Happy Endings Archive
MARCH 18th, 1998
Happy Endings Todd Stauffer
([email protected])

Content is King

I've decided that I'm going to attend Seybold Seminars in the Fall -- in fact, I may trade my annual Internet World trip for a chance at Seybold. Not only would it give me another excuse to go to San Francisco in the fall, but it sounds like a great chance to see some cool stuff. Unlike Internet World and similar venues, Seybold seems to be a show about people getting stuff done.

Which is exactly what Steve Jobs' keynote sounded like -- a report on a company that's trying to get stuff done. Sure, the press is watching the stock price and the CEO story and the politics of the second Jobsian dynasty, but the sound bytes I'm hearing from Mr. Jobs betray a different set of thoughts.

At least, that's how I'm feeling the spin from Steve's speech. Does RealAudio 5.0 transmit Reality Distortion?

The King
O.K. So he's really good at speaking. I mean really good. It's amazing that the man has almost no gift for adjectives -- "neat," "cool" and "real" are used over and over again -- and yet I'm riveted by almost anything he has to say. Tuesday, for instance, Steve sat me down to discuss, over a mere 7 bps audio stream, the state of Apple. I groggily looked into my coffee cup, as his words wafted through the air next to an Apple multimedia monitor.

Steve told me about QuickTime, ColorSync, WebObjects and AppleScript. All serious Apple advantages. I heard about FireWire cards, a new RAID solution, the new flat-panel screen and more such technology to come. I was told to expect a consumer-priced product in the fall and more introductions throughout the spring. I've witnessed for myself an increase in options at the Apple Store, including new DVD-ROM drives.

Oh -- and Steve demoed Power Mac G3s blowing away a 333-MHz Pentium II running Photoshop and Director... like eight times. With screens displaying the 400-MHz, 300-MHz and 266-MHz machines lined up next to the Compaq Pentium II, Jobs yells, "Done! Done! Done!...the Pentium is just getting started!" Sure, there was a little snake oil in his pitch, but you can only really hear it if you're a member of the press, listening over the Internet. Otherwise, it sounds about right. 300-MHz G3s debuted during the speech; 400-MHz G3s are due in 1999.

Finally, a couple of his quips at the end of the speech were golden. I recommend this one as a tagline for some folks' email signatures: In response to a question about people buying Windows 95 and NT machines for uses in publishing, Steve says, "You're going to have worse version of the apps, you're gonna have worse color management... spend all your time futzing with cards and install files all day long. When you get done with it you're gonna run half as fast. I mean, this is America. People should do what they want to."

The Content
But what I get out of this speech more than anything else is content. Both in the sense of Apple strongly supporting content creators and Apple producing its own brand of content -- great, important, new, complete products. Apple sounds like it's accomplishing something.

It's great to see RAID as an option at the Apple Store. Many server, content creation and educational buyers will be able to buy an unintimidating RAID solution that offers the possibility of being Apple-simplified. (I like the idea of buying a RAID solution directly from Apple.)

The same with FireWire. Suddenly, Apple offers the card on their site and more video editors and content creators have a reason to buy G3s. Plus, the FireWire card is cheap enough for camcorder-carrying hobbyists to play with. (I'd buy that, too.)

It certainly doesn't hurt Apple to have cutting edge products like new G3 processors and flat panel displays. (I want them.)

But what I hear most strongly from this speech is that Apple is ready to participate in arenas like Seybold again. Apple isn't fighting from the ropes -- it's pulled a few feet away from them, getting a little breathing room to stretch and dance. Apple seems focused on plowing through with new products, thrilling customers, managing the press and, most of all, getting things done. For the first time in a while from Apple, content is king.

If you came away from the speech thinking Steve didn't say much, I'd like to submit my perspective for your approval. During the speech, Steve told me about scripting, dynamic Web commerce solutions, color management, editing movies, digital audio, digital video, streaming multimedia, 3D rendering, Director presentations, Mac plug-and-play, better monitors, better prices and kick-butt speed. Apparently, according to the benchmarks and stats, all these things are best created or accomplished on a Macintosh.

How 'bout that Apple?