Begin forwarded message:
Dear (potential) members of the Rhapsody Community,
Hi, my name is Ernie Prabhakar, and on Monday June 9th I will become
the Product Marketing Manager for Rhapsody, Apple's NeXT Generation
Operating System. I am only filling in for two months while the
"real" Product Manager is on sabbatical, after which I intend to
resume my normal life of management consultant by day, computer
groupie by night. However, before I disappear behind the Silicon
Curtain, before I am an Official Apple Employee, I just wanted to
share with you my vision of the world I would like to help create.
Or rather, a world that I would like you to help create.
I am not a professional programmer or computer scientist. I am
just a guy who believes computers can be a powerful tool which
people can use to change the world. And I want to do what I can
to help computers reach their potential, primarily by helping
computer -users- reach their potential. Computers are amazing
devices in their ability to perform a wide variety of tasks, but
all too often this comes at the expense of failing to perform a
single task very well - the task that you want it to do!
There are many reasons for this mismatch between technology and
user needs, but let me focus on one key area where I hope that I -
and you - can make a difference. Software development has traditionally
been such an expensive, arduous and time consuming process that
a) developers had to be experts on technology, not on human
b) products were designed to satisfy static requirements, not
c) the development process largely excluded user involvement
Rhapsody, as the only mass-market operating system designed from
the ground-up to support object-oriented software development, has
the potential to break these compromises and change the rules of
software development. If it succeeds, it should provide incredible
power and ease of use to end users, developers, and system
I believe Apple has assembled one of the greatest teams of engineers,
scientists, and design specialists ever seen in the software
industry. I believe they have the tools, support, and vision to
pull it off. However, they lack one thing, the one thing that
makes the crucial difference between a product that revolutionizes
the world and one that merely looks impressive. It is the one
thing I most want to give to Apple: You.
You, the guy who fights with his mail application, or labors over
updating web pages, or dreams of writing a "killer app" that crushes
the Big Guys, or merely wants to transform her little corner of
the world. I want Rhapsody, along with the tools, programs, and
community it engenders, to be the vehicle for making your dreams
come true. Not just a dream of how a computer should work, but
dreams of community, freedom, learning, love - the stuff people
live and die for all over the world.
Apple has always been about helping people realize their dreams,
and it has made many dreams come true. But in all honesty, Apple
was hampered both by its technology, and its culture. Like most
great insitutions, it lost sight of its original focus - you, the
ultimate consumer - and got caught up in esoteric dreams of greatness.
That's changed. Apple has been humbled, and it is reaching out.
The acquisition of NeXT, and Apple's commitment to Java and open
systems are the signs of a sea change. In a tiny way, bringing
in an outsider like myself to work alongside marketing is also a
sign of that change.
I am no Silicon Valley insider, or hot shot programmer. I'm just
like you. I use a computer to balance my checkbook, write love
letters, and send email. I've written games for my friends,
technical analyses as a student, and mission critical custom apps
for a multinational corporation. I've lugged notebooks across
the world to share presentations and datafiles with clients, and
I've setup PPP and Ethernet networks in my home.
And all along, I've often thought: there has to be a better way.
If I could, I'd love to sit down with each and every one of you,
to hear your dreams for your life and the world, and figure out
what small part a computer might play in helping you realize them.
But I can't. Even if I had the time, my loyalty is to Apple, to
be part of their Voice. I can't be your voice.
But, what I can do, what I hope to do, is help you find your voice.
To bring people together, where they can fight through the tradeoffs
and priorities that are an inevitable part of any democratic
community. And then, to be Apple's Eyes and Ears, to see your
concerns, hear what you're saying, feel your pain. And then to do
whatever I can within Apple, to make sure your voices are heard.
To do this, I have asked some friends of mine to setup two mail aliases
firstname.lastname@example.org by Don Yacktman, of The Object Foundation
email@example.com by Tim Byars of NeXT Users Los Angeles
These two have committed to sorting through all the mail that is
sent to these lists, and identifying the biggest concerns in those
communities. Whether it is a matter of technology, communication,
or business. And I have gauranteed them my time and attention to
understand those concerns, and my passion and energy to communicate
those to the Apple community.
I have to be honest with you. Product Managers have no real
authority, and as a short-termer and outsider I could very well
have less than usual. I am also a realist and a capitalist:
Apple has to make money, and soon, and that means shipping a product
as quickly as possible, not catering to everyone's hopes and dreams.
However, I am enough of an idealist to believe that a company like
Apple can only survive if it succeeds in truly understanding its
More than almost any other American company, Apple isn't about
products, it is about people. It is about changing the world. It
did it once with the Apple II, then again with the Macintosh.
WIth your help, I believe it may yet have one more revolution in
it. I don't know for sure if I can do anything, or even if you can
do anything. But I know I have to try.
Will you join me?
Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
Rhapsody Product Manager Designee