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Beware of False Prophets

By: Mark F.Murphy
Creator of PowerPerl

The Mac community has, many times, been compared to a religion. Some call us Mac Zealots, Fanatics, Mac Faithful, Evangelists, etc. Sometimes this comparison is flattering, at other times it is not.

There's another category in the Mac community which some call analysts... but let's call them the Prophets, shall we? After all, it is the analysts... er... I mean these Mac Prophets which tell us Apple needs to do X, Y, or Z... and if they don't, that Apple shall surely die.

Now, I'm sure some Mac faithful will surely be angry with what I have to say... for I seriously question some of these Mac prophets and their roles as of late.

Let me first give some background on myself so the reader can rest assured that I am one of the fold (a Mac faithful, Zealot, etc). I've been programming and using Apple computers since I was 15 years old. I'm now 32, so I've spent over half my life using Apples (my first love being the Apple ][+). I've been a professional Software developer for 13 years mostly running my own business. I have done many applications, both custom and commercial (1). So I speak from a developer's point of view.

Since most of my company's income is derived from the Mac market, I also speak from a Mac business point of view. Of course, these are only my opinions and observations.


Lately, the Mac community has been torn apart with rumors and misinformation. Some of the rumors are loosly based on fact. Hysteria has also set into the Mac community. Actions by Apple Computer or others have created a wave of concern which has spawned endless streams of prophecies and harsh words from some of our Mac Prophets.


The Mac Prophets have declared that Apple needs to do X, Y, or Z or else Apple will be dead. The Mac Prophets declare users and developers are leaving the platform in droves. The Mac Prophets have web sites which supposedly dispense news but instead hand down their official proclamations as if they are gospel.

Some of these Mac Prophets simply repeat what the other Mac Prophets are saying. Repeating the same doom and gloom at web site after web site.


Where's the voice of the Mac user who's not making such proclamations? Where's the voice of the developer who's not leaving the platform?

Mac user's and developer's are bombarded with the gospel of these Mac Prophets yet see no sign (or very little) or hear no voice which counters such doom and gloom.

Does this mean all is lost? Does this mean perhaps Mac users and developers really are leaving the platform in droves as these Mac Prophets predict?

I don't think so.

These Mac Prophets may have loud voices, but in reality they are operating in the dark just like everyone else. Worse, they are offering their opinion... not scientific fact to back up their claims.

As a developer, this scares me.

Doom and gloom is bad for business.

These Mac Prophets, who profess to love the platform so much, say they are only doing what is right... they are only telling the truth... that they have some special skill or insight that enables them to have a "perspective" on the Mac market which qualifies them to make such proclamations and predictions. These Mac Prophets say they must play the role of the inquisitor with repsect to Apple because it's what Apple needs.

Well from my experience, the consumer does not like bad press. When a consumer sees doom and gloom, they forgo purchasing MacOS systems (from Apple or clones) and that means they forgo purchasing software!

The Mac Prophet's Inquisition is hurting Mac business in general. It's bad enough we have the regular press to deal with. Yet we have these Mac Prophets who say they are one of us, yet from my perspective have been worse than the general press.

Some Mac Prophets say they are simply giving Apple some tough love.... or that they care so much that they must speak out... or that they have a lot invested in the Mac platform so they are justified in such doom and gloom. It reminds me of the parent that claims beating their kid is for their own good. This is gonna hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you (as the saying goes)... Ya right!...Beating leaves nothing but scars and wounds which sometimes never heal.

The Mac community is in a hysteria whipped up by these Mac Prophets which tell us one thing and factionalize the Mac user base. They ask us to sign petitions and tell us users have been writing in to support their position.

The bottom line is the Mac platform.

As a software developer, what I care about is the following --

  • Is the OS getting better?
  • Are the features we're asking for getting implemented?
  • Does Apple have a plan for the future OS?

    The answer to these questions is - Yes!

    Apple has been delivering system releases on time and with new features. There's a lot to celebrate within the Mac community. Yet from our Mac Prophets, you'd never know it. Their doom and gloom message overshadows any news that *really* matters.... which is the platform.

    Apple's business decisions are going to be what they are going to be. No Mac Prophet can change that, though they think they can. Users have legitimate concerns, but those are best addressed to the company who has the ability to make the changes... and that's Apple. Apple has several e-mail addresses to register one's concerns with.


So what's the result of the Mac Prophet's doom and gloom?

Loss of consumer confidence.

The very thing these Mac Prophets supposedly want to do is support the Mac platform. However, the exact opposite is occurring. There's *never* a time when negative attitudes attract customers to your platform.


Recent Events:

One Mac Prophet, who previously spread his doom and gloom, has now seen the light since talking with the creator himself! He's now "relieved about Apple's direction".

Yet, nothing changed in Apple's plans. Apple is still doing what it was always doing. The Mac Prophet's words didn't change Apple's directions. The only difference is that the Mac Prophet got some insight from the creator. Now, he no longer has the same doom and gloom outlook.

But if reality didn't change, what does this say about this situation?

It says that for all the huffing and puffing the Mac Prophet did, the reality was a lot different than the Mac Prophet led everyone to believe.

Why's this?

Because the Mac Prophet in question wasn't dealing in fact. He was dealing in rumor. He was dealing from a position of not knowing. So instead of talking about items from facts, the Mac Prophet came to conlusions and opinions based on rumors... which got ugly, were doom and gloom, and were more ammunition to scare consumers away from the MacOS.

What does this lesson teach us?

That the reality of the situation may be far different than the rumor. It teaches us that the Mac Prophets don't have any special abilities to predict the future or tell fortunes. When they say Apple needs to do X, Y, or Z or else they'll die, they have no special abilities to make such a claim.

Most of all, it teaches us we must think for ourselves. If we love the MacOS platform, we must deal in facts... not rumors. We must understand that the proper place to voice our concerns about Apple's business decisions is Apple computer itself. We must be be very aware that if we spout doom and gloom, that we are actually hurting our platform, not saving it.

Does this mean we shouldn't be concerned about directions Apple takes or items of interest which affect us as consumers and developers?

Of course not! There are valid concerns. Yet we must always make sure to deal with the facts. We must always make sure we are taking in *all* considerations, not just one side. As MacKiDo Master David K. Every puts it, we must make sure to have balance.

For the record, this developer is *not* leaving the MacOS platform. I will continue to develop software for it. I also plan on developing software for Rhapsody (products I cannot announce yet).

As a consumer and Mac user, I am going to be a lot more skeptical next time a Mac Prophet tells me something not based on hard, cold facts, or is not balanced. I'm going to make sure I think for myself, temper any doom and gloom I am compelled to repeat, and most of all realize that these Mac Prophets are just normal, average people like you and I with an opinion to share... but that's about it. If they ain't the creator himself, they probably don't have anymore of a clue than I do.

Personally, it's time we get back to the MacOS and the NEWS surrounding it. After all, to borrow a phrase, it's the OS stupid!

~ Mark Murphy

(1) Message from David Every

I have known Mark for many years, and he is definitely a Mac Advocate.

Mark has done many custom software applications for many companies, including; Disney, Allergan, Quantum Health Care, CareLink, NTC, and others.

He has also done several commercial applications such as:

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

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