Did Apple computers fail in the 1980's because of Price?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Apple!Freak, May 10, 2005.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Apple!Freak

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    #1
    I did some research to find Apple computers costing anywhere from $1,400 to $9,999 in the 1980's. Either I was looking at what someone pays now for them or what they sold for back then. Is this data true?

    If so, what did the PC sell at? This is the winning question because if the PC was selling for something like $1,000 then this would add to the reason that Apple lost the vast market share in the great uprising of computers.
     
  2. macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #2
    price has always been an issue, im not sure on figures though

    but i think the main cause was that apple was a closed market while bill could license out his os as an OEM and have it preinstalled.....

    there are a lot of factors that went into the problems that apple had in the late 80s, mismanagement among them too
     
  3. macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #3
    Apple could have owned the computer market, but Apple refused to license the Mac OS to other vendors before Microsoft came out with Windows 1.0. But if that happened, we may not have the level of software/hardware integration we have today on the Mac.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apple!Freak

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    #4
    Yeah, with the current research I rest on I conclude that the biggest problem Apple had back then was administration. Spindler appears to be the guy mainly in charge of the mess.
     
  5. macrumors 65832

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    #5
    Apple computers could demand those prices in the 80's because there weren't any other systems that could do what they did. These were work computers that people made their livings on and were more than worth the price at the time.

    Also, the Mac OS couldn't have been run on any PCs of that period because PCs just weren't up to the task of displaying that type of information (which was why they were so cheep). In the 80s all the high end graphic systems ran on Motorola processors (Apple, SGI* and NeXT**) because it was the only platform that could handle the graphical tasks.

    If there was a mistake on Apple's part, it was putting everything behind the Macintosh in the 80's rather than keeping the Apple II/III line alive to compete with low cost PCs.

    I don't think it would have made that big a difference though, Microsoft was more than able to get rid of other competition that had better products during that period that sold for equivalent prices. The first DoJ case against Microsoft was started in 1989 as I recall because of unfair business practices back then.

    Besides, I would hardly call Apple's showings in the 80's a failure.





    * SGI moved to MIPS processors by 1989/90 after having used Motorola 68000-based processors for all their previous systems.

    ** NeXT didn't port NEXTSTEP to another processor platform until 1993, before that NEXTSTEP only ran on NeXT hardware based on Motorola's 68030/68040 processors.
     
  6. macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #6
    Everything to do with technology cost an arm and a leg in the 80's.

    Thats why companys such as Commordore released cut priced computers like the Amiga that sold very well.
     
  7. macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #7
    Not True.

    The Mac was a lot more powerful than the other computers of the day and used BIOS a lot to work.

    You would have needed a dongle of sorts to get Mac OS to work and that would have cost £££$$$ and componies wouldn't pay this.

    To be honest both Apple and IBM failed to see how much money could be made out of software, Commodore, Atari and a host of others used software to enabletheir hardware, Microsoft just saw this before anyone else and made a killing.
     
  8. macrumors G4

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    #8
    Your question assumes that events which transpired over more than a decade took place simulaneously. The computer landscape in the 1980's was much more diverse than it is today. If anyone lost during the 1980's, it was IBM vs. the clones, not Apple vs. Microsoft. It was not until the release of Windows 95 that Microsoft established crushing control of the market. Microsoft's crushing control was gained by creating a duopoly of Windows 95/Office 95. Many of the things that we take for granted about Macs today came out of the late 1980's to early 1990's era. The Macintosh II, TrueType, QuickTime, and PowerPC to name just a few. Apple's great problem until the return of Steve Jobs was lack of clear vision and corporate discipline. Apple's clear vision and discipline produced the iMac, iPod, iTunes, and other unqualified successes.
     
  9. macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #9
    This is all just recollection, but I seem to recall IBM PCs costing just as much as Macs back then. They both started around $2000. The main problem for macs was a lack of business apps in the very early years, which made people believe that PCs were "business machines." I also remember people laughing at the early macs because they "looked like toys." Never mind that they could do things PCs couldn't dream of: the fact that they looked so unusual was a big point against them. By the time these problems were solved, IBM and Microsoft already dominated the business market.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    #10
    In short: basically, yes.

    Mac OS was more advanced than anything else offered at a consumer level during that time, so some people see that as reason to argue that Apple had the right to charge higher prices. Sure, Mac OS was WAY more advanced than Windows 1.0, etc., but that doesn't mean people will always pay. People hate paying more and will most always go for a cheaper option.

    Basically, John Sculley's business strategy worked very well in the Pepsi world, but there was one thing he didn't understand about the computer world: market share. He pumped up prices of Macs in order to gain short-term profits, ignoring the holy grail of getting a large user-base a la Microsoft. So while Apple did make more money for a short amount of time, people slowly started looking at the other guy catching up.
     
  11. macrumors 68020

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    #11
    Don't forget that Bill Gates urged Apple to license it's OS.
    See This
     
  12. macrumors member

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    San Francisco
    #12
    Most people have no memory of the Macintosh's #1 difference between
    it and ALL other personal computers of that era. No...it's not the GUI.

    The Macintosh was the first computer I ever ran into that was COMPLETELY
    unprogrammable. You needed a Lisa to program it. It was years before you
    could buy software to allow you to write applications of your own.

    I believe that this discouraged developers and young wonderkind everywhere.
    The PC was the obvious choice for anyone with a propeller on their heads.

    To me, that doomed the platform far more than any other single issue,
    price and licensing included. Nobody needs a computer that has programs,
    and this was at a time when the big horizontal applications had not yet
    established themselves as universally useful as they have today.

    No programs and no programmers spells doom. I find it fantastic that the
    situation is reversed today. Windows has no development tools that ship
    with it, OS X has free developers tools. :)
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    as i understand it, the other problem for apple in the 80s was that they had more mail-order/phone-order sales than retail sales, that they didn't have a presence in places like best buy. as a result, large brick-and-mortar retailers didn't carry mac software. when consumers came in and looked for software, they would only see pc software, and nothing for the mac.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    snkTab

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    Cincinnati, OH
    #14
    DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVLEOPERS


    damn it, now I have to change my shirt
     
  15. macrumors G4

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    USA
    #15
    Oh, this is just so wrong. LISAs were required to develop software for the Mac before the Mac was released. During the development of the PowerMac ten years later, Apple used IBM RS/6000 workstations to port System 7.1 to the PowerPC. That doesn't mean that the Power Mac cannot be used to develop software after its commercial introduction.

    In the case of the original Mac, there were several IDE's available to develop software for the Mac after its release. Prior to System 7, Pascal was the language of choice. There were at least two major Pascal IDE's, including THINK Pascal. Back in the early 1980's, an awful lot of programming was done in BASIC by users. Apple had developed a fantastic BASIC for the Mac. However, it agreed to drop its own BASIC in favor of Microsoft's BASIC. Microsoft welched on the deal.
    If your facts are wrong, then your conclusions will also be wrong.
    The IBM PC was introduced in 1981. The Mac was not introduced until 1984. For the first three years of the IBM PC's reign, there was no Macintosh.
    Macintosh doomed? By 1987, the IBM had lost control of the PC to the clones. It tried to regain control of the market by introducing the IBM PS/2. In 1988, Apple introduced the Macintosh II, which revolutionized the Mac platform. IBM has now completely abandoned the personal computer market. The Macintosh is still here and stronger than ever.
    Reversed? Except for certain implementations of commandline BASIC, the IBM PC and clones did not ship with free development systems. Prior to the release of MacOS X 10, Macs did not ship with development systems. However, Apple's MPW was and is a free download.
     
  16. Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #16
    Regardless of the details of what actually happened, the way I see it is that Apple ignored or half-heartedly dealt with the needs of the business community. They didn't go to where the money was...

    Whether this was due to a 'hippy-like' philosophy or poor business planning, they seemed to concentrate on the idea of a home computer for everyone, without actually examining whether the compelling need for a computer in every home could be sustained at that time and with those price tags.

    Adobe's roll-out of PostScript saved Apple's bacon and thrust it into the eagerly waiting arms of the design community.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    calyxman

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    #17
    Wow, after all these years many people still haven't figured it out... :rolleyes:
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    calyxman

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    Apr 17, 2005
    #18
    That's the same line of thinking that got Apple doomed during the 80s, it wasn't IBM who was their threat, it was Microsoft.

    What was the 1984 commercial all about? Where was the reference to Microsoft? It was all about Big Blue, who in reality was the Big Loser in the PC industry at the time. The whole marketing effort was driven behind differentiating Apple from a company that was already a loser in the industry.

    And unfortunately, you accomplish very little when competing against losers.

    BTW, about the price, apple-history.com notes that the original 128k was $2495, and the 512k was $3195.
     
  19. macrumors G4

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    #19
    Get your facts straight. When Apple introduced the Macintosh, the IBM PC and PC/MS-DOS had been on the market for three years. Apple was trying to position the Mac as a threat to this duopoly, not the other way around.
    Now where do you get the notion that IBM was a loser in 1984? In 1984, the IBM PC was at its zenith. As for Microsoft, Bill Gates's Band of Merry Men held a very different position in the market during the 1980's than it did in the late 1990's. If you had an Intel-based computer and wanted a wordprocessor, you bought WordStar or WordPerfect, not Word. If you wanted a spreadsheet, you bought Lotus 1-2-3, not Excel. If you wanted a database management system, you bought Paradox or dBase, not Access. If you bought Microsoft Windows, you probably used it to multitask DOS applications.

    Prior to the release of Windows 3.0, most MS-DOS users considered a GUI to be heresy. But, it was not until the release of Windows 95 some eleven years after the release of the Mac and five years after the end of the 1980's that Microsoft became the company that we know today. Even though the Mac was hurt by Windows 95, this new incarnation of Windows had a lot of victims. Win 95 killed DR-DOS and Symantec Desktop. By leveraging Win 95, Microsoft promoted Office at the expense of Lotus, WordPerfect, Paradox and numerous other third-party apps.

    This is not to say that Apple did not make mistakes. It most certainly did. We can probably go around forever discussing those. But Apple's mistakes, whatever they were, did not "doom" the company. The most obvious proof of this is that the company is still very much alive. The Macintosh, its most famous product, it doing very well. Company stock is exceptional.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    calyxman

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    #20
    Ok, after reading everything you wrote, I still don't see your explanation as to why Apple lost out on the marketshare back in the 80s.

    Apple was on the verge of oblivion. Hindsight is 20/20 and it's very easy to take your assessment as a glass-half-full scenario when looking at Apple's success today, but to compare it to the realities that the company was dealing with at the time, you're way off the wall. The company was almost doomed with the release with Copland. It wasn't until Jobs came back and turned things around by hitting a home run with money-makers like the iMac that Apple starting seeing sunny days again.

    Sigh...Ok, here's a fact for you to swallow: Apple's got below 5% marketshare in the industry today. Better yet, Microsoft controls around 90% marketshare. Can you spend some time enlightening us as to why that's so? And by that, can you point to where Apple missed the boat badly, because it seems to me no one around here gets their "facts straight" except for you, and we see that in how you tear up everybody's argument but fail to offer your own insight.
     
  21. macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #21
    DIdn't the IBM PC with DOS come out after Apple released the Mac?

    IBM rush released it because of stellar Mac sales and Microsoft were willing to creata an OS in no time at all to meet a deadline.
     
  22. macrumors regular

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    #22
    I wish I was on the verge of oblivion. It would mean I'd have 1.4 billion in cash in the bank. This was around 1997 which is around when Steve Jobs became iCEO and gave the company a long needed shake down to turn it into a lean, mean, innovating machine; which is before Jobs had enough time to turn Apple around and make it much more profitable. Also Apple was ranked 22 spots higher than Microsoft in the Fortune 500 at the time and sold 4 million computers, outselling IBM. Apple having problems? Of course! Apple doomed? Absolutely not!


    Ooh, Market Share. That magical number that imparts ungodly powers onto its owner such as seen with AT&T's stunning success today. What? AT&T isn't doing to well? Really? Why not? They had over 90% of the market share! Oh wait, they were declared a monopoly, broken up, and haven't recovered since then. That's what 90% will get you.

    I remember reading an article responding to the stupidity of Dvorak's Macintel which basically called Dvorak an idiot for being obsessed with market share because it's not the measurement of success that he and media people seem to think it is. The article then went to point out that both Microsoft and Apple are successful companies; especially at what their goals are. Microsoft's business strategy stresses dominating market share which they have succeeded at and because of this, they are a successful company. Apple's business strategy stresses innovating and pioneering home technologies which Apple is succeeding at and because of this, Apple is a successful company.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    calyxman

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    Apr 17, 2005
    #23
    If marketshare is not a matter of success then I will hold you to your word and say that the iPod's dominant marketshare is not a measure of its success.

    By the way, you never explained why Apple has under 5% marketshare of the industry. What is it with you mac people? You're evading the real question. And I'm tired of hearing MS as the excuse for all of this when you know MS never had a chance if it had to compete head-to-head with the Mac OS at the time. But MS did come out on top.

    I find this very entertaining.
     
  24. Guest

    iGary

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    #24
    I think it would be more appropriate to title this "Did Apple fail in the LATE 80's..."

    1. Jobs attempt at a coup and his subsequent dismissal was no small dent in Apple's momentum.

    2. Sculley and the CEO's that followed him were no innovators. This is, after all, ths spirit and driving force that is Apple. It nearly killed the company.

    3. Apple totally ignored the business sector, as mentioned.

    4. Totally fragmented product lineup and clone producers that further fragmented an already fragmented product line.

    5. An aging, albeit good, OS.

    I do think that Jobs dismissal had a great deal to do with the donwturn of the company.
     
  25. macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #25
    Okay, I'll take a stab at this one. Apple didn't respond quickly enough to IBM's introduction of the IBM PC in 1981. The Apple ][ didn't have the horsepower or expandability to compete, and the Mac, a superior machine, wasn't released until 1984.

    The Mac still had a chance to dethrone IBM/MS, but blew it by not having a spreadsheet app that was a serious competitor to Lotus 1-2-3 or a database that was real competition for dBase. By the time MS (ironically) released Excel for the Mac, it was too late -- PCs were entrenched.

    Now Apple's got one more chance: they can use security as the lever to gain marketshare, but this is a difficult horse to ride. If Macs begin to show vulnerability to viruses, they can kiss this chance goodbye as well.
     

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