Why did Apple choose NeXT instead of Be

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc. Rumors' started by ipiloot, May 17, 2002.

  1. ipiloot macrumors member

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    #1
    I know, that there were questions about the price and the personality, but senses say to me, that there had to bee someone, looking to the depths of the systems. What did they found in favor of Nextstep?

    Got the question reading this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/24648.html
     
  2. iJed macrumors 6502

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    #2
    NeXT had a proven OS with some really great technology (OO APIs, WebObjects, UNIX based, etc) while Be had an early version of what looked like it would one day be a promising OS. BeOS would have required many more years of work than NeXTSTEP did to make it into a usable Mac OS.
     
  3. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #3
    Also...

    Also, the guy in charge of Be at the time, (French guy), priced his company too high for Apple. So Gil Amelio turns to Steve Jobs for advice on what to do. $459 million later, Apple buys NeXT and the rest is history.

    Was it the right decision? Who can say? All that can be said is that the iMac wouldn't have existed and that was the Mac that saved Apple.
     
  4. Weaky macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Apple should have bought Be before Palm did it, (for 11 millions) but anyway, they hired someone from Be who designed the file system which was and still one of the best. Also, by getting Be, Jean-Louis Gasse instead of Jobs.... good or bad thing, I dont know...

    But to bad, I was a Be fan... Maybe palm will release a new version !
     
  5. ipiloot thread starter macrumors member

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    Gasse't?

    Well. I think, that man returning to Apple wpold mean, that there wouldn't be such a company anymore.
    That was the man behind the most stupid decisions, Apple has ever done (rising the prices all-of-a sudden or dropping the clones project when it was a time and starting it when it was too late).
    Every major project, Gasse't has run, has been a failure. He's only qualities were charisma and talant of working with engineers to get the maximum out.

    I'm asking more about the qualities of the OS, that made the difference.
     
  6. iJed macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I suppose that the NeXTSTEP API would be a major factor in choosing between the two. I once tried programming with the C++ Be API and did not find it fun. Cocoa on the other hand does nearly everything just the way you would want it done.
     
  7. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    #7
    I can get into the details later... but I personally feel NeXT was a far better purchase for apple...

    otherwise, we'd have just another proprietary unix-like OS.

    arn
     
  8. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #8
    NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    BeOS was fast and very innovative. But its innovations could have also been its fault: it was so new and different that building all of the necessary applications and technologies would have been difficult.

    Look at what NeXT offers...

    1. A stable and fast server OS thanks to its nearly pure *nix underpinnings. It is questionable whether Be could've offered this.

    2. A large collection of developers and existing applications. Mail, Omnigroup's apps, WebObjects...they all existed in NeXT.

    3. Easy portability from other *nix's. Ever try using fink?? There are hundreds of open source applications available for OS X that are nothing more that recompiles of existing GNU software. Plus we have the XFree86 windows server running under OS X (along side Aqua nonetheless). LinuxPPC did a lot to help out in this arena as well--most of the software was made "PPC-ready" by programmers working with LinuxPPC.

    4. An easy way to transition from Classic Mac OS to the new Mac OS. Classic Mac OS "enablers" have been around forever on Linux for Mac hardware. This technology just needed to be better integrated into OS X to make it a viable Classic environment. No such technology was available to Be. Also, the Carbon API's were a very easy prospect on NeXT.

    5. Finally, because of bad blood between Be and Apple, BeOS hadn't supported Mac hardware for years. This evened the playing field for portability of the actual OS's to PPC. Also, Apple had investigated Unix on the Mach kernel previously (remember MkLinux??) so the company itself had more experience in "Unix on Mach" making a full NeXT port to Mac hardware less daunting.

    This isn't a complete list of reasons, but I think it begins to show you how NeXT was really the best choice.

    Taft
     
  9. Weaky macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Right, Be's networking side was alpha at best and from what a read, Steve Jobs is the man for the task, and being a real Unix Os instead of a Unix-command-line-like with a king of Posix layer but ... Be was so fast! Over the time, faster CPUs will be the "fix" to that "problem" on OS 10-11-12...
     
  10. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #10
    Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.


    I don't think BeOS was any more different than OpenStep. Both were great, new object-oriented software infrastructures. OpenStep's was a bit better but that's not to say Be's wasn't far superior to Mac OS's or Windows' as well.

    Well, Apple was in the market for a desktop OS, not a server OS. OpenStep was never a great server OS anyway. (And still isn't, in its current form) BeOS was far faster, and at the time had much more robust audio & video subsystems than OpenStep did - which should have appealed to some of Apple's most die-hard markets. BeOS had some problems (networking, printing, incomplete POSIX compliance [if you consider that a problem]), but none that couldn't be fixed.

    Wow... Mail and OmniGroup's apps :) In '97, the OpenStep API was hardly being used at all. Objective C was considered dead. I think it was pretty even - both NeXT and BeOS had terrible third-party support at the time. Adobe ditched NeXT early on; I don't think Be EVER attraced any major developers. (I don't consider Opera a major developer :))

    In '97, I don't think the ability to easily port Unix software to the new Mac OS was much of a consideration, since the open-source movement was MUCH less significant then than it is today. (And that's saying a lot, considering it's not even very significant today, with a few exceptions. :)) I think there was an X server for BeOS, wasn't there? If not, writing one would have been pretty easy.

    Actually, BeOS for PPC had SheepShaver, which allowed you to run Mac OS apps from within BeOS. (Functionally equivalent to the Yellow Box.) I've never used it, nor have I ever used a PPC BeOS machine, but from what I hear, it worked well. Carbon is a great idea, but I don't see any reason why it would have been more difficult to implement on BeOS than on OpenStep/OS X.

    Apple was considering the purchase of Be in 1996-1997, and at this time Macs, BeBoxes, and clone Macs were the only machines BeOS ran on. It wasn't until the G3s came out in '97 that BeOS wouldn't work on Macs, and this as you said was for political and not technical reasons. BeOS would have been binary-compatible with the G3 - the only thing left to do would have been minor driver updates etc. for the new machines. But it was locked off of the G3s anyway, much the same way Mac OS X is locked off of older Mac hardware - although unlike the case with OS X, there are no workarounds that I know of to get BeOS working on newer Mac hardware.

    I believe that Apple's acquisition of NeXT (or, as it turned out, NeXT's acquisition of Apple :)) rather than Be was the better choice. I believe this for one reason: Steve Jobs. In my opinion, if Apple had not gotten Steve back, it would no longer be in business today. Gil Amelio was in the process of running Apple into the ground by licensing Mac hardware to clone makers who built faster Macs than Apple did and sold them for lower prices. If Apple had not bought either NeXT or Be, Amelio would have been fired several months later for his poor performance and replaced by another braindead Rick Belluzo-esque "tech whiz" who would have finished the job.

    That said, hypothetically speaking, it is interesting to imagine how things would look today if Apple had bought Be but somehow Jobs was made Apple CEO anyway. If this happened to be the case, and it was BeOS instead of OpenStep that evolved into Mac OS X, I think this is how Mac OS X would look today:
    - It would be much, much faster, in essentially every way. Not only faster than the real Mac OS X is, but faster than OS 9 and Windows as well. Even on rev A iMacs. In fact, owners of 1GHz Pentium IIIs running Windows XP would stare in awe at the 233MHz iMac that performs faster than their baby, and that's no joke.
    - It would have an equally robust media layer, although this layer would benefit from the added overall responsiveness of the rest of the system.
    - It would have a technologically inferior windowing system. Not a bad one, but the only reason Apple dumped OpenStep's Display PostScript, AFAIK, was because it was patented and they didn't want to pay licensing fees to Adobe. BeOS's windowing system was not patented by any third party and so there would have been no pressing need to re-tool it.
    - It would not have an open-source "core," although it would probably still contain various small open-source Unix programs.
    - It would have a kickass filesystem and equally kickass metadata support.

    OK, I think I will end this post here.

    Alex
     
  11. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #11
    Isn't OS X a proprietary Unix-like OS? Excepting Darwin, of course, but I'm not sure how that's relevant. As long as you can write software for it that works, isn't that all that matters? It's not like OS X users regularly hack their kernels.
     
  12. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    #12
    Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    Originally posted by alex_ant
    If this happened to be the case, and it was BeOS instead of OpenStep that evolved into Mac OS X, I think this is how Mac OS X would look today:
    - It would be much, much faster, in essentially every way. Not only faster than the real Mac OS X is, but faster than OS 9 and Windows as well. Even on rev A iMacs. In fact, owners of 1GHz Pentium IIIs running Windows XP would stare in awe at the 233MHz iMac that performs faster than their baby, and that's no joke.


    This is a big assumption... NeXTStep was fast too....

    Ever run it on a 33mhz 68030?

    arn
     
  13. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #13
    Gasse't = Gassé? If so, then are you speaking of the time long ago in the '80s while he still worked at Apple? He played no part in allowing Mac clones, since he had nothing to do with Apple after the late '80s. The guy who ****ed up Apple in the mid-'90s by doing that was Gil Amelio. (He is not the only guy who played a part in ****ing up Apple, but he was significant.) Apple buying Be would not necessarily have made Gassé Apple's CEO anyway.

    Alex
     
  14. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    #14
    I'm sure people will debate this... but OS X is Unix. BeOS really wasn't.

    In terms of the implications.... Unix is well known. People are familiar with Unix and in terms of adoption of technologies by the Linux/Server/3d/Video/geek/developer crowd, I think it makes a big impact.

    Lots of people liked BeOS too... but it's still was different enough to cause endless issues (imo)

    arn
     
  15. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #15
    Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    Yeah, but as it played out, Nextstep eventually became as slow as it is today. I was only comparing what might have happened with what really did happen.

    BeOS flew on a dual 66MHz 603, and it flies today on a 1GHz PIII as well. Even if Apple had somehow managed to bloat the hell out of and slow it down by 25%, it would still be faster than OS X currently is.

    Alex
     
  16. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #16
    That's very true. BeOS could have been further Unixized... maybe. I guess close Unix compatibility is a nice thing to have, even when you're talking about a situation where it's not really seen as a big advantage (the desktop market).

    Alex
     
  17. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #17
    Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

     
  18. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    #18
    Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    But that's what I'm saying... it's not that NeXTStep was slow either... it's that Apple Aquaized/Quartzized it... :) Which I presume is what they would have done to BeOS as well...

    arn
     
  19. alex_ant macrumors 68020

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    #19
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    I was under the impression that Apple Quartzized OpenStep because they wanted to replace Display PostScript with something for which they didn't have to pay royalties. In doing so, they were forced to completely rewrite the display layer. BeOS's display layer was not proprietary, so I'm presuming that there would have been no inclination on Apple's part to change it substantially.

    Quartz is apparently not the only speed issue present in OS X, either...

    Alex
     
  20. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

    Well, Quartz is a whole new technology however... and Aqua is a whole new look. I guess the question would be is whether or not Apple would have tried to develop this new technology on top of BeOS or just stayed with their 'old skool' display technology.

    Quartz (& Extreme) is supposed to provide many more capabilites and features then we generally are aware of... I guess we'll see if it gets taken advantage of... (see ars article and this screenshot which demonstrates shapes reflecting the image of a playing DVD movie)

    But, like I said... NeXTStep and BeOS were both fast on their respective systems. I don't think you can assume BeOS would remain fast if Apple were to have "updated it" to bring it up to par with the current Mac OS X technologies.

    arn
     
  21. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #21
    Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.


    File sharing is really hardly dependent upon OS speed. You could be running Windows NT 4 on a 500MHz PII and as long as you've got Ultra160 RAID and the Pentium 4 round the corner doesn't, you'll be alright. Have you ever used BeOS? I have a 550MHz PC running BeOS and a 550MHz Mac running X.1.4, both with 256MB of RAM, and the speed difference is simply staggering. BeOS is faster in every way - all aspects of filesystem performance (reads, writes, throughput), all aspects of display performance (BeOS has a simpler and much faster GUI, with mad 2D performance characterized by smooth-as-silk window resizing). Apps launch faster. The Tracker (Finder equivalent) is like lightning. BeOS and all the software it runs is pervasively multhreaded, resulting in massive performance and responsiveness gains. When comparing Mac OS X's speed to BeOS's there is simply no contest. Not to mention that BeOS runs great, even under a reasonable load, with 32MB of RAM. :)

    I believe BeOS utilized a microkernel as well, which wouldn't explain kernel speed differences unless Mach is for some reason slower than it should be. I don't know very much about either Mach or the BeOS kernel.


    I don't think I'm being presumptuous. In 1997, Apple was dying. I know the phrase "Apple is dying" is a cliché in Apple-land, but it really was true. They were hardly in a position to explore a market in which they had consistently been an utter joke for the past decade plus. They needed to regain a solid hold on their niches, not jump into a pool of sharks with IBM, Sun, HP, Microsoft, SGI etc., and I think they knew this, which would explain why Mac OS X Server in 1999 was barely marketed and used more as a technology demo instead.

    NeXT's heyday was in like 1991. Sure they managed to hold onto some small niches, but then again, so did OS/2 and Amiga. NeXT's technology was largely irrelevant by 1997. (It made a remarkable comeback, though, didn't it? :))

    Yes, there were many variables in the Be-vs.-NeXT decision, but if I'm Gil Amelio and I time and time again see red ink on the order of several hundred million dollars per quarter (?) while other companies are eating the lunch I've handed to them on a silver platter for next to nothing, the promotion of an obscure, barely-used web development technology is probably not going to be my first priority. :) Amelio was monumentally stupid, but I doubt he was that stupid. (Although I could be wrong, and I guess I wouldn't be surprised if he were.)


    Sure it was easy in 97. Not all of the big apps had been ported but they were being worked on. MkLinux had been around for a while and so had LinuxPPC (in fact that was a time when the two were via-ing for "market share" and there was an unsuccessful push to get mklinux on PPC.

    That's true, but name me one open-source application circa 1997 for which there was significant demand on the Mac platform. Most applications cherished by Mac users were (and are) commercial and had no equivalents on any Unix platform. LinuxPPC and MkLinux were both irrelevant. If you can get Samba and Apache working on OpenStep out of the box that's great, but if it takes a little porting work, I don't see what the big deal is, since there was no real clamoring at the time for the ability to run any open-source software. (Even today, the demand for this I'm guessing is probably quite small, and does not originate from the typical Mac devotee crowd.) And POSIX-izing BeOS would have been an option, if the need were really there.

    In 1997, Linux was irrelevant in the Mac market. LinuxPPC and MkLinux were even more irrelevant. They're still irrelevant today, in fact. (On the desktop and in the customary Mac market, that is.) Apple could survive without GPL software without any problems whatsoever. BSD software would still be there for the taking, so there would be no problems. Microsoft nicks BSD software for use in Windows all the time - no reason Apple couldn't or wouldn't do the same. I don't think Unix was a trend in 1997 any more than Windows NT was. Right now, in 2002, it's been clarified that Windows blows on the server, and so the hype surrounding it has died off a bit. But NT was actually growing quite rapidly in 1997. That said, I don't think there was a general trend in '97, unless you consider the desktop, where the trend would be that Apple was close to death and Windows was moving from 95% to 97% market share. :)

    Agreed :)

    Alex
     
  22. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #22
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.


    I'm reeeeeeeally looking forward to QE, and I'm sure it will have a massive positive effect on Quartz's performance.

    In that screenshot, is that the same teapot from the BeOS teapot demo? Or are teapots just always used in graphics demos?

    That is true, and I agree completely. It's just that I think my brain is literally incapable of imagining a BeOS that is "slow." It would be like trying to imagine a four-sided sphere, or 7 + 4 equalling 26. I think that is affecting my argument. :)

    BeOS dying was like Michael Jordan retiring after winning the championship... it's good for the history books to see him go out at his peak. However, he later came back and was all old and slow and crappy, so let's hope that doesn't happen to BeOS.

    Alex
     
  23. b8rtm8nn macrumors member

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    #23
    BeOS is dead

    Interesting discussion. But if Be were in use today, although it would be fast, it would not be beautiful. Who would "Aqua-fy" it? Be had a tremendous programming staff, but their finished product had a geeky engineer feel to it.

    Also, OSX has tremendous interest from Unix and Java programmers, even Apple is surprised by the growth from these sectors, I don't think that would have occured with Be being used. Many of the UNIX folks here are playing with OSX and actually are attending traning sessions and such for it, they think it is here to stay, they aren't wasting their money on Solaris or HP-UX.

    And if you wondered what Be would eventually look like, just wait for the next few OSX releases, they hired five (I think) Be programmers total over the last two years. Jaguar will already have implementations of meta indexing threaded within apps, possibly as a service, and I honestly believe that by v.11, the file system will be rewritten.

    The only two complaints that I can possibly think of about Jobs is the hardware costs for Pro systems and that the technical transitions will be fast and furious for the next few years, which will confuse the average Machead, but us geeks will be in paradise.
     
  24. Taft macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.

     
  25. alex_ant macrumors 68020

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    #25
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: NeXT was definitely the best choice.


    I guess by "faster" I meant "faster with tasks not limited by hardware speed," since this is an OS discussion (or at least I thought it was) and not a hardware or overall system discussion. BeOS was generally substantially faster than OpenStep running on similar hardware and performing tasks not limited by the speed of that hardware.


    Ehhhh, I suppose. :)


    Yes, this is tied into the above, and I see your point.


    I believe it does matter though, simply because the number of people clamoring to be able to run open-source apps was so small. I'd be surprised if MkLinux and LinuxPPC combined had 10,000 users nationwide (USA) in 1997. In any case I'd be surprised if the PPC Linux "market" exceeded 0.5% of the Mac operating system market in 1997. In 1997, it was big news to even hear the word "Linux" mentioned in the media. I've got nothing against Linux - as a matter of fact I used nothing but Linux for a long while before I bought my Mac - but I do see a tendency on the part of many Linux users to imagine that they have a greater impact upon the world than they really do. Apple did kind of court the Unix market but I don't think they had any kind of grand plan. They probably saw Unix compatibility and acceptance of the Unix crowd as a tertiary benefit, if anything. They did alright for a very long time without having anything to do with Unix, and I do not believe the cause of their dire straits had anything to do with Unix.

    This ties into what I was saying above. I think saying that there was a Linux "trend" on the desktop in 1997 (the server is another story) is misleading, because it's like saying that its market share "DOUBLED!!" when, in fact, it did double... from about 0.05% to 0.1%. :)

    I guess I don't even see why I'm continuing this thread since we both agree that NeXT was still the better purchase, but... Where are all the flamewars? I looked all around and I can't find any happening. This place is so boring without flamewars. I think I'm going to go and insult someone's mother now.

    Cheers,
    Alex
     

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