THE BE BUZZ THAT WAS
All the hollering over the Apple/NeXT deal can’t get rid of some previous developments on the Be front. The attention Be was getting from the world as a result of the attention it was getting from Apple led to some interesting developments. Some of the recent reporting on Be: (from Information Week, Dec. 2):
NeXT cost Apple $400 million. One of Be’s main problems was that it had slapped a price tag of $500 million on itself. Apple reportedly wanted a sale price of $100 million. In Infoworld’s December 2nd issue, gossip columnist Robert X. Cringely declared that the $100 million offer was plenty for Be to buzz about. Of course, as pointed out by the November 18th issue of Inter@ctive Week, outright sale of Be to Apple was never the only possibility; licensing the BeOS was also an option for Apple.
“The wait seems to be over.” This from Information Week (Nov. 25) in its article describing Motorola’s attempts to deliver PowerPC motherboards for use in computers capable of running multiple operating systems (Windows NT, Mac OS, and Unix). The design of this motherboard was the result of a project called Yellowknife. Umax will be the first company to produce Yellowknife systems.
Meanwhile, PC Week (Dec. 9) was reporting on growing doubts that IBM will continue plans to build equipment using PowerPC systems. This has Microsoft making noise that version 5.0 of Windows NT might not be the PowerPC-friendly system they are currently planning on it being. “…If the major hardware companies all call us tomorrow and say they’re changing direction, then we’ll change our plans.”
And as proof that computer industry reporters have no interest in sharing information and writing each other’s stories the way Washington’s political reporters do, Infoworld (Nov. 25) wrote a very different article than Information Week and PC Week. Instead of focusing just on Motorola (like the former), or on IBM (like the latter), Infoworld simply reported that both companies were showing off their PowerPC motherboards at the Comdex show. No doubts about IBM’s commitment were expressed (although most of the PC press sides with PC Week on this one).
OLD NEWS FROM THE OLD WORLD
The happy faces of the Mac OS logo were staring out of the front page of the November 20th edition of Britain’s Network News. Accompanying the article inside was the headline “Apple’s continued OS confusion mars beta launch of MacOS Runtime for Java.” Runtime lets Mac OS developers make Java applets and applications. But Network News denied that Copland is officially dead … just a victim of Apple’s generally unclear OS plans. (On this side of the Atlantic, we’re pretty sure there will be no System named Copland.)
Web Week gave a chunk of it’s December 2nd issue to the voice of Larry Tesler, Apple Computer’s vice president of Internet platforms. In a Q&A interview format, Web Week lobbed him a few inviting questions that enabled him to promote Apple’s successes in Internet technology and its popularity among Web developers. He also took time to spin the idea of Apple as a major Intranet player, painting a picture of Apple’s future supplying hardware and technology to the Webmasters of corporate America.
In a happy moment for Apple’s PR department, Infoworld Canada continued the focus on Apple’s great Web hope with its November headline (accompanied by mug shot of CEO Gilbert Amelio). First, it was explained that Gil is a very sharp fellow to be sitting out the browser war being fought by Netscape and Microsoft. People can browse all they want to, the strategy seems to go, and as the browse, they’ll be looking at Apple. This will be the result, Apple hopes, of all the products listed in the article as cutting-edge technologies coming from the makers of the Mac. Among them: HotSauce, OpenDoc (don’t forget about the Sun/Java Beans alliance), V-Twin, QuickDraw, and QuickTime. Oh, and Amelio apparently declared that “the final upgrade version of Copland (i.e., the technologies formerly known as System 8) which will tie together the incremental releases, is now expected to be released in (the second quarter of) 1997.” Hmmm. Was that before or after NeXT?
SunExpert Magazine (November 1996) had a smaller than expected but optimistic little article on the new partnership between Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer. “The thing about Apple,” one Sun division president is quoted as saying, “is that they do some things very, very well, like multimedia. But they’ve never been very good at network management.” (Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of network you’re trying to manage.) At any rate, SunExpert thinks the cooperation will bear fruit, making Apple computers work much better, and soon, with Sun’s servers. The publication also has high hopes for the interaction between OpenDoc and Java Beans. “In one fell swoop, OpenDoc and QuickTime achieve platform independence, while Java developers can substantially expand the scope of their development projects…. (that) suggests that Sun and Apple could make quite a mark on the future of the Web.”
I was quite surprised to find this past week that that mark is apparently already being made. Computerworld (Nov. 25) ran a story on OpenDoc being used in conjunction with Java Beans by the University of Utah “to help doctors diagnose and treat their patients.” Everyone is extremely excited by the possibilities, potential, etc. But I’ve honestly got to admit that the real story in this article is the name of one of the doctors interviewed for the story: Dr. Sky Blue.
PC Magazine unglued its eyes from the Intel world to briefly give a favorable review to a couple of Apple products. First up was the new Newton 2.0 operating system for Apple Newtons. The writer really enjoyed the ability to turn the screen display sideways for a landscape view of the work area, but just couldn’t resist complaining that the system upgrade couldn’t be accomplished via a download. Your little Apple will have to be sent back to the mother ship for the metamorphosis to occur. Also reviewed (with much less enthusiasm) was the Apple QuickTake 150. Basically, it surprised them that it came as close to its digital camera competition as it did. “Despite its limitations … the camera is noteworthy for a reliable level of picture quality.”
Few magazines are as mean-spirited towards Apple as Upside. I’ve recorded some of this publication’s jaw-dropping sneers at Macintosh in the past. The December issue carried a column discussing the Macworld Expo. This particular piece was written tongue-in-cheek, but still … read over some of these quotes:
Well, O.K., things were worse in Inter@ctive Week ‘s similar year-end poll. In the December 2nd issue of the magazine, the publisher’s list of the top 25 “Driving Forces of Cyberspace” was printed. Gates was #1 again. Case moved all the way up to #7. No Apple names appeared. However, in yet another one of those ‘self-indulgent and zany realities’ of Apple Computer, Inter@ctive Week published in the same issue this little MacToid: 28.2% of all Internet access is by Macs, making it the #2 operating system on the Net. Number one is Windows 95 which just barely squeaks by Mac OS with 28.54%. I suppose “Driving Force” is in the eye of the beholder.
Grant Cassiday (GBCassiday@aol.com)