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

Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.8.3 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.6 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MarsEdit 3.7.10 - Quick and convenient b...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
BusyCal 3.1.4 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. Its unique features... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.14 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Deer Pa...
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: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**467692BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000602-Columbia MO-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
*Apple* MAC Infrastructure Engineer - InnoCo...
Summary: Responsible for all aspects of Apple Desktop hardware. This includes research, design, test, and deploy technologies being researched by the desktop Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.