What does the number 2,700 mean to you? To Apple, it is the number of employees it recently laid off. Not only are 2,700 steadfast Apple workers going to lose their jobs, but technologies like OpenDoc, CyberDog, and Open Transport are going to be cut back or annihilated. That, my friend, is a large piece of the Apple pie.
So, what does it all mean? If you listen to a sizable percentage of the press, it means that Apple’s ultimate demise is closer than we thought. To the optimistic Mac user, however, it is simple “restructuring.”
Many Mac users are concerned about Apple’s future. Every month, I have a different survey posted on my Web site (http://members.aol.com/radarmen99). Last month, one of the questions involved Apple’s future. Thirty-five percent of the visitors that took the survey said they were apprehensive about the future of Apple. Gee. . . and that was last month.
I recently sat down for an electronic interview with Macworld’s “Desktop Critic” columnist, David Pogue. We discuss, among other things, the future of Apple. . .
Shay: Where do you see Apple a year from now? A successful OS? A stronger image? A better product line? Better press coverage?
Mr. Pogue: All of the above. We already know about the steaming speed increases to come, up to 533 Mhz and above. We already know that the PowerBook 3400 is a smash hit.
The company will be smaller, however, and probably have a more focused product line (we may see the selling-off of Newton and other non-Mac technologies). A lot smaller. And therefore profitable.
Shay comments: I must agree. Although the news is not good for the guillotined 2,700 workers, it will be good for Apple in the long run. I believe Apple should concentrate most of their attention to the Macintosh and the Mac OS. If that means cutting back low-profit technologies, so be it. OpenDoc and CyberDog are great, but do we really need them? Will the loss really affect the majority of the users? Focus on the OS. . . We have been anticipating the new operating system for too long, and it seems they are ready to deliver.
Shay: Do you believe CEO Gil Amelio is doing a good job at this point? What are the key points he needs to focus on? Will he ever live down his nearly three-year long Macworld Expo keynote?
Mr. Pogue: Apparently Steve Jobs’ plane was late to the expo, so Gil had to kill time for two hours. That’s the only plausible explanation I’ve heard for his weird, rambling, non-speech.
I think Gil’s direction is bold, and firm, and scary, and correct. No amount of minute fiddling would save Apple at this point… a bold stroke like NeXt was called for. I’m bugged by how much money he’s paying himself, but otherwise, he’s doing a lot of impressive things.
Shay comments: I heard a lengthy segment of Mr. Amelio’s keynote through the miracle of RealAudio, and it was definitely rambling. By the end of his speech, I needed another shave. It was definitely not a memorable speech. Mr. Jobs speech, however, was about as to-the-point as you could get.
Amelio has a great influence in Apple. People respect the guy, and they follow him. He is leading Apple in the right direction. Everyone should start seeing the results of his efforts by the end of this year. I do agree with you about being a bit perturbed about his income.
Shay: If you could make one recommendation to Apple, what would it be?
Mr. Pogue: Do what you’re doing, but more of it. More advertising. More
newspaper-editor wooing. Simpler product line. And never, ever get caught short again without enough Macs to sell.
Shay comments: I see tons of Packard Bell and Gateway 2000 commercials on TV every day. Where is Apple in all of this? With a continued climb in market share for the Mac OS, why are they holding back with hard-hitting television advertisements?
It has been so long since I have seen a good, solid Apple television ad. I would be the first to get off my posterior and dance around the room like a freak upon seeing a fabulous Apple ad.
Shay: In the past couple of months, several Apple executives have announced their resignation. Do you believe this is a harbinger of more troubles, or just a simple problem that will effect nothing.
Mr. Pogue: What you perceive as “resignation” is often “firing.” For example, Landi just left… he’s the guy who essentially lost millions for Apple in the recent Christmas season. Others are leaving because they don’t like their new jobs in the reorganization.
The way I see it, if they’re too thin-skinned to withstand a demotion, Apple doesn’t need that kind of ego around anyway.
Apple’s most important talent isn’t the number-crunching bigwigs… it’s the programmers and engineers. And, especially with the purchase of NeXt, Apple has some of the best in the business now.
Shay comments: Mr. Pogue brings up a good point. Resignation is not always what it seems. That was something I had not thought of. And to me, it seems like the “replacements” are doing the job. The Mac OS 8 news is impressive and exciting.
Shay: What do you think about a guy who not only plasters his picture all over his software and books but also makes his own image the icon for his software (i.e. Peter Norton)?
Mr. Pogue: A true American.
Shay comments: If you are reading this, Peter, I have some advice: Trash the pink shirt.
Shay: What are your views of Apple’s new “comeback” campaign idea? Their plan calls for new advertising (some comparing a Mac to Intel-based system), a tougher image, and a stronger line of Macs. This seems to be a great move for Apple. Do you think this will drastically effect their future and/or sales?
Mr. Pogue: The new ads have just come out, and they’re fantastic. They’re funny, edgy, to-the-point, and focused on the actual hardware… at last!
The one for the 9600 featured a photo of it open, with text that describes how easy it is to open and upgrade. The last paragraph said something like, “… giving our competitors new technology to copy for years to come… On the other hand, maybe we should have made it harder to get open!”
Will it affect sales? I can’t believe it wouldn’t. The tag line is “We’re back,” and that’s got to help reassure both existing Mac fans and prospective new buyers.
Shay comments: I love the new ads! They are finally starting a massive advertisement campaign, and it looks good. If you want to see the ads, point your browser to http://www2.apple.com/home/facts/ads.html.
Shay: Which do you prefer: Goldfish snack crackers or Tootsie Rolls? (You may pass this one if it proves to be too challenging to make a decision.)
Mr. Pogue: I prefer Cheez-Its, actually.
Shay comments: Yeah, but that smiling fish on the Goldfish box just gets to me.
Shay: Have you used/installed the new Mac OS 7.6 on your machines? I am curious to know what you think about it, and if you recommend it to all users. If we currently have a working 7.5.5, should we shell out $70 for the update. . . Or wait it out in hope of a great OS 8?
Mr. Pogue: I have it, I use it, I love it. You’ll notice immediately that the startup process is faster. You probably won’t notice the other speedups (launching programs, etc.), but you may notice improved stability. Other than those, no change, and maybe you’ll want to wait for the July OS update before paying money. The startup speedup is nice, though!
Shay comments: Finally, a straightforward 7.6 review. . . Condensed into five sentences. I have been looking to get my hands on 7.6 for a long time. Now that Tempo is going to be Mac OS 8, I am getting excited again. Of course, whether the version number is 7.7 or 8.0, they would likely be the same thing. I am glad 7.6 is faring well.
Shay: Do you think that Windows can ever live up to the Macintosh OS. . . Or will it forever continue to lag behind in most ways in its own little DOS land? Personally, I believe that Windows will never fully remove itself from its DOS roots, and will therefore always be steps below the Mac OS.
Mr. Pogue: I’m with you. It’s spaghetti code at this point… Patches upon patches upon patches. In the name of backward compatibility, they’ve created this multi-megabyte glop that doesn’t serve anybody well.
Shay comments: If only the PC heads would listen to David, the world would be better. Why don’t they listen? Simple, really. They shelled out $3500 for their souped-up PC and they are not going to stand by and admit they bought the wrong thing.
Shay: The fourth edition of “Macworld Mac SECRETS” was released in January. What is new in this edition, and what are some of the featured software titles on the included CD-ROM?
Mr. Pogue: You’ll find changes on almost every page. You’ll find new discussions of the upcoming onslaught of System versions (what’s left of Copland); Jaz disks; OpenDoc and Cyberdog; SCSI Fast and SCSI Wide; America Online 3.0; Internet Relay Chat; the Rescued Items folder; new Power Mac, Performa, and PowerBook models; speech recognition; System 7.5.5 and System 7.6; and many other major developments. And we had to double-check every single Secret to make sure it still works.
Finally, we overhauled the software that comes with this book . We’ve added even more commercial programs: Claris Emailer, Can Opener, Square One, and QuickTalk are among the new ones . Second-edition favorites like the invaluable Color It , Tempo EZ, and ColorCoordinator are still here — software you could purchase on your own for literally hundreds of dollars.
We get copies of every single feedback postcard (from the back of the book). If you fill yours out and mail it in, we read it. By far the most frequent suggestion we received was: “Give us an electronic, searchable edition!” So now the book comes with an electronic, searchable version of the book itself (on the CD). Now you can take Mac SECRETS with you on your PowerBook, too.
Shay comments: I have gotta get my hands on that book. I have heard excellent reviews about the book, and everyone loves the free software. If you can afford a copy, get it. . . Of course, if you can afford more than one copy, send me one too.
Shay: Are you planning a “Hard Drive” sequel?
Mr. Pogue: Yes indeed! It’s well underway. Unfortunately, “real” book publishers (unlike computer-book pubs) take a year to produce a book, so you won’t see the new novel on the bookstore shelves until 1998 at the earliest. Bummer! I promise that it’ll be worth waiting for, however.
Shay comments: I have read a few chapters of the first novel, and have enjoyed it so far. MacAddict magazine is including segments of the novel on each issue’s Disc. I await the next installment.
Shay: What do you recommend as the best use for a spare AOL disk?
Mr. Pogue: Collect them all, then tile the bathroom.
Shay comments: Hotels are now using AOL disks as pillow mints.
I would like to thank David Pogue for taking the time to give me this interview. As you can see, he is a busy man. If you are a Macworld fan, you likely flip to the back of the issue every month to read his “The Desktop Critic” column. You can also visit Mr. Pogue’s Web page — http://www.concentric.net/~pogue.
As you can see, both of us feel optimistic about Apple’s future. Their next operating system looks wonderful, their product line is promising, their leader is bold, their advertising is magnificent, and their PowerBooks stay in one piece.
Shay’s Smashing Sites. . .
Starting this month, I am setting aside the end of each column to list three great Web sites that have won my new “Smashing Site Award.”" To read all about the new Web site award, just go to my “Smashing Site” page — http://members.aol.com/radarmen99/smashingsite.html. Be sure to submit a site for an award, because everyone is eligible.
1) GIFWizard (http://www.raspberryhill.com/gifwizard.html)– An online utility for shrinking the size your GIF images. . . By up to 90%! To a Webmaster, this is heavenly.
2) VersionTracker (http://www.versiontracker.com)– A bookmarked site for many Mac users. I visit this site every day to keep up-to-date on Macintosh software.
3) Angel Bouquets (http://members.aol.com/mopangels9)– My mom’s new Web site! Shameless plug, you say? Maybe, but there is nothing else like it on the Web! Good ole’ mom, harnessing the real power of the Internet to sell her popular wares.
Shay Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org)