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Aug 96 Factory Floor
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:From The Factory Floor

Heidi Ho!

By Dave Mark

Dave was offered a chance this month to interview Heidi Roizen, Apple’s Vice President for Developer Relations, and we felt that, even though it’s a departure from his usual “Factory Floor” beat, the opportunity to let her share her thoughts with our readers was too good to pass up. Let us know what you think; perhaps we’ll do more of this sort of thing. - man

Dave: Tell me about your organization.

Heidi: The role of Apple Developer Relations (ADR) is to try to ensure that there is a rich business and technical proposition for supporting our platform, as well as to be the principal touchpoint between the developer community and Apple. ADR is made up of five groups:

• The Evangelism group (Brian Gentile, gentile@applelink.apple.com) is responsible for the day-to-day account management of developers with whom we need to have a one-on-one relationship at any given time. The group can handle about 500 companies, those of the traditional “volume” developer variety as well as the smaller companies in emerging markets or key customer segments. In addition, the group is responsible for technology evangelism and adoption by developers, including activities such as briefings, seeding, and developer kitchens. Most importantly, this activity also involves bringing the developer message about our technologies back to Apple inside folks, who can then develop our strategies and technologies in concert with developer adoption and exploitation.

• The Developer Marketing group (Jonathan Fader, fader@applelink.apple.com) handles the marketing side, with co-marketing programs, market research, services and general account management of the 11,000+ companies which have registered with Apple as developers. Developer Marketing Programs include Apple’s membership-based Developer Programs, the Apple Developer Catalog, developer communications and periodicals (such as Apple Directions and develop), and the technical marketing of software technologies, tools, and training products. Further, the group is now expanding its role to help developers market to customers, with general programs aimed at the channel, the internet, and more targeted co-marketing programs with Apple’s sales groups, both domestically and globally.

• The Technology Services group (Garry Hornbuckle, garryh@apple.com) manages the technical side of the equation. This group includes Developer Technical Support, Developer technical information (Web and online content, hardware and software documentation), Developer University content, compatibility and testing labs, and specialized engineering support for developers. This group is also expanding to come up with new ways to meet developer needs with highly leveraged investments in support, technology, training and tools.

• The Business Development group (Heidi is covering this until someone permanent is hired) covers licensing and other fundamental business transactions. This group is also responsible for understanding the business needs of Apple’s key developers and for understanding the implications to developers of Apple’s strategic directions.

• Finally, the International Developer Relations group (David Krathwohl, krathwohl@applelink.apple.com) provides developer relations support outside the US and Canada, in all the above areas of specialty.

With over 11,000 companies in our portfolio of responsibility, we’ve tried to organize ourselves in a way that gets to real action and real progress with the fewest steps for both you and Apple, and that systematizes things so we’re not all just reinventing others’ wheels. Admittedly, we’re still in the building phase in every one of these areas, so we don’t always have the necessary pieces in place, but we’re working on it. We’re trying to devise real programs that can be offered to many developers to achieve the highest leverage for the dollars we spend.

I know that in the past Apple has seemed to waver on its commitment to working with the developer community, alternately looking upon it as a giant democracy and as a profit center. I believe that in order to do the maximum good for the platform, we must recognize that Apple’s commitment to working with developers is a cost center, but a highly, highly leveraged cost center. Many small companies approach me saying that since we’re “great big Apple”, we can afford to do a lot for them. I have to remind everyone that even you “small guys” probably made about $700 million of profit more than we did in the last quarter, so our resources need to be very carefully managed. Having said that, our new CEO, Gil Amelio, has committed significant resources to providing technical and business support for Apple developers in a highly leveraged, “obvious value” way, leveraging Apple’s dollars to benefit the platform, and leveraging your dollars on top of that by using our collective bargaining power, channel presence, or whatever we have to bring to the party.

Dave: At WWDC, Gil Amelio announced that Apple had allocated $20 million for developer co-marketing. What can you tell us about that?

Heidi: As you said, Gil Amelio has allocated $20 million over the next 12 months, to help our developers get their products in front of customers. The programs that result will fall mostly under the Developer Marketing group headed by Jonathan Fader, and the International group headed by David Krathwohl.

The money will be spent roughly half in the US and Canada and half in Apple’s markets outside the US. We are working on programs now that will best leverage this money in both the traditional channel as well as in some emerging channels. The funding is likely to be split among channel initiatives, “virtual” and Internet initiatives, comarketing and collateral materials, and some end-customer advertising to tell Mac users what is available for them and where to buy.

In order to maximize the leverage, we aren’t going to be looking at specific proposals from our developers, but rather will take their input and create a few standard programs that can either be shared by all, be “pay to play”, or be targeted to particular segments of the market. I would certainly encourage developers to give ideas to Jonathan’s team, and we’ll keep them in the loop as the programs become reality, but I’m afraid that a specific proposal unique to any one developer is outside the bounds of what the money was for.

Dave: What changes do you see in the relationship Apple has with its developers?

Heidi: We need to treat our developers as the important business partners they are. We need to recognize their needs as businesses, including the issues they are dealing with in the channel, the rising cost of development, the need for many to be cross-platform, and much, much more.

We also need to build person-to-person relationships with many of the developers on whom our future customers will depend. We need to provide both marketing and technical support in a consistent, programmatic manner. We need to give them world-class tools and technologies that enable them to solve customer needs on Apple platforms like nowhere else. In short, there’s no shortage of things for me to do in my new job...!

Dave: It used to be that developing for the Mac was more profitable than developing for Windows. Now, Windows tools and developer programs have improved greatly (some would say they’ve become better than Apple’s), while developing for the Mac has become much more complex. How will you solve this problem? How will you make it more profitable to take Mac applications to market? How will you make it more attractive to develop for Mac first instead of the more normal Windows first?

Heidi: Wow, that’s a mouthful! First of all, developers are simple (at least I was when I was one): developers are first and foremost businesses. They need to meet customer needs. They need to make a profit. To make a profit they need to spend less money than they make. I believe Apple can positively influence all those points. We can streamline the product line and improve our testing resources so that it is easier to develop for and certify on our platform. We can improve the revenue (volume) side of the equation through licensing. We can reduce costs through breakthrough, enabling technologies that greatly simplify the cost and time-to-market of creating competitive products. Those are tall orders. Perhaps, more simply, we can help developers get to more customers, so that more units are sold and more profit is made on our platform. There are plenty of developers on all popular platforms today making money; there are also plenty of developers on all popular platforms not making money.

Everything is changing for the developer today, from the development environment, to the customer, to the channel, to the type of product desired, even to the definition of the platform. The more we can stay on top of these changes and help move them into the direction of the greatest economic good for our developers, the more developers we’ll make happy. Remember this: there was over $1 billion in Mac software sold last year, so there’s still a very healthy market out there today. But, we can do better, I believe.

Dave: How will you address the shelf space problem (the lack of computer store shelf space for Mac applications)?

Heidi: I can give you two answers to this: either leverage with a very few channel partners to literally open up shelf space and drive Mac customers to that space; or, if we don’t believe that will work, take the next step in where the channel is going (i.e., the Internet) and be there more aggressively and progressively than anyone else. Lead the charge, if you will. I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet, as we’re just researching the options right now, but we’re targeting having some answers very soon.

Dave: What will Apple do to make life easier for small developers?

Heidi: Some of the things I’m going to say will sound very basic, but guess what - they are! It’s nice that some answers are so simple.

First of all, we’re going to make it easier and more immediate to get information about Apple - our technologies, markets, distributors, who at Apple does what, how do bundle programs work, what will ship when, and multitudes of other business and technical information that will make it incredibly easier to work with Apple as a business partner. We’re going to paper as a last resort, using the Web, CDs and email as our principal methods of information dissemination. Beyond that, we’re going to try to use our leverage to create better marketing programs and technical programs where, even if a developer is asked to defray some portion of the cost, it will be a no-brainer in terms of value or benefit. As a former Mac developer for over a decade, nothing used to burn me more than being asked to pay for something which was ultimately a bad use of my money. I’m going to do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen in our group, or at Apple at large.

Dave: Apple has a lot of different technologies on its plate. Traditionally, programmers implement a small subset of these technologies, while some third parties try to find holes in Apple’s strategy that they can fill with their own solutions (StuffIt, AppleScript debuggers, etc.). Apple keeps the technology development within, while third parties get the crumbs. Is Apple going to take some of these technologies off its own plate and allow third parties to take over some of these projects?

Heidi: This is a huge issue for Apple. We should not gratuitously compete with our own developers in our own markets. Having said that, we also have to compete with someone, have to add unique value to our platform and to our products, and earn our own profits, or our future will be pretty grim. I believe that as a first step, we need to understand what our customers need. Next, we have to figure out the best way to deliver that, through our own product creation efforts as well as through working with others. My own bias is that we’ll deliver much better product much more efficiently by working with outside parties; after all, it effectively doubles our R&D dollars. Having said that, every case will be unique and needs to be thoroughly thought out, negotiated, determined. I’d say the positive news in all this is a fundamental shift in Apple’s philosophy to work outside first, as opposed to the other way around. Still, it has to make business sense for Apple too, or the whole picture ultimately falls apart.

 

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