Tuesday, March 12, 2002

My Apple comment du jour

Five years ago (nearly), I wrote a little piece for my since-deprecated rant pages that threatened doom and gloom for Apple based on their apparent decision to kill the cloning business that had sprung up under the previous regime. I actually had a few very animated e-mails pass back and forth between Steve Jobs and myself over the topic (once upon a time, I had a very tiny bit of juice in the Mac biz). Needless to say, he won the argument - it was his company to run, after all. I predicted that Apple would fizzle out to nothingness as people like me replaced Macs with Windows NT boxes.

Oops.

Well, I got one part right. I did replace Macs with NT, but it was because I went to another company that had never seen a Mac before. All we had was Windows. No biggie. What did I get wrong?

Well, I made a big mistake. I forgot the passion that Apple owners have for their machines (well, I didn't forget it, but I discounted it). I forgot about the installed base of everyday users - not the corporate types and power users who went to the cloners. But most importantly, I forgot about the Apple X factor - Jobs himself. The guy just has a knack for producing boxes that capture the imagination of users.

Just when it looked darkest for Apple, as they looked like they would be resting on the ho-hum beige G3 towers that weren't even as nice as the aborted G3-based clones, Apple brought the iMac out of nowhere (a Jobs skunkwork project) and hit a home run. And Apple went from being a lame PC company to a superstar of industrial design and the trendsetter of the PC industry (in a return engagement).

Since then, they have kept the press fawning over the comeback story, and product after product has emerged to acclaim and sales success. They did have some missteps - the polka-dot iMac was lame, and they kept the second generation model around a little long, the Cube was a fiasco, and they are having all sorts of trouble getting fast enough chips built by Motorola, but they are out of the wilderness and making money again. Even Slashdot now covers Apple news (at apple.slashdot.org), and OS X is getting props from all over.

Go figure. No pundit is perfect, especially not amateur ones like me.

In other news, we now have our baby registry on-line through babiesrus.com (Amazon, actually - it's a fulfillment deal). Just over three months to go!

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