Playing the Numbers Game

Apple is playing the numbers game. It’s doing this because it is trying to bring its revenues up higher than its expenses. If it can achieve this, then it is profitable. If it is profitable, then it can stay in business. If it can stay in business, then it may be more liberal towards the clone makers. If it is more liberal towards the clone makers, then it can concentrate on the Mac OS and new exciting technologies. If this happens, then it would be a wonderful day for all of us.

If, if, if… there are so many ifs that we are not sure if we want to even believe any more. It’s apparent that there has to be something done at Apple. They cannot continue to operate in the way that they have been in the past few years. I’ve been told “turn-arounds are sometimes messy.” This, I have no doubt, is true. However, how can this be done? If it is successful, then the end justifies the means. What happens when it fails? Do we just walk away, shake our heads and say “what a damn shame”?

There is no doubt that Apple is trying. We may not like what they’re doing, but they are trying. This is better than not doing anything at all, because the eventuality of not doing anything for Apple is death. By doing something, there is a chance. If you are faced with a terminal disease and you had a choice to sit and do nothing or try some kind of radical medication, which would you choose?

The game is numbers. Windows has it and the Mac OS does not. It’s this simple. So what can we do? We should treasure every single person currently using a Mac OS computer. We should treat them like our best friend. We should listen to them, take their advice, weigh it carefully, and derive a master plan that can be successful both economically and ethically. This is something that Apple needs to do. I am sure that they have received an unprecedented amount of correspondences from the Mac community, and are weighing the different options, but may not be ready to announce the “Master Plan”. However, people are social creatures, they need to touch and feel. They need to be informed of situations so that they do not feel left out. If they feel left out, then panic sets in and irrational thinking occurs. When this happens, you’ve got yourself a really big problem. This is what is happening to Apple right now.

Apple needs to realize that they need to communicate with the public. If they don’t, people will react to every little rumor as being negative. As we have seen, this has done more damage to the Macintosh platform than anything else. If the core supporters of the Mac OS will no longer support the OS or have serious doubts, do you think that the common person will? The answer is as plain as day.

The game that Apple is playing is a dangerous one. Let’s assume the following: Dataquest reported that over 65% of the hardware sales from the first quarter of 1997 went to Apple, yet they were still not profitable. Therefore, Apple has said that it need more revenue to become profitable. This is simple economics again, and makes total sense on paper. However, what about the human calculation? I was an economics major at the University of Texas and the economics department was not in the business college. It was in the college of liberal arts. This alone should tell you that there is more to this equation. By not communicating to the public, actions by Apple were interpreted negatively in the press. Apple by default has caused many people to doubt the Mac OS and damage itself. I have personally received thousands of e-mails from concerned people who are considering or have actually switched to the Wintel world. Entire universities and corporate sites have demanded their systems manager think about switching to Windows or have already switched to Windows.

Apple knows that it will lose a certain amount of customers when they took out PowerComputing and StarMax. However, Apple assumes that it will get most of their sales. This is logical, but what Apple may not have taken into account is what if more people switched to Windows than they thought? What if people are tired of the soap opera and only want to do their work, which causes them to leave the platform to never return?

According to the statistics, even if another Mac OS clone is never sold, Apple cannot return to profitability if more than 35% of the Mac OS users move to Windows. This is the dangerous game that Apple is playing.

I can understand that it is never a good idea to release information before it is complete, but Apple needs to communicate more with the public. The recent press release through developer support was very good, but since then the break-up between IBM, Motorola and Apple happened. There has not been any official announcement as to how this would affect the Macintosh market. This is very important. If Apple won’t speak, then everyone else will. If other people are speaking for Apple, then what Apple is really trying to do may not be told to the public. If the wrong things are said, it can do more damage to the Macintosh platform. Apple must speak up now or let their actions speak for them; they must speak because their current actions talk of betrayal, greed, indecision and lies.

In rebuilding a company, there are economics and religion. You have to address both issues at once. You cannot swim as well with one arm missing. If you cannot swim your best in the shark infested waters of today’s high tech industry, you will drown. Apple can’t drown, because Apple is the lifeguard on our beach.
Victor Wong (

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