Alternate history: Steve Jobs didn't return to Apple

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Blue Velvet, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #1
    Rewind the clock to early 1997.

    Apple doesn't buy NeXT... Steve Jobs chokes on a ham sandwich... the planets don't align...

    Where would Apple be now? What would they be making? Would there even be a MacRumors?

    Feel free to wildly speculate for the hell of it.
     
  2. Nuc macrumors 6502a

    Nuc

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    #2
    I....

    I would be typing on a POS PC :( and life would be hell! I would have never known the luxury of good OS. I would be brainwashed by MS...

    Nuc
     
  3. Seasought macrumors 65816

    Seasought

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    #4
    Apple would be bought out by Microsoft simply for the symbolism of it all.
     
  4. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #5
    Jonathan Ive returns to the UK a broken man, iGary has Steve Ballmer in his avatar. :D

    Creative capture the hearts and minds of the masses with an ugly mp3 player... that only works on Windows.
     
  5. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #6
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. iMeowbot macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

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    #7
    They would have ended up going back to Gassée, an expert in spending fortunes on interesting but unmarketable ideas. That's why Apple fired him in the first place.

    The pieces would probably have been picked up by IBM, who would then have won by default the ability to ship the Mac hardware with a choice of operating systems (that argument is why they never got around to doing much their clone license). Hardware quality would likely have been excellent, and PowerPC machines would have been aimed squarely against Wintel. The traditional Mac niche markets would probably have withered away, as IBM were never very interested in those areas.
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    First, you have to think about what other moves Apple would have made to revitalize the MacOS. The other acquisition deal on the table at the time was Be. Jean Louis Gassée wanted way too much money for his company, but assuming a reasonable price could have been established, then I think you get a new MacOS based on the BeOS, which was a nice product. Gassée is no Steve Jobs, but he is an imaginative person. Apple would have gone in a very different direction, quite probably not as productive -- but I don't think it's fair to assume it would have gone under.

    BTW, I'm not worried about Steve choking on a ham sandwich. He is a vegetarian after all. Can a person choke on tofu? ;)
     
  8. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    #9
    Steve Wozniak comes back to run Apple. Fed up with Apple's departure from his original idealistic views, Woz kills OS X and instead releases an open source version known as "Osux."

    Osux runs on multiple platforms, including Intel-based PCs. As a result, Osux gains immediate popularity amongst the developer crowd, soon prompting Microsoft's executive team to attempt a buy-out of Apple. Woz, recognizing the impact of a MS takeover on his social reform agenda, works to develop a new suite of killer products.

    The tMac, a Portable "tablet-Mac" running Osux, is released in 1999. The tMac measures 8"x10", is a mere 3/4" thick and weighs in at a svelte 4.1 pounds. It takes the market by storm and spawns multiple new Mac models, including the tMac Lite (a 6"x8" version of the tablet), the SuperMac, a tower-based Mac based on AMD's latest chip offering, and the game-oriented gMac. The popularity of these products was surprising, bringing necessary capital into Apple's war chest and allowing Woz to continue his internal development of the next version of Osux, code-named StarGazer.

    Dressed in cargo pants and a flannel shirt, Woz addresses the crowd at the 2000 Comdex show in Las Vegas, "StarGazer is the path to enlightenment. Open source is the way."

    Rapid Apple fans start up a fledgling rumor site known as MacRumors. Soon growing to thousands of members, the site speculates on new Apple products, often wondering when the next version of the tMac will support the latest AMD chipset. "New tMacs next Thursday" is their rallying cry, referencing Woz's propensity for releasing new products on Thursdays.

    Skipping forward to 2006, we see the MacRumors community shocked and amazed as Woz announces a partership with IBM and Motorola to produce a new, more powerful chip for the next generation of SuperMacs. The new chip, code-named Mozart, is a RISC chip.

    "This new chip promises to outperform any chip we've used in the past. While clock speeds are currently limited to 2 GHz, there's no question we'll see 3 GHz by the end of the year."
     
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #10
    As much as I like the products that have come out under Jobs, I do wish I could have seen what would have happened with a BeOS-based OS X. Of course, I'm biased in that I owned both versions of the BeBox (at the time, it was a truly wonderful system, and I would have loved to have seen it get out from its essentially prototype form factor). Clearly, BeOS ran on Intel as well, and I suspect the transition to Intel might have occurred earlier (but not necessarily, as BeOS also ran on the Motorola chips n the BeBox).

    Given the small team behind it, BeOS was a phenomenal OS. The speed at which it matured was unexpectedly good, and there were a lot of things in it way back in 1996 which are just now surfacing in OS X.

    I was very disappointed by what Gassée decided to ask for (agreed - way too much) because it not only took BeOS out of the running but also caused Be to fold, and there were some great people there whose work (as a team) I would have like to see evolve.

    Given the heavy multimedia influence in BeOS and the BeBox in particular (MIDI ports, etc.), it would not have surprised me to have seen an iPod come out just as quickly if not sooner. And, of course, Ive could have blossomed at Apple regardless of Jobs - agreed, Jobs pulled him up, but who's to say Gassée wouldn't have done so as well?

    I think we would have seen multimedia in Macs far sooner under Gassée (or, at least, the Be influence).

    The biggest plus to Jobs is his Reality Distortion Field. He's a rock star. That has definitely helped Apple.

    On the other hand, someone else might have given us a kindler, gentler Apple. I love OS X. Love it. Love my Macs. But... Apple Corporate is a bit of a bastard, and Apple's sales policies suck. Maybe they'd've sucked worse under someone else. Maybe not.

    But, in the end, if Apple had picked Gassée and BeOS, I think we'd still be using Macs. I think perhaps the Be influence might have made the Macs more musician-friendly, and the mostly-commodity-parts mentality behind the BeBox might have given us OS X on Intel around, say, the time OS X first came out, so half a decade sooner.
     
  10. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #11
    Apple would be decimated, we would probably still be waiting for Copland, and they'd been an easy target for buyers, I guess Sun or whoever would have bought the remains of the company at some point right before they went bancrupt (MS wouldn't dare, as they would have been slaughtered in a anti-trust case without Apple).

    I would never have gotten an iBook to replace my Pismo, which was delivered with OS 9, so I would probably still have gotten that back in 2000, but today I would probably be running some *nix variant on some portable PC...

    MacRumors would be about as popular as DellRumors... :p

    Wait a minute, that would also mean: No iPods... :eek:
     
  11. Cooknn macrumors 68020

    Cooknn

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    #12
    Without Steve would NeXTSTEP have died? Not sure where Apple would be without it - but if they were able to survive with what was Classic I believe the creative minds would still be getting their work done on a Mac. That is if there was still software to run on it. *Or*, in the alternate universe, Sun picked up NeXTSTEP and created a kick ass OS with a Unix core and ironically they came up with an MP3 player called the iSPARC. All hail Scott McNealy - the most innovative CEO of the new millennium :p
     
  12. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #13
    I smaller company such as Gateway might have purchased the rights to sell Mac OS machines. Apple has probably the best customer base in the world so the tech would have been purchased just to get to the customer base.
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    Yes, I well remember the demonstrations of BeOS at their MWSF booth, IIRC in 1996. Drew big crowds. Everybody was flabbergasted at the power of the OS, which far exceeded anything else available at the time. Anyone who believes that Apple could not have produced a second-generation OS without Steve Jobs is someone who never saw the BeOS in action. The main problem with BeOS at that time was its lack of maturity. NeXTSTEP had the advantage of having been around for nearly ten years, and of course Jobs wanted about $100 million less for his company than Gassée.
     
  14. TheMasin9 macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

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    #15
    apple?

    i doubt apple would have made the comeback it did, ive would still be designing stuff overseas, steve probably would have gone out on next and fallen back on pixar which either way would have gone to disney which he is going to be the CEO of.
     
  15. drumpat01 macrumors 6502

    drumpat01

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    #16
    If Apple had gone with Be instead of NeXT i think we would have seen Apple stick around but they definitely dont have the popularity the do now. Steve Jobs can poop in a box, label it iPoop, and convince people to buy it for $50. I dont believe we would have seen an iTunes music store and if we did it wouldn't have worked for very long because i believe Steve's selling abliities is what won over the record labels to start with. And because of that, we dont see iPod getting very big, especially not the icon it is today. So ya Apple makes a killer OSX off of Be but, they're market share would have shrunk down to probably less than it is today and stayed there for some time. Do they one day get sold to Gateway or Dell for clones? Who knows, I think its a possiblity but it would have only happened probably with in the last few years or maybe not even have happened yet. I definitely wouldn't be collecting keynotes of some other guy making speeches like I am for Steve right now. Even though a lot of the devepers and designers might be there with out Steve, he is the figure head, his face goes with that company. The more people like the CEO, the more likely they are to go with the company. (the exception being Bill Gates who just strong arms or steals his way into everything)
     
  16. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

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    #17
    That would really hit it off in my part of the world – I'm on t'Mac looking at t'internet at t'moment. :D
     
  17. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #18
    While I am not generally knowledgeable enough about Apple's past to speculate on what-could-have-been, I do know things would've been considerably different w/o Jonathan Ives and that close-knit design team. They/he redefined a whole aesthetic of form-and function.
     
  18. rdowns Suspended

    rdowns

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    #19
    We'd be computing on the Performa 754357A with dual Motorola 68080 processors running BeOS. But the case would be a cool grey color.

    The Creative Zen would own 75% of the market. Online music stores would still be in their infancy.

    Mighty Mouse would only be a cartoon character.

    Puma would be a sporting goods company and not a crappy early release OS.

    Jaguar would only be an overpriced, unreliable car and not an OS.

    Jobs would have ousted Eisner from Disney years ago.

    And the #1 thing heard on MR, New Performas next Tuesday!
     
  19. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #20
    It is funny that you bring this up... NeXT was not up for sale at the time that Apple acquired it.

    In 1995/96 Sun was transitioning Solaris from CDE to OpenStep and was the driving force behind turning the NEXTSTEP APIs into the OpenStep Specifications. They saw OpenStep and Objective C much in the same way that they would later push Java.

    NeXT was getting sick of the operating system business and wanted to move to a strictly WebObjects and Enterprise Objects product line. They thought that the best way to do this was to move existing NEXTSTEP and OPENSTEP users to Solaris OpenStep. Solaris was a perfect choice as it also used Display Postscript for it's rendering engine and all the apps that leveraged NEXTSTEP's postscript abilities would still be able to do so in Solaris OpenStep.

    One of the biggest steps in this direction was the major step backwards of the interface in OPENSTEP 4.0. Any one who has seen the GUI of the NEXTSTEP 4.0 Beta releases knows that NeXT had put a ton of work into some great new ideas. The reason for going back to the same look and feel of NEXTSTEP 3.x was that Solaris OpenStep looked like NEXTSTEP 3.x. NeXT would have an easier time moving existing NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP users to Solaris OpenStep if the environments were pretty much the same.

    You need to remember, at this time Sun had tons of money and was more than willing to buy any technology (or technology company) that they needed. Much like how they later acquired Star Division for StarOffice, Sun had just purchased Lighthouse Design for their suite of office products for NEXTSTEP. Had Sun thought that NeXT was for sale... or endanger of being bought by someone, they would have grabbed NeXT in a heart beat! They had already spent millions on the upcoming transition to Solaris OpenStep and was already seeding beta versions. They later released to the public, but didn't push, Solaris OpenStep 1.0 and 1.1.

    I would guess that had Apple not bought NeXT, NeXT would have sold the operating system part of the business to Sun and continued on selling WebObjects and Enterprise Objects. Jobs may have even taken the steps of merging NeXT and Pixar, as Pixar is (or was) at it's heart a software company.

    One needs to remember that one of the main reasons for Pixar movies was to showcase it's software. With Jobs playing a bigger day to day role at Pixar and the addition of enterprise software, one has to wonder if the creativity that Pixar had displayed (while Jobs was spending time at Apple) would have still been there.

    One of the key things that would have changed was that with Sun running the future of the NEXTSTEP environment, the terms of the settlement agreement between Apple and NeXT would no longer apply. NeXT could not compete in Apple's core market... the Desktop, but that would not have applied to Sun. Sun would have had no problems moving into the desktop market to compete directly with both Apple and Microsoft. And as this would have all happen before the bursting of the tech bubble, Sun would have had tons of money to throw at this endeavor.

    Had Sun been mildly successful, then they would not have been as dependent on the Server market and most likely would have made it through the down turn in much better shape than they did.

    So, where does that leave Apple? Apple would have been attempting to do many of the same things with the BeOS that they were with OPENSTEP in the beginning... modifying MAE to create a Classic environment and modifying the Copland APIs to create a Carbon environment (though most likely not called Carbon).

    I don't think the transition would have moved any faster using the BeOS, but where Microsoft was having a hard time getting people to transition to NT based systems (the whole reason for renaming Windows NT 5.0 Windows 2000 was to move away from the NT part of the name) which had left Windows 98/ME to compete with Mac OS 8/9, in this alternate version of history Sun could have been competing against Windows 98/Me and Mac OS 8/9 with Solaris OpenStep. And they could have been doing this on both SPARC hardware and on PC compatibles.

    What are we talking about? Solaris OpenStep would have been a rock solid operating system based on Display Postscript with the NEXTSTEP GUI and bundled with an incredible set of office apps. Compared to the relatively unstable Windows 98/Me and Mac OS 8/9 environments, Solaris OpenStep would have been a very welcome change to a lot of people. And being a big customer of Adobe (who licenses Display Postscript) they would have been in a good position in 1997/98 to get many Adobe apps ported to Solaris OpenStep. Specially as Illustrator and FrameMaker had recent versions for NEXTSTEP.

    I don't see Windows losing that much ground, but I think Apple would have had the hardest time. And if Adobe was busy making Solaris OpenStep versions of their apps, would they have spent as much effort in making Carbon versions for a BeOS-based Mac OS? We're talking about a lot of additional pressure on Apple here.

    Further, would Apple have recovered in 1997/98?

    Apple turning around had little to do with NeXT software. At the time Apple was smothering itself under it's own product inventory. Would someone at Apple (without Jobs and company) stood up and said "we need to stop this"? Apple needed to streamline it's hardware offerings. And would someone have come up with the iMac? Ive was about to leave Apple because most of his designs were going unused or under utilized.

    Without turning Apple fortunes around quickly, Apple might not have survived to see the release of a BeOS-based Mac OS in 2000/2001. And a lot of Apple's core markets may have moved to Sun.

    The one question I'm not sure about is if Sun would have continued to have both SPARC and Intel (PC compatible) versions of Solaris OpenStep. With Solaris OpenStep they would have had a great way of pushing their hardware... and like Apple today, Sun in this alternate history would have been making more money on hardware than software.
     
  20. RacerX macrumors 65832

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    #21
    As I recall Apple offered about $125 million for Be and Gassée wanted $200 million. Apple acquired NeXT for about $425 million. That would be more than $200 million more than what Gassée was asking.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #22
    Thanks for all the detailed history. Interesting.
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    No public figure was ever announced for acquiring Be, but I recall something on the order of $500 million being the rumored asking price. I'm pretty certain this is correct, but it was a long time ago now. My main recollection was that Gassée wanted more for Be than Jobs wanted for NeXT.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #24
  24. Cooknn macrumors 68020

    Cooknn

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    #25
    Awesome post!!! But in response to the quote above, I was assuming that Steve choked on a ham sandwich which could have led to NeXT actually being up for sale at that time :eek:
     

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