Loose Lips Sink Developer & Apple Reveals Dark Secret Unintentionally

by , 9:00 AM EDT, July 25th, 2000

Ouch, that's gotta hurt! Someone at ATI technologies (ATYT) is being hung out to dry after the company announced that its Radeon processor would be part of the fanfare on three of Apple's new Macintoshes...two days BEFORE Mr. Jobs' keynote address! Ensuring, at least in Steve Jobs' mind, that the surprise announcement of the new Power Mac products was spoilt.

The offending press release from ATI revealed that Apple would introduce three new PC systems with ATI graphics hardware on board, a new iMac model and two new unspecified Power Mac systems. That was enough to get the ATI presentation summarily booted from Mr. Jobs' keynote address and all of ATI's Radeon boards yanked from the Macs in Apple's MACWORLD booth.

According to ZD Net, who broke this story:

In addition, a Pricing and Configuration Reference Card being used by Apple-badge employees in the company's booth shows that while Apple was originally planning on offering the ATI Radeon graphics card as an "Option available at the Online Apple Store", its mention has been hand-scratched out. When asked why the ATI product reference was deleted, one Apple employee said, "Why do you think?"

ATI posted a press release July 19th stating that the Radeon won't ready for shipping till September.

All this must come as a terrible shock to ATI technologies who thought they had a stable professional relationship with Apple. ATI Macintosh product manager Deanna Perkins told CNET News before MACWORLD, "We work with Apple years out to ensure that what they're thinking about we incorporate onto our chips. I think there is a lot of stuff we'll be doing with Apple going forward."

One idiot savant poster impersonating Steve Jobs on the ZD Net sound off board articulates what many in the industry now believe will surely come to pass, "ATI will no longer be the exclusive supplier for Apple graphic cards."

Nvidia (NVDA) is preparing their own Mac graphic cards to be released before Christmas. CNET news claims, "Nvidia is starting to promote its latest chip, the GeForce2 MX, for use in Macintoshes. Although it can be used in PCs, the chip is compatible with Macs, a first for Nvidia."

Meanwhile, 3DFX (TDFX) already offers the Voodoo5 5500 graphics accelerator PCI card for the Mac and is positioning itself to fill the slot, so to speak, that ATI is being pulled from. 3dfx also has an AGP version of the 5500 ready to go, but has not released it because every single Mac AGP slot already comes filled with an ATI card. ATI claims their Radeon graphics processor smokes the Voodoo5 5000.

The Mac Observer Spin:

We don't know all the details of this incident, nor do we want to. We do know that good help is hard to come by these days with unemployment at 30-year lows. Mistakes are made. Of course, that's no excuse for some thoughtless PR department to spill Apple's beans early. Shame on ATI!

However, it's a greater shame if Apple is, in effect, punishing Mac consumers by limiting an important graphic product choice for what would appear to be merely a billionaire's hissy fit. Is there no one at Apple who can tell the boss when he's about to get egg on his face? But the implications of this incident hardly stop with Apple's lack of empathy for its customer base.

Mr. Jobs' recent croon to a room full of financial analysts about, "Apple's fantastic developer relations team" now seems little more than a hollow platitude.

Apple's inappropriately reactionary response to this incident is a bit like an abusive parent slapping around an errant child. ATI and all the other Apple developers have certainly learned a lesson they won't soon forget. But is it the lesson Task Master Jobs intended to deliver?

This incident, whatever the details, hardly encourages would-be developers to take the risk of stepping forward with an insanely great idea for the Mac platform. Who the hell needs this kind of abuse? It demonstrates a lack of compassion. It's unprofessional, uncool, unfair to customers and damaging to Apple's reputation. It says far more about Apple's deepest and darkest internal secrets than any mere product leak ever could by itself.