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.

 
AAPL
$105.22
Apple Inc.
+0.39
MSFT
$46.13
Microsoft Corpora
+1.11
GOOG
$539.78
Google Inc.
-4.20

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - 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. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more
Live Interior 3D Pro 2.9.6 - Powerful an...
Live Interior 3D Pro is a powerful yet very intuitive interior designing application. View Video Tutorials It has every feature of Live Interior 3D Standard, plus some exclusive ones: Create multi... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.7 - Advanced reminder a...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2.4 - Organize your digita...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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.