Apple, the NeXT Order

Joe Kiniry (
Fri, 28 Mar 1997 12:38:14 -0800 writes:
> Perhaps I was a bit premature in my last editorial...
> Since Michael Spindler left the company and Amelio was rushed in, Apple's
> management has been, shall we say, less than stellar. Many excellent
> executives left and we were left with former middle managers taking their
> places. The executive core at Apple, mainly Amelio, Scalise, Anderson,
> Jobs, Tevanian, and Rubenstein, is excellent. Yet, project managers still
> are lackluster. And let's not even talk about marketing. When was the last
> time you saw an Apple advertisement on television that made sense? Where
> are the ads telling the world about the computer "for the rest of us?" I
> welcome the new restructuring with open arms. It placed Apple in a position
> to focus on its core goals and products and trimmed the fat. Except for one
> exception: OpenDoc.

i'm in agreement with eldee here, cutting opendoc was a really bad
move on apple's part. the staffing and cost of the team was
_extremely_ minimal in the big picture. in fact, i've been arguing
for over a year now that apple's internal support for the project was
far too minimal and thus the cut was something of a surprise to me
(given the low $ of the project). i mean, if apple had more than a
few dozen developers and a whole semi-division, that would be one
thing, but to cut a handful of extremely bright, passionate, and
hard-working folks working on technology that really might/will make a
difference in the next 3-5 years is just plain stupid.

> The world will never know the vision Apple originally had when Amber and
> Pink where still just codenames within the Apple elite. Ladies and
> gentlemen, you are being robbed. We all are. We are being robbed of the
> next wave of computer technology: document-centric computing. Imagine a
> world where one never had to worry about applications. Where you could
> create a blank document and then add components from anywhere. OpenDoc
> could have been the fulfillment of the dreams of computer scientists since
> the 1970s. Instead, Apple made OpenDoc a technolgy showcase and dubbed it a
> "system-wide plugin architecture." Most of the Mac world will never get to
> experience the power I had with just my word processing documents. So where
> is OpenDoc going now? It will be maintained until version 1.2 ships with
> Mac OS 8 and will remain in Rhapsody's Blue Box. Please, if nothing else,
> try it when Mac OS 8 ships. You'll begin to realize the promise.
> But that is the problem with so many of Apple's projects: promise. People
> don't want potential, they want power. PowerTalk could have been amazing if
> Apple stuck with it. I could have, right now, an in box on my desktop with
> today's email, faxes, and voicemail. I could be calling my computer at the
> office to listen to all of it. I could communicate with someone in Pakistan
> as if they on the Thessian Technologies LAN. File sharing could be seamless
> around the world. Instead, Apple watered it down and became insulted when
> the people didn't accept PowerTalk as-is. Does Microsoft give up on
> products it know is right? Windows was disgusting for years and no
> self-respecting PC user would use it... until Windows 3.0. No one liked
> Internet Explorer when it first came out, but now look at the previews for
> IE 4.0. OpenDoc is a casualty of an Apple mentality, not of the
> restructuring. I can only hope OpenDoc and ODF are released to a consortium
> who will continue the architecture. Apple: pick up the phone and call Brad
> Hutchings now!

well, that's pushing it a bit far. i mean, i do agree that
development and management of opendoc does need to be turned over to
some organization (be it commercial, not-for-profit, whatever), but
i'm unsure whether hutchings has the staff/capabilities to handle that
transition. i mean, brad did volunteer in rapid order, which is a
good thing, and perhaps the move to a small passionate, focused, and
budding development firm is the right thing to do, but certainly one
should take up the first offer because there will be several others
i'm sure.

> Otherwise, though, the new restructuring is a godsend. QuickTime
> Conferencing, although promising two years ago, has now been superseded by
> the seamless communication possibilities of the Internet. AIX servers.,
> although cool, is not what businesses want. They want NT and Rhapsody.
> PlainTalk was cool but didn't work. And the layoffs were necessary. Apple's
> acquisition of NeXT brought some of the most competent people in the
> industry back to Apple. The New Order is brighter than before. Apple will
> concentrate on the Mac OS, Rhapsody, and the Internet. That's it. Newton is
> becoming more and more independent, and I hope it is spun-off soon like
> Claris and can begin to produce kick-butt products. Newton has really been
> held back by Apple. Every time something cool comes down the pipe, Apple
> must "discuss" it first. It must "study" the idea and its ramifications.
> And in that corporate beauracracy, insanely great products tend to get
> smothered.
> But Apple is turning back to the old days... and this is good. We can
> expect Rhapsody on time and incredible. We can expect Mac OS 8 to be great.
> And we don't have to worry about the rest of Apple's research taking away
> resources from this. I'm as much for advanced research as the next man, but
> if Apple can innovate and drive products at the same time, then so be it. I
> think it can.
> -
> Anyway, that's just my opinion, meant to confuse and disorient...
> <> <>