Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

I do my part to help the Mac

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:4/28/1999; 6:51:36 AM
Topic:Linux' wide open spaces
Msg #:5374 (In response to 5353)
Prev/Next:5373 / 5376

Jim, I think we can make some progress on this perennial argument.

I do my part to support the Mac. For example, in today's news, a link to an InfoWorld story about Sun's I-Planet. Notice that they connect to Windows NT apps and Netware apps, but ignore the Mac. I pointed this out.

It's too simplistic to say that whatever Apple is promoting today, whether it is run by Jobs or Amelio, is the right thing. It's true that Jobs is a lot smarter about software than Amelio. In the business they're in smartness in software equates to overall smartness. But there is a subtext to Jobs. You have to look at what he does not what he says. Net-effect counts.

It would be hypocritical of me to only support the Mac when the attacks come from outside Apple. Sometimes Apple does things to help Apple that hurt the Mac. Jobs didn't wait very long before cancelling the clones. This was a signal to those who were listening that all bets were off. It's fine for him to act to preserve and build his company. But understand that while we have interest in the furtherance of the Mac, UserLand and Apple are two different companies. It's possible for us to agree that the Mac APIs are important, but to not invest in each other's future.

Some companies, such as Macromedia, have been able to build a strong profitable relationship with Jobs's Apple. So we know it can be done. I admit that we have not made it a priority at UserLand. I didn't think it was very likely to happen based on past experience with Jobs. Our personalities are almost exact opposites. I've been a thorn in his side for years. He's very sensitive to thorns. Other companies, such as Microsoft, have a very different response. When I say they're screwing up, that brings them closer, it doesn't drive them away. They want to know if there's something they're missing.

So longterm, we're more likely to work with Microsoft, as it appears Avid is. We've already done some joint development work with Microsoft. They asked us, we didn't have to ask them. In years of trying to work with all generations of Apple management, they never accepted any of our designs and technology. We offered IAC before Apple Events. We offered scripting before AppleScript. We offered an object database and user interface technology (menu sharing) that Apple still to this day doesn't have. Today we'd like to see Apple support XML-RPC. It would be wonderful for them, it allows Macs to connect as peers with all other OSs. Apple didn't have to do a thing, because Frontier runs on Macs, they're an automatic peer. An AppleScript connection to XML-RPC, supported by Apple would cement their position in the new IAC world. Once again, our hand is offered to Apple. Let's help each other.

I've not said Apple is doing anything wrong. Like many other developers, I have chosen not to commit to their strategy. I didn't say I won't do a Mac OS X port. But if you were to ask me the probability, based on what I know now, I'd say it's a longshot.

We want to distance ourselves from Apple. The benefit of staying close is negative. In the world we sell software into, the Mac is not rehabilitated, if anything it's undermined. We sell server software, remember. When you say "It runs on Mac" many customers run away.

So look at it from a business point of view. One door is open, leading to a very big room, another door is open only slightly if at all, and leads to a small room. If you were a businessperson, which way would you direct your investment?

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