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How Sun Bought Apple Computer (Almost)

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the alternate-history dept.

Businesses 307

Hugh Pickens writes "There was a time in the 1990s when Sun, at its wealthiest, was poised to buy Apple when it was at the lowest point in its storied history and now eWeek reports on how the deal for Sun to buy Apple fell through. 'Back in late 1995 early '96, when we were at our peak, we were literally hours away from buying Apple for about $5 to $6 a share,' says former Sun CEO Ed Zander. 'I don't know what we were going to do with it, but we were going to buy it.' Sun co-founder Scott McNealy adds that there was an investment banker on the Apple side who basically blocked it. 'He put so many terms into the deal that we couldn't afford to go do it.' Would there be iPhones, iPads and iPods on the market today if Sun Microsystems had been able to close a deal to buy out Apple in the mid-1990s? No, says McNealy. 'If we had bought Apple, there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads ... I'd have screwed that up.'"

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Proof at last! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323738)

The world does NOT revolve around the Sun!

Re:Proof at last! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323804)

Nor does it revolve around Apple.

Most corporations are evil, irresponsible and unethical.

He'd have screwed it up. (4, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323740)

Well at least he's being honest about it.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323760)

The question remains open whether a world without iPads or iPods would be any different.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323766)

As Apple did not invent the idea of Pad computing, I'm quite certain there would have been others to market. The only questions are whether they would have been as successful or achieved the brand recognition that Apple has.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323794)

I was trying to make another point, but whatever.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323984)

I was trying to make another point, but whatever.

You must be new here. Welcome to Slashdot, the internet's center for pedantry.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (3, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324422)

It's more like the epicenter for pedantry.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (0)

BlueStraggler (765543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324154)

Actually, Apple did invent the idea of Pad computing, back in 1987. The iPad is their 2nd Generation tablet computer.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324214)

Typical "Apple invented everything" fanboy retardation with no basis in reality.

There were several "pad computers" on the market prior to Newton, but the idea itself goes back to the 50s or 60s (and is seen on old episodes of Star Trek for example).

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1, Interesting)

the agent man (784483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324226)

As Apple did not invent the idea of Pad computing, I'm quite certain there would have been others to market.

Real invention includes the combination of getting an idea AND implementing it. Others may have had similar ideas but they did not create truly usable implementations. Many people, including Leonardo da Vinci, invented the airplane but in the end the real credit, and deservedly so, got to the people who made the airplane actually FLY. Similarly, Apple really DID invent Pad computing.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1, Redundant)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324328)

http://www.digibarn.com/collections/systems/gridpad/index.html [digibarn.com]

That was in 1989, ready to use, years before the Newton was ready for use.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

the agent man (784483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324546)

This was as ready to use as some of the early gliders "flying" for about 20 feet and then breaking into pieces. Pad computing is not about hardware alone. It is about the whole user experience including useful and meaningful activities. Remember, before the Web, computers were not that useful to many people. However, this as well as the Newton were important milestones heading in the right direction.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323810)

Perhaps not, but one can dream.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323886)

But would a world without the Newton [wikipedia.org] have been any different?

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (2)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323922)

> whether a world without iPads or iPods would be any different.
I never would have succeeded as a supplier of feminine hygiene products if it weren't for pad casting.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323954)

Judging by what actually happened, the answer would be "yes", but the outcome would have differed, and taken far longer to realize overall. After all, there have been tablets for 10 years now, and portable mp3 players out long before the iPod.

I think that, while many like to deride Apple for many reasons, there is one thing that, at least IMHO, commands respect: Apple has a knack for producing products that folks like to use, in forms that make it drop-easy to do so... and in turn they do revolutionize the industry in question, forcing competitors to adopt, adapt, or perish.

Take the iPad... Microsoft and OEMs have had tablets out since 2001-2002 or so. OTOH, those products, well... sucked. They were expensive for what they did, the functionality was crap, the battery drained almost as fast as the laptops did, and the UI was ill-fitted for the job. Then the iPad comes along - a bit limited in flexibility, but almost perfect for the form-factor and what folks expected of it. Battery life is insanely long. The UI is almost perfect for fingers (stylus? who needs that?) And everything about it just seems to 'click' with the non-techie public.

Almost immediately, and like *every other Apple product*, competitors (including Microsoft) begin aping the thing... and in a repeatable progression: First we see a ton of vaporware and 'concept' demos, then massive promises (most of which fall short), then out comes the blatant (and undeniably crap) imitators, and finally, a long time later, some competitors begin trickling in with a few halfway decent competitors... af first falling well short of the mark, in spite of being somewhat decent products in their own right. Eventually the competition becomes almost as capable, perhaps surpassing the Apple product - but by then Apple has the market pretty much sewn up - if not in marketshare, then in profit share. The iPod was like this. Even the iPhone is like this.

I think OTOH that Sun would have dickered around, then come out with a few enterprise-oriented versions, then let them each die, while more consumer-oriented competitors would have picked up the torch and limped along.

I do have to give props to Apple for one thing - without them, most consumer-oriented tech would have likely progressed a whole lot slower than it has. I also think that a lot of corollary bits (e.g. digital music licensing, apps, mobile smartphones, etc) would have been slowed down, if not stalled completely. I say this because Microsoft would have just sat around for the most part, and Linux would have had a much harder time getting anywhere (esp. w/o Google jump-starting things). I mean, sure, there are things that have moved along and disrupted tech nicely w/o Apple, but when you examine them (netbooks for instance), they're not much more than incremental iterations of existing products... not complete disruptors.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324504)

...and nothing of value was lost

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (5, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323808)

Actually, anyone who was Not Steve would have screwed it up. What Woz had in technical savvy, Jobs had in product savvy. Apple would have been long gone if NeXT hadn't bought them for negative 400 million dollars.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324188)

So how do you explain the NeXT's failure to deliver a popular product? Jobs is lucky and Jonathan Ives is the real genius behind Apple, or some lucky combination of the two. Jobs didn't even want an App Store. He gets credited with too much that went right, when it went right despite him, not because of him.

I do want to say I hope he beats the cancer again. He's proven himself a real fighter there, so I'll gratefully respect that. You can't take that away from him.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324278)

NeXT wasn't a "popular" computing company, it built high-end workstations and an object-oriented OS for the scientific and government markets, actually a lot like Sun. NeXT actually did pretty well at this, which is why NeXT was able to buy Apple -- they'd have you believe it was the other way around, but don't be fooled. NeXT, unlike Sun, actually had an exit strategy for the dot-com bust, and exercised it before the music stopped playing.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324554)

Back in college I happened upon some NeXT hardware and it was nice. It was fairly old at that point, but the stuff that still ran was quite nice indeed. The monitors were high res albeit black and white, but the interface was quite responsive and the experience was quite a bit more positive than I would've expected out of such old equipment.

I think that they probably could have taken NeXT equipment mainstream had they wanted to, although one might say that that's what OSX was.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

voidptr (609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324446)

NeXT has evolved into one of the top two mobile OSes on the planet. It's also one of the few desktop UNIX OSes left on the market, and probably the largest in terms of current sales volume in recent quarters. Most companies would love to have failures like that.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324756)

By your standards, DEC must be one of the most successful computer companies in the world - its operating system evolved into the top desktop and server operating system on the planet, after all.

Oh, and the top two mobile OS's are Symbian and Android.

McNeally would not have screwed up everything (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323946)

Apple expertise combined with Sun's might have resulted in a new, easier-to-use class of workstations. Ease of use promotes productivity among users at all skill levels. Good hardware engineers, for example, are generally interested in design of good hardware, not screwing around with command-line UNIX. Bad designers, of course, love to do everything except design.

Steve Jobs would have still been around to develop new consumer markets for another company.

Or perhaps the acquisition would have been disaster all around. We'll never know, of course, unless Apple unveils a programmable wayback machine next month.

Re:McNeally would not have screwed up everything (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324030)

Apple expertise combined with Sun's might have resulted in a new, easier-to-use class of workstations.

...which would have done bupkis for the consumer side, and would have cost a mint.

I think that was the whole genius of how Apple did it - they have an almost slavish devotion to how the consumer uses their products, and pretty much gave up on the business/enterprise side of things, outside of a few feints and probes here and there (e.g. XServe). They found a whole side of computing and electronics that most OEMs only half-assed paid attention to, and leveraged it to rather enormous success.

Re:McNeally would not have screwed up everything (2)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324288)

I think you have to look at the situation during the timeframe this merger was being discussed. At the time, Apple was almost entirely dependent on creative workstations and high-end desktop PCs. The few consumer devices they produced had bombed, and there was almost no indication that Apple could be successful as a consumer electronics brand other than their high name recognition.

Re:McNeally would not have screwed up everything (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324570)

And that explains the pathological hatred of buttons? Simplifying is good, but there's a reason why Apple is the only company to use a 1 button mouse, and why the early mouses all had 3 buttons. Single button mouses suck.

Re:He'd have screwed it up. (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324142)

Scott McNealy is an epic dude. He's never been afraid to speak his mind even when the rest of the world thinks he's crazy.

Shine on.

On the other hand ... (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323748)

It could have resulted in Apple retaining unique hardware, rather than moving to Intel CPUs. Of course, whether that would be for the better or the worse is an open question.

Re:On the other hand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323854)

Apple Sparc's? Solaris on ppc? OS/Xaris? Yes, whether better or worse remains very hard to say ;)

Re:On the other hand ... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323890)

Or Macs would have used Sparc CPUs, and run a preemptive multitasking OS years earlier.

Re:On the other hand ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323914)

McNealy also conceded that one of his biggest mistakes was that Sun waited too long to move to the Intel processor architecture for its servers.

Somehow I think that Apple hardware via Sun would have moved to x86 sooner.

PC hardware key to Apple's success (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324098)

It could have resulted in Apple retaining unique hardware, rather than moving to Intel CPUs. Of course, whether that would be for the better or the worse is an open question.

Apple's move to PC hardware was key to its success. They basically doubled their market share after moving from PPC to x86. The consumer no longer had to choose Mac OS or Windows, they could have both(*). This made the decision to buy a Mac much easier for many.

(*) Yes there was emulation under PPC but it was far less practical, especially for games.

Re:PC hardware key to Apple's success (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324538)

The G5s were nice, but they weren't going to keep up with Intel for long. The G4s in the laptops were very power efficient, but dog slow at the end.

Apple HAD to move off PPC, it was unsustainable. x86 was the only option. Cheap, easily sourced, constantly speeding up.

If Apple went to something else, they'd still have to keep up with Intel. Only the x86 has enough volume that the processor makers can afford to keep doing that.

the 'i' does not matter (2)

halfey (1516717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323764)

we'd have Javapods & Javapads instead

Re:the 'i' does not matter (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323786)

...and they would have been slow as molasses and died faster than the Zune.

Re:the 'i' does not matter (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323892)

we'd have Javapods & Javapads instead

...and they would have been slow as molasses and died faster than the Zune.

Being Java, I would expect even dying to take longer ... seriously, Java in the browser in the mid '90s was painful. Even today, you don't see it much.

In other news... (2)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323780)

In other news, a few years ago, Microsoft was poised to buy Yahoo!'s search engine but didn't. Would there be Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Bing, and Yahoo! Mail if Microsoft had been able to close a deal to buy out Yahoo! in the mid-2000s? No, says Balmer. "If we had bought Yahoo!, there wouldn't have been Yahoo! Search or Yahoo! Bing ... I'd have screwed that up."

We'll have more on that story and other past attempted company takeover news at '11.

Re:In other news... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324066)

I call this a hoax. Ballmer would never admit he's a screwup. He'd rather throw a chair at you.

THAT FUCKING INVESTMENT BANKER (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323782)

DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT

Re:THAT FUCKING INVESTMENT BANKER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323850)

Now I know how Stauffenberg must have felt.

"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323790)

Because of course without Jobs and Apple the world would be utterly bereft of "innovation".

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323842)

iNnovation

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324080)

It would have been there, but it would have been a whole lot slower. Way slower, IMHO.

Imagine something like the iPod coming out just this year, instead of 10 years ago. Imagine the RIAA going even more apeshit (yeah, I know) and keeping the music biz locked down to where digital music was either illegal, or locked down under so much DRM that it would have been nearly impossible to use. Imagine smartphones still being over-priced and slow piles of crap, with the useful models being hella expensive, and apps being distributed (if at all) under carrier lockdown. Imagine still having to use tablets with a stylus, crap specs, crappier battery life, and all of them still running Windows.

I know full well that others would have filled the void, certainly. Problem is, they would have been very slow about it, and innovation would come in fits and starts, with Microsoft running the show (that, or doing its best to ruin the show if it couldn't get a piece of the action - see also netbooks when those all first came out running Linux - notice how all the sudden Microsoft got all wonky with the licensing all the sudden, sometimes threatening vendors outright?).

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324174)

Imagine portable digital music players coming out this year? As opposed to when the first MP3 player came out?

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=4667088 [google.com]

Or maybe you meant something more like this:

http://www.techpin.com/the-first-mp3-player/ [techpin.com]

Oh yeah, we really needed Apple to get portable music.

Let's get real here. Apple's strength is not in creating new technologies, but in making new technologies look pretty and in marketing those technologies. If Apple had not stepped in with the iPod, we would probably have seen a market with a lot of competing companies, making uglier products.

Innovation is a continuous process, with or without Apple. Where is Apple's research division? How does it compare with universities, or MSR, or IBM research? I do not remember Apple building a computer system that could play Jeopardy (yes, that technology will be relevant to consumers in the future, whether or not Apple decides to exploit it).

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324330)

Imagine portable digital music players coming out this year?

He didn't say "portable music player," he said "the iPod." iPods are, granted, a kind of portable music player, but they are also different from all other portable music players in that it's an actual mass consumer product instead of some hobbyist thing. Without iPod's we'd still have portable music players, but they'd all play ATRACS off of Memory Sticks...

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324350)

There were mass market portable music players before the iPod. Apple did not invent that idea, and it predates the first MP3 players.

Re:"there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324566)

Yeah, let's get real: There were mp3 players before the iPod, and they didn't stay market leaders after the iPod because they weren't nearly as good. Your choices were either get something too bulky to fit in your pocket or with so little storage (memory stick-based) as to be useless to most consumers. The makers were simply either blind to the needs of the consumers or too technically inept to be able to pull off those two key features. Not to mention that at the time, the GUIs for the players themselves were awkward and managing songs on them were usually only considered easy if you loved handling directories (i.e., you're a command line-using nerd.)

The iPod was the first iPod player capable of wide appeal because it was the first to actually fit what the market wanted. People want mp3 players to be easy to use, portable, and able to hold several albums, and no other manufacturer bothered to do that. As the previous example of tablets points out, it's not that there wouldn't have been mp3 players out there, they just wouldn't have caught on as quickly -- and probably not as widely -- because no one else was meeting a sweet spot for consumers. If you can look at the iPod's original success, the iPhone's influence on mobile phone design (both cosmetic and OS), and the iPad's success and simply dismiss all of it as marketing, the only one around here being blinded by marketing is you by your internal campaign of Apple-bashing. You also really need to open your eyes and realize that usability is not a thing to be looked at with derision.

grr (-1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323818)

Sun was what was right about the '90s. They produced top-end stuff for producers. But at least that created an environment for...

Apple is what was wrong about the last decade. They produced mass-marketed shiny for consumers. And that's creating an environment for...

The next decade of unemployment and engineered debt recovery.

Re:grr (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323870)

I'm not sure I follow your logic, but

ooh look, something shiny

Re:grr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323962)

It was in the 90's that Sun lost all it's intellectual capital and replaced it with marketing fucks, who cheapened the hardware and sent the company to it's doom, flatlining it's stock prices. It was in the last 10 years that Apple's stock went from around $7 to around $350. I think you are not exactly seeing clearly. If you are annoyed, that is your emotion, and you are responsible for it.

Re:grr (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324344)

True re Sun by the late '90s - concision led to imprecision, sorry.

As to Apple's stock price, I couldn't give two hoots. That's determined by the demand of shares on the secondary market, in turn determined by nothing much since they don't pay dividends. In particular, it's not determined by whether they're producing high quality products to help people produce. They are not.

Re:grr (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324092)

Apple stuff isn't just "shiny". Apple wins customers by "shiny", but retains them by "just works". And, bluntly, as much as I hate it as much as the next geek, that's what the consumers want: Just working stuff.

Say what you want about Apple, but one thing they managed to do: Make stuff work. They streamlined everything, tucked everything remotely 'technical' away from the user, gives him only what he 'needs' and most people don't bother to ask for more.

I wouldn't want one, since I want to own my hardware and use it as I deem fit, not its maker. But apparently what the majority of users want is what Apple produces. Sad, but true.

Re:grr (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324490)

It just works at being shiny, i.e. at providing minimal features for a lazy consumer to entertain himself with. Neither the iPhone nor the iPad provide anything new which makes them realistic tools for productive work. Put another way, I've not found any work application where the iPhone or iPad is in some way the best choice.

Apples need Sun to grow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323838)

Apples do need Sun to grow.

I think Apple needed Sun in order to properly grow as a company.

and nothing of value... (3, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323864)

No, says McNealy. 'If we had bought Apple, there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads ... I'd have screwed that up.'"

And nothing of value would have been lost. Perhaps, even, actual useful computing devices would have been developed, instead of shiny geegaws. Perhaps the Apple of Woz would have won out over the Apple of Jobs.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323958)

Hankering for the days when computers came in kit form and a portable music player mean using granddad's wheelchair to ferry around the phonograph? Yup, that's certainly a demographic upon which one could build a business.

Re:and nothing of value... (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324022)

How about the days when people did not have to worry about breaking the law just to the software they wanted to run on the computers they legally purchased?

Re:and nothing of value... (4, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324148)

How about the days when people did not have to worry about breaking the law just to the software they wanted to run on the computers they legally purchased?

I think you a word.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324268)

Are you writing from the future? If so, in what year did this become the norm for computers? Are Twinkies still available, or did the health mafia finally outlaw them?

Re:and nothing of value... (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324636)

I had one of these bad boys years before the iPod first appeared. Rio PMP300 [wikipedia.org] And my PMP500 was really a great player. Even at the time that Apple first released their players, Creative amongst others had already created their Nomad line.

It might be that we wouldn't have players like the iPod without Apple, but let's be honest, the iPods were never the best players out, the sound quality wasn't ever as good as the competition and the feature list somewhat anemic compared to other lines of players.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

nOw2 (1531357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324004)

Yeah, and everyone should build their own computer before being qualified to use one. If you can't solder capacitors, you're not going on WoW!

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324012)

I'll choose you amongst the hordes to respond to. Feel flattered ;) iPads are finding huge traction amongst medical and flight and construction and education and science visualization and you name it, all because there is FINALLY a low cost, Stable, robust, and well implemented platform for data interchange in the field as a comoditized thick-or-thin client. Are you telling me palm or windows phone 7 was what you saw driving the future of these industries and programmer growth because companies were invest in a platform that might actually mature? Sometimes I swear, android was only meant to give out of work java programmers something to do ;) How's windows doing with that low power thing? How's sony doing with releasing, improving, and using free OSS software? Yeah, right.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324028)

How is Apple doing with respecting the intelligence level and freedoms of their customers? Oh, right, Steve Jobs does not care about those things, and his vision of computing is that users should be clueless about everything works (unless they do have a clue; then they should pay him so they can write software).

/flame

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324120)

Don't bash Steve for something Bill started. The "clueless, tech-illiterate" user is a result of Windows more than any Apple product. The only difference is that Windows taught people that they can be illiterates and still use a tool, while Apple finally actually delivered to that promise. What Apple did was simply to go all the way and not only give people an easy approach to whatever they want to do but also disable them from fucking things up.

This is mainly the reason why I have not and will not ever own an Apple product (for very, very lenient definitions of "own", if you catch my drift), but this is what the people were promised by Windows and what they now expect from their gadgets: Stuff that just works and can be used without even reading the manual, let alone learn anything about it. That's what is wanted by the consuming masses and this is what Apple delivers.

I'd rather blame the idiots who refuse to know what they're using than a company delivering them gadgets that allow them to actually remain ignorant and illiterate.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324228)

Did you enjoy your 500 page manual with your nipple when you were 0? Some people have better things to do, snd your condescension about being tech illiterate is great.... So don't drive over a bridge until you're an engineer, huh?

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324392)

Isn't it wonderful? that we, in today's age, have people actually proud of their own ignorance. Simply magnificent.

But I guess you're one of those that views driver's licenses as an useless invasion of privacy because if I paid for it I'm obviously able to use it, right?

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324258)

I seem to remember the "computer as an appliance" concept being something Steve Jobs wanted to push all the way back in the 1980s. What do you think "computer as an appliance" means, if not "computer for hopelessly clueless users who should remain clueless?"

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324652)

Windows 3.0 came out in 1990 and Mac OS came out in 1984. I'm not sure how exactly that makes MS first to dumb down the interface for the benefit of people lacking technical proficiency. And don't count those earlier revisions of Windows, they were complete unusable crap also they were after Mac OS was released anyways.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324356)

How is Apple doing with respecting the intelligence level and freedoms of their customers?

Apple does a lot better respecting the intelligence and freedoms of their customers than the average Apple-trolling slashdotter.

Re:and nothing of value... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324072)

Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel, and don't be afraid of getting all emo on us.

Honest and true (0)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323888)

I'd have screwed that up.

2 Points awarded for being honest and being right....

CU, Martin

That was the first time, there were more (2)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323894)

Happened at least three times [theregister.co.uk]

Re:That was the first time, there were more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324740)

Even more interesting is that the article, ostensibly written in early 2006, predicts the coming of the iPhone at its conclusion...

Well, sure. Unless your iPod is your cell phone. ®

Unix powered Newton II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323896)

While interesting and fun Apple products are frequently overhyped and under perform. I perfer my gen II Ipod to the much fancier ipod touch I received as a gift. Why? becuase the iPod Gen II actually does it's primary job very well (playing music) the Ipod touch is just a toy. The same can be said of the iphone - it is a crappy phone and an ok PDA. Nearly any blackberry device is a more fuctional phone and PDA (esp using a corp groupwise server). Most Apple true believers are simply people who hate MS and Intel and are making a politcal point as opposed to a logical shopping decision. The prime exsample of how poorrly most apple products function is iTunes - the single most bloated, resource hogging application on the planet. iTunes crashes any computer it is put on and is roundly cursed - but it "looks good" so apple is happy with it. Style over substance with an outragous price tag = Apple.

Re:Unix powered Newton II (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323970)

Except that the Newton didn't happen until 1987, two years after this incident, and would probably have never happened at all.

And using Unix for low-power applications? That's a good one. That didn't happen until Linux became popular for embedded use. Even the iPod was around for years before Apple decided to port Darwin to it.

Also, obviously you are a Windows user. iTunes isn't nearly as bloated on Mac; it's that Carbon compatibility layer stuff and Quicktime that bloat it on Windows.

Re:Unix powered Newton II (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324132)

It think you got your dates wrong. The acquisition attempt was in late 1995 or early 1996.

Re:Unix powered Newton II (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324298)

This incident happened in 1995.

Re:Unix powered Newton II (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324382)

Most Apple true believers are simply people who hate MS and Intel and are making a politcal point as opposed to a logical shopping decision.

Well, at least her on the 'dot we have communities of WebOS, Windows, Android, Emacs, Java, and Linux consumers to offset this with their stern rationality and scrupulous abstention from any appearance of advocacy...

Similar story about Commodore? (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323920)

I recall a rumor that Sun Microsystems was once interested in purchasing Commodore. Sun was supposedly interested in the home and entry workstation marketplace, and wanted the Amiga line for themselves. I wonder if there was any truth to it.

Just imagine a SPARC based Amiga. That would have been interesting.

Re:Similar story about Commodore? (1)

tarzeau (322206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324126)

they had OPENSTEP, the father of Mac OS X (Cocoa). but they stomped it for Java.... FAIL!

that would've been awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35323980)

Sun obviously regarded Apple as a value play, and as the business client for client/server computing, in competition with Microsoft and IBM. They would've moved Mac to SPARC, ported Solaris and tried to meld Mac Finder with OpenLook, trying to bridge the consumer and business markets but satisfying neither. Since they've always a B-to-B company, not B-to-C, there would've been endless dithering, bureaucratic fuckups, and diva-like incidents involving Apple staff. They would've spun off or sold the carcass for pennies on the dollar shortly after the dotcom boom ended and Sun's core server business hit the skids.

Then maybe Larry Ellison would've ruled Apple....

Re:that would've been awful (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324782)

Sun obviously regarded Apple as a value play, and as the business client for client/server computing, in competition with Microsoft and IBM.

It's interesting that you find that "obvious" when Scott McNealey states int he article that "we had no idea why, but we were going to buy Apple".

Total Perspective Vortex (4, Insightful)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323986)

I love the trolls' complete and total lack of objectivity. Hundreds of millions of iDevices sold, arguably the first economically successful tablet, a company that could turn on a dime and recreate their hardware jumping from PPC to Intel, and OS 9 to OS X in a seamless fashion, and gain enough financial success to ecplipse Microsoft...and yet 'nothing of value is lost'.

Here's a hint for the younguns: There's room for more than one successful company in the world, and one being successful doesn't mean no others will be. If you don't like 'em, don't buy 'em...but to ignore their success is foolhardy. It's what makes people like Nokia lose their position in the economy.

Re:Total Perspective Vortex (0)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324614)

There's room for more than one successful company in the world, and one being successful doesn't mean no others will be.

If it weren't for the belief that the amount of wealth is fixed and you can only benefit at the expense of others, there wouldn't be a political left-wing. In spite of the fact that it's the economic equivalent of believing in a flat earth, it is a fundamental tenet of modern liberalism.

I remember them (1)

thefixer(tm) (1906774) | more than 3 years ago | (#35323988)

Sun execs came through our building for a walk through, and they were wearing ties! We were terrified the deal might go through.

major 'epoch' occurring almost world wide (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324018)

it's being blacked out in the US so far, as our keepers (very wise guys) may have determined we're 'not ready' to be free/independent just yet. meanwhile, back in epoch control, the conscience is that we could make further efforts to care for each other/our young, while we're waiting for the veil of the deception to be completely neutralized. see you there?

SUN already messed up NeXT/OPENSTEP Software (1)

tarzeau (322206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324038)

Luckily there's GNUstep, however it could be where GNOME/KDE are now. If SUN would have released the Lighthouse Applications: http://www.noodlesoft.com/blog/2007/01/23/the-sun-also-sets/ [noodlesoft.com] http://talblog.info/archives/2007/01/sundown.html [talblog.info] http://livecd.gnustep.org/ [gnustep.org] Scott McNealy unfortunately failed to find theses sources... saying he can't find it. I hope Java dies soon. And Sony SNAP gets born... but I doubt, it's SONY.

Sun would have pre-empted iphone (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324116)

I doubt there would be iphones if this had happened. Sun seems to suffer from the lack of marketing skill and understanding of how average users operates and developing an environment that is suitable for them.

One of the reasons Sun has been doing so poorly as well, and why their business model is wrong and failing, is that the market for supercomputers and mainframes is shrinking. Businesses realise now that you can completely replace millions of dollars computer complexes of 30 years ago with a few $500 consumer PCs, that you dont need that high end expensive, premium hardware anymore. While computing power has increased, business activities have often stayed the same, the payroll, accounting, inventory control, mailing lists, accounts and transaction code takes the same amount of resources it did 30 years ago, but computers today are massively more powerful. With cloud computing, since the computers are far more poweful,fewer computers are needed, as well, in those data centers, to service the same load. All of this means a shrinking market for mainframes, fewer of them needed to do the same things and consumer computers having replaced a large part of that market.

Sun had made themselves dependant on a shrinking business computer market as businesses began to realise they no longer needed this very expernsive, premium top of the line hardware, so it had a shrinking market. They were totally ignorant of how to market or develop products for consumers. In many ways, Sun is similar to Linux, it is completely inept to understand why Microsoft is dominate and what needs to be done to make consumer friendly devices (hint: It is not really GUI design that is the primary reason, it is hardware support: it is engaging hardware vendors and making it so the OS has a stable binary interface for hardware drivers and excellent documentation and SDKs that makes it easy for hardware vendors to support the OS). That Linux does not understand this is one reason it is not widely adopted, in addition to many of its developers being downright arrogant, assuming that people should rearrange their lives around the OS, rather than the OS suit their needs, learn cryptic commands, or write their won device driver to use a piece of hardware. Obviously had Apple had made its main user front end anything like how linux hackers think it should be and requried users to write device drivers it would have been a miserable failure. With Sun it was likely the same problems that Linux has that would have precluded any sort of development of a consumer device.

Interestingly, one of the areas where the demand for computing power at the application level has been increasing is desktop consumer computers! This is due to 3D gaming and other entertainment activity that is still today stressing current CPUs and is gauranteed to consume all of the computing power of the top of the line cutting edge CPUs for some time to come. There is still a massive amount of room for growth in virtual reality gaming resource usage that it is gauranteed to be able to utilise all of the resources of the fastest CPUs yet to come. While daily business operation computing remains more static in resource use, gaming, 3D, virtual reality in consumer computers is where real growth in computer power consumption has been occuring for some time.

Re:Sun would have pre-empted iphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35324466)

In many ways, Sun is similar to Linux, it is completely inept to understand why Microsoft is dominate and what needs to be done to make consumer friendly devices (hint: It is not really GUI design that is the primary reason, it is hardware support: it is engaging hardware vendors and making it so the OS has a stable binary interface for hardware drivers and excellent documentation and SDKs that makes it easy for hardware vendors to support the OS). That Linux does not understand this is one reason it is not widely adopted, in addition to many of its developers being downright arrogant, assuming that people should rearrange their lives around the OS, rather than the OS suit their needs, learn cryptic commands, or write their won device driver to use a piece of hardware.

Linux is currently very widely adopted. Its closest closest competitor is another *Nix Operating system. I think it is Microsoft who is inept in the ways of Sun. Oh, you were only thinking about the PC market? Why? That is the kind of thinking that brought down Sun. Mobile devices will largely replace PCs. In the same way that PCs made high-end servers a shrinking market, smart phones have made PCs a shrinking market. Smart phone sales will exceed PC sales this year. http://blogs.totalpda.co.uk/2009/08/smartphone-sales-set-to-exceed-pc-sales-by-2011/ and the majority of them will be running Linux (in the form of Android.) Even the second place OS (iOS) is also *NIX. In terms of tablets, it appears that two *NIX operating systems will also dominate the market (though which will be in first place and which will be in second is an open question.)

As our productivity applications (e-mail, word processors, spreadsheets, etc) move into the could, the drivers for the hardware you use to run a web browser becomes largely irrelevant.

Almost bought Vmware.... (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324170)

Have the same thoughts as Zander.

Back in 1998 (I think) the company I work for was recommended/poised to buy this little company that was making 6 meg virtual environments called Vmware.

Coolest shit I had ever seen up to that point, blew away Qview. Had we bought it, I have no doubt we would have screwed it up and set the whole world back by 5 years.

Not to say anything negative about the company I work for, just that I doubt they would have had the dedicated vision and creativity to develop them into the company they are today.

I Chuckle every time I see how much my company now pays them.

Funny little world we live in.

Yo Grark

Re:Almost bought Vmware.... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324408)

...of course, virtualization predated VMWare by two decades, and there were plenty of other people doing work on virtualization, at least in the research world. I doubt the world would have been set back 5 seconds if your company had purchased VMWare.

Would have happened anyway. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324438)

MP3 players predated the iPod, and someone else, probably Sony, would have owned that market. The iPod wasn't the innovation. The iTunes store was the innovation. Jobs' contribution was making micropayments work.

Tablet computers had been tried many times before Apple. The hardware, and the wireless networking, weren't ready. Nor was the entertainment market. Early tablets were intended as general-purpose computers. Modern tablets are output-mostly devices, for which a touch screen is good enough.

Eh, no Sony failed (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324662)

ANYONE could have produced the iPod but NOBODY did. MS failed, Sony failed, Philips failed, Samsung failed, Sharp failed. EVERYONE failed. Apple with the iPod took an extremely fragmented industry and took the vast majority of the market share because they simply saw a market and ordered a million units so they got discounts nobody else could get and had high capacity for a reasonable price.

Sony was far to busy worrying about its music sales to pick up the billions in sales for a quality MP3 player they certainly could have made based on their Walkman brand name alone.

Same with the iPhone and the iPad. Everyone else tried, Apple achieved. Don't discount their achievement if you ever want to understand how to be half as successful as them.

You claim that the iPad came at the right time doesn't explain why almost a year later NOBODY else has come out with a competitor. Why not? If the time is now finally right surely it must be right for everyone else as well?

But nobody else got the balls of Jobs, to simply order a huge amount of iPads so you can get the quality hardware needed at a low price and be confident it will simply sell. THAT is why the Samsung Galaxy Tab is so small, they didn't have the balls to order large screens in volume DESPITE making those screens themselves.

Wow! An honest investment banker!?! (1)

EaglesNest (524150) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324486)

When two companies begin negotiations for one to buy the other, each has its own investment banker. The bankers only make money if the deal goes through. Even if the bankers know that the deal is stupid (like Time-Warner and AOL), they'll push it no matter how much value they know they'll destroy because otherwise, they get nothing. Even companies themselves will sometimes go through with a transaction that everyone begins to realize is bad the deeper they get into it, if only because they already put so much time and sunk costs into it. They ignore the rule: "if you're in a hole, stop digging" because they protest, "but we've already dug so much, let's dig ourselves a little deeper!"

Who was Apple's investment banker who effectively killed the deal? That's who I'd want to hire as my own banker if I ever had to sell my company or buy another one.

I always thought SGI should have bought them (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324514)

At the time in the mid 90s, SGI was still something of a leader in high end visualization, graphics, animation, 3D. Apple was a leader in easy-to-use GUI and pretty much the only game in town for 2D graphics and publishing.

I always saw it as a good fit, with SGI providing the datacenter/high end technology Apple lacked while Apple could provide SGI with the end-user interface they lacked and the desktop-type end users.

The OS merger would have been OS X before OS X -- IRIX back end with the Mac OS GUI.

The combined company (3, Funny)

christurkel (520220) | more than 3 years ago | (#35324674)

could have been called Snapple.
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