Do you remember the movie Jaws? Remember the part where Richard Dreyfuss is swimming around a trashed-out old boat at night and he goes underneath the surface of the water to investigate? The suspense was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Right when he is looking at a hole in the bottom of the boat, a mangled head tumbles out and scares the
daylights out of him. Well, when I saw that movie in 1975, I was 11Â years old and that one scene scared me so bad I almost wet my pants!Â That’s how I felt when I first heard about the announcement of theÂ “merger” of Apple and Microsoft. Just looking at this on my computer isÂ amazing to me. Really, who would have ever expected this! This isn’t theÂ only time Apple has done some surprising things!
In late 1992 (if memory serves me correctly), Apple changed the way that it was going to sell Macs. Apple introduced a new line of computers called Performas. They could be bought in the big-name department stores. They came with the standard one-year warranty but the local dealer couldn’t service them. The customer had to contact Apple directly and coordinate a technician from some super-service center to travel halfway across the state. Hopefully, he had the right parts. At the time, I was working for a local Apple dealer and authorized Service Center. We already had a solid customer base established, so when these customers called for us to service their Macs we had to turn them away. It wasn’t pretty. We lost business and Apple had the opportunity to pay for some hefty 800 line charges while these unhappy customers were kept on hold.
Can you tell by my tone in this article that I think it was a stupid move? I do think it could have been handled more efficiently, especially in regard
to servicing the Performas. That changed after a while, thank goodness.
Then in April, 1993, Apple decided that it was time to take all the
education sales contracts from the local Apple dealers (remember how you could only buy Apple computers for schools through the local store?) and give the contract to one dealer in a region or district. I can tell you
from first hand experience that I watched a number of Apple dealers, who relied heavily on the education market, go out of business in a very
short time because of that move. I’m normally upbeat about changes in
the industry, but this move fried my eggs crisp. I know people that
actually rode in little rowboats (I’m serious) delivering a school’s very
first Mac on an island off the State of Maine coastline (Way to go,
Tara!). The consistent labor of the local dealer was tossed overboard in
an effort to streamline Apple’s profit margins. I never got an
explanation why the brass at Apple thought that was such a good idea, I
know I didn’t.
To keep the article reasonably short so you’ll read the whole thing, I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on the surprise at Macworld Expo 97.
Indeed a surprise! At first, I thought to myself that this couldn’t be
true. No way! You probably felt the same way. I heard that some of the
attendees to the Jobs keynote address actually turned their back on him
and booed out loud. I guess Mr. Jobs felt that it was necessary to get
the dirty business out of the way to make room for the fun stuff for the
rest of the week. I understand the frustration ‘cuz I feel it too, but
let me simply tell my opinion on the whole subject. I’ve seen some guys
wearing baseball caps that say things like “I’d rather push a Ford than
ride a Chevy”. You’ve seen them too. I shake my head and think to
myself, “This guy is either stupid or a liar!” The never ending argument
about which vehicle is superior has caused many an argument and probably a few drunken brawls. Do you agree with me that it’s foolish?
Aren’t we guilty of the same thing? Please understand, I love Macs, period. Nothing has changed there, I promise. I don’t like even the thought of working with PCs, but we have to keep something in mind… They’re just machines! One is obviously superior to the other to be sure, but they’re just machines. I’m using one right now. It’s a Mac LC III (it’s the best I can do for now). I love it, I use it everyday but it’s a machine, just a machine. It’s not a member of my family and it can’t take the place of my dearest friend; it’s just a machine. We all need to get that reality
set in our heads, Mac warriors and PC weenies alike. The future has
always been a mystery to people. That’s why they do such silly things as
trust tarot cards and horoscopes. We just don’t know for sure what is
ahead for us in this life and it’s the same for the computer industry.
Even Bill Gates can’t really be sure of the next ten years. He may have
a timeline that he has written with plans that are very detailed and
extensive, but one small move in any direction and the whole plan is
Everyone I’ve talked to, from lawyers to teachers, is a little
apprehensive about Apple’s future. Some say that Microsoft has a
reputation of buying smaller, more effective companies just to dissolve
them and others are saying that the $150 million investment is just the
shot in the arm that Apple needs to get jump started. I’d like to think
the latter but I’ll tell you this… I won’t be going to a ouija board to
Catcha L8r, Eddie
Ed Tobey (firstname.lastname@example.org)