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On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger

Software Developers Are Back, SO WHAT?
January 24th, 2000

Disclaimer: There are high risks of frustration associated with consumption of today's column, and software developers who just came back to the Mac platform (in the last 3 months or so) might feel harmed by its content. You may notice foul language too. If you want to see a better side of me, visit some other pages I write.

While reading Macintosh information sites during MACWORLD Expo in San Francisco, I realized that a lot of software developers were coming back to the Mac or had done so in the last few months. Happy happy, joy joy! Isn't that great? I'm not too sure about that, pal.

While we can only appreciate variety in software, this new abundance may not last forever. Knowledge of Apple's past experience with developers - even if limited - will tell you a lot about the attitude of too many major software makers toward the Macintosh.

Let's examine the pattern.

  • Apple gets into trouble (again).
  • Apple gets out of trouble (finally!).
  • Apple starts kicking butt with a CEO who likes to change his beard all the time.
  • Software developers smell a good opportunity, but wait.
  • After a while they associate themselves with Apple, especially with its leader, when they are ready to release something.
  • If Apple sticks its foot in its mouth, they leave until the next comeback.

Do you see the problem yet? When I see all those software developers telling us how it's good to be back on the Mac and how great the platform is, I smell freakin' rotten fish.

Where were these people in the Spring of 1997 when Apple was going through its hardest days? Where were these people when only sheer advocacy from dealers and Internet writers, plus sustained fidelity from the Mac's strongest markets, kept Apple alive? Where the HELL were these people when we needed them most?

The smelly rats had left the sinking ship, folks. When they realized that Apple was falling and losing money, they left. They announced an end to their Mac development. "Huh, I don't want no problems. I don't wanna have to market my products myself. Huh."

Why am I so hard on them when they bring us badly needed software to make the Macintosh a credible platform? Because Apple always has to do all the efforts to seduce and please them for a long time to get them to write Mac software again.

When they felt that Apple's situation was perfect, they came out with the slogans. When they saw the warm bed, they jumped in with an attitude. "Stop the bandwagon for me, hhhhhhheeeeerrrrreee I come!" Pathetic, isn't it?

Why should you come back to the Mac at the end of 1999 or early 2000 when the platform has been kicking butt for two stupid freakin' years?

Steve Jobs led his putsch against Amelio in 1997. He brought Bill Gates to us via satellite a little later. In early 1998, he announced that Apple posted its first profits in ages. Wasn't that a good sign already? I have much more respect for Microsoft that decided to stand side by side with Apple to initiate the comeback. It was negotiated but it worked.

But don't get me started with Microsoft.

I have much more respect for Symantec that renewed its commitment to Norton Utilities in Spring 1998 while Apple's new situation wasn't fully stable yet and the iMac was still a secret that even Apple employees didn't know about. The above-mentioned developers are only a couple of examples among dozens. They didn't wait until now, when Apple has posted its biggest sales numbers in years, to write some code for the Mac. They didn't wait for the table to be ready for dinner, they helped to cook the damn pot!

Reality check, people. All the companies that just renewed their Mac activities are here for the easy money, just like they are on the PC side. As long there are blue skies ahead, they're here. If anything goes wrong, look out! They'll be on the first plane.

I don't know about you, but even if Apple shows Titanic tendencies again, I'll be there. I'll stick with Apple and probably intensify my advocacy here in Montreal. If 3 years from now, the sky isn't blue for the platform, I'll do whatever I can to ease the pain and convince people to buy a new Mac instead of trashing their old G3 for a PC. I know I won't be alone because Apple's traditional advocates and most faithful dealers will be there too. The core of the "staff" will never leave.

The best argument to counterattack my thoughts is the bread and butter issue. Developers depend on sales and this is how they pay the bills. Well, I have news for you. A lot of companies developed Mac software during Apple's ugliest period and they made money from it! What a SHOCKER! Even I earn some money because of what I do on the Mac. A few things that I do related to the Macintosh help me pay the bills. But even if hardship renews its relationship with Apple and this gig stops paying, I'll be there. This is not my primary source of income and it doesn't matter because I won't lose money. Developers should see it the same way since Windows software should be the primary source of income. The worst that could happen to software companies is not making easy millions without efforts until better days. Smaller profits aren't that bad, you know.

It frustrates me to see all these people fondling our ego only because they know it is a sure hit during the golden years. I hate to see such idiotic leeches. And while I am at it, I hate Best Buy. Look at what they did. They got a reseller license to attract customers and redirect them toward PCs. Apple had to dump them again.

By the way, I hope Apple doesn't believe that all these software companies are here for good this time. It's just until the next wave of trouble, or the next moment when Macintosh sales slow down a bit.

This reminds me of the kind of friends you hate to have. If you feel a little down and need help, they're busy, they don't answer the phone when they see your caller ID. When you get a new job, become the coolest guy in the neighbourhood and announce a party for Saturday night because you reserved the most anticipated Pay-Per-View event of the year, they knock on your door and want in only to dump you later.

What a load of manure. I am tired of this cycle.

I'm not an SMF (Simple-Minded Fool) and I see through the smoke screen. There are people who choose to be on your side because they believe in you, and there are people who do it only when you can serve them. I have the impression that somebody wrote "Idiot" on the Mac user's forehead.

When it comes to faithfulness, more people should observe this poetic motto:

If you are to commit,
You better respect it,
And if you can't handle it
Go home and suck it!

I'll stick with products made by companies that were there before and during the initiation of Apple's comeback. At least, I know that they won't leave me out in the cold if my type of computer becomes less popular for a while. The funniest part? Microsoft is one of those companies. Their 5-year MS Office commitment helped to kickstart Apple's healing process. I know, it is Microsoft.

I apologize in advance for the mean words, but they were necessary.

*Off the soapbox and back to therapy*

Your comments are welcomed.

Michael Munger is a French Canadian living in Montreal. He discovered the Mac in 1994 while studying journalism, the profession he loves and practices. He also studied history and communications. In addition to his work at The Mac Observer, he authors the iBasics tutorial column at Low End Mac, and cofounded MacSoldiers in 1998.

You can find more about him at his personal Web site.

You are welcome to send me your comments or you can post them below.

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