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Why Apple Failed in the 90s

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-ipod dept.

369

An anonymous reader writes "With news of amazing sales figures for both Mac hardware and the iPod, the future for Apple looks bright. But it wasn't always that way. The 90s were a bad time for the company, and Roughlydrafted.com has a look at Apple's failures of the previous decade." From the article: "During the development of Mac OS X, Apple polished the existing classic Mac OS, and salvaged what it could of Copland developments. Apple modernized its existing Mac APIs into Carbon, which would run software in Mac OS 9, and later allow it to run natively in Mac OS X. Despite fixing the obvious flaws in Apple's operating system offering, Mac OS X did not in itself solve Apple's problem. The company now only had an improved platform that nobody had any reason to buy. The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident. "

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I must be blind... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535426)

...'cause I can't see anything new or unknown in TFA.

---

Emulated sig. Pat. no. 98739174014532

Re:I must be blind... (5, Informative)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535534)

Me too!

The wikipedia page is more informative than this article...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer [wikipedia.org]

Which after reading it, provides better insight than the article....

Re:I must be blind... (2, Funny)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535696)

Ok, I have to say this and I don't care how I get modded. Sometimes you just need to say what's obvious to you.

I've been reading Slashdot for years and years. No one really talks about it but this site has an obvious agenda which is anti-Micro$oft. Do I care? No. Is it a big deal? No. I'll continue to read this site like I have for years because they cover great things in the technology industry but don't even tell me that this isn't true. It's so blatant to me.

"Why Apple Failed in the 90s"
"Microsoft's new beta software reviewed as 'terrible'"
"The Ugandan government is adopting Linunx"


Let the flaming begin!

Re:I must be blind... (5, Funny)

WiFiBro (784621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535712)

Oh no! I'm shocked! Nobody every mentioned that ever in all the years Slashdot exists in any article.
Do the admins know? Somebody should tell them!

Re:I must be blind... (0, Offtopic)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535836)

You prove my point. Your sarcasm indicates you agree:

Oh no! I'm shocked!

All I'm asking is why this has to be? Like I said earlier, I don't really care but why all the negativity?

Re:I must be blind... (1)

Warlock7 (531656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536458)

If you need to ask why, then you obviously haven't been paying attention to what you've been reading here and everywhere else.

Re:I must be blind... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535756)

/. has always been a Linux site, and fairly openly. The Linux crowd partially moved over to OSX and so the site became more supportive. What exactly is the great insight here.

Re:I must be blind... (1)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535804)

There's no great insight just an observation. I just don't understand why the site has to be so cheerleader'isk. Why can't they report the facts without the jabs?

You are blind (5, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535888)

Because it is not really a technology news site, it started as a blog (before the word was coined), and developed into a community site. There are plenty of technology news sites that pretend to be objective. They are boring. Why should /. immitate them, when it has been pretty successful doing what it does?

Re:You are blind (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536074)

Damn... You're 60 away from 1337...

Re:I must be blind... (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535850)

yes, but that's easily fixed with a few changes to the wikipedia page!

Re:I must be blind... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536270)

I think we should call the process of changing reality this way "wikiality." ...what do you mean Stephan Colbert already coined that term?

Re:I must be blind... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536476)

But is has less awful photoshops. I particularly disliked the ones with Apple execs as ugly snowmen, although the ubiquitous flame effect made every single one about as pleasant as a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the crotch.

Amazingly, TFA manages to be even more unprofessional than a Slashdot discussion about Microsoft.

I think we all know what it is... (0, Troll)

slashdottinitup (912090) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535428)

Same reason spinach is failing this year: e-coli.

The real solution (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535434)

The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident.

Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

I bet it was a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535462)

chair!

-m10

Re:The real solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535478)

Because this guy [slashdot.org] hadn't joined the company yet?

(I kid, I kid, Apple's real success came after JCR left)

I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535482)

That this "accident", was MS accidently forgetting to patch security flaws, Windows being hard to use, and very complex, almost every program for Windows being horrably complex and hard to use, etc, etc.

Pluss they made a really cool commercial, andd got their product viewed in movies (i know people that actually bought macs becauuse the girl from legally blonde had one...).

Re:The real solution (5, Funny)

LordNightwalker (256873) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535592)

Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

Exactly what I was thinking... After reading the quote from the article, I read the actual article in its long winded and boring entirety to find out what the answer to the question is (my guess is the iPod), turns out anonymous fuckface quoted the very fucking last paragraph of the article, getting us all curious for nothing...

Thanks a bundle, asshat, I just wasted 5 minutes of my life thanks to you!

Marketing style over substance? (-1, Troll)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535608)

Selling something 'different', but not really any better? Appealing to vapid, a-technical 'artists' who want to feel different because of the material goods they own?

Re:Marketing style over substance? (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536106)

When you watch Star Trek, you root for the Borg, don't you? Admit it, you admire their efficiency and lack of self-importance.

Since you made some generalizations about me as a Mac owner, I'll make some about you: You think that public art is a "waste of money" and you usually "don't get it". You can't imagine why someone would spend extra money for a prettier car. There should only be two types of cars on the market: Dodge Caravans (for folks with kids) and Honda Civics. You don't understand fashion and wouldn't ever just buy a shirt that you saw because you liked it - you would only buy it if you had some pre-existing need for a shirt. You hate people in business suits, but you also hate people who dress "differently" from societal norms: punks, goths, artists, etc.

That's fine - diversity is what makes humanity so interesting. Some of us like to enjoy our pointless existence for the short time that we're here, and others of us are border-line autistic.

Re:Marketing style over substance? (1)

ccmay (116316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536352)

You think that public art is a "waste of money" and you usually "don't get it".

I've been a loyal Mac owner since 1989, and I heartily agree that public art is a waste of money.

-ccm

Re:The real solution (1)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535644)

I really hope we are allowed to learn more about this 'fortunate accident' later. Personally I don't like this kind of open-ended stuff much either. The "Coming up next: Why Apple Bounced Back" title however, surely hints at that there will be a follow-up with the answer.

Re:The real solution (5, Funny)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535792)

One day while sending an e-mail, Steve Jobs accidentally hit the "i" key before typing Mac.

Re:The real solution (5, Funny)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536364)

One day while sending an e-mail, Steve Jobs accidentally hit the "i" key before typing Mac.

OMG, this demonstrates Jobs is a closet vi fanboy !

Re:The real solution (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535838)

My best guess would be the iMac. With Colored Cases, and it all in one design, the G3 Processor (which at the time had good performance). What it did was offered something that was missing in the market. It made a computer that looked presentable in peoples homes. Before Computers Were limited to bedrooms, the basement or the spare room. the iMac made them cute enough as well smell enough to fit in the kitchen, living room, or different locations. As well its all in one design allowed it to be easily moved from room to room. So it could be in all these rooms, when it was handy. Secondly they were Cute, Which attracted the Female market, before the iMac the Female market Computer (Sexist or not, I have heard from most Woman when they see the iMac they called them cute and wanted one). So it really opened the market.

Re:The real solution (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536268)

The iMac wasn't an accident, though.

Re:The real solution (3, Interesting)

MojoStan (776183) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536350)

My best guess would be the iMac. With Colored Cases, and it all in one design...

I also think it's the iMac, but why was it an "accident?" Was it because it was initially designed to be Apple's version of Larry Ellison's lamebrain "$500 network computer" idea? I'm not sure if that rumor is true.

For you youngsters, that kook Ellison tried to convince everyone that cheap diskless computers (which couldn't boot without a network connection) would outsell desktop PCs with actual hard disks. Who really needs local storage and applications, anyway?

The iMac looked like it could have been a "network computer." Did the 'i' in iMac stand for "internet" Mac?

the accident (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535862)

They accidentally spilled blue paint on the iMac prototype... the rest is history.

Re:The real solution (5, Informative)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536048)

Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

That's just a lame cliffhanger so you go back and click his ads some more.

the fortunate accidents were:

- Steve Jobs coming back
- them hiring Johnathan Ive (iPod, iMac designer)

Them conspiring to make Apple a more branded, more complete experience, and hype it up, using their assets (OSX with a shiny interface, loyal designer crowd following them, the MS/Adobe/Macromedia software packs).

Re:The real solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536422)

I think he is referring to the story behind how Apple bought NeXT, but NeXT in effect took control of Apple. Just like piracy on the high seas. But the accident was in the meeting. Think back to 1997. Every article about Apple insisted on the modifier beleaguered. And while there was some interesting green-blue translucent elements appearing as latches and buttons on the beige boxes still encasing Macintoshes, nothing like the iMac really existed yet. And then the real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident.

they've turned things around since then (5, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535456)

Why Apple Failed in the 90s

Because they had no clear corporate direction and their price/performance sucked an ass?

(just a guess)

Re:they've turned things around since then (2, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535860)

Because the company slowly filled up with the kind of smug elitists who represented their userbase, replacing the 'skunkworks hackers' who started the Mac. Slowly, everything became 'process' and the company became steeped in political correctness. It became a matter of pride that employees were allowed to bring their dogs to work with them, rather than just common sense. The staff slowly was filled with people for whom fad practices (i.e. "Object Oriented Everything" took precedence over the old 'Get er' Done' mentality that made the Mac great.

Re:they've turned things around since then (4, Informative)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536026)

There were reasons Apple went rotten to the core. I know because I have owned and operated many of their computers throughout the years. I would say the most important reason for my exit from using Apple was the concept they had regards software. I had bought the machines to program them for business applications unique to the industry I was in. The shop was small. We didn't have multi-million dollar budgets.

When we tried to program we ran up against limitations associated with the programming languages available. They were good programming languages but they lacked the adequate documentation for us to make them really effective and useful. We contacted Apple. They bluntly told us that information was proprietary and we should hire Claris Works to write the software. That was it. We were out in the cold. No more Apples for me.

Microsoft started with the IBM PC. The PC had a fortunate spy incident in which IBM OS basics were stolen before the PC came out. This opened up and allowed thousands of programmers entry into the business. It was this farm of people that Microsoft drew from. Apple had no such farm because it herbacided the crop every time they could. They viewed programmers as weeds.

Apple is succeding now with IPod etc largely because many many people can play. If they wanted to take out Microsoft, it would be easy. All they have to do is take their basic superiority in graphics and etc and lock the doors open to developers. It will be a short time indeed before MS is on the ropes.

Re:they've turned things around since then (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536168)

lock the doors open to developers

Shouldn't that be unlock the doors closed to developers?

However, Microsoft already has massive programmer support, along with a development suite [wikipedia.org] that a number of developers seem to prefer. (Note: I am not one of them.)

At this point, Apple is fighting an uphill battle to draw in developers.

Re:they've turned things around since then (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536216)

The PC had a fortunate spy incident in which IBM OS basics were stolen before the PC came out.

What?! Can you explain that?

The 8086 was very similar to the 8085, so it was trivial to translate ASM code that ran on 8085 to 8086 (if not the other way around). MD-DOS was, more or less very similar to CP/M, and porting software was easy.

There is also IBM's misjudgement that the BIOS alone could stop clone makers, even if the PC was made with off-the-shelf parts. This, and the non-exclusive agreement on MS-DOS between IBM and MS made the clone industry possible.

So, what spy incident are you talking about?

Re:they've turned things around since then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536482)

"All they have to do is take their basic superiority in graphics and etc and lock the doors open to developers. It will be a short time indeed before MS is on the ropes."

Yeah, cuz everyone knows you can't get good graphics on a pc. And all those millions of poor sad deprived pc programmers are just pining away like sailors' wives waiting for the day they can write some Mac code. Yeah, that's it.

puh-leez

Re:they've turned things around since then (1)

ursabear (818651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536020)

Yes. (I know, your comment appeared to be rhetorical...)

The only things going for Apple in the 90s were corporate contracts (like Nortel at the time - I programmed on them and supported them), educational contracts, and big-time fans. iApple is definitely a strong improvement over its previous self, and has strong inroads in many arenas. It's good to have choices - build-your-own, Microsoft, big *nix vendors, and boxes that run OSX.

Um no. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536084)

Price / perfomance / quality ratio was never an issue.

Corporate direction? Ok, ill buy that.

Apple didn't fail... (4, Insightful)

bartron (772079) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535468)

...it lost direction. Had it continued on that path then yes, the company would have failed.

The comuting landscame might well have been different in Apple had made better decisions in the past, but that's life and mistakes are made

As I type this on my MacBook Pro though I can say for sure that Apple isn't going anywhere soon (I say that becasue this is the first Mac I've owned that has given me no reason to move back to Windows

Re:Apple didn't fail... (2, Informative)

bartron (772079) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535480)

sigh....that will teach me to preview my post first. My Mac is good but somehow didn't fix my bad typing skills....same as it is under Windows.

Re:Apple didn't fail... (1)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535492)

Read the title again, "Why Apple Failed in the 90s" ... and you are talking about the MacBookPro? Apple _did_ fail in the 90s, they were going for the designers and not the 'normal people', luckily for them they've found out that it doesn't really work like that.

Re:Apple didn't fail... (3, Funny)

bartron (772079) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535556)

Had Apple failed (in the 90's or otherwise) they wouldn't be here now would they?

Had the title been "Why Apple Almost Failed in the 90s", then it would be a truer reflection of the events

Re:Apple didn't fail... (2, Insightful)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535954)

Failing isn't always fatal, imho Microsoft failed with Windows too, but that didn't bring them down. Apple failed with bringing there computers to the common people.

Mac OS Classic and price (4, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535472)

Apples failed in the 90s because Mac OS "Classic" was a polished turd and the cost of Apples was expensive compared to PCs. It's no wonder Apple almost sunk without a trace.

With OS X and hardware which is merely moderately expensive, they might stand a better chance, but it's hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows. I guess from Apple's perspective, even if their share rises from 2% to 4%, that is still a 100% increase for them even if it's still insignificant to to a market from a whole.

Profits (5, Interesting)

massysett (910130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535640)

hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows. I guess from Apple's perspective, even if their share rises from 2% to 4%,

One CEO once said "US Steel is not in the business of making steel. We're in the business of making profits."

Mac's market share is not the most important number. Mac's profitability is much more important.

GM's got huge market share but is losing money. You don't see people saying "BMW will never really compete with GM."

Just because MS' self-imposed measure of success is dominating every market with 90% share doesn't mean that this is the only metric of success.

Re:Profits (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535874)

Of course, they are comparable to such exciting companies as Verizon and GE in profitability.

Given that they increase their profits chiefly by increasing their market share, I would imagine that most stockholders hope that Apple measures its success in terms of market share.

Re:Profits (1)

norman619 (947520) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536028)

Ummm... MS is also profitable. Has been for qite some time. So....

Re:Mac OS Classic and price (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535776)

ven if their share rises from 2% to 4%,

Their share has moved from 2% to 6% already gartner [gartner.com] You'll need a new line now.

Re:Mac OS Classic and price (5, Interesting)

mgv (198488) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535852)

Their share has moved from 2% to 6% already gartner You'll need a new line now.

More importantly, their share of laptop sales [macobserver.com] is 12%, and growing rapidly.

It will be 18% in 3 months timen (Based on surveys of planned purchases within 3 months, which are alot less likely to change than the 1+ year buyer self assessments of 37%, many of which will actually not buy an apple computer).

They are rapidly moving to becoming a, if not the, serious choice for the home user. (Lots of those PC sales are to big corporations, for desktops - and Apple is going to struggle to sell corporations that they need iMovie, iTunes or iPhoto, no matter how good they are as apps).

Combine visible laptops with visible iPods, and alot of consumers are going to be viewing an apple computer as a normal purchase, rather than something obscure and unusual. In fact, if you haven't seen lots of apple laptops around the place, you probably aren't looking around much in the last year or so.

Anyway, my 2c worth, and its an easy bet because I'm not really saying anything other than extrapolating current market growth.

Michael

Re:Mac OS Classic and price (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536450)

Sadly, that's US market share. Their worldwide market share barely moved. Which I can understand, cost isn't as important here, go to India or China, cost is everything. Even with the reputed higher maintenance effort needed for Windows systems, labor is definitely cheap enough to cover that.

They are rapidly moving to becoming a, if not the, serious choice for the home user. (Lots of those PC sales are to big corporations, for desktops - and Apple is going to struggle to sell corporations that they need iMovie, iTunes or iPhoto, no matter how good they are as apps).

That software isn't a problem. That software can be removed. What might be considered a problem is a webcam in every computer. Some companies don't like that.

There is also application availability, many corporations need some obscure or custom app that's not available on OS X, and the cost of Parallels and the maintenance hassle of supporting something like that might not be worth it, that sort of arrangement would more than offset the ease of OS X maintenance.

Re:Mac OS Classic and price (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536186)

With OS X and hardware which is merely moderately expensive, they might stand a better chance, but it's hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows

Maybe if Microsoft spends 5 years developing a new OS that offers no real benefit to users, but has tons of new painful anti-piracy and DRM?

Then again, Apple isn't really competing with Microsoft as much as they're competing with Dell. OSX is mostly another feature to sell the hardware.

Re:Mac OS Classic and price (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536246)

It would be my assertion that people would rather buy polished turds than unpolished ones, and would in fact pay a premium. The reality is that in the 90's, just like now, the Mac worked. It worked without EMM hell, without printer hell, and without driver hell. You could hook up a external mass storage drive without hacking the BIOS. You could, and still can, hook up a keyboard to any available port that the cord will fit in, and the keyboard will work.

What the article, and most analysis, misses, is the profound change in the market. A firm should have a plan to compete with other firms, and should try to anticipate future market trends, but cannot predict, and in fact should not build, massive unpredictable trends into the business. So, when the Lisa was in development, the competition was mostly the IBM PC, which was very expensive. Compaq came in around 82, and shifted the market. However, the compaq was still a very expensive machine, but cheaper than and IBM PC. The Mac was created to compete with the new reality.

To give some perspective on the time, let's look at a third player: ATT. ATT created a wonderful not unreasonable priced PC. It had the advantage of running Unix, the only really workable OS we had at the time. I used one. It was great. It failed because it did not anticipate the market as well as Apple, and becuase it did not have as polished a GUI as Apple.

So we are talking hardware here. What about the OS. Well, for most the OS did not matter. People bought computers to run an application or two. The Apple had Excel, just like the Apple had Visicalc. This was one of three things that caused great trouble for Apple. First, when MS Hacked together MS Windows, there was a cheap alternative to Apple. Second, when MS ported Office to MS Windows, the cheap alternative to Apple. Third, the price of the PC went into a sharp decline, and though Apple was still competitive with name brand PCs, the were no longer competitive with the off brand boxes. As a result, significant vertical market began to appear for the PC, often ported from Unix, and the PC became a single vendor solution, despite the fact the major MS FUD was don't buy Apple because it was a single vendor solution.

So how did the Computer industry respond to this. Well, Compaq began using commodity parts, but because it had to rely on MS for the OS, and because it was a serious company with serious research, it is now gone. The ATT machine was never able to compete, even when prices were high. The general quality of the whole industry declined, and we found ourselves in a situation where nothing worked. Except for the Apple which was an expensive machine.

This was until MS Windows 95 when most of the MS hacks were fixed. You could hook up a printer without selling your sole. You still have to do color coded keyboard and mouse. But after 10 years, the PC genuinely worked, and the shift to MS dominance was complete. As all articles state, the fact that the Mac had no serious OS through most of the 90's was also a major factor.

But I would like to state that all the major pricing changed occurred on the hardware side. MS never matched the changes in the price of the OS. This is the problem of the monopoly. Apple has competed hard in quality and price. Intel has competed hard in quality and price. This has given us the wonderful machines we have, and the wonderful OS to run them. OTOH, MS just gathers money, and only occasionally competes. The most annoying thing of all this is that for the most part, outside of few applications, MS Windows does not work well. The major improvements they have made in on the developer side, which is admittedly a good thing to do. But simple things, like account encryption, which would make everyone life easy, is still at least months away.

And there is still a major problem with the myth of the cheap PC. In almost every establishment, there has been a profound lack of support, which results in the PC not being used effeciently. And, with XP, with the admin lockout, the deficiency in support is even more evident, even with the decrease in viruses, because the informal support personnel are not longer able to help. For instance, in my current environment, we have about 100 PC, and a single person. And these machines are not cheap. If support personnel was adequate, we would be looking at an additional $100 per years per machine, and that is just at the local level.

Behold the power of the journalist (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535496)

I'm sick and tired of journalist who can tell us EXACTLY why apple succeeded after the fact.

It's easy to give the reasons why apple failed in the 90s after the fact.

Where is the journalist in the 90s, why isn't he giving professional consultation to apple? That's right, he does not have a clue. After Columbus discovered America, everyone and his dog can give 1001 reasons why columbus has succeeded. Where were these expects before then?

Re:Behold the power of the journalist (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535762)

Coming up next: why journalists failed in the 90s!

Or perhaps a journalists job is to report on what's happened, not stuff that hasn't happened.

Re:Behold the power of the journalist (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535786)

>After Columbus discovered America, everyone and his dog can give 1001
> reasons why columbus has succeeded. Where were these expects before then?

Actually he failed.
His goal was to reach India (to establish trade os spices/etc through sea).
He end up in Caribbean islands with no spices to trade (he found some gold there
tho it was not much).

King John II of Portugal refused to sponsor him based in the advise from a council of astronomers and seamen (they said Colombo's calculations of longitude were wrong).
So I guess the experts were in King's John II court.

This article does shed some light on why apple is (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535518)

reticent to license OS X to other PC vendors or sell it to run on beige boxes now that it is Intel. They tried something along those lines with the clones, and as the article states it was a complete disaster. Ultimately besides a few loud people, most of the people who would buy OS X for generic PCs are the ones who would buy a mac anyhow, so Apple loses profit while barely increasing market share. Not a good tradeoff from the corporate perspective I would think.

Re:This article does shed some light on why apple (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536196)

It's easier to maintain system stability when you write all the drivers.

It's easier to write drivers when you limit the hardware support. Unfortunately, the other side of that scale is market potential...

The article is not complete (3, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535536)

"The company now only had an improved platform that nobody had any reason to buy. The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident." ... and this is where it ends, to be complete later. What a waste of time.

The Answer! Re:The article is not complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535626)

Rather than selling expensive Apple hardware to a tiny segment of the market, they figured out that they could sell cheap PC hardware to a tiny segment of the market at inflated Apple prices! Hooray, the kingdom is saved!

Re:The article is not complete (2, Interesting)

Admin_Jason (1004461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535718)

The article does leave you wanting more with that teaser at the end, but that doesn't mean the article is not complete, nor does it mean it was a waste of time. If this is an ongoing series, that will span several articles, then it is definitely not a waste of time. As mentioned upthread, I found it quite interesting and enlightening on the subject of why Mac doesn't license its OS to 3rd parties - it tried and the effort was a disaster.

The other interesting component of the article I found was the distinction in market share. While it makes perfect sense to segregate Apple from Dell and HP as not in the same market, (just as BMW doesn't share the same market as Ford and Chevy) the comparison had not crossed my mind until the author mentioned it specifically. Thus, the article (for me) was both informative and thought provoking.

I actually am looking forward to the next article to read more on the perception of their take on what turned things around for Apple. And fwiw, my take on what turned things around was the change in marketing strategies and the return of Jobs.

Re:The article is not complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535742)

I actually am looking forward to the next article to read more on the perception of their take on what turned things around for Apple. And fwiw, my take on what turned things around was the change in marketing strategies and the return of Jobs.

Wow, that's "your take"? Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Re:The article is not complete (2, Funny)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535878)

I am thinking that the 'fortunate incident' must have been an airplane crash that killed the entire senior software development staff, taking with it all the lead programmers for 'Copeland.' But I know it probabaly wasn't that.... (that they still sell single-button mice is enough indication)

the day after Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535564)

One thing that keeps me concerned about Apple's future is the excessive (but successful) cult-of-personality culture : the reliance on Jobs to personify the company's innovations during keynotes.

How will buyers keep faith in Apple products after Jobs disappears ?

Re:the day after Jobs (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535784)

No... that's why they had to get him back

Simple answer (4, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535588)

No Steve Jobs.

Re:Simple answer (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536208)

There really is a lot to this. Steve Jobs seems to have a knack for attracting talented people and getting them to make good stuff. Right after Jobs comes back to Apple, they come out with the iMac, iPod, and OSX. How's that for a hat-trick?

Performa line (4, Insightful)

Sultin (14768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535604)

The performa line from the mid 90s was probably their worste move. I know a number of mac fans that went out and purchased one of these machines not knowing how gimped they really were. Tons of the "good" mac software couldn't run on those machines as they had much lower quality components. The bigest problem was that they had no math co-processor.

Virtually none of the documentation for these systems mentioned that they were less than a real mac, so most of the people that purchased them just ended up thinking that the whole platform was a joke.

This is when I went from a strictly mac guy to a *nix fan, eventually being forced to move to the PC. I must say OSX has got me saving my pennies to get back into the mac world.

Can anyone say iPod? (5, Interesting)

sushibot (860818) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535638)

I personally loved the Mac's back in the 90's. I built a very successful commercial retouching business where our primary software/hardware was Photoshop on OS9 Mac's. OS9 performed well as you could lock down memory and dedicate it to Photoshop (no OS swapping). This is something that is sorely missing from OS/X and Windows.

Yes, there were/are WIN32 calls to ask Windows to not swap, however, there is really no guarantee. (Maybe there is now?) Photoshop has a more efficient swapping mechanism based on image tiles rather than the OS with small pages.

For the general business or home computer user, I agree, the 90's Dell's years. Apple fell short of expectations.

I think Apple's success with the iPod and iTunes really boosted their overall marketing effort. Had it not been for those products, we probably would not be having this discussion.

-G

Re:Can anyone say iPod? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536144)

I personally loved the Mac's back in the 90's. I built a very successful commercial retouching business where our primary software/hardware was Photoshop on OS9 Mac's. OS9 performed well as you could lock down memory and dedicate it to Photoshop (no OS swapping). This is something that is sorely missing from OS/X and Windows.

You hear that complaint a lot from people using Macs at that time, but I assure you, this was largely a problem of MacOS's memory management stinking royally, so much so that virtual memory just didn't work properly. This feature is not missing from other operating systems, as the memory management works in other operating systems.

Really, I've supported both the old MacOS and OSX, and I get questions all the time, "How can I turn off virtual memory?" The answer is, you don't. You don't need to.

Article ends before the conclusion, sheesh (2, Informative)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535668)

The article does not in fact give the answer! Presumably it will be unveiled in the sequel ("Coming up next...") advertised at the end of the page.

They mention the analysts were wrong that Apple needed more Apple market not more PC market, and that some execution (Performa) was done badly. That at least is true, and why Mom had to use a PC for a while until she got back to Macs.

Of course I was a Mac person in the 90s even though Apple had screwed me a number of times. Now Macs are better but PCs (with XP) are better too. If they can come out with Leopard this year instead of next year they will do much better at Christmastime I bet.

Re:Article ends before the conclusion, sheesh (1)

norman619 (947520) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536072)

Unless something has changed on the software venfor side I fail to see them making any real strides ino the PC market. I am a good example. I'm 3D artist, Network Aministrator, and avid gamer. Mac is not a good fit got me on the gaming side because well there is virtually no games on Mac worth playing. On the 3D artist side, the only major 3D app out for Mac is Maya and last I demoed it on a MAc is ran horribly. And since I also have to work with 3D Studio Max again Mac can no fill my needs. Now in the IT field.... Last I checked businesses were running mainly Windows, Linux, or Unix. Mac are very rare there. So again I fail to see how this will change when they haven't convinced the soiftware vendors to put out Mac ports of their applications. The application void that exists for Mac is the main problem they need to deal with. They can make the best system on the planet but it's useless if over 90% of the applications people run will not run on that system.

THIS IS1 GOaTSEX (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535674)

take a llok at the future at all

The goggles, they do nothing. (1)

WhodoVoodoo (319477) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535690)

I didn't even bother reading TFA, as that website hardly comes close to displaying correctly in firefox. Out of curiosity, am I alone here?

Re:The goggles, they do nothing. (1)

leamanc (961376) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536060)

You may be alone here. Renders just fine in Firefox 2.0 RC3 on my MacBook Pro.

Re:The goggles, they do nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536466)

We're all alone here, son...

I abandoned ship... (4, Interesting)

FuryG3 (113706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535706)

when it was clear Apple was going to take forever to deliver a next-generation OS.

Copland gave me hope, but then they scrapped it. At that point I was a little disappointed, but was in no big hurry to switch.

By the time Rhapsody was in the works, it was really time that Apple got a new OS. The poor multitaking and bad memory management were a pain to deal with, and I was exited that maybe there was hope. I installed a beta version of it and was quite impressed (even though there weren't many apps available).

But then (in 1998) it, too was scraped (or transformed into OS X), and it was clear it was going to be quite a while before X came out. At that point I jumped ship over to Slackware Linux, which fulfilled pretty much all of my expectations.

I patiently waited until recently, when I picked up a MBP and am again enjoying the Apple experience.

Re:I abandoned ship... (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535966)

The poor multitaking and bad memory management were a pain to deal with, and I was exited that maybe there was hope. I installed a beta version of it and was quite impressed (even though there weren't many apps available).

You know, only NOW are avid Apple users talking openly about the flaws of Mac OS Classic. I clearly remember Mac users excitedly touting the advantages of Mac OS in terms of multitasking and stability, although it was clear as a plain day Mac was falling way behind Windows.

I also remember Windows/Unix/Linux users joking at the "always around the corner" OSX vaporware that was always getting delayed. Steve kept showing QuickTime movies of the DockBar animating, telling us "isn't it cool" and delivering nothing else.

This is not mysteriously forgotten as Mac users now take a shot at Microsoft for their Vista delays, as if a major OS upgrade/rewrite delays are something that would never happen with Apple.

Just a few notes on selective memory and history rewriting, I wanted to point out.

Re:I abandoned ship... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536094)

You know, only NOW are avid Apple users talking openly about the flaws of Mac OS Classic.

Yes and no. I was an Apple (and Sun) user in the 90s, and often complained about the poor progress of Mac OS. I eventually switched to Windows NT, because it offered most of the advantages of Unix, but could also run common desktop applications. In other words, with NT, I was able to replace the Mac and the Sun with a single x86 PC that was faster, cheaper and had more software available for it than the other two combined.

What I'm getting at is that most of those who were really bothered by the poor quality of Mac OS probably jumped ship, so the ones left behind were either not bothered by it, or too ignorant/fanatical to know/admit that it was a problem.

Since OS X came along, I've considered Macs each time I've bought a new computer, but Macs have always seemed overpriced and underpowered. With Apple's switch to x86, a Mac was in the last group of systems I was considering last time I bought a new laptop, but I ended up going with a PC again, because of the greater flexibility in configuration.

Apple didn't fail. (5, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535716)

At the beginning of the 1990s, there was an Apple Computer. At the end of the 1990s, there was still an Apple Computer. Count it as a success, considering all the companies that did not make it.

Re:Apple didn't fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535778)

-1 , stupid !

Re:Apple didn't fail. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535924)

Yes, but 'Apple' is just a brand now used by the staff of NeXT who took over the company.

Similarly, there was an old American electronic company called 'Packard-Bell' that made good electronics in the past. Ain't here no more.

Re:Apple didn't fail. (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536170)

Apple did fail. It didn't Die but it did fail. People were switching from Macs to PC. Apple was dyeing and it would have died if it didn't change its ways. If you look at an Apple Today vs. Apple 10 years ago the differences would be Clear.

OS X vs. Classic Mac OS, Intel Processors, Various iMac Designs, as well Laptop Designs. It is a huge change. Vs. say with PCs Same boring box, Windows 95 vs XP, not much a change. But PCs were the leader. But Apple has changed because it did fail. but to prevent it from dyeing it changed almost completely. Even the logo changed.

Re:Apple didn't fail. (4, Funny)

unitron (5733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536428)

"...Apple was dyeing..."

And that's what saved it, it dyed all those iMacs all those different colors.

Speaking of different, with regard to your sig...

Show your support for free speech by moding down people who believe differently then you. Hypocrite Hippies!

...That should be different than, except that it shouldn't be, because when things (including people) differ, they differ from one another.

cloning (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535726)

Something to mention about why the clones failed--Apple paid for all of the R&D costs while the clone-makers were the ones benefitting. In the x86/Windows world, R&D costs are generally spread out amongst the chip and board manufacturers. With Apple in the mid-90s, almost all of the R&D costs were squarely shouldered by Apple. The clones all used the reference board designs, even down to the add-in HPV video cards used in the 1st gen PPC machines. Now that they've moved to the x86 architecture, a lot of the costs are spread back out to other manufacturers. This time around, cloning might be possible, although they'd lose a bit of money from their very respectable hardware margins.

Apple didn't fail, they are still here... (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535810)

There have been many companies that have failed during the 90-ties... the greatest loss propably beeing Digital.
  Apple did survive and they are now in a better position than they've been in the last 10 years... and it really doesn't matter if it is caused by a mp3 player or by the move to Unix.

--

Tru64, propably the best UNIX in the world... too bad some jerks killed it.

Cold truth (0, Troll)

Kyokugenryu (817869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535822)

I don't think their future really is that bright at all. Their future may be extremely bright - to the people already in the cult of Mac - but to your everyday Windows user? They couldn't care less what Apple is doing outside of iPods and iTunes. I do roving computer repair, and I've yet to come across someone who's even asked me about a Mac yet. Lots of people have iPods and don't even know Apple still makes computers. While I'm sure no extreme is as true as is made out (Apple has no future vs. Taking over MS's #1 spot), I think Apple will remain in its niche for quite a while.

Commodity Hardware (2, Insightful)

Locarius (798304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535824)

The 90s and early 00s were a time of commodity hardware. In these new days of proprietary form factors and integrated sound/video/everything people have resigned themselves to the fact that they will not be upgrading specific hardware components during the life of their machine and are getting a Mac.

It wasn't just Apple (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535916)

It wasn't just Apple. Nearly all of the integrated PC manufacturers, meaning those who developed integrated systems, from the hardware (in some cases including the CPU) through to the OS, either collapsed or nearly collapsed in the 90s. The reasons, of course, were first that Intel continued to increase the price/performance of its x86 architecture, leaving most RISC systems offering either worse performance, or only marginally better performance (at much higher prices), and second that Microsoft continued to improve Windows 3.x, in particular taking advantage of the revolutionary (for x86) improvements provided by the i386. Microsoft also released Windows NT, an OS architecturally comparable to Unix, but with a much lower price (than commercial Unix systems).

One notable exception to the shakeout of the early 90s was Sun Microsystems, largely because of its OS, but when Linux eventually caught on, Sun started to implode too.

On the whole, I think Apple supporters are far too harsh in their criticism of Sculley. In most ways, the original Mac was no match for its competitors, not only the Intel/Microsoft PC, but also other 68k-based competitors like the Amiga. The first Mac that really did outshine the competition was the Mac II in 1987. It was expensive, but unlike the original Mac, it offered state-of-the-art hardware. The core OS was still rather poor, but the GUI was amongst the better ones in the market.

Sculley's big mistake was joining forces with IBM and Motorola in the PowerPC debacle, but almost everyone at the time (apart from Intel) thought Risc was the future, and that the x86 would die, so it's hard to criticise him for that. If Apple had gone with x86, it could have continued to offer premium PCs (much as it did in the late 80s, and dies today), and channelled all of the money wasted on the PowerPC into developing a modern OS, as Microsoft had done with NT.

Apple's real problems came under Spindler, who tried to turn Apple into a producer of low-cost, high-volume systems (something Steve Jobs supposedly wanted to do with the original Mac as well), which is a business model that can't sustain the high R&D costs associated with developing a custom OS (and hardware, although Apple has gradually moved out of that market in most respects). All that happened was that Apple was reduced to offering inferior hardware at higher prices than competitors. With the switch to x86, Apple has finally caught up with Intel PCs (Macs are basically Intel PCs with stylish enclosures and a trendy OS), but is unlikely to ever be able to offer superior hardware again, as it did in the late 80s. That's simply the reality of a market where specialisation has made it impracticable to build integrated systems.

WHAT!?!?!? (1)

lostngone (855272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535934)

WHAT!! Apple went out of business is the 90's?!?! Have I been having a delusion for that long? I can not believe how real it felt I can even almost remember seeing TV commercials advertising something call a iPod from Apple. Now that you mention it does seem pretty silly come on, iPod what kind of silly name is that. Thanks for telling me. Now I can go get help for my delusion.

Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16535940)

Back then they didn't have good stuff.

Apple has improved.
* Their marketing has gotten very much better than before.
* Now they have Mac OS X which is a Unix and therefor attract many geeks.
* People are getting more sick of Microsoft and Apple is seen as a viable alternative?
* Their iMac was horribly ugly with the computer built-into the screen. The new Mac Pro with aluminum case is cool.

Definition of PC (2, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 7 years ago | (#16535958)

"They couldn't run DOS or Windows, which was the definition of PC ever since IBM applied the letters to its first home computer."

This is where I stopped reading, and knew that the author was talking out of his ass. There was never a hard and fast (and agreed upon) definition of a PC, with the sole exception of what that first letter means: Personal.

The notion that a PC wasn't a PC unless it ran MS-DOS is ludicrous to say the least. PC was an attempt at a brand name rather than a generic description, but that isn't how it actually worked. The term PC instantly came to describe a class of computer that could be purchased by individual consumers. I had personal computers from Radio Shack (CoCo 2 and 3) which didn't run MS-DOS long before I had a personal computer from an IBM compatible reseller.

Several years ago, I booted up my old CoCo 3 and found that the BASIC ROM had a Microsoft copyright. So it's easy to argue that RS-DOS (Radio Shack DOS) was really MS-DOS in disguise. The RS-DOS BASIC syntax was remarkably similar to GW-BASIC. But I hardly ever ran from RS-DOS after getting Microware's OS/9. If you want to see just how pathetic MSDOS+IBM were for the time, fire up an IBM clone running MS-DOS and the CoCo 3 running OS/9 Level 2. The latter cleanly blow the doors (and Windows) off the former.

Re:Definition of PC (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536258)

You could argue that, but I'm sure someone would quickly point out that a BASIC interpretter isn't an operating system.

The Commodore 128 also mentions Microsoft BASIC on its startup screen [commodore.ca] . Does this mean that its software is compatible with the Coco's software? (Hint: No)

Logo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536018)

The single greatest reason mac has done better in this decade than before is because they created a cool looking logo, where as the old rainbow one was very boring and 80s. Apple has turned itself into a style/fashion brand, and that logo is responsible (along with putting "i" in front of their products). If the iMac and iPod had still had the old rainbow logo, I bet they would have been commercial flops.

no neighborhood culture (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536034)

It's always been much harder to be your own local apple store as opposed to being a local whitebox PC store. Apple had some rather hefty fees associated with retailing new products and aftermarket was dismal as well. For a long time they didn't even offer one penny discount to retailers, nada, although requiring a 50 grand bond/weird sales license deal IIRC and imposing severe restrictions on the sales, etc. The scrambling local vendor who jumped through that expensive hoops then got the privelege of paying full retail for his units and add ons (few anyway) from Apple, then had to try and make it with Apple inc undercutting their price via their online or at the end of the telephone store! Yes, it could and has beeen done to be a local neighborhood mac store, but it was and is still very difficult and expensive and mostly doesn't exist. They failed to take advantage of the local neighborhhod aspect.

    It's hard to buy an apple when you can't even see one any place for sale near you. This is 2006, I can go to various cities near me that have computer stores large and small, from big department stores that offer computers *blahmart, etc, and then like office depot, etc, to the smallest whitebox shop, maybe going on two dozen stores now locally to me in three different cities in a 20 mile diameter, and not a single mac for sale. It's unobtainium, and people aren't going to go out of their way to try and track it down and drop serious cash when they have right at their fingertips a huge variety of shapes sizes colors and functions and prices of computers they can just grab and go home. I can go out right now and get a used "$99 full bundle-internet ready!" package locally to me (which isn't all that bad a deal either usually there is so much good enough used stuff on the market), all the way to some high end stuff or custom built to order-but no macs, none.

If Apple had just sold an OS with any Computer (0, Redundant)

ac7xc (686042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536082)

Microsoft would be a another failed Software company, but by tying their OS to only their equipment they squandered their ability to be the number one software company in the world. If tomorrow they made their OS X available to run on any Intel type processors they would take 50% of the computer market in one year. Prove me wrong Apple, try it.

Apple has 3% of the deskop, Linux has less than 1% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536140)



Apple has 3% of the deskop still, Linux has less than 1% still, so which failed, exactly?

Aplle: the biggest failure ever! (1)

Venerable Vegetable (1003177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536288)

Slashdot apple summary:
If not for their hardware Apple would have failed in the past, is failing now and will be failing in the future. Their products were almost killed, are being killed and certainly will be killed unless they stop making hardware now and WHAT IF NONE CARED???

THERE IS A DEEPER REASON APPLE SURVIVES (1, Informative)

rogerborn (236155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536372)

This, from a novel written in the late Nineties - about the real reason Apple and the Mac exists.

MARY R147 [rogerborn.com]

GO HERE if that link is overwhelmed [mymac.com]

People do not expect this kind of thing, but it very well may be true on a completely different level, which exists beyond the thinking of most everyone else.

Is there any validity to this? If it is true, it changes everything, because it means that the current success of the Mac, iPod and OS X comes from a very unexpected place. You would almost have to watch HEROES to get a clue about where it comes from.

I know you may think this borders lunatic fringe territory, but you owe it to yourself to at least consider it.

~ 'Ro'ger 'Bor'n '' '''' '
"Glad to have gotten this off my chest. Your mileage may vary."

Article /.'d (1)

Falcon611 (413766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536434)

From the article;

"Service Temporarily Unavailable
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.
Apache/1.3.33 Server at www.roughlydrafted.com Port 80" ...anyone have a copy/summary?
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