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MacBytes
May 11, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Why Apple and folly go hand-in-glove (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20050511173018)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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Mudbug
May 11, 2005, 04:31 PM
body text quoted in full:
Why Apple and folly go hand-in-glove
By Graeme Philipson
May 10, 2005
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Steve Jobs is the subject of a new biography that has been banned from Apple-owned stores.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES/AFP
Foolish decisions prove that Apple is a slow corporate learner.

You've really got to hand it to Apple. It keeps making great technology, and keeps offending everybody it can. It's a good thing its products are so good, or the company would have disappeared long ago, such is its serial capacity for poor decisions.

Apple's latest act of corporate lunacy is to pull all books published by Wiley from sale in its Apple centres. Wiley, one of the world's leading scientific publishing houses and purveyors of the Complete Idiot's Guide series, is being punished for the sin of releasing a unauthorised biography of Apple boss Steve Jobs.

The book is iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, by Jeffery Young and William L. Simon. Young wrote a biography of the young Jobs 20 years ago, a fine book called The Journey is the Reward. Both books portray Jobs pretty much as he is, a bad-tempered genius.

Companies pretty well reflect the personalities of those at the top. Apple's spitefulness will, of course, serve only to increase publicity for the book. Will censors never learn that their actions are invariably counterproductive?

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Not Apple. It is a slow learner. Its history is dotted with foolish decisions that have ensured the opposite outcome to that intended. That's a common enough phenomenon in this world.

And you see it everywhere in the IT industry. Vendors continually adopt counterproductive strategies or release products that drag the business down. Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was good at this - its founder Ken Olson famously said that he couldn't see any reason why someone would want a computer in their house. He also dismissed Unix as "snake oil".

Ten years ago Novell totally misread the way the networking market was going. Until it was too late, it believed its own hype rather than the glaring evidence of Microsoft Windows' growing capabilities as a network operating system.

Or consider also the tale of Siebel, currently struggling to remain an independent company. It sells software that helps people look after their customers (CRM - customer relationship management), but for years it has neglected its own customer base, selling them inferior products and providing lousy service, chasing market share at the expense of all else.

But Apple does folly better than all of these. Ever since it blew the chance in the early 1980s to make the Apple II the microcomputer standard instead of the IBM PC, it has committed one act of corporate foolishness after another.

The Apple III was a disaster, rushed onto the market way before it was ready. The Lisa, the company's first attempt at a machine with a graphical user interface, was overpriced and underfunctioned, and disappeared without trace.

Even the Macintosh, a great computer and one of the most seminal products ever released, has suffered from constant poor decisions. And don't even get me started on the first Macintosh "portable", or on Apple's repeated half-hearted attempts to address the corporate market.

But by far Apple's biggest mistake has been in not opening the Mac's architecture to other developers. It actually did do this for a short time but then reversed its decision when it found that other companies could make and sell perfectly good Mac clones at a much lower price.

Rather than work with these people, Apple peremptorily withdrew its licensing from the clone makers to ensure that only Apple could make Macintoshes. It's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Another giant mistake was the "Star Trek" balls-up. In the early '90s, following the initial success of Microsoft Windows, Apple thought it might be a good idea to port its much-superior operating system to the Intel platform. It developed the software, a technological tour de force that made an ordinary PC indistinguishable from a Macintosh. But the software, codenamed "Star Trek" (to boldly go where no Mac has gone before) was never released, because Apple didn't want to muddy the waters at the same time it was moving from the Motorola to the PowerPC chip.

And a dozen years ago, Apple also walked away, at the 11th hour, from discussions with IBM about merging. It would have created a PC powerhouse, and the deal was all but done. Apple and IBM senior executives met at a hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in October 1994 to thrash out the final details. At the last minute, Apple's CEO Michael Spindler demanded more money, and the IBM guys walked away.

Apple's recent dummy spit over Young's book comes just after it sued some young bloggers for publishing details of new Macs they had heard about from friends working at Apple. Apple is paranoid about controlling information about itself, while pretending to champion free speech and creativity. Apple's corporate slogan is "Think different" - memorable, if ungrammatical. The problem is, Apple always thinks the same.

In the past few years the iPod and continued innovation of the Macintosh architecture have ensured Apple's survival where many - myself included - had predicted its demise. But if it continues its own march of folly, that demise will be inevitable.

graeme@philipson.info

James Philp
May 11, 2005, 04:37 PM
Is this not a REPOST (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=125547&highlight=iCon)
C'mon MacBytes!

eazyway
May 11, 2005, 04:43 PM
it is very easy to call directions taken mistakes when in fact no one really knows what the outcome of those decisions would have been.

an Apple IBM deal could have simply meant no mac and all windows after all IBM flopped with OS/2 just as badly. After all if you really want a bad choice look no further tham IBM allowing Gates to keep control over an operating system made for and paid for by IBM.

And when Apple clones came up they still did not move any of the business systems out they only replaced machine in the MAC world.

Right now Apple may not be a HUGE company but they are also not smal and are thriving. Will it last . I tend to think so . They have been around for a long time and won't go away quickly.

coolfactor
May 11, 2005, 05:25 PM
Right now Apple may not be a HUGE company but they are also not smal and are thriving. Will it last . I tend to think so . They have been around for a long time and won't go away quickly.

Agreed. They have the muscle to outlast anything. They've proven that time and again.

When it comes to Apple, you can't compare apples-to-apples... they are a different breed.

This "journalist" is just stirring things up a bit, although it does make me realize just how biased I am. :p

slb
May 11, 2005, 05:35 PM
Apple's Steve Jobs 2.0 era has been their most successful in history. Most of the mistakes cited happened on other guys' watches. Maybe that bad-tempered genius of Jobs is a good thing for Apple. I dunno, you tell me if an 800% stock increase is a good thing or not.

stcanard
May 11, 2005, 05:36 PM
Ahh, when you can't think of anything else bad to say, fall back on the good old "think different" grammatical slur.

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

hob
May 11, 2005, 05:43 PM
As always I try to be totally impartial with my view of apple - which is difficult when I love my new G5 so much - the article does have a point, but i'm not sure that Apple's going to fade away. The day apple folds is probably the day I jump out of an airplane with no parachute - can you imagine?!

Anyway, if Apple did fall down I'm sure another company (possibly called "Pear") would pick up the slack - I'd never go back to windows and linux just plain scares me!

Hob

macnulty
May 11, 2005, 08:01 PM
Give that author an armchair and a helmet, hindsight super bowl on Monday.

MacBandit
May 11, 2005, 08:35 PM
Show me any major company that has been around for 30 years plus that hasn't made a bad decision.


No really do it. If you can find one I'll send you an Apple logo souvenir like a pocket knife or money clip. Prize to the first person only.

solvs
May 12, 2005, 01:11 AM
This is one of those things that some of us as Apple lovers strongly disagree with. Even if the criticism isn't constructive (or even that vaid), to pull all books by the same publisher was just plain dumb. Especially since it gives fodder to "journalists" such as this who love to ruffle our feathers so we'll read their articles.

Which we're doing.

I feel dirty.

Jalexster
May 12, 2005, 04:48 AM
graeme@philipson.info

AIM AND FIRE!

mad jew
May 12, 2005, 05:07 AM
graeme@philipson.info

AIM AND FIRE!

:D Good call.

As you'd know fellow Aussie, Graeme's a bit of a lost cause when it comes to writing for the tech part of the newspaper. Fairfax can do much better.

Cooknn
May 12, 2005, 06:27 AM
Wiley, one of the world's leading scientific publishing houses and purveyors of the Complete Idiot's Guide series, is being punished for the sin of releasing a unauthorised biography of Apple boss Steve JobsIt's the title of the book that gets me. I bet it's what set Steve off too. It's not Icon. It's iCon - as if Steve were a con man. He is a good pitch man that's for sure. Anyways, if I was him and I saw a book with that title, I'd be upset as well :cool:

Dont Hurt Me
May 12, 2005, 06:52 AM
Interesting article and i have to agree with a lot of it. Apple doesnt play well with most companies and has shot itself in the foot so many times it aint funny. Any other company would be gone making so many blunders. Lets face it they went from owning a large chunck of the market to 2-3% and are now loaded with cash. Im still convinced that when 99.9% of the world deals with Apple its Apples way or the highway. excluding IBM ;)

KrysBaz
May 12, 2005, 08:43 AM
Interesting article, if a little biased, but as are most of us on these boards.
Perhaps with his quality of approach and hindsight, he should run for office (or run out of the office window)
It's also re-assuring that his predictions that apple wouldn't last have been so accurate.
Please If you're going to publish articles at least make the material interesting and balanced, but in this world of extreems I don't think we will get that again.


Oh well,

:p

Paul O'Keefe
May 12, 2005, 11:37 AM
Perhaps this article should be considered for an apple death knell. Haven't heard one of those in a long time.

Paul O'Keefe
May 12, 2005, 11:45 AM
And the death knell has a new addition. It's up.

mkrishnan
May 12, 2005, 12:16 PM
LOL, someone should set up a death knell widget! ;) :eek: :D

Jalexster
May 12, 2005, 03:09 PM
Show me any major company that has been around for 30 years plus that hasn't made a bad decision.


No really do it. If you can find one I'll send you an Apple logo souvenir like a pocket knife or money clip. Prize to the first person only.

I was going to say Google, but I see you want a company that has been around for over 30 years.

mkrishnan
May 12, 2005, 03:21 PM
I was going to say Google, but I see you want a company that has been around for over 30 years.

Hmmm...it is an interesting challenge. I personally doubt such a thing exists too...my nominations would be... possibly Honda Motor Co (that is, at least, they haven't made major bad decisions in the post-war era), even if they haven't always made the best decisions. Hmmm...maybe.... well, personally, I don't think there are any either. But Honda is probably as close as I can come. And that's a compliment coming from an ex-Fordie. :)

I'm saying, of course, that Honda hasn't made a bad decision since their major strategy setting in the era shortly following the war. They made plenty of bad decisions before that time.

Maedus
May 12, 2005, 09:50 PM
What's funny about this article is that some of the things he lists as Apple's mistakes were good decisions to correct bad decisions that the article's writer applauded.

But by far Apple's biggest mistake has been in not opening the Mac's architecture to other developers. It actually did do this for a short time but then reversed its decision when it found that other companies could make and sell perfectly good Mac clones at a much lower price.

Rather than work with these people, Apple peremptorily withdrew its licensing from the clone makers to ensure that only Apple could make Macintoshes. It's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Apple reversed its decision when it found out that clones only stole market share from Apple itself instead of creating more switchers. Opening up the architecture was a self inflicted wound and if Apple would have kept at it, it would have been a suicidal move.

Another giant mistake was the "Star Trek" balls-up. In the early '90s, following the initial success of Microsoft Windows, Apple thought it might be a good idea to port its much-superior operating system to the Intel platform. It developed the software, a technological tour de force that made an ordinary PC indistinguishable from a Macintosh. But the software, codenamed "Star Trek" (to boldly go where no Mac has gone before) was never released, because Apple didn't want to muddy the waters at the same time it was moving from the Motorola to the PowerPC chip.

Also because few people would buy Apple hardware over a cheaper alternative and Apple makes money off the hardware, not the software. Another move that would have ultimately killed Apple.

Apple's corporate slogan is "Think different" - memorable, if ungrammatical.

Grammar isn't my forte, but being an English major, I still feel comfortable saying that think different is grammatically correct. I understand it as a you understood command. So it has both a subject and a verb; the necessary components of a sentence. It resembles other you understood commands such as: Eat your vegetables. Fetch my shoes. Reboot the computer. Run. Stop. Speak. Speak cearly. Think. Think different. Of course, maybe I'm wrong and it is wrong. But then again, even if it is wrong, how much longer will it continue to be wrong. ;) Split infinitives were taboo until somebody thought to boldly go where no grammar has gone before. :p But I digress.

In the past few years the iPod and continued innovation of the Macintosh architecture have ensured Apple's survival where many - myself included - had predicted its demise. But if it continues its own march of folly, that demise will be inevitable.

Hehe, maybe if Apple would have taken his advice, his predictions of Apple's demise would have been correct. Maybe he should adopt a new mantra; think better.

MacBandit
May 12, 2005, 11:33 PM
Hmmm...it is an interesting challenge. I personally doubt such a thing exists too...my nominations would be... possibly Honda Motor Co (that is, at least, they haven't made major bad decisions in the post-war era), even if they haven't always made the best decisions. Hmmm...maybe.... well, personally, I don't think there are any either. But Honda is probably as close as I can come. And that's a compliment coming from an ex-Fordie. :)

I'm saying, of course, that Honda hasn't made a bad decision since their major strategy setting in the era shortly following the war. They made plenty of bad decisions before that time.


I agree they are a fantastic company but that's not to say they haven't made their share of bad decisions. The point in my challenge is nobody is perfect. To expect perfection is to live in disappointment.