"A future is what Apple really needed, not a new operating system." can I civilly indicate that I think he's based his story on complete nonsense? It's a problem, I'll tell you.

Let me try to sum up why, in fact, Mr. Alsop is completely, utterly mistaken about the relevance of the purchase of NeXT.

Without the NeXT OS as the basis for Rhapsody, which is the basis for Mac OS X, this 'future' he's so happy about would not, could not exist. Renaming (Rhapsody + Blue Box + the new Super Blue Box [Carbon]) to be "Mac OS X" doesn't change the fact that it's still Rhapsody under it all.

Let me say it a different way. Mac OS X is not really an updated Mac OS (in terms of its parentage), which is what he seems to think. It's an enhanced Rhapsody that can behave very like Mac OS to the point of being transparently Mac-like even though it has a core based on NeXT's OPENSTEP and Unix.

Saying he was "dead right" about not needing NeXT is like... like..., analogies fail me. Trust me, it's just so, so inaccurate.

Articles like this don't help matters much:

Declaring the Rhapsody strategy dead is correct when discussing the two-pronged OS strategy Apple had before, but it's too easy to mistake headlines like that to mean Apple has simply thrown Rhapsody out and written its own brand new thing. Which it hasn't.

Anyway. Got off on a tangent there. My larger point is, the biggest disagreement I've had in weeks with an Apple-related media article is with a positively-written one. How about that!

So, my fixation on Apple news has been subsiding. Feeling...somehow...calmer...


Of course, I could now concern myself with all of Microsoft and Intel's legal troubles, but frankly:
  1. I don't have the energy, and

  2. Neither of them makes anything that's essential for me to get my work done (which, today, means: BBEdit, Frontier, WebObjects, WebSTAR and Opera; next year it could also mean Perl, which is of course another non-Wintel-generated product).

    MS Access comes closest to 'essential' for me out of their product lines, but if pressed I'm sure I could find another decently priced, scriptable database that handles ODBC connections, which is mostly what I need Access for.

    If they both get the pants sued off them and (in MS' case) broken up, you know, I think some enterprising innovative souls can fill the important gaps left by either of them in sufficiently short order with (probably) more solid products (almost certainly smaller products that do less, but I view that as a good thing -- less to break). That's not something I could say about the gap Apple would leave behind.

So no, I won't be spending much energy following the lawsuits, and my focus on Apple intrigue will be lessening. I'm still going to post pointers to other things that strike my fancy, and I hope to make the time to write more longer pieces, but a lot of my energy is starting to be diverted into catching up on life and work and music and reading and other important things, and I really do think that's the Right Answer for now.

As always, for more news, pointers & commentary, see Steve Bogart's home page.

Handy Official Disclaimer: Steve's Scribbles are my own personal work and not meant to be taken as official Olin School of Business pronouncements. They are, however, © Steve Bogart (original publication date is at the top of each Scribble).
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