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June 1st, 2000

[Editorial] Rodney's Corner - Mr. Jobs, You Saved Apple… And We Saved The Mac Users
by Rodney O. Lain

 

I am perfectly happy to believe that nobody likes us but the public.

Rudolf Bing, director of the Metropolitan Opera

Dear Mr. Jobs:

It is beyond presumptuousness to think that you will ever read this, but I feel it needs to be said, nevertheless.

The worldwide community of Macintosh users owes you an eternal debt of gratitude for saving Apple. We'd almost given up hope.

I must give pause and make a preparatory comment or two, though: I don't offer any criticism herein. I have no critique of Aqua. Ditto for rumors about Apple-branded retail stores, Apple-branded PDAs, G4 PowerBooks.

Sure, this may sound like the ultimate in public butt-kissing, but since when have I given a damn what people think? I just want to say thanks, on behalf of the people who acknowledge that you have pulled off the corporate come-back-from-behind move of the century -- possibly second only to that Lee Iacoca thing a couple of decades ago.

 

iCEOs, back seats, and Apple

Impersonal criticism is like an impersonal fistfight or an impersonal marriage, and as successful.

George Jean Nathan

I've read with interest all of the commentary from the Mac community -- of which I've been part and parcel -- thinking it knows the platform better than you -- past, present and future. Too often, we have done and said things clothed in the language of our panacea-like solutions to Apple's comparatively miniscule market share numbers.

I wonder which of them , or how many of them, you actually read, if any?

The only thing that I will add to the chorus of arm-chair CEOing going on out there -- okay, I lied about that criticism preface -- is that I ask you to remember the "Think Different" slogan you played an integral part in midwifing. Much has changed on the Macintosh landscape, yet nothing has changed at all: Apple still has an OS, desktops, laptops, a Web site and money in the bank, yet the brand is hotter than it's ever been. Apple is more influential in its second incarnation than it ever was in the beginning.

For example, as I write this, I'm reading a book to which is attached a "Mighty Bright" clip-on reader's light that I bought at Border's Books. I've needed one for a long time, to avoid my having to always pull the table lamp closer to the couch whenever I want to read while in the prone position. What really compelled me to buy one this time was the fact that these lights come in basic black, as well as -- get this -- translucent, colored plastic shells labeled "blueberry," "lime," "grape"… I'm not making this up.

I'm sure you've been in stores where you have seen appliances in ersatz "iMac colors." I could take up the rest of this column listing them, pressing irons, vacuum cleaners, Nintendo 64 consoles.

Can Hewlett-Packard or Gateway make similar claims about their products' influence? How many of them can claim that their products are solidly affixed to American popular culture? None, I dare say.

All of this and you haven't really introduced any new products. iMac is still a desktop computer. The iTools are still the sum total of an internet portal. Sure, AirPort is something new to us consumers, but the notion of wireless networking really has been around for a while, in idea if not in deed. It's amazing what a difference a rebranding campaign makes. Smoke and mirrors? I think not.

You guys must tire of people like me thinking we can tell you how to run the company. We often forget -- as if we ever knew -- that you guys have a bigger picture to view than we ever will. You see things on the horizon about which we often remain clueless. Also, you have your vision of where you want to take the company and the Apple product lines. Admittedly, it's scary to think that you are forcing us to shift paradigms vis-à-vis the computer, the OS and the internet.

Those of us who purport to be Mac journalists like to think that we had a hand in Apple's resurgence, too. You saved the company, but we'd like to think that we held the torch while you got the house in order. We told people to hang in there. We convinced many to buy Apple when the rest of the world thought us fools. Heck, I even bought Apple stock after your return, based solely on the believe that you "get it." And you did; it shows.

One of the things I've come to see is that many of the things Apple has done have been pretty risky, yet turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. This is one reason why I have extreme confidence that future products will be sure to titillate the senses as well as enhance productivity.

Hell, you guys have made computers fun again.

 

Onward… to infinity and beyond?

Tradition is the dead hand of human progress.

Kelly Miller

Many have said that, with OS X, you guys are undoing all that is good about the Macintosh experience. I refuse to comment until the product ships. Between you and me, I really didn't like the iMac when it was revealed. I don't know if it grew on me or if I realized it to be the (r)evolution that it really was.

This is the optimism with which I approach the direction that Apple is going nowadays. Again, between you and me, I didn't care what is done to the Mac OS, as long as you guys do something. Now, I don't mean change for the sake of change. I mean change for the sake of progress.

And I do deem what you guys are doing as progress.

Will Apple ever again be a market share dominator? I don't know, nor do I care. Will Apple ever again be a market leader? Well, that depends on how you define the term. Will Apple ever make a difference? Hell, yes. Like I said, you guys've made computers fun again.

I look forward to more fun, and I'm sure that you all will deliver.

Once more, thanks for what you've done in the last three years. No one could ever do what you've done in their respective industry. Bill Gates hasn't the influence, charisma and vision to pull off what you've pulled off. Somewhere, I read that you told your wife that you only plan to do this Apple thing for about five years. Plenty of time to assure Apple's place in whatever markets that will exist at the nexus of technology and the consumer public.

There are many voids still left in the world of personal technology, some of which I hope Apple will fill. I have no requests, since I have not the ability to divine what is needed in the market. But whatever you guys come up with, I hope that it will be created not only in the spirit of the industrial-design flair for which Apple has now set the standard, but also in the spirit of the mass appeal and penchant for user friendliness that has been an Apple hallmark ever since the companies inception.

I could say more, but I've rambled on enough. I don't claim this to be the most eloquent note you've ever read -- if, indeed, you do read it. But I do claim it to be a note of sincere thanks. I don't claim to understand nor agree with everything that Apple has done under your watch, but I can't disagree with the public perception towards things Macintosh nowadays.

For that alone, many of us Mac faithful are eternally grateful.

Sincerely,

a fan, a stock holder, a Mac user



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