Mac Prophet sees Mac Profits?
The future may not be as bleak as some say
By: Brad Hutchings
There is just too much irony in putting up one article that
criticizes playing prophet, then the next day putting up an
article (letter) that does exactly that ~ David K. Every
Date: 09/12 8:13 AM
Received: 09/12 6:37 AM
From: Hutchings, Richard B. "Brad",
OK, after seeing Mark's excellent piece, wanting to be on
record predicting Steve's new strategy correctly, and I'm
seriously considering a three month stint as Apple CEO in a
few years, so I figured I'd write a speculative piece and
offer it to you for MacKiDo.
Of course, if you publish this *after* Steve announces
the new strategy that Ric is falling all over himself over,
I'll look like a real dumb ass, so time is of the essence.
<mailto: "Brad Hutchings"
by Brad Hutchings
September 12, 1997
First, let's get a couple things straight. I'm not
propheting in this piece; I'm speculating. I have absolutely
no basis to claim any of this as fact. I'm just positing a
scenario for consideration of MacKiDo warriors and wannabes.
I am a Mac developer. I think Apple's greatest
achievement was OpenDoc. I'm not mad at Apple for March. I
believe the best days for the MacOS and OpenDoc are in front
of us. Here's why...
- Except for UMAX, clones are dead. There was a lot of
hand wringing about this
- CHRP may be dead.
- According to DataQuest, Mac marketshare is expected
to pick up this fall with the installed base upgrading to
- Developers are irritated (especially those that had
bundling deals with Motorola, its licensees, or Power).
It will take a phenomenal story to make them happy again.
- Rhapsody DR1 isn't going to pay the bills this
year, so it won't be that story.
- Apple has asked for a 50% price cut on PPC chips.
- Apple has asked the education channel about
Network Computers, as if purchasers (or anyone
for that matter) have any idea what an NC is.
- Jobs and Ellison like NCs.
- Last, but not least, the Reality Distortion Field
turned Ric Ford from bitter critic to enthusiastic
supporter in 20 minutes! Ric said the confidential part
of the strategy would grow the Mac market substantially.
Remember I said this was speculation? Good.
Apple is getting into NCs, as has been rumored.
So, you ask, "What exactly is an NC?".
It's a Macintosh. It has 32 MB of
RAM, 2 GB IDE hard disk, 603e at 200 MHz,
Ethernet, serial ports, TV/monitor connection, IR port,
DVD/CDR drive, PCMCIA, HDI-30 SCSI, MacOS 8. Fold up your
PowerBook 1400 and set it on your TV set. That's the
The bottom line issue with cloning for customers was
price. The bottom line issue for Ric Ford was price. Steve
mentioned price to Ric (remember, this is speculation), and
that's what turned Ric around. Street Price of the Macintosh
Good for Apple
Macintosh NC is cute, simple, elegant, inexpensive, more
powerful than a PC, easily deployed at home/school/office.
Macintosh NC looks good in their Super Bowl debut, setting
up within 20 seconds to that "Dah, dah, dah" theme song.
Apple: one of the three greatest lifestyle brands. MacOS:
one of Apple's two most important assets.
Good for Developers
Unlike the neutered Pippin, Macintosh NCs will run all
Software. Apple will have several configurations,
offering excellent targeted bundling options. Macintosh NCs
will be more economical than upgrading current Macs for most
users. Developers will be able to depend on later system
versions, faster processors, and more
Good for Customers
Attach three plugs and power it on, whether at home, in
the office, or at school. Customers will have enough memory
for today's software, enough hard disk space for their data,
and enough networking power for the future right out of the
The Future Apple Lineup
- Serious high end multiprocessing PowerMacs: $5K
- PowerBooks: $2K - $4K
- Newton eatMe's and Message Pads: $700 - $1100
- Macintosh NC: $599 - $899
- Macintosh NC clones: $50/NC licensing fee to Apple
- Most important to me: millions more customers who can
try OpenDoc and realize what a kick-butt way of computing
I'm happy. I hope I'm right!
Brad Hutchings is a partner in Hutchings Software.
Again, me putting in the last word.
Brad is a sharp guy (I've worked with him before), and I
think he may be getting pretty close to the mark on more
than a few points here (if not nailing them).
I'm not free to disclose some information I get, but
Brad's speculation seems to match up with other facts and
rumors coming from Apple. (Gosh that sounds impressive, and
gives my opinions a lot more weight than they probably
diserve -- without me actually having to actually say
anything.) Remember, this is all speculation. Brad
doesn't want to call it playing prophet -- but heck, that is
what it is -- just with a little more honesty. He's guessing
(based on rumor and fact fragments on hand) -- but so are
Playing prophet and
looking for what is reasonable and likely, is far better
(for Apple and the industry) than playing prophet and
predicting Apple's immediate and eminent demise because of
Every action that Apple MAY do
(that you disagree with).
There are many Brad's out there -- people with
speculative ideas of where Apple may go, that are far more
positive than the mass of angry reportings. Unfortunately,
their voices are often lost in the din, or never heard.
When Apple cancels cloning (and you know that the board
is sharp, and Steve Jobs is sharp) -- then we have to assume
that Apple has something up their sleve. Some plan exists.
We should not assume the worst! Assuming the worst just
proves that the presses constant bashing is tainting our
views. When something angers us, we need to stand back, take
a breath, and think before we react.
We do know that it is likely NC's, and that Apple wants
to INCREASE marketshare and profits (clones weren't
achieving that for Apple). Brad's plan is a good one -- but
there are likely many other good plans as well. We will
probably soon learn what Apple's plans are. We only need to
show a little patience before breaking out the pitchforks
and lighting the torches. Hopefully, some harsh lessons
learned this time, will teach us to be more patient next
time! We need to learn what Apple's plans are before
we crucify them for bad planning.
I, for one, feel that
if Brad's plan is close to what Apple's real plan -- then I
will be pretty happy about Apple's directions. I beleive
that lowering costs is a good way to try to increase
marketshare. Cloning was just ONE way to lower costs and
increasing volume -- this is another.
This doesn't mean that the Brad's are any more correct
than the others -- though I do think Brad's idea is probably
closer to the truth than what many others have speculated.
The real point is that there is always more than
one way to look at something --
- There is guessing towards the positive and
- There is admitting that you don't know (or have a
clue) as to what Apple is doing.
- Or there is looking at Apple through fecal tinted
glasses, and assuming everything that Apple does will be
wrong and bad (and smell foul).
There needs to be a balance.
The first two don't hurt anyone -- so I have more
The last one does hurt people. It can put people out of a
job, it can take away people's livelihood, it can inflict
emotional harm, it can cause stress, it is just basically
hurtful. If you are correct in your predictions of doom and
gloom, then it may help a few people (but that has to be
weighed against the risks and harm) -- if you are wrong in
your predictions, it can harm a lot.
Too many are willing to kick Apple when they are down --
or try to put them down. Too many are always looking at the
negative and guessing at the worst. Not enough speculation
is positive or even well reasoned.
In balance, even I was
probably too negative about Apple (or about one certain
leader there of) -- and the frightening thing is that I was
one of the MOST positive people discussing this issue.
So let's all take time, and a deep breath, and see where
Apple is going. There are many things that Apple could do to
justify their actions... if we'd just slow down and give
them a chance.
~ David K. Every
Brad's response to my response
Uh, oh -- looks like
he gets the last word.
Dave, just so nobody worries that I'm speculating out of
turn, I don't get the information you get.