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RE: Apple as Net software developer
Proof that some journalists smoke crack?!

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999


OK, maybe that opening "quip" is a little extreme (and just a joke)-- but so is the article by Rob O'Regan at ZDNET. A PC WEEK writer, has once again decided that because he is a Microsoft Apologist, it qualifies him to comment on the Mac market, which he obviously knows nothing about.

A modest proposal: Apple as Net software developer.

There is nothing modest about his proposal, or style. There are a few facts in there, but they are buried in garbage and spin.

I come to MacWorld Expo this week to praise the Macintosh, but also to bury it.

Opening paragraph says it all. This guy admits his bias from the get go -- he wants to bury the Mac, and proceeds to attempt to do so -- all wrapped as "innocent" observations!?

In the early '80s, Apple played an unquestionably valuable role in the launch of the personal computer industry. The Mac's place in history is secure, as both leading-edge computing platform and culturalicon (sic). But its time has passed.

In the EARLY '80's? What about the mid and late '80's? In fact MS didn't get anything close to a usable GUI until '95. So this should read "and early and mid '90's". In fact, to this day, the Mac leads in many (if not most) areas of technology, so how has its time passed.

I mean I know that the author is implying market share or something, but market share has nothing to do with technology -- which is what he claims his point is. So it is STILL leading the industry in many areas. Without Apple leading, who will MS follow?

Seems that his beloved MS doesn't agree with his assessment, if the recent $150 million, and a patent swap (for starters) is any indication.


The Macintosh has no future in mainstream business computing. No one can argue that point with any logical conviction.

Oh, I disagree completely. Macintosh still kicks butt in SOHO (Small-Office/Home-Office). Why? Because it is easier to use and self-support. If you have an IS dept., behind you -- keeping your WindowsPC's working every time they break (which can be often), then many of the Mac advantages are diminished. But there are many self-employed people, or small offices that don't have the luxury of wasting thousands of dollars a year.

So he is correct that it is hard(er) to defend the Mac advantage in big business, which is more about politics than productivity -- but the majority of Americans work in medium to small business. So the author shows that he thinks that only BIG business is of any value, or only considers them as the only "mainstream".

No IT manager worth his or her salt can make a legitimate case for deploying Macs across an enterprise. So let's look at what other markets remain in Apple's cart.

Before we turn to "other markets", lets NOT take this statement on blind faith. Lets look at it closer. (This is a weak debate style on the authors part. Make a point that is weak, call it a "given", and try to rush on to the next point before anyone has time to think about its validity).

I have met very few, if any, IT managers worth their salt. That is a very big problem in American business. They can fix a computer just fine, but they do a very poor job of what their job is supposed to be -- making users lives easier by getting the best systems on their desks. Since they don't understand technology as well as they should, they find it easier to follow the "biggest" -- that is a safe path that prevents them from having to study the industry, take risks, think, do anything other than support (which is what they know).

You can go to these guys (IS/IT), and show them that it costs less to support or install Macs, it makes the users more productive, it requires less training, Macs play well with others, etc., etc., and these guys will install what gives themselves job security and is a "no brainer" (literally) -- Windows PC's.

Why Windows?

  1. It breaks down far more -- that is good for IS/IT, who gets job security (you can't get rid of someone who has to fix your computer constantly).
     
  2. If they install PC's, then they get all the MS-Freebies and the spiffs and goodies from the other companies -- that is good for them (whether it costs the company money or not).
     
  3. They are followers (not leaders). Their entire job is based on doing what others want -- so they learn to follow. If they were leaders, they'd be doing something else. They know PC's because that is the "followers" computer. So they want to follow MORE -- they choose MORE PC's. They get to play it safe, and go with the "populous". It's called covering your butt.
     
  4. Most of all, if they install PC's then they get to spend MORE of the companies money going to all the trainings and the like. I know that isn't good for the Companies (to spend fortunes training IT guys, who just leave for better paying jobs because they are now "over-qualified"), but it is good for IT. It is a special voodoo art keeping PC's working, that is why those that can do it are paid so highly. That is why they love PC's.

The motto of most IT groups, I've ever dealt with, is "screw the user -- what's in it for me?" IS/IT doesn't want to help users, or make users more productive -- they want to make THEMSELVES more valuable. Sadly, most managers, and journalists, don't seem to get it.

Could IT managers make a legitimate case for deploying Macs? Many have with issues like; Lower costs, happier users, less support, and so on. Most will not even try, because they get rewards by doing what is in THEIR best interests.

I have met good IS/IT guys -- they are just not the majority, or those that the author considers "worth their salt". They are the ones that will tell management what is right, instead if what is easy for them. But they are like good lawyers, honest used car salesman, and compassionate doctors -- rare, but a prize when you find them.


Education. Apple had been a favorite in educational circles for years, with good reason: Its machines were easy to use and durable, and Apple had some outstanding purchasing programs for school districts.

Good. We agree. Schools save money by using Macs. Students, teachers, tax-payers, all WIN!

But many schools no longer automatically turn to the Mac. My brother Brian, who's a school superintendent in Vermont (and a Mac user at home), acknowledges that his district is no longer inclined to buy just Macs.

Many schools never did so "automatically". Schools are often HUGE bureaucracies, that require lots of process and competitive bidding. The Macs were chosen in schools because they were better -- they met all the requirements for those huge contract negotiations. Since 1981 (when the PC's came out) I saw many PC's in schools -- so I don't know when a schools was ever "inclined to buy just Macs." In fact, Apple has always had a lot of competition with PC's, and even Apple ]['s.

While the elementary and middle schools in his district still use mostly older Apple IIs and Performas--primarily for basic keyboard instruction--the high school is migrating toward PC-compatible systems.

Performa's are Macs that are targeted for the home. LC's are the versions of "Performas" that most schools buy. I am not impressed when a writer doesn't even know the proper model names of the machines he is bashing.

You can tell the authors bias when he makes stupid cracks like "primarily for basic keyboard instruction". Macs are used primarily for CURRICULUM! In fact, in many schools it is the PC's that are used for very specialized tasks (like teaching typing or keyboards). Why? Because PC's are hard to set up for more than one thing and keep working. However, if you have only one program that runs -- say a typing tutor -- then the PC's tend to work OK, and the students are hidden from the complexity of DOS or Windows. (Most PC's in use in schools today still run DOS).

High schools are using lots of PC's. But what for? Curriculum? Nope. The Macs are still the #1 curriculum computer -- they are easier to use, cost less to maintain, and so on. PC's are being used in administration and in classes teaching a particular Application, like accounting or word processing.

So is there some migration? It varies. I've seen far more reports stating that Macs are increasing market share in education, rather than the other way around.

Computers are used in schools for a lot more than just teaching kids curriculum. PC's are picking up some of the new markets (administration, business applications, etc.) -- but not curriculum as much. PC's tend to be more popular in high-schools. Big districts have IT/IS guys (remember the followers), who want to install PC's for their own reasons. So if you only look at high-schools and big districts then the numbers are distorted to look very pro-PC. If you look at entire markets, including K-8, then the Macs are leading and INCREASING in market share. More so if you look at computers that are used for actual teaching curriculum, and not about computers (or applications) themselves.

This is my industry, and unlike the author, I have some familiarity with it. If you look back in the article you learn his "impeccable source" is his "brother Brian", who happens to be a superintendent in one district. Want to bet that district is a bigger district, he focuses on high school, and they have an IT/IS dept. making the decisions? The Journalist does not know his subject -- big surprise.

There are two main reasons. Apple doesn't provide the steep 40 percent to 50 percent discounts for schools that it did in previous years. And, as in any market, schools are no longer as concerned about what platform is running underneath; accessing the Internet is the top priority. Educators shouldn't lock the kids into a dying platform.

Now the good stuff. The author doesn't know education, or Macs (as seen above), and the sum of his experience seems to be "Brother-Brian". Now he is going to rationalize why Apple has sold at all, and why they are doomed in the future. (I love objective and educated journalism).

Mac systems are still competitive (or superior) to PC systems pricing. That is without factoring in the Macs lower maintenance and support costs, ease of use, and retraining costs (if they migrate). The percentages of discounts has gone down (wow, he got something right) -- but so has the price of the computer. The Macs are STILL the best value. Would you rather buy a computer for 50% off $3000, or 30% off of $1600 (for a faster computer)?! The author seems to want the former computer, or is angry because Apple no longer sells it -- which leads me to suspect he failed high school math (as well as computers), perhaps he should talk to brother Brian about some remedial education.

Then the author goes on to state that " schools are no longer as concerned about what platform is running underneath". So why should he care about what platform they buy? Why shouldn't they buy Macs? I don't get that point. Macs are the #1 internet platform, and have an unusually high presence on the internet. So if internet is a "top priority", and platforms don't matter, then why in Gods name would you pick the inferior one that is harder to install and maintain and costs more?!? (See PC's).

As for dying platform -- Macs INCREASED market share in schools last year (without counting Mac clones) -- how is that dying? (Markets than schools are irrelevant to this point). Even if Macs were dying (they're not), how does that change that they are the better machine for this whole generation, and will save costs over the next 5 years?! So if the author wants to claim something, like the market is dying, and we shouldn't allow schools to choose a platform based on their needs -- then I would like a little support for those claims!


Consumer. If the majority of working parents are using Windows PCs in the workplace, why would they want to buy a second platform for their homes?

Because the Mac costs less, and does more! Because you don't need an IS dept. to install your Software or cards. Because it is easier to use! Because they can run their work software. The list goes on and on -- but just because the author doesn't have a clue, doesn't mean that the public is as ignorant. There are millions of home buyers for Macs each year!

The real question is, "Just because my company plays politics with its purchasing decisions, why should a home buyer have to punish themselves and buy the inferior platform that will cost them more?"

They don't. Apple is bleeding PC market share--both Dataquest and IDC report that Apple fell out of the Top 5 in PC units shipped for the second quarter.

Apple fell out of the top 5. Why? Because they cloned! If you look at Mac market share (with Mac clones) they have grown.

The press crucified Apple for NOT cloning -- then when they do clone, they criticize Apple because some Mac buyers will buy those clones! Either the Author is a fool, and doesn't understand this, or the Author is being intentionally misleading (see deceptive).


Publishing. The price/performance benefits of using the Mac for desktop publishing no longer exist. Two or three years ago, upgrading PC Week's production department to new Macs was a no-brainer, but it's now more inclined to look at Windows PCs. (Our art department still clings mightily to its Macs for creating graphics.) Our executive managing editor, Wendy Maxfield, says she can no longer justify paying $9,000 for a high-end Mac when she can get comparable performance from a $3,000 Intel PC. The bleeding will continue here.

Now we go from the ridiculous to the outright lies. I can't find a $9,000 Intel PC that compares with the $5,000 dollar Macs she is alluding to. Those super-high-end PowerMac 350mhz boxes, or multi-processor boxes just don't have an equal in the PC market space.

I find that the $3000 Macs, completely outclass the $3000 PC's. I can show numbers that support this. Every review out there seems to support how cost competitive the Macs are, and that they are actually exceeding the PC's on the top end.

So Wendy Maxfield is some ignorant troglodyte, listening to the lies fed to her by others. The fact that she is the "executive managing editor" of PC WEEK, only shows the quality of people they have there, and explains where Rob O'Regan gets his bias (and who is trying to brown-nose with this piece).

If there's a wild card for Apple, it is its underplayed Claris subsidiary. Claris, which just announced its 19th consecutive profitable quarter, is making a successful transition to Windows without ignoring its Mac installed base. More than 50 percent of its corporate sales are for Windows products--even though it's only been selling software on that platform since 1992. Its ClarisWorks office suite and FileMaker database products are well-established, and now it's making the jump into the Internet space with Web site authoring and other tools.

Claris is doing quite well. In fact, it goes to show that Apples software philosophy is EXACTLY what the users want. Even close-minded PC users, are learning that Apple products (like Claris software) are high quality and useful.

I bet Claris has grown (in a few short years) to become a $500 million division (gross sales). Compare that to the Mac Hardware that sold over $9 or 10 billion last year (with clones) to get some perspective.

Here's one formula for Apple's survival: Sell off the hardware operations to Power Computing or another aggressive cloner, and throw in Mac OS and the Rhapsody source code.

This is like saying that when your finances get tough around the home, you should abandon your future. Hey, you can't pay the Electric Bill? No problem, sell off your kids, and throw the wife in as a bonus -- that ought to reduce your expenses. Ignore the fact that your future would be grim, and what type of person you'd have to be to do so.

We have an author who is obviously anti-Mac (starting with the first sentence), who doesn't understand the industry, and wants to destroy it -- and explains how to do so. What a rocket scientist. I am shamed that even PC-Week and ZDNET did not have an editor with enough journalistic integrity to cut this piece out. (I forgive one or two stupid writers or article, but editing is the job of the editor).

Apple should merge its software operations with Claris and help its customers migrate to Java-based computing--that's the open-systems platform of the future. The Apple/NeXT/Claris troika would have great influence as an Internet software company.

That is exactly what Apple is doing. Why does this have to be exclusive? Why should Apple kill it's hardware (the best platform choice) in order to offer these software solutions? That is like saying that you should sell off your kids so that you can have a job. Excuse me, but I'll have children AND a job, thank you very much!

I admire the loyalty of the Mac community. But don't forget, we're still talking about a computer here--not friends or family, not religion, not politics. It's time for Apple to move on. The rest of us need to do so as well.

I read this guy's history (all the other articles I could find). This guy seems to be a Pro-PC guy. He's shown he knows little (if anything) about Macs -- and now we are supposed to take his word for it -- "He admired the Mac community". Uh, huh! He just wants to help us to "move on". To what? What HE knows, and what HE makes money at -- the PC. This is like Lee Iacoca (Chrysler) telling all the Ford buyers, manufacturers, and sales people that he has their interests at heart. If he does, he is a fool and doesn't know his own business. The author wants Apple to end so HIS particular form of knowledge (and ignorance) are more in demand -- only a fool (and PC users) may buy his honest compassion.

I have news for him. We are talking about my friends, my family and my freedom to choose the better platform. This is politics -- what can be more political (and philosophical) than discussing whether we should be defend the truth against misinformation (like this article), like being free to choose the better platform, and not being forced to buying into propaganda and state (IS/IT) control!

This is MY industry, this is MY livelihood -- what can get more personal than this? Mac users (and writers) are not calling for Intel or Microsoft to just "pack it in"! I don't want to destroy choice -- I want to defend it! I don't want to lie about PC's -- they have their place. I want to defend the lies against my computer of choice! I want people to be free to chose multiple platforms. I realize that generalization, and only offering PC's, is not nearly as good as allowing users to have multiple platforms and being able to choose an OS and applications that meet their particular needs -- not just the needs of IS/IT, PC-writers, or PC apologists!

Is your Mac exit strategy in place? Write me at rob_oregan@zd.com

The closing is as biased as the opening. Leave the Mac! That is what the author is telling us.

I urge you to stay involved. The author asks for feedback, so tell the author what you think of his errors and bias, and the same for the editor. Let everyone know what you think of the quality of the article, the magazine, and the writer and editor. Hold them accountable to what they are saying and doing. Do not let the truth be sacrificed to the tyranny of group think. These articles are the Literary equivalent to the Dogma of McCarthy! Stay polite, but let everyone you know, know about this stuff. Send them this link -- let them compare my truth to the authors -- let them check out the facts and learn who is closer to the mark. Then they will see the truth!

I know that the author, and the editor, will likely consider this some attack -- and see concerned users as "Zealots". But we should all respond to misinformation. They will label this "informing them of the truth", and desire for choice (to have our platform, and let us be), as some sort of campaign of hate. The writers whine that they deluged, by caring users informing them of their many errors, just because of a few mistakes and sell complete bias. Tough! I will not tolerate a campaign of hate against people based on their race, religion, culture, sex, or political views -- so I will certainly no tolerate the same campaign against people because of their computer platform choice!


Created: 08/08/97
Updated: 11/09/02


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