What is the press up to? Find out every month here in Bits & Pieces!
IT’S NOTHING, REALLY
O.K., so how many of you noticed the new addition to the cast of Seinfeld during this, the show’s last season? I’m speaking, of course, of his new Mac. Always a fixture, but never a player in the plot, Jerry’s Mac (one of the elderly LC types, if I’m not mistaken) sat comfortably within view by the window (behind the table behind the couch). Then, several weeks ago, I noticed a brand new Mac in its place. Comically, for a character never seen actually using his computer, Seinfeld’s Mac is one of the top-of-the-line $7,000 upright, thin-screen 20th Anniversary edition Macintoshes, much like the one used by Batgirl in last year’s Batman and Robin.
AWARDS FROM THE CULTURAL ELITE
As a working member of the advertising community, it’s tempting to frown upon attempts by a mass-market consumer magazine produced for mere commoners to seat itself in judgment of our industry’s creativity. Then again, TIME magazine picked some pretty cool ads to honor in its year-end issue. Among them (ranked #6) were Apple’s “Think Different” ads which were produced and unleashed this year with the approval of Once and Again Grand Poohba of Apple, Steve Jobs. Admittedly, it was sometimes hard to guess the name and occupation of the featured personality (is that Amelia Earhart? or Zelda Fitzgerald?), and the campaign reminds some people a little too much of those fun Gap Khakis ads from a few years back (remember “Marilyn wore khakis”?), but who couldn’t smile upon seeing an entire city bus wrapped in an image of Albert Einstein?
THE DEVIL AND MS. RENO
Speaking of TIME, they were happy to allude to the dire possibilities that loom for Microsoft with the appointment of Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig to head Janet Reno’s crusade against our favorite word processor producer. He’s a known Mac user. Microsoft, however, was not happy in any way about the appointment. PC Week, in January, reported that Microsoft has “criticized Lessig for a dismissive characterization of the Windows operating system as inferior to that of the Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh system.” (I guess I should be more careful!) The controlling force behind all computer software then “sent Lessig a three-page letter… asking him to remove himself from the case.” As can be expected, Microsoft’s lawyers apparently know a thing or two about using search engines, because they were somehow able to dig up an email Lessig once sent to Netscape. According to PC Week, Microsoft’s letter to Lessig included the following passage: “In the message, you also compare installing a Microsoft product on your (Apple) computer to selling your soul, apparently equating Microsoft with the devil.”
DISRUPTIVE LOUD-MOUTH FINDS NEW JOB
Well, he claims he’s not disruptive, it’s just his ‘disciples’, see. At any rate, Information Week (January 5, 1998) recorded that Guy Kawasaki is “taking a leave of absence” from his duties as a Mac evangelist to begin a new business. Called Garage.com, this new start-up company will have the seemingly awkward and so-far ambiguously defined task of helping new start-up companies get their start. As noted by Information Week, Apple was one of many Silicon Valley companies that got their start in a garage.
FUNNIER THE FIRST TIME
Although in an earlier column I wrote of Information Week taking note of the following quote, I thought I should now make note that the publication has chosen the quote as THE quote of note for 1997:
Response from the audience at July’s Fortune 500 CIO Forum in Aspen, Colorado, when asked to suggest a new CEO for Apple Computer: “Kevorkian.”
With Apple’s much rosier bottom line from 4th quarter 1997, who knows, maybe no CEO is the way to go despite their stock’s recent near 10-year low. (Oh, and Kevorkian jokes, as a good general rule, aren’t funny.)
In a related note, by the time this column is published, Power Computing’s shareholders should have met to discuss selling pretty much everything of value the company has left to Apple as part of the euthanasia plan the two companies concocted after new man-in-charge Steve Jobs had a tantrum about the effect of clone makers on Apple’s share of the Mac market. (“Share” seems to be the real problem word, here. Besides, those wacky Vegans are opposed to carving up anything, even the free market. And you wonder why Steve Jobs finds himself inclined to create Borg-like deals with Microsoft? Watch out, Steve. Behavioral reductionism as applied to information/technology leadership is a new hobby I’m developing for 1998.)
This very spooky situation, in which Power Computing agreed to finish building its own coffin and then hop in, made it even more worth PC Week’s time to remark upon Umax Computer Corp’s oddly upbeat hopes to be granted a license by Apple to continue selling Macs. Umax apparently sees reason to believe that Steve Jobs’s very public “Clone-makers-can-all-rot-in-hell-for-all-I-care” attitude may not actually affect their business. Meanwhile, expect to see completely unconfirmed reports on wild speculation concerning the possibility that there just may be one or two Umax employees quietly hedging their bets by looking for other jobs. But don’t quote me on that.
And so, of course, we begin to wonder if Microsoft has a point… does the Justice Department have some type of bias working against the Redmond-based computer software giant? Or is it just that Microsoft went about it all wrong…. You see, Microsoft felt that the best way to gain control of market share was to force Windows and Internet Explorer down the throats of numerous computer manufacturers making billions from Microsoft products. The government-approved way of doing business, however, seems to be what Apple has done: simply refuse to give your operating system to anyone, forcing all those competitor companies, who originally were asked to put themselves in the awkward position of relying on Apple technology, out of business so you can take over the market share when you’re the only one left. Message to Bill Gates: Wake up and start producing your own hardware in addition to your own software, that way no one can (from what I can tell) accuse you of acting like a monopoly!!!
Grant Cassiday (GBCassiday@aol.com)