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The Forgotten Failure of Apple's PowerTalk 138

DECS writes "The series of articles Why Apple Will Change TV compared how Apple is poised for success in areas where Microsoft is currently failing. But circumstances are subject to change! Just over a decade ago, Apple began facing serious legacy problems with its platform, with many parallels to today's Microsoft. Examining Apple's dramatic fall provides a series of notable platform lessons that no company should ignore. A look back at the forgotten failure of Apple's PowerTalk: Apple vs. Microsoft in the Enterprise"
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The Forgotten Failure of Apple's PowerTalk

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  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:42AM (#16407387)
    The article mentions 3 valuable lessons:

    1. Don't try to sell a futuristic product that doesn't quite work yet; instead, talk about it while selling as existing product that can compete in the current market.

    2. Don't attempt to fire conceptual ideas at an imagined market; instead, craft finished products that solve real problems and can support a sustainable market.

    3. Ship a functional product and then constantly refine it; Real world use and years of ongoing refinement create enormous value for a product.

    Now, according to their lessons, google with all their betas must be a rightout disaster, shouldn't it?

  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:51AM (#16407513)
    "The series of articles Why Apple Will Change TV compared how Apple is poised for success in areas where Microsoft is currently failing. But circumstances are subject to change!"

    What's with the excited exclamation mark? In something purporting to be a news story/blurb i usually expect a recitation of facts combined with a calm statement of opinion. Shouting makes it sound like either a rant or something intended as a dire warning. Are you a fan of microsoft who is vehemently denying that apple will actually experience the success that some people believe they are posed for? Or are you an apple fan sending out a call to arms to other apple fans to make sure that this opportunity doesn't waste away? I can't tell which way you're leaning but the exclamation mark sure makes it seem like you think it's _really_ important for one reason or another.

    [/punctuation nazi]

  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:02AM (#16407661)

    Now, according to their lessons, google with all their betas must be a rightout disaster, shouldn't it?

    Significantly different market. Google has the cash, time, patience, and talent to instead throw 100 products at the wall and see what sticks. Because we're talking web services and not hardware, they can accept a 20% success rate, or lower, and that would be fantastic.

    That said, Google would do well to invest more energy in promoting the products that look on the verge of success, like mail. Already Yahoo has come out with a product that many think is now better than gmail (though I don't), in part because google's been dragging its feet with gmail, *and* it has stagnated for over a year.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:04AM (#16407699)
    All products ever made by all companies fall into one of those three catagories. Meaning, all products ever produced and sold are either catagory 1, 2, or 3.
    Those are not 3 lessons. It is the same lesson and I do not agree with the conclusion. If companies never tried something on the edge or what I consider catagory 1 or 2, we would have far less technology in the world right now. Catagory 1 and 2 can and do lead to number 3. Companies that only want to release number 3 are waiting for the trend to be set and then jumping on the bandwagon making their own version of the product, in many markets, being conservative and waiting for that is too late.
  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:06AM (#16407733) Homepage Journal
    What kind of TV tuner would you have them install?

    Analog NTSC? Great, except that it'll stop working in a few years, and the quality is abysmal by modern standards.

    ATSC? You get high-def, but you need an antenna, and even then you only get the big networks, which is a big step down to people used to 100+ channels of cable.

    Clear QAM? It lets you use cable, so no antenna, but chances are you'll still only get the major networks, and it's arguably a greater pain in the ass than ATSC: many cable companies (Comcast, I'm looking at you) strip the metadata from their clear-QAM channels, making things like program guides really painful to use. And at the end of the day, you'll still be stuck with only the major broadcast networks, because those are the only ones that the cablecos are required to broadcast unencrypted. Everything else requires a proprietary converter box.

    The solution would be CableCard, but there are still a lot of areas where you either can't get one, or are treated like shit and get a degraded level of service if you do. (And you pay several extra bucks for the privilege of renting the card.)

    Given the state of the market right now, I wouldn't ship a computer with a TV tuner in it, either. If the FCC were to get its act together and really make CableCard the standard, and eliminate proprietary converter boxes, then I think you'd see an explosion in the types of set-top boxes and DVRs. I have no doubt Apple would be at the top of the list.
  • by shaneh0 ( 624603 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:33AM (#16408143)
    Seriously, their office suite launched, what, a week ago? Even if you look at the seperate components, the spreadsheets have been live for only a few months.

  • tip-toeing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:35AM (#16408165)
    I have to say I have been very impressed by Apple's strategic manovering over the last five years or so. Whilst Sony and Microsoft has been clashing heads trying to use gaming machines as a trojan horse to become the digital hub of people's living rooms, Apple has quietly been putting together all the pieces it needs to do so in a much more sophisticated manner.

    Personally, I don't think Steve Jobs is very interested in conquering the enterprise desktop these days, he's got his eyes fixed on potentially a much bigger pie - becoming the digital media hub of people's homes.
  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:36AM (#16408179) Homepage Journal
    The answer is CableCARD. I want a media box that can replace the piece-of-shit Comcast DVR that reboots several times a week, littering my screen with dozens of "recorded for 0 hours 0 minutes" listings. HDTV compatibility is a must and I don't have the wherwithal to put up a giant antenna. So far the only box that comes close is the TiVo Series3, but that makes even the PlayStation 3 look cheap. ($800, plus rentals for two CableCARDs, plus $17 a month for TiVo service, adds up to over $1,000 in the first year alone.)

    One alternative is just downloading all my TV shows from the iTunes Store (or BitTorrent, if I only want to watch popular stuff the day it comes out). To do that quickly you'll need a cable modem, and to get a cable modem for a decent price you might as well subscribe to some sort of cable, and that brings us around to square one again.
  • by RunzWithScissors ( 567704 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:54AM (#16408479)
    Seriously, companies don't really learn from another company's trials and tribulations. At some point they all suffer from the same thing, which will cause them to experience "a downfall". This malady is:

    "But we're [insert company name here]!"

    I know it looks innocuous, but let's see that in action!

    1988, IBM was having big problems with management bloat, a stagnant product line, and a poor customer experience. But if you asked someone there 'Why would I buy from you when I could buy from Compaq or some other less expensive, more innovative competitor?' the response was invariably, "But we're IBM!"

    In 1998, SGI started shipping their coolest, most important product ever. The $15,000 Windows NT workstation. If you asked an executive at SGI 'Why would I pay $15000 for a Windows NT machine with a nice graphics card when I can build a whitebox with an Nvidia Riva TNT card for far less money?', the response was "But we're SGI!"

    Today, ask a SUN exec 'Why should I pay $X for a solaris workstation when I can buy assemble a box for $500 running Linux that will do the same thing?' What do they say? "But we're SUN!"

    It's been my experience that this becomes a problem at most sucessful companies, and if you pay attention, you'll see it's cyclical. The company adopts this mentality, loses customers, re-vamp's their product line, customer service, etc. Gains customers, becomes successful again, and ultimately repeats their mistakes and do the whole thing over again.


  • by CherryChuckles ( 998086 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:01AM (#16408581)
    .... but they ARE competing for mindshare... and right now Apple is winning hands down. They seem to have the midas touch where everything they come out with turns to gold. Currently, Microsoft is the exact opposite. An important point to note in the article is how the author discusses how much of Microsoft's monopoly is attributed to customers choosing an MS product over a competitors. They may have 95% market share but its also true that 95% of the time Windows is sold, there's no choice involved. You get it pre-installed on your new computer. Whereas Apple's minute market share is completely derived from people exercising choice. You have to actually choose to buy a mac. This might not be such a big deal right now but Microsoft is definitely worried about it. Mac OS X may not directly compete with Windows per say... but its rising popularity should and does worry the big giant.
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:41PM (#16410099) Homepage

    One thing I find noteworthy here is that, if Microsoft were really were making a business out of selling a superior OS, Apple wouldn't really be a threat to them-- at least not any more than Dell is a threat to Microsoft for offering Wordperfect with their computers. In a lot of ways, Apple's switch to Intel should have been a happy day for Microsoft, since it essentially turned Apple into another vendor of hardware for which Windows could be sold.

    The real problem is, "producing superior operating systems" hasn't been Microsoft's core business for years now. Instead they've been riding off of vendor lock-in. And so, just like W.I.N.E., Apple is a threat to Microsoft simply by giving users an option of running Photoshop (and other software not present on open-source operating systems) without buying Windows. The mere existence of an alternative is a serious threat to Microsoft's business model, a model which consists mainly of vendor lock-in. Microsoft can't afford to let users have any choice, or they'll lose market share.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @04:15PM (#16413101)
    Products with a real current functionality, like GMail and Google Maps, succeed despite pushing the technological envelope.

    "Pushing the technological envelope"? Wake up and stop drinking the kool-aide.

    Google search? Search results 90% of the time are astroturf sites and spam blogs. I've completely given up trying to find product reviews via google, for example.

    Froogle? Search for some computer component part number. Let's say the same # is used by sewing machines. Click on "Computers" without clicking the subcategory "motherboards"- the parts you wanted are GONE. What the hell? Go back, click motherboards- the parts are there. Froogle is also completely incompetent when it comes to matching/grouping/consolidating products, or even matches like "1GB PC133"...half the time, that'll yield 512MB dimms which happen to have a link to 1GB dimms on the same page!

    Gmail can't let you do more than ONE thing at a time. Want to have a draft of an email open while reading a second for reference? Tough. GMail can't filter by custom headers- which makes it absolutely useless for subscribing to mailing lists. Gmail blatantly and heavily encourages top-posting and full quoting, much to the annoyance of mailing list managers everywhere. GMail was a GIANT step backwards in email client functionality. I never understood what the hell all the fuss was about, and I still don't after using it for a few months.

    Google Maps is "the best map client around", except MS's blows it out of the water; pushpins, saved addresses, side birds-eye views, etc...and doesn't have the serious problems Google Maps does with serving up image tiles; half the time, tile images aren't loaded at all, or are loaded in the wrong order. Why in 2006 do I have to keep entering my home/work address as starting points/destinations, when I could have Mapquest save addresses back in 1998!?

    Google Analytics? What if I'd like to do something as simple as track my visitor retention rate over time, to see if it's going up/down? Pretty simple, right? Can't do it; you can't track anything over time except for a few basic parameters. Other bug-based web-trend software is far better, and Google appears to have done squat with Analytics, which they bought off another company!

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