Feeds

How I saved the Macintosh

After getting the idea from a Clamshell Orgy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Shootout

As Apple's graphics market expanded, so did the array of products - and the prices. It was becoming more difficult to sell such expensive computers.

CEO John Sculley was determined to maximize profits by infiltrating the corporate market, which was probably the only profitable market for such expensive workstations. The IBM PC and inexpensive PC clones were dominant, Apple would have to compete on their turf.

I remember attending a strategy meeting with an Apple engineering executive, who described their new principle of "predictive reaction." It would take two years to produce new computers, so these computers had to be designed to compete with products other companies would release in two years. They had to make a guess as to which of their competitors' products might still be in development, and react to what they would release in the future.

Apple was chasing ghosts, competing with machines that might never exist. Or worse, it was competing with designs from companies that would soon drop out of the PC market, like AST, NEC, and WYSE. And Apple had some serious competition: with Windows, Bill Gates was gunning for the Mac market.

All this should have worried me, but it didn't. Our corporate customers were buying millions of dollars of Macs. Our largest client was Disney - it was very secretive about its purchases, and required us to sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), for fear that it would be known they were one of Apple's largest customers. Disney disliked the expense of the new Macs, and was always pressuring us for equivalent PC products at a lower cost. I finally got tired of this battle, so I decided to do a "shootout."

I arranged two roughly equivalent computers, a Mac II and a Compaq 386 with Windows 2.0. and delivered them to the Disney Imagineering studios for a feature-by-feature comparison. But I made a fatal mistake. I demonstrated both machines completely stock, except I added Adobe Type Manager to the Compaq, so it could display WYSIWYG fonts.

In front of a crowd of about a hundred of Disney's top designers and computer people, I showed how the same functions worked on both Windows 2.0 and a Mac. The Mac clearly had the advantage. All the applications worked together seamlessly. On Windows, what you saw was not quite what you got on the printer, and none of the apps worked together without complex workarounds.

After exhaustively demonstrating the Mac's superior qualities, I was stunned by the conclusion of the Disney VP. He said, "wow, thanks for showing us the PC can do everything the Mac can do!" I had inadvertently disrupted a multimillion dollar Mac account.

But Apple wasn't doing much better at demonstrating its own advantages. Its marketing was losing focus. Apple was coasting off the strength of its previous successes, charging high prices for a premium product, confident that nobody could catch it. And customers were defecting.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Next page: The Apple Advantage

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.