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Apple 1996

Wired: Admit it, you're out of the hardware game....

     
2:31 am on Sep 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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David Pogue's NYTimes.com's Circuits Newsletter reminded folks that 10 years ago, Apple was seen as dead. I thought this would be boring, but instead it was highly entertaining. Here are a few quotes about Apple that Pogue pulled from the past that I especially liked:

* Fortune, 2/19/1996: "By the time you read this story, the quirky cult company...will end its wild ride as an independent enterprise."

* Time Magazine, 2/5/96: "One day Apple was a major technology company with assets to make any self respecting techno-conglomerate salivate. The next day Apple was a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future."

* BusinessWeek, 10/16/95: "Having underforecast demand, the company has a $1 billion-plus order backlog....The only alternative: to merge with a company with the marketing and financial clout to help Apple survive the switch to a software-based company. The most likely candidate, many think, is IBM Corp."

* A Forrester Research analyst, 1/25/96 (quoted in, of all places, The New York Times): "Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It's so classic. It's so sad."

* Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft's chief technology officer, 6/97: "The NeXT purchase is too little too late. Apple is already dead."

* Wired, "101 Ways to Save Apple," 6/97: "1. Admit it. You're out of the hardware game."

* BusinessWeek, 2/5/96: "There was so much magic in Apple Computer in the early '80s that it is hard to believe that it may fade away. Apple went from hip to has-been in just 19 years."

3:53 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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* Wired, "101 Ways to Save Apple," 6/97: "1. Admit it. You're out of the hardware game."

Heh...I think that's about when I stopped reading "Wired."

7:55 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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* Wired, "101 Ways to Save Apple," 6/97: "1. Admit it. You're out of the hardware game."

The only prediction from those noted above that is coming true ... the rest are still pending ...

12:56 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, SS, that iPod thing isn't going to catch on....
6:30 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have to agree that '96 and '97 were rough years, but it's always good to be reminded that the predictions of journalists are often wrong.

Link to the article: [nytimes.com...]

iPods are booming and sales of MacBooks and iMacs are strong. Everything I've been seeing indicates that market share is increasing in the wake of the popularity of iPod and iTunes.

the rest are still pending ...

Only in the sense that, given enough time, it is likely that every company will fail. But if in 50 years Apple croaks and the doomsayers (those still alive) cry "I told you so in 1996!" I doubt anyone will marvel at their oracle-like powers. :)

9:28 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I used to loathe Macs with their single-button mices and their pre-OS X crashes. Then one day I wandered into a store and started fiddling around with a 2nd generation iMac, and found a terminal with a full complement of UNIX tools, and even my name (I once contributed about two lines of code to an open source project which is used in most Unixy systems, so somewhere deep in the bowels of every say post 2002 Mac, zCat is having his 15 minutes of fame). It took a couple more years for prices to come down enough for me to justify buying one, but it's (or they) have been excellent value for money.

My fervent hope is that Apple maintains enough share of the market for OS X to be a viable software platform for the big vendors, but not enough for it to be attractive to all the skript kiddiez.

9:38 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Ten years ago, around the time that the above-quoted comments were made, was the era of the Apple Macintosh desktop vs. Microsoft Windows desktop lawsuit, the outcome of which proved little more than Gates' ability to buy good attorneys.
10:49 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You're out of the hardware game

I meant no offense. I was merely agreeing that Apple's emphasis on purely custom-built, proprietary hardware and their extremely tight-knit group of suppliers has opened up substantially in the past decade. Now they are selective purchasers, however most of the hardware in their systems is no longer just-for-Apple. Remember Nubus?

Besides, does anyone in this forum think that Apple can ramp up fulfillment enough to provide the sheer numbers of systems that will need to be shipped to even come close to non-Apple figures using exclusively native hardware? I mean: Apple has less than 2% of the PC market. Can they grab 40% using strictly their own manufacturing funnel? I think not. And I think that they realize this, too.

Ergo sum: They're out of the hardware game. The numbers they will need to become anything more than a boutique systems provider, or more than a cute device provider, simply demand that they focus their resources on things other than speccing out their own hardware.

<edit>BTW, the Apple v. MS lawsuit ended with both companies acknowledging that they drew substantially from Xerox PARC's Alto desktop demonstrations. Neither MS nor Apple 'won' that one ... strictly speaking.</edit>

[edited by: StupidScript at 11:19 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2006]

1:52 pm on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for elaborating on your thought StupidScript. You are correct, business at Apple is very different now, than the days when we saw Apple -branded printers, modems, and external hard drives.

But the fact that Apple uses many more third-party, industry-standard components, puts them only as far "out of the hardware game" as, say, Dell is. Lots of people still buy Apple products for the quality or cachet of the hardware.

BTW, before someone gets upset, the most recent Mac market share stats are in the 4% to 5% range. (And of course, Macs have a longer average life-cycle, so installed base doesn't mirror marketshare, so forth and so on.)