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"Apple Bashing" Continues: Information Week Lambastes Apple. Voice Your Opinion

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared in Information Week a CMP publication. It continues the "Apple Bashing" the press (The online MacinStuff Times excluded) continues to bestow on Apple computer. Want to discuss this topic? You have two ways to communicate with other readers of MacinStuff. The first is by joining the List Serve and sending email to MacinStuff ListServe, ( the second is by using The online MacinStuff Times live chatting area. You can set up your account , or log in if you 're already set up!

Can Anything Save Apple? -- If the computer maker's presentation at MacWorld is any indication, it'll take nothing short of a miracle

Source: Information Week

"In the movie Independence Day, an Apple Powerbook saves the world from extinction. Apple CEO Gil Amelio used the film as the theme of his marathon keynote speech at the recent MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. But when it was all over, you could be excused for thinking that saving Apple from extinction might take powerful alien forces.

With occasional breaks for demonstrations, commercials, and personal appearances by Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Amelio rambled on for more than 2-1/2 hours. By the end of his presentation he looked downright punchy, and the crowd was thinking only of food, plumbing, and the nearest exit. Instead of a clear statement of Apple's past mistakes and future plans, the audience got excuses, platitudes, and cameo appearances by the likes of Gregory Hines and Sinbad. Maybe only Mac fanatics understood these show-biz connections, but even I could understand why Muhammad Ali was there: Like Apple, his best days are sadly behind him.

Jobs, not Amelio, articulated the company's mission: "To provide relevant, compelling solutions that customers can only get from Apple." Did he check his slides with the boss? Amelio talked of Java and the Net as leveling the playing field. But even if compelling Java applications will run on the Mac, what about the "only from Apple" part? If Java works the way it's supposed to, those apps will run on anything, including cheap commodity boxes.

Jobs is as charismatic as anyone in the industry, but even he has problems. His Next technology is the linchpin of the Macintosh OS strategy, but if it's so stunning, how come it's been around for years without capturing more than a sliver of the market? Jobs' drag-and-drop programming demonstrations would have dazzled not too many years ago; in today's world, however, they barely seem out of the ordinary.

Now Apple plans to deliver revisions of System 7 every six months, bring out a couple of early releases of Rhapsody, the new operating system, within 12 months, and release a version with MacOS compatibility by mid-1998. That's a pretty ambitious schedule for a company whose last "next-generation" operating system never got out the door. And software developers may sit on the fence with Rhapsody as they did with Windows 95. As long as there's a compatibility box, there's no rush to develop for a new platform. The graphics and multimedia companies that are Mac stalwarts will no doubt port their products, but other developers are likely to see Windows versions as more critical.

On the evidence of Amelio's presentation, Apple's shelves look suspiciously devoid of the forward-looking stuff the company has seen as its hallmark. The technology demonstrations included an organizer for Web categories with a 3-D fly-through interface that resembled many I've seen over the years and a text- to-speech program only modestly better than what it claimed to be improving. There was also a program that could produce summaries of text; too bad it looked amazingly like the one that ships with the latest version of Microsoft Word. When your research labs are demoing what your competitors are shipping, you're seriously out of touch.

Still, Apple has brought a lot to computing over the years. The company still has a tremendous reservoir of goodwill among its fanatics, along with $1.5 billion in cash, so it can hang on for a while. Amelio said

the latest quarterly loss was caused by lack of demand only in the consumer market. In his words, "Santa Claus forgot to come."

Maybe so. But it's sad to realize that Apple may still be frozen out of the mainstream, even if Steve Jobs regrows his beard and the Next elves really do come up with some form of magic.

Stephen Manes is co-author of the biography Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster)

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.



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