Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Why Apple Failed in the 90s 369

Posted by Zonk
from the no-ipod dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With news of amazing sales figures for both Mac hardware and the iPod, the future for Apple looks bright. But it wasn't always that way. The 90s were a bad time for the company, and Roughlydrafted.com has a look at Apple's failures of the previous decade." From the article: "During the development of Mac OS X, Apple polished the existing classic Mac OS, and salvaged what it could of Copland developments. Apple modernized its existing Mac APIs into Carbon, which would run software in Mac OS 9, and later allow it to run natively in Mac OS X. Despite fixing the obvious flaws in Apple's operating system offering, Mac OS X did not in itself solve Apple's problem. The company now only had an improved platform that nobody had any reason to buy. The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Apple Failed in the 90s

Comments Filter:
  • The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident.

    Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

    • by LordNightwalker (256873) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:00AM (#16535592)

      Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

      Exactly what I was thinking... After reading the quote from the article, I read the actual article in its long winded and boring entirety to find out what the answer to the question is (my guess is the iPod), turns out anonymous fuckface quoted the very fucking last paragraph of the article, getting us all curious for nothing...

      Thanks a bundle, asshat, I just wasted 5 minutes of my life thanks to you!

    • by Gregory Cox (997625) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:41AM (#16535792)
      One day while sending an e-mail, Steve Jobs accidentally hit the "i" key before typing Mac.
    • Re:The real solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:51AM (#16535838)
      My best guess would be the iMac. With Colored Cases, and it all in one design, the G3 Processor (which at the time had good performance). What it did was offered something that was missing in the market. It made a computer that looked presentable in peoples homes. Before Computers Were limited to bedrooms, the basement or the spare room. the iMac made them cute enough as well smell enough to fit in the kitchen, living room, or different locations. As well its all in one design allowed it to be easily moved from room to room. So it could be in all these rooms, when it was handy. Secondly they were Cute, Which attracted the Female market, before the iMac the Female market Computer (Sexist or not, I have heard from most Woman when they see the iMac they called them cute and wanted one). So it really opened the market.
      • The iMac wasn't an accident, though.
      • Re:The real solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MojoStan (776183) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:27AM (#16536350)
        My best guess would be the iMac. With Colored Cases, and it all in one design...

        I also think it's the iMac, but why was it an "accident?" Was it because it was initially designed to be Apple's version of Larry Ellison's lamebrain "$500 network computer" idea? I'm not sure if that rumor is true.

        For you youngsters, that kook Ellison tried to convince everyone that cheap diskless computers (which couldn't boot without a network connection) would outsell desktop PCs with actual hard disks. Who really needs local storage and applications, anyway?

        The iMac looked like it could have been a "network computer." Did the 'i' in iMac stand for "internet" Mac?

        • The 'i' in "iMac" (Score:4, Informative)

          by Old Man Kensey (5209) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @03:32PM (#16538430) Homepage
          The iMac looked like it could have been a "network computer." Did the 'i' in iMac stand for "internet" Mac?

          Why yes, yes it did. It was even considered "edgy" because the Internet (capital I) was abbreviated with a lowercase letter!

          The degree of the industry's plagiarism of Apple's style decisions can be measured by the fact that prior to the iMac introduction, anything vaguely Internet-related was tagged "e-" (for "electronic) -- e-commerce, e-mail, e-this, e-that. Almost immediately after the iMac exploded on the scene, the e- was quietly dropped and new Internet things were tagged "i" or "i-".

      • by MtViewGuy (197597)
        While the early CRT-based iMacs did help Apple, in my opinion it wasn't until the arrival of the second-generation LCD-based iMac that that sales really took off. The dramatically smaller footprint of the second-generation model made it very desirable in homes and dorm rooms where desk space was at a premium.
        • by johnpaul191 (240105) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @01:50PM (#16537780) Homepage
          the CRT iMac made big the impact though. 1) LCDs were still very expensive and not as common 2) the iMac was relatively cheap for a Mac. it was not the high performance machine, it was great for schoolwork and internet. the things that most people do on their computers.
          think of all the translucent colored things that came out following the original CRT iMac. it was "cute" as opposed to beige and ugly. i realize the power of that may be lost on people reading /., but to a lot of people it became a piece of art/decoration as much as a tool to to schoolwork. there is definitely a segment of people that feel that "if i HAVE to own a computer, it might as well look nice".
          obviously nice is subjective, but Apple hit it with a lot of people where other companies failed. when the original iMac shipped it was considered a disaster in the making, by techie people, because it lacked a floppy drive. i heard nrrdly fathers argue that exact point to their college bound daughters in computer stores. dropping that dinosaur thinking is what allowed Apple to break out from the 90s slump, while the rest of the industry scrambled to catch up. take that as opinion, but a lot of them came out with "iMac killers". they cared enough to design something specifically to compete with those little gumdrops.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Graymalkin (13732) *
          While the early CRT-based iMacs did help Apple, in my opinion it wasn't until the arrival of the second-generation LCD-based iMac that that sales really took off.


          You would be wrong about that. The G3 iMac sold extremely well during its lifetime. In the four years after its introduction about six million were sold. At the time selling an AiO computer was pretty novel, configuring it out of the box to easily connect to the internet even moreso.
    • They accidentally spilled blue paint on the iMac prototype... the rest is history.
    • Re:The real solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:35AM (#16536048)
      Any bets on what the fortunate accident was?

      That's just a lame cliffhanger so you go back and click his ads some more.

      the fortunate accidents were:

      - Steve Jobs coming back
      - them hiring Johnathan Ive (iPod, iMac designer)

      Them conspiring to make Apple a more branded, more complete experience, and hype it up, using their assets (OSX with a shiny interface, loyal designer crowd following them, the MS/Adobe/Macromedia software packs).
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:39AM (#16535456) Homepage
    Why Apple Failed in the 90s

    Because they had no clear corporate direction and their price/performance sucked an ass?

    (just a guess)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)
      Because the company slowly filled up with the kind of smug elitists who represented their userbase, replacing the 'skunkworks hackers' who started the Mac. Slowly, everything became 'process' and the company became steeped in political correctness. It became a matter of pride that employees were allowed to bring their dogs to work with them, rather than just common sense. The staff slowly was filled with people for whom fad practices (i.e. "Object Oriented Everything" took precedence over the old 'Get er
      • by cluckshot (658931) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:28AM (#16536026)

        There were reasons Apple went rotten to the core. I know because I have owned and operated many of their computers throughout the years. I would say the most important reason for my exit from using Apple was the concept they had regards software. I had bought the machines to program them for business applications unique to the industry I was in. The shop was small. We didn't have multi-million dollar budgets.

        When we tried to program we ran up against limitations associated with the programming languages available. They were good programming languages but they lacked the adequate documentation for us to make them really effective and useful. We contacted Apple. They bluntly told us that information was proprietary and we should hire Claris Works to write the software. That was it. We were out in the cold. No more Apples for me.

        Microsoft started with the IBM PC. The PC had a fortunate spy incident in which IBM OS basics were stolen before the PC came out. This opened up and allowed thousands of programmers entry into the business. It was this farm of people that Microsoft drew from. Apple had no such farm because it herbacided the crop every time they could. They viewed programmers as weeds.

        Apple is succeding now with IPod etc largely because many many people can play. If they wanted to take out Microsoft, it would be easy. All they have to do is take their basic superiority in graphics and etc and lock the doors open to developers. It will be a short time indeed before MS is on the ropes.

        • lock the doors open to developers

          Shouldn't that be unlock the doors closed to developers?

          However, Microsoft already has massive programmer support, along with a development suite [wikipedia.org] that a number of developers seem to prefer. (Note: I am not one of them.)

          At this point, Apple is fighting an uphill battle to draw in developers.
        • by rbanffy (584143)

          The PC had a fortunate spy incident in which IBM OS basics were stolen before the PC came out.

          What?! Can you explain that?

          The 8086 was very similar to the 8085, so it was trivial to translate ASM code that ran on 8085 to 8086 (if not the other way around). MD-DOS was, more or less very similar to CP/M, and porting software was easy.

          There is also IBM's misjudgement that the BIOS alone could stop clone makers, even if the PC was made with off-the-shelf parts. This, and the non-exclusive agreement on MS-

        • When we tried to program we ran up against limitations associated with the programming languages available. They were good programming languages but they lacked the adequate documentation for us to make them really effective and useful. We contacted Apple. They bluntly told us that information was proprietary and we should hire Claris Works to write the software. That was it. We were out in the cold. No more Apples for me.
          ...
          Apple is succeding now with IPod etc largely because many many people can play.

    • by ursabear (818651)
      Yes. (I know, your comment appeared to be rhetorical...)

      The only things going for Apple in the 90s were corporate contracts (like Nortel at the time - I programmed on them and supported them), educational contracts, and big-time fans. iApple is definitely a strong improvement over its previous self, and has strong inroads in many arenas. It's good to have choices - build-your-own, Microsoft, big *nix vendors, and boxes that run OSX.
    • Price / perfomance / quality ratio was never an issue.

      Corporate direction? Ok, ill buy that.
  • by bartron (772079) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:42AM (#16535468)
    ...it lost direction. Had it continued on that path then yes, the company would have failed.

    The comuting landscame might well have been different in Apple had made better decisions in the past, but that's life and mistakes are made

    As I type this on my MacBook Pro though I can say for sure that Apple isn't going anywhere soon (I say that becasue this is the first Mac I've owned that has given me no reason to move back to Windows

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bartron (772079)
      sigh....that will teach me to preview my post first. My Mac is good but somehow didn't fix my bad typing skills....same as it is under Windows.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:42AM (#16535472)
    Apples failed in the 90s because Mac OS "Classic" was a polished turd and the cost of Apples was expensive compared to PCs. It's no wonder Apple almost sunk without a trace.

    With OS X and hardware which is merely moderately expensive, they might stand a better chance, but it's hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows. I guess from Apple's perspective, even if their share rises from 2% to 4%, that is still a 100% increase for them even if it's still insignificant to to a market from a whole.

    • Profits (Score:5, Interesting)

      by massysett (910130) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:09AM (#16535640) Homepage
      hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows. I guess from Apple's perspective, even if their share rises from 2% to 4%,

      One CEO once said "US Steel is not in the business of making steel. We're in the business of making profits."

      Mac's market share is not the most important number. Mac's profitability is much more important.

      GM's got huge market share but is losing money. You don't see people saying "BMW will never really compete with GM."

      Just because MS' self-imposed measure of success is dominating every market with 90% share doesn't mean that this is the only metric of success.
      • by Znork (31774)
        "Just because MS' self-imposed measure of success is dominating every market with 90% share"

        I suspect Apples resurgence is mostly due to MS appearing to drift away from the ambition to utterly wipe out any and all possible competition. A few years ago, MS would have found it more or less intolerable that anyone but them were making any profit in 'their' segments. At that point they'd do more or less anything to make it impossible to actually be profitable at all, marketshare or not.
      • by Bertie (87778)
        Just as an aside, in the UK the BMW 3-series outsells GM's nearest competitor, the Vauxhall Vectra, by three or four to one. And yet the Vectra's perceived as the mass-market car.
    • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:38AM (#16535776) Homepage
      ven if their share rises from 2% to 4%,

      Their share has moved from 2% to 6% already gartner [gartner.com] You'll need a new line now.
      • by mgv (198488) * <`Nospam.01.slash2dot' `at' `veltman.org'> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:53AM (#16535852) Homepage Journal
        Their share has moved from 2% to 6% already gartner You'll need a new line now.

        More importantly, their share of laptop sales [macobserver.com] is 12%, and growing rapidly.

        It will be 18% in 3 months timen (Based on surveys of planned purchases within 3 months, which are alot less likely to change than the 1+ year buyer self assessments of 37%, many of which will actually not buy an apple computer).

        They are rapidly moving to becoming a, if not the, serious choice for the home user. (Lots of those PC sales are to big corporations, for desktops - and Apple is going to struggle to sell corporations that they need iMovie, iTunes or iPhoto, no matter how good they are as apps).

        Combine visible laptops with visible iPods, and alot of consumers are going to be viewing an apple computer as a normal purchase, rather than something obscure and unusual. In fact, if you haven't seen lots of apple laptops around the place, you probably aren't looking around much in the last year or so.

        Anyway, my 2c worth, and its an easy bet because I'm not really saying anything other than extrapolating current market growth.

        Michael
        • Sadly, that's US market share. Their worldwide market share barely moved. Which I can understand, cost isn't as important here, go to India or China, cost is everything. Even with the reputed higher maintenance effort needed for Windows systems, labor is definitely cheap enough to cover that.

          They are rapidly moving to becoming a, if not the, serious choice for the home user. (Lots of those PC sales are to big corporations, for desktops - and Apple is going to struggle to sell corporations that they need
          • by mgv (198488) * <`Nospam.01.slash2dot' `at' `veltman.org'> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:42PM (#16537324) Homepage Journal
            Sadly, that's US market share. Their worldwide market share barely moved. Which I can understand, cost isn't as important here, go to India or China, cost is everything. Even with the reputed higher maintenance effort needed for Windows systems, labor is definitely cheap enough to cover that.

            I would agree with this (I haven't seen figures for Australia but I'm sure its similar to the US - you see those glowing apple logo's everwhere there are laptops now). In the emerging markets, cost is everything. Of course, Linux is cheap, and is a real threat to Microsoft there where people actually look at the true cost. (Thus the very stripped down cheap version of windows for the asian markets).

            That software isn't a problem. That software can be removed. What might be considered a problem is a webcam in every computer. Some companies don't like that.

            There is also application availability, many corporations need some obscure or custom app that's not available on OS X, and the cost of Parallels and the maintenance hassle of supporting something like that might not be worth it, that sort of arrangement would more than offset the ease of OS X maintenance.


            I wouldn't argue with your analysis. There are lots of reasons why corporations may not be that interested in an apple computer, even if it is equal cost wise. Of course, when you consider the camera a negative, ignore the apps and have to add in a WinXP licence to each apple laptop, its not surprising that you see business passing over apple computers.

            Likewise Apple hasn't put nearly the effort into enterprise that Microsoft has. Which is not to say that they have done nothing, but really apple is just starting to turn its attention there, and probably not that seriously yet.

            What they have done so very well is aim for the home user. All those apps that many companies would delete (iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, etc) are the very reason that people buy a Mac. I know people who bought an apple simply to use the video editing alone (home use, not professional).

            There is an obvious connection with the iPod here - very few corporate buyers, pretty good sales.

            That is not to say that apple couldn't or shouldn't compete in the corporate world. But if they had chosen to do this directly, they would have gone against the M$ juggernaut, and lost badly.

            The flip side is that M$ is producing an operating system that is primarily designed to be sold to enterprise. The home user sales flowed on from this because people didn't see a better alternative. And M$ wasn't that interested in producing it. The burden of antivirus software, for example, is alot lower in the enterprise when you have a team of IT people who manage all the machines anyway. They are going to enforce corporate policy, restrict individual users, and so on. In this fashion you can make a windows machine relatively secure. Few home users can do this properly for themeslves. Few ever will.

            Look at where Apple is pusing things. Take automated data backup - aka - "Time Machine" in the lepoard release of OS X (10.5). This is something that home users should do, and that M$ have never bothered to do properly. Does this matter in the enterprise? Does anyone see corporations supplying individual users with a USB HDD and telling them to do daily backups?

            So to expand on my original statement. The future for Apple is the home user market. There was a time when only a company would fork out the money (>$4000) to buy one of those expensive compter things. Back then the company that made an OS for that purpose was always going to win the day. Lots fought for this title. Microsoft won.

            Today, that market still exists, and is huge. Its also commodity hell for the manufacturers. Today a $1000+ system starts to look expensive to the enterprise, but lots of home users will spend that sort of money, or more, on a variety of consumer electronics. This is a whole new market, but nobody really noticed its potential until a couple o
    • With OS X and hardware which is merely moderately expensive, they might stand a better chance, but it's hard to see how they'll ever really compete with MS Windows

      Maybe if Microsoft spends 5 years developing a new OS that offers no real benefit to users, but has tons of new painful anti-piracy and DRM?

      Then again, Apple isn't really competing with Microsoft as much as they're competing with Dell. OSX is mostly another feature to sell the hardware.

    • by fermion (181285) * on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:06AM (#16536246) Homepage Journal
      It would be my assertion that people would rather buy polished turds than unpolished ones, and would in fact pay a premium. The reality is that in the 90's, just like now, the Mac worked. It worked without EMM hell, without printer hell, and without driver hell. You could hook up a external mass storage drive without hacking the BIOS. You could, and still can, hook up a keyboard to any available port that the cord will fit in, and the keyboard will work.

      What the article, and most analysis, misses, is the profound change in the market. A firm should have a plan to compete with other firms, and should try to anticipate future market trends, but cannot predict, and in fact should not build, massive unpredictable trends into the business. So, when the Lisa was in development, the competition was mostly the IBM PC, which was very expensive. Compaq came in around 82, and shifted the market. However, the compaq was still a very expensive machine, but cheaper than and IBM PC. The Mac was created to compete with the new reality.

      To give some perspective on the time, let's look at a third player: ATT. ATT created a wonderful not unreasonable priced PC. It had the advantage of running Unix, the only really workable OS we had at the time. I used one. It was great. It failed because it did not anticipate the market as well as Apple, and becuase it did not have as polished a GUI as Apple.

      So we are talking hardware here. What about the OS. Well, for most the OS did not matter. People bought computers to run an application or two. The Apple had Excel, just like the Apple had Visicalc. This was one of three things that caused great trouble for Apple. First, when MS Hacked together MS Windows, there was a cheap alternative to Apple. Second, when MS ported Office to MS Windows, the cheap alternative to Apple. Third, the price of the PC went into a sharp decline, and though Apple was still competitive with name brand PCs, the were no longer competitive with the off brand boxes. As a result, significant vertical market began to appear for the PC, often ported from Unix, and the PC became a single vendor solution, despite the fact the major MS FUD was don't buy Apple because it was a single vendor solution.

      So how did the Computer industry respond to this. Well, Compaq began using commodity parts, but because it had to rely on MS for the OS, and because it was a serious company with serious research, it is now gone. The ATT machine was never able to compete, even when prices were high. The general quality of the whole industry declined, and we found ourselves in a situation where nothing worked. Except for the Apple which was an expensive machine.

      This was until MS Windows 95 when most of the MS hacks were fixed. You could hook up a printer without selling your sole. You still have to do color coded keyboard and mouse. But after 10 years, the PC genuinely worked, and the shift to MS dominance was complete. As all articles state, the fact that the Mac had no serious OS through most of the 90's was also a major factor.

      But I would like to state that all the major pricing changed occurred on the hardware side. MS never matched the changes in the price of the OS. This is the problem of the monopoly. Apple has competed hard in quality and price. Intel has competed hard in quality and price. This has given us the wonderful machines we have, and the wonderful OS to run them. OTOH, MS just gathers money, and only occasionally competes. The most annoying thing of all this is that for the most part, outside of few applications, MS Windows does not work well. The major improvements they have made in on the developer side, which is admittedly a good thing to do. But simple things, like account encryption, which would make everyone life easy, is still at least months away.

      And there is still a major problem with the myth of the cheap PC. In almost every establishment, there has been a profound lack of support, which results in the PC not being used effeciently.

      • by dfghjk (711126) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:54PM (#16537400)
        "You could hook up a external mass storage drive without hacking the BIOS."

        So could the PC. That one makes no sense. No doubt macs were easier to set up. There were closed systems after all.

        "The general quality of the whole industry declined, and we found ourselves in a situation where nothing worked. Except for the Apple which was an expensive machine."

        That's complete bullshit. PC compatibility was spotty in the early years but it steadily improved. There was no idustry-wide decline in quality as you say. Exactly the opposite.

        "You still have to do color coded keyboard and mouse."

        You seem a little fixated on this as though it matters. If this were an actual problem then the PC world would have switched to USB by now. They haven't because it doesn't in spite of the fact that the PC industry developed the solution.

        "This is the problem of the monopoly."

        Microsoft didn't have a monopoly at this time. It competed with OS/2 for the desktop and many alternatives on the server side. Pricing for Windows at the time was modest compared to the hardware costs.

        "MS just gathers money, and only occasionally competes."

        So this explanation of Apple's failure is degenerating into a rag on Microsoft? What a surprise.

        "In almost every establishment, there has been a profound lack of support, which results in the PC not being used effeciently."

        That's also bullshit. There are reasons why PCs are in business and Macs aren't. One is multiple source, Another is the availability of business apps and compatability. Another is support. Vendors don't get into large accounts without being able to provide support. That's where IBM made its money, and vendors learned to compete by offering similar levels of support. There's a reason Dell is dominant and Gateway isn't. Dell learned how to sell to big business.

        "And, with XP, with the admin lockout, the deficiency in support is even more evident..."

        You're going crazy here.

        "And these machines are not cheap. If support personnel was adequate, we would be looking at an additional $100 per years per machine, and that is just at the local level."

        Sounds like your company doesn't know how to support its employees. The myth is that somehow that would be different with Apple. None of that matters because it isn't central to Apple's decline.

        The fact is that PCs were an open documented standard that fostered a clone business that operated effectively under the umbrella of IBM's (and later Compaq's) high margins. The multiple source nature of the platform encouraged adoption as well as hardware and software development by 3rd parties. PCs ran multiple operating systems, came in all shapes and sizes, and could be used for a variety of applications. Meanwhile, Apple chose to keep their platform closed until their market share slipped away from them, and once they opened it they found themselves getting beaten by their clones because they didn't have the market position that IBM had when they were in a similar situation. Of course, IBM was eventually forced out of the market as well.

        Microsoft was a ferocious and merciless competitor, but by the time they established Windows as a monopoly Apple's dominance was long gone. It was the ubiquity of the PC that did Apple in, not Microsoft. Large accounts are what made the PC and Apple was foolishly never a player there. Arguably they could not be since they weren't established in business like IBM and they were the sole champion of their platform, unlike the hundreds selling the PC.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fyngyrz (762201) *
        You could hook up a printer without selling your sole.

        Eh? [looks at shoe... looks at fishtank...]

        Oh. Soul. Never mind.

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      Actually, today's Macintosh hardware isn't so ridiculously expensive anymore unless you're talking the high-end Mac Pro workstations.

      The current iMac models are actually quite a value, especially the 20" model. It may cost a little bit more than a PC-based system, but you get so much standard that there are very few accessories to buy to get you going (maybe except more RAM installed). Small wonder why Apple sells quite a lot of iMacs to home users.

      But what really saved Apple was the huge success of the iPo
    • I couldn't agree more about the classic Mac OS. Not only was it unstable (I typically experienced a total system lockup about once a day), but it also offered absolutely nothing for power users. And not only was that hardware to run it very expensive, it was also slow.

      Apple's turnaround has come because they got a number of things right for a change. After about 10 years of of PC use with mixed windows and linux operating systems, I've come back to being a Mac owner. There are a number of reasons.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:47AM (#16535518) Homepage Journal
    reticent to license OS X to other PC vendors or sell it to run on beige boxes now that it is Intel. They tried something along those lines with the clones, and as the article states it was a complete disaster. Ultimately besides a few loud people, most of the people who would buy OS X for generic PCs are the ones who would buy a mac anyhow, so Apple loses profit while barely increasing market share. Not a good tradeoff from the corporate perspective I would think.
    • It's easier to maintain system stability when you write all the drivers.

      It's easier to write drivers when you limit the hardware support. Unfortunately, the other side of that scale is market potential...
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:51AM (#16535536)
    "The company now only had an improved platform that nobody had any reason to buy. The real solution to Apple's problem was stumbled onto by a fortunate accident." ... and this is where it ends, to be complete later. What a waste of time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Admin_Jason (1004461)
      The article does leave you wanting more with that teaser at the end, but that doesn't mean the article is not complete, nor does it mean it was a waste of time. If this is an ongoing series, that will span several articles, then it is definitely not a waste of time. As mentioned upthread, I found it quite interesting and enlightening on the subject of why Mac doesn't license its OS to 3rd parties - it tried and the effort was a disaster.

      The other interesting component of the article I found was the dis
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)
      I am thinking that the 'fortunate incident' must have been an airplane crash that killed the entire senior software development staff, taking with it all the lead programmers for 'Copeland.' But I know it probabaly wasn't that.... (that they still sell single-button mice is enough indication)

  • Simple answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bytesex (112972) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:00AM (#16535588) Homepage
    No Steve Jobs.
    • There really is a lot to this. Steve Jobs seems to have a knack for attracting talented people and getting them to make good stuff. Right after Jobs comes back to Apple, they come out with the iMac, iPod, and OSX. How's that for a hat-trick?
  • Performa line (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sultin (14768) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:03AM (#16535604) Homepage
    The performa line from the mid 90s was probably their worste move. I know a number of mac fans that went out and purchased one of these machines not knowing how gimped they really were. Tons of the "good" mac software couldn't run on those machines as they had much lower quality components. The bigest problem was that they had no math co-processor.

    Virtually none of the documentation for these systems mentioned that they were less than a real mac, so most of the people that purchased them just ended up thinking that the whole platform was a joke.

    This is when I went from a strictly mac guy to a *nix fan, eventually being forced to move to the PC. I must say OSX has got me saving my pennies to get back into the mac world.
  • Can anyone say iPod? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sushibot (860818) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:09AM (#16535638)
    I personally loved the Mac's back in the 90's. I built a very successful commercial retouching business where our primary software/hardware was Photoshop on OS9 Mac's. OS9 performed well as you could lock down memory and dedicate it to Photoshop (no OS swapping). This is something that is sorely missing from OS/X and Windows.

    Yes, there were/are WIN32 calls to ask Windows to not swap, however, there is really no guarantee. (Maybe there is now?) Photoshop has a more efficient swapping mechanism based on image tiles rather than the OS with small pages.

    For the general business or home computer user, I agree, the 90's Dell's years. Apple fell short of expectations.

    I think Apple's success with the iPod and iTunes really boosted their overall marketing effort. Had it not been for those products, we probably would not be having this discussion.

    -G
    • I personally loved the Mac's back in the 90's. I built a very successful commercial retouching business where our primary software/hardware was Photoshop on OS9 Mac's. OS9 performed well as you could lock down memory and dedicate it to Photoshop (no OS swapping). This is something that is sorely missing from OS/X and Windows.

      You hear that complaint a lot from people using Macs at that time, but I assure you, this was largely a problem of MacOS's memory management stinking royally, so much so that virtual

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      Apple began its revival with the unveiling of the iMac, which was a true all-in-one machine that was very easy to setup in terms of hardware use. But its revival didn't kick into high gear until the second-generation LCD-based iMac arrived with its swiveling display panel made it very attractive to users where desktop space was at a premium.

      Today, the current iMac is a very attractive machine, costing only a little more than most PC's but offering things like widescreen display, Intel Core 2 Duo CPU's, and
    • by dfghjk (711126)
      Apparently you aren't aware that Photoshop on the PC has a configurable option to limit system memory allocation as a percentage of physical memory.

      The sad aspect of your comment is that you think having the ability to manage something that is clearly the responsibility of the software is somehow an advantage. Memory management is clearly the responsibility of the system, not the user. What matters is how well the application runs, and (ignoring the new Intel macs) it's been a long, long time since the ma
  • The article does not in fact give the answer! Presumably it will be unveiled in the sequel ("Coming up next...") advertised at the end of the page.

    They mention the analysts were wrong that Apple needed more Apple market not more PC market, and that some execution (Performa) was done badly. That at least is true, and why Mom had to use a PC for a while until she got back to Macs.

    Of course I was a Mac person in the 90s even though Apple had screwed me a number of times. Now Macs are better but PCs (with XP) are better too. If they can come out with Leopard this year instead of next year they will do much better at Christmastime I bet.
  • I abandoned ship... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FuryG3 (113706) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:23AM (#16535706) Homepage
    when it was clear Apple was going to take forever to deliver a next-generation OS.

    Copland gave me hope, but then they scrapped it. At that point I was a little disappointed, but was in no big hurry to switch.

    By the time Rhapsody was in the works, it was really time that Apple got a new OS. The poor multitaking and bad memory management were a pain to deal with, and I was exited that maybe there was hope. I installed a beta version of it and was quite impressed (even though there weren't many apps available).

    But then (in 1998) it, too was scraped (or transformed into OS X), and it was clear it was going to be quite a while before X came out. At that point I jumped ship over to Slackware Linux, which fulfilled pretty much all of my expectations.

    I patiently waited until recently, when I picked up a MBP and am again enjoying the Apple experience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      The poor multitaking and bad memory management were a pain to deal with, and I was exited that maybe there was hope. I installed a beta version of it and was quite impressed (even though there weren't many apps available).

      You know, only NOW are avid Apple users talking openly about the flaws of Mac OS Classic. I clearly remember Mac users excitedly touting the advantages of Mac OS in terms of multitasking and stability, although it was clear as a plain day Mac was falling way behind Windows.

      I also remember
  • Apple didn't fail. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krell (896769) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:26AM (#16535716) Journal
    At the beginning of the 1990s, there was an Apple Computer. At the end of the 1990s, there was still an Apple Computer. Count it as a success, considering all the companies that did not make it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)
      Apple did fail. It didn't Die but it did fail. People were switching from Macs to PC. Apple was dyeing and it would have died if it didn't change its ways. If you look at an Apple Today vs. Apple 10 years ago the differences would be Clear.

      OS X vs. Classic Mac OS, Intel Processors, Various iMac Designs, as well Laptop Designs. It is a huge change. Vs. say with PCs Same boring box, Windows 95 vs XP, not much a change. But PCs were the leader. But Apple has changed because it did fail. but to prevent it f
      • by unitron (5733) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:41AM (#16536428) Homepage Journal
        "...Apple was dyeing..."

        And that's what saved it, it dyed all those iMacs all those different colors.

        Speaking of different, with regard to your sig...

        Show your support for free speech by moding down people who believe differently then you. Hypocrite Hippies!

        ...That should be different than, except that it shouldn't be, because when things (including people) differ, they differ from one another.

  • cloning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @08:28AM (#16535726)
    Something to mention about why the clones failed--Apple paid for all of the R&D costs while the clone-makers were the ones benefitting. In the x86/Windows world, R&D costs are generally spread out amongst the chip and board manufacturers. With Apple in the mid-90s, almost all of the R&D costs were squarely shouldered by Apple. The clones all used the reference board designs, even down to the add-in HPV video cards used in the 1st gen PPC machines. Now that they've moved to the x86 architecture, a lot of the costs are spread back out to other manufacturers. This time around, cloning might be possible, although they'd lose a bit of money from their very respectable hardware margins.
  • Commodity Hardware (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Locarius (798304)
    The 90s and early 00s were a time of commodity hardware. In these new days of proprietary form factors and integrated sound/video/everything people have resigned themselves to the fact that they will not be upgrading specific hardware components during the life of their machine and are getting a Mac.
  • It wasn't just Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It wasn't just Apple. Nearly all of the integrated PC manufacturers, meaning those who developed integrated systems, from the hardware (in some cases including the CPU) through to the OS, either collapsed or nearly collapsed in the 90s. The reasons, of course, were first that Intel continued to increase the price/performance of its x86 architecture, leaving most RISC systems offering either worse performance, or only marginally better performance (at much higher prices), and second that Microsoft continued
  • Definition of PC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @09:13AM (#16535958)
    "They couldn't run DOS or Windows, which was the definition of PC ever since IBM applied the letters to its first home computer."

    This is where I stopped reading, and knew that the author was talking out of his ass. There was never a hard and fast (and agreed upon) definition of a PC, with the sole exception of what that first letter means: Personal.

    The notion that a PC wasn't a PC unless it ran MS-DOS is ludicrous to say the least. PC was an attempt at a brand name rather than a generic description, but that isn't how it actually worked. The term PC instantly came to describe a class of computer that could be purchased by individual consumers. I had personal computers from Radio Shack (CoCo 2 and 3) which didn't run MS-DOS long before I had a personal computer from an IBM compatible reseller.

    Several years ago, I booted up my old CoCo 3 and found that the BASIC ROM had a Microsoft copyright. So it's easy to argue that RS-DOS (Radio Shack DOS) was really MS-DOS in disguise. The RS-DOS BASIC syntax was remarkably similar to GW-BASIC. But I hardly ever ran from RS-DOS after getting Microware's OS/9. If you want to see just how pathetic MSDOS+IBM were for the time, fire up an IBM clone running MS-DOS and the CoCo 3 running OS/9 Level 2. The latter cleanly blow the doors (and Windows) off the former.
    • You could argue that, but I'm sure someone would quickly point out that a BASIC interpretter isn't an operating system.

      The Commodore 128 also mentions Microsoft BASIC on its startup screen [commodore.ca]. Does this mean that its software is compatible with the Coco's software? (Hint: No)
  • Does TFA use the word 'beleaguered'? (/.'ed already, so can't check) No Apple-is/was-in-trouble article can be taken seriously without it.
  • by mmeister (862972) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:04AM (#16536612)
    As someone who has been an Apple developer since 1989, the assertions made in this article are ludicrous at best. They show signs of someone that has perhaps read about the company's history, but not been involved with them in any significant way (nor was it researched with any depth).

    That this meaningless trash makes it onto Slashdot and Digg simply amazes me.
  • ...Jobs wasn't there. next question?
  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:00PM (#16539994) Journal
    Bill Gates $150M and committment to Office on the Mac.

    Microsoft needed Apple not to fail because 5% marketshare was all the evidence Bill Gates needed as proof that Windows was not a monopoly. For $150M, Bill got the room he needed to breathe out from under Anti-Trust and seeded further MS product, even if he lost a window sale or two. It was his cost of staying in business, without the US Gov't breaking Microsoft into separate operating units.

    Steve Jobs got serious credibility on the Street, with businesses really nervous about being stuck with Mac's going out of business. Bill G. stopped all that bleed, angst and hesitation in the sales pipeline for Apple Computer Inc.
  • AUX worked... (Score:4, Informative)

    by meburke (736645) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @07:07PM (#16540090)
    During the early '90's, when OS 7 and OS 8 were crashing every 15 minutes, I had a couple of customers with 500+ Mac II's and III's that almost never crashed; they were running AUX. AUX was UNIX, and it still ran the Mac OS on top. At that time, a Mac III with a Radius monitor was the fastest AutoCAD system around.

    IMO, the article (incomplete as it is) is right on about the weaknesses in Apple's strategy to gain market share. IMO, if they had contiued to expand in the UNIX area and done a better job of marketing AUX, they wouldn't have had to re-develop the idea for OSX. The Microsoft platform, with it's huge base of applications, is a great example of Kevin Kelly's proposition that "Value flows from Abundance" (Kevin Kelly, "New Rules for the New Economy", 1998). In short, Kelly claims that in the networked world, the more people you have using your product, the more valuable it becomes. His first examples are the telephone and fax machine: Both devices were in short demand until enough people had them so that owning one was a convenience rather than a curiosity. IMO, if Apple had done with AUX what they've done with OSX, the sheer utility of owning an Apple computer would have been enough to avoid some of the problms they had in the '90's.
  • by zoftie (195518) on Monday October 23, 2006 @12:06AM (#16542274) Homepage
    I have looked over, what was posted and couldn't make out if someone seen, few glossed over the idea, and I would like to emphasize it.
    Apple does not have capacity to maintain large clients. They are big on promises, small on delivery. They key word here, is company to company relationships. Now you can order a swath of Dell PC's and most likely you'll get preferrential treatment from them. No so with apple. They make a point of that as well. Most recently they had gall to come to university here and sell computers, telling how wonderful their OS is. Well it is. What university students stand to gain from learning Carbon and Cocoa. Pretty much nothing. Most UI design jobs are nowadays with .NET and derivatives. (look at your favorite job board). So fine, their platform is superrior(i have a powerbook). However my professor and some other businesses had terrible dealings with apple, on business level. Professor worked at other university where apple had installed 2 large classrooms with early power pc computers and promptly proceeded to ignore the customers that suppose to become future developers and/or businessmen/leaders at large corporations, that possibly will order superrior apple hardware. Not so. No extra support beyond repairing hardware under warranty terms and having sales people calling about "more hardware", at a standard educational 15% discount.

    So, it is small they like, iPod is selling at least for a while. But that would take you only so far. When you fall on hard times, you fall onto your relationship net that you had built up over number of years.

    So during their presentation at the university, they have ignored questions about the relationship and his experience at previous university, only ignored the questions and continued their sales pitch. Needless to say, there are no orders of powerbooks, iMacs or MacPros.
    The feeling you get is that they eager to extract money from you and run. Questions like, "will there be deeper discounts if we fully commit to apple platform?" , was no, just standard discount. Write us a check please. I don't know much about business, but unless they alter the way they handle business clients, in the end apple will end up in the same ditch.

All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.

Working...