Perception is Reality?
It's Saturday August 2, 1997. Rumors are flying Everywhere -- about everything. The Macintosh world has been turned upside-down in the last few weeks and even days. All inside reports point to the notion that Steve Jobs is now running Apple Computer; but even that is a rumor. Fred Anderson is the official CEO stand-in until a replacement is found, but who's going to tell the co-founder of the company what to do (except John Sculley)?
So, further rumors indicate that Jobs is pushing for the end of MacOS cloners altogether. He apparently has called them "leeches", and who can blame him? None of the cloners -- PowerComputing, Motorola, Umax, etc. -- have ligitimately tried to grow the MacOS market. As far as I can tell, they have only advertised in Macintosh publications.
Worse yet, I have not seen a single TV ad from Motorola. But I constantly see the one with the teenager who wants a Motorola pager and his dad who just wants him to shave.
Overall, I don't feel that the cloners have held up their end of the bargain, business-wise.
PowerComputing has certainly pushed the envelope in performance consistently, but as far as I can tell they only advertise in Mac publications as well. What about ads in Time magazine or various web sites? I know Power's a startup, but come'on! I'm sure at least a few people decided to buy a MacOS clone instead of a windoze machine, but I wouldn't imagine that many have. So as a result, we just get cannibalized sales (ie, people buying clones instead of Apple machines) for the most part.
What's the motivation for Apple to support cloners? Personally, I can't see any. The MacOS licensing fees really don't bring in that much revenue --Apple probably loses more revenue on each clone sale than they make. Where are the expanded markets the cloners promised?
On to the next batch of rumors. Steve Jobs is going to be Apple's next CEO. Then again, maybe not. Well, he's going to be the chairman then. Then again, maybe not. What's amazing is that the mainstream press is taking all of this at face value. Someone somewhere forwarded this message to Mac websites that Steve Jobs supposedly wrote to Pixar employees. Then again, maybe it was just made up. Did anyone notice that? It went from an email that _seems_ to be from Jobs to Pixar, and suddenly became hard evidence. When did that happen? Jobs hasn't publically verified that statement -- Apple and Pixar both said the email seemed to be genuine but had no further comment. What evidence is there? None, really. Jobs did publically say, however, that he wasn't interested in the CEO position.... but things change, and he left himself some play via the article's wording.
However, Larry Ellison has publically stated in a French publication that a new Apple management team "will be announced Monday", and that Steve Jobs will be in command. Now, Larry Ellison isn't exactly known for following up on this sort of stuff (he's talked about buying Apple several times only to give up), but this is a different case. Assuming the conversation was translated correctly, he is stating that this will happen. A far cry from some random email that may or may not have been written by Jobs.
So assuming Jobs does take the helm, does that mean the end of MacOS clones? Why not? Mac clones have not grown MacOS marketshare that much, they have caused some compatibility/ease-of-use issues (which is inevitable with more Hardware on the market), and they have not gone to bat to extend the MacOS "mindshare". What good are they? CHRP would only make things worse -- more hardware conflicts, less Apple revenue, and more confused buyers.
In spite of everything I wrote above, rumors are just that -- rumors. They are not factual. But do you notice something? Everyone has their eyes on Apple. The stock price is up. People are interested in Apple Computer. Is it possible Steve Jobs intentionally created this sort of enthusiam for Apple? Mmmm.... could beeeee.....
Is it possible Apple wants to do away with clones altogether? Sure -- but it's not too likely. Just because the UpToDate terms change doesn't necessarily mean the whole clone world is being tossed out. NeXT wasn't exactly about closed-standards, either. They do call it "OpenStep". That's because it runs on top of Solaris, Windows and Mach.
Just remember, don't pass judgement on rumors. Wait for
the facts. Like these:
The Daily Mac has a petition to sign to stop Apple from ending MacOS licensing.