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On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger

Response To Someone Predicting Apple's Death
November 2nd, 1999

I had already started writing a column for this week when I retrieved my Saturday morning e-mail . To my surprise, a reader's feedback about one of my latest pieces was filled with what I like to call myths. You know, the kinds of things we hear from PC bigots who predict that Apple is dead and that it is time to unplug the machine that keeps it alive.

It always infuriates me to read this and sometimes, I just feel like sharing my responses in public...

The person's name is Steve, the CTO and CEO of a small software company that develops BeOS and Web software. The quotes are in blue and my responses follow the quoted text.

Just read your Steve Jobs "Meanie" missive. The way Steve Jobs relates to other people, regardless of Apple's business charter, is wrong.

Why? I do not think that anybody else in the computing industry could have provided the same vision and actions for Apple as Steve Jobs has in the last few years. This means that even though you can hate him as much as you want, you have to recognize his achievements. Unless you have an equal replacement...

While Apple has turned its lack of profitability around and has more interesting hardware offerings, Apple is quite obviously lacking in two crucial areas:

- It killed off the Newton and therefore no compelling handheld products exists to date.
- Mac OS is a big piece of sh*t, and Apple doesn't really have anything compelling going with its software.

Well, I am impressed (not!) with these convincing words about the Mac OS. I wonder what is so wrong about the operating system? It works fine for millions of users out there who do not have to fight against illegal operations and have to dig to find out how to disable a typical MS function that nobody wants.

What you think is lacking about the Newton does not make sense. For Apple to succeed, the company had to focus sharply on what it does best. Now you have four clear product lines for people to determine what their needs are and what they can use. Let 3-COM handle the handheld market with Palm. Apple Computer is a desktop and notebook manufacturer first and foremost.

I expect this "turnaround" to be short-lived.

What is this based on, Sir? I mean, do you realize how many computer industry analysts have said that in the past? How much energy they put into saying that Apple was bound to die? Did you know that at the end of the 1980's, a lot of people said the Mac would die? Did you know that when Apple was in trouble in 1996 and 1997, the rumors about Apple's death became even more intense? Did you know that when Steve Jobs got back, a guy who names his column the Average Joe switched to PC's because he thought Jobs' return would be disastrous? Despite all of this, Apple is doing better than ever before.

Even if we hate Windows because it's Microsoft, architecturally, Windows is vastly superior to the Mac OS in terms of its multitasking performance and overall speed. Sure, the Mac UI is a tad more refined, but everyday consumers don't want to spend on average $500 more for a Mac than other platforms. For what?

You have a point with multitasking, because Windows 98 does feature preemptive multi-tasking and multi-threading. But you forget one thing. The user interface is not the only advantage of the Mac OS.The simplicity of the system itself is perhaps the most important feature. I was a computer idiot before touching a Mac and now I can troubleshoot my own computer without paying a technician for help. For performance and overall speed, run Mac OS 9 on a G4 and Windows 98 on a Pentium III and tell me about the results. I gigaflop, you gigaflop, he gigaflops, we gigaflop, you gigaflop, they gigaflop...

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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