TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Schemers
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Inside Info

Schemers

By Chris Espinosa, Apple Computer

All summer the news has been full of big deals and grand schemes in the computer industry. The most notable ones are the failed Microsoft acquisition of Intuit, and the IBM purchase of Lotus Development.

(It’s funny that, five years ago, IBM’s purchase of Lotus would have run into major anti-trust problems, but Microsoft’s bid for Intuit might have gone unnoticed. But that just shows how much changed from 1990 to 1995).

The interesting thing about these deals is that they were seen as not just normal bids to broaden a product line or buy market share, but rather as the first play in intricate schemes. Microsoft’s acquisition of Intuit, if you recall, was not just a trade of a losing position in home finance software for a winning one. It was seen as the foundation for a massive Pynchonian scheme to control electronic banking and commerce, wired into the Microsoft Network, credit cards, video-on-demand, new forms of software distribution, and even the nature of money itself in the new century. Pretty heady stuff for a checkbook program.

And IBM’s Lotus move was not simply to buttress a traditionally thin applications offering from the world’s largest computer company: it was a strategic play to control corporate client/server application development and internal communications, and place IBM mainframes, servers, and communications back in their rightful role as the backbone of the world’s corporate information structure.

Doubtless some of the executives of the two firms were harboring dreams like these. And maybe these schemes swayed the finance types and board members who normally cast a cold eye on big-money transactions. But the reality of the industry is that for every big scheme that works, plenty fail.

The failures are quickly forgotten. Perhaps the biggest was IBM’s System Application Architecture (SAA), a grand scheme to unify the PC, mini, workstation, and mainframe lines under a single family of operating systems, user interfaces, and communications protocols. The downfall of SAA was its largeness. So many constituencies wanted the standards to address their needs that the standards were simply generalized to cover everything that existed, and all the benefits of convergence were lost. Apple, too, had a grand scheme in 1992 called “client/client/server,” where desktop Macs, PDAs like Newton, and Unix-based servers would all be united under a common set of protocols and APIs.

Microsoft is the current king of schemes, some fruitful (like the Microsoft Office) and some less so (like the ACE initiative, Microsoft At Work, Windows for Pen Computing, OS/2 as the replacement for DOS, Windows NT as the replacement for DOS, and Windows 95 as the replacement for DOS).

But there have been three big schemes these companies that have worked tremendously well. And what they have in common is that they were just simple ideas that were only seen as schemes after the fact.

IBM’s big win was making the IBM PC architecture dominate 80% of the computer market in about two years, displacing the CP/M and S-100 Bus architecture and blowing by the Apple II, Commodore PET, and other competitors. They did this by doing things common to their competitors but entirely out of character for IBM. They bought their OS from someone else; got others to write applications for them; and even published the circuit diagrams of the computer. The scheme was to dominate by having the most hardware and software add-ons. What really happened, of course, was that Compaq cloned their machine, as did hundreds of others. IBM ended up with less than ten per cent of the IBM market. But the market was many more times larger than it would have been if IBM had sold yet another closed box.

Apple’s successful scheme was to avoid IBM’s mistake. With the Macintosh, we encouraged lots of consistent third-party software by having a huge amount of built-in system software and heavily promoted design guidelines. But we kept the design proprietary to ensure a virtual 100% market share of the GUI segment, which we had for eight years. And even today, when people write that the Mac is easier to upgrade, maintain, learn, and use than a clone, they hastily follow that with “but it’s only available from Apple,” as if they do not see that the latter was the cause of the former.

Microsoft’s scheme, of course, was to come from nowhere in the applications business to near-total domination in three years by shifting the system software from DOS (which Lotus, Word Perfect, and Ashton-Tate dominated) to Windows (which looked a lot like the platform that Microsoft applications dominated - namely, the Macintosh).

These schemes were simple in concept, executed well, and made billions of dollars for the companies involved. They didn’t have to be an ounce more intricate, or have any sinister motives or actions. They weren’t even recognized as strategies at the time, and were even called bad business decisions by some, but the results speak for themselves.

And all the schemes cooked up by those companies afterwards have not come close to matching the success of the originals. Maybe there’s a lesson there for companies both big and small: keep your schemes simple, execute them doggedly, and don’t be any more clever than you have to.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

HoudahSpot 4.3.4 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a versatile desktop search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.3.10- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.3.10- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Paparazzi! 1.0b7 - Make user-defined siz...
Paparazzi! is a small utility for OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. This very simple tool takes screenshots of websites which do not fit on one screen. You specify the desired width, minimal... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.4.4 - Multitrack sound rec...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its outstanding... Read more
Google Chrome 63.0.3239.108 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Apple Configurator 2.6 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in your school or business. Use Apple Configurator to quickly configure large numbers of devices connected to... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.26 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Remotix 5.0.4 - Access all your computer...
Remotix is a fast and powerful application to easily access multiple Macs (and PCs) from your own Mac. Features Complete Apple Screen Sharing support - including Mac OS X login, clipboard... Read more
WhatRoute 2.0.26 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

WWE Mayhem guide - beginner tips and tri...
WWE Mayhem brings all of the familiar faces from your favorite wrestling league to mobile in this exciting new fighting game. Build up a team of your favorite WWE superstars and fight your way to the championship title, or battle against your... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
We've made it through another week, so let's treat ourselves to some of the best new games to launch in the past few days. It was another exciting week with some long-awaited indie games making their debut, and some big console titles making the... | Read more »
Match blocks to pull off dance moves in...
Ferdinand: Unstoppabull is a brand new match three puzzler based on the animated movie of (almost) the same name. As you can expect, you have to match blocks together to complete a bunch of puzzling levels and earn a high score. [Read more] | Read more »
Lineage 2: Revolution’s end of year upda...
Now available in 54 countries worldwide, Lineage 2: Revolution is continuing its global quest to be the most popular mobile MMORPG by launching a jam-packed end of year update. Complete with many subtle tweaks to help improve users’ online... | Read more »
The 5 best Star Wars games on iOS
The time has almost come.Star Wars: The Last Jedifinally hits theaters in the cinematic event that might be bigger than Christmas. To celebrate, we're taking a look at the best--and only the best--Star Warsmobile games to date. [Read more] | Read more »
Life Is Strange (Games)
Life Is Strange 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Life Is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games by... | Read more »
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (Game...
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** PLEASE NOTE: Requires 3.6GB free space to install. Runs at variable resolutions based on device capabilities.... | Read more »
Gorogoa (Games)
Gorogoa 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Gorogoa is an elegant evolution of the puzzle genre, told through a beautifully hand-drawn story designed and illustrated by Jason... | Read more »
Why Guns of Boom will be big for mobile...
Earlier this week, Game Insight, the minds that brought you Guns of Boom, revealed plans for an esports mode in the popular FPS title, with big implications for the game's future. Guns of Boom has been quite popular for some time now, so it's... | Read more »
The best mobile games to play on lazy ho...
With the holidays in full swing, there's hopefully going to be a lot of time off work lazing around the house. With all of that free time, it's a perfect opportunity to catch up on some mobile games that you might have missed out on earlier this... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

B&H Holiday sale: MacBooks for up to $300...
B&H Photo has Apple MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and 12″ MacBooks on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only, and overnight... Read more
The lowest prices on Apple 13″ MacBook Pros t...
Save $300-$300 on the purchase of a 2017 13″ MacBook Pro this weekend with Certified Refurbished models at Apple. In many cases, Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model... Read more
Lowest prices of the Holiday season: 15″ Appl...
Save $360-$420 on the purchase of a 2017 15″ MacBook Pro with Certified Refurbished models at Apple. In many cases, Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model from any... Read more
Apple discounts Beats products by up to 30% t...
Apple has Beats by Dr. Dre (BeatsX, Powerbeats3 Wireless, and Beats Solo3 Wireless) on sale for up to 30% off their retail price from now until December 26th: – BeatsX: Was $149.95, now $99 –... Read more
Updated Price Trackers: Macs, iPads, iPhones,...
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: – 15″... Read more
How to preorder a new iMac Pro and pay zero s...
B&H Photo and Adorama are accepting preorders on multiple configurations of the new Apple iMac Pro. Both resellers charge sales tax for residents of NY & NJ only, and shipping is free.... Read more
Apple Macs back in stock at Amazon with model...
Amazon has MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, MacBooks, and iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP as part of their Holiday/Christmas sale. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go (and... Read more
Apple offering free overnight delivery on all...
Apple is now offering free overnight delivery on all in stock products until 3pm local time on December 22nd. This includes new as well as refurbished computers. Click here for more information. Read more
Beats Holiday sale at B&H, headphones and...
B&H Photo has Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, earphones, and speakers on sale for up to $80 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Expedited shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax to NY... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple resellers offer 2017 15″...
MacMall has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $220-$300 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2179, $220 off MSRP – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.