by J. Scott Faulkner
Where do I want to go today? It doesn’t matter, but I want to get there with my Macintosh. Unfortunately, Apple Computer made that an impossibility.
One of “The Rest of Us”
I was asked to author a piece about the eminent demise of the Macintosh computer. However, what’s to say that hasn’t already been regurgitated in all the trade rags for the last two or more years? After all, that’s a bit like arguing which of the political parties has a better ethics record in the White House.
No, for the sake of discussion I just I’ll just admit to being a closet Mac user and be done with it. Not that I like being relegated to ordering software exclusively through catalogs and on-line services or paying well over the industry norms for non-ubiquitous hardware.
Great Technology-Still in the Closet
But this isn’t about the triumph of technology. Of best over better we’re talking about here. For if technology truly reined supreme we’d all be driving Tuckers and watching those rental movies on BetaMax machines. Yet, in spite of the colossal bungle from a business standpoint that Apple has perpetrated on itself and its customers, we all put on our rose colored glasses and recite to ourselves “it’s not a computer, it’s an experience”.
Sure I liked the smiling little computer when I started up my original Mac Plus in January, 1986. I tolerated the simple beep sound when I made an error, but the lack of true multi-tasking and a successive sequence of lack luster OS releases, that unfortunately still incorporated the dreaded system error 11 message experience, has chiseled away what little amusement I had left. All this happened while watching a progressive evolution of improvements and features in the rank impostor Windows.
Let’s not go down that Gatesian path that most Mac users love to recite. The one where Microsoft is analogous to the Evil Empire in Star Wars and Gates is the devil reincarnate. While I’m not quite up to thanking Bill for the assistance to Apple in making the world a better place, I don’t fault him for practicing what nature has been following for a millennia: Natural Selection. On the contrary, if Windows is anything it is an evolution of the Mac revolution and one that Apple clearly let slip through its fingers.
But, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck! Well, not exactly. Maybe an ugly duckling on the verge of blossoming into that truly user friendly swan the computer industry desperately needs. Still, all the Internet browsers and web editors in the world aren’t going to make it any more elegant to use or fun to drive at this point. But the sheer marketing horsepower of an operating system that counts users like McDonald’s counts off hamburgers provides the lever necessary for the heavy lifting that long ago left Apple writhing with back pain.
To Apple I use your own marketing campaign: “Think different!” Maybe being a niche market player isn’t necessarily bad. Maybe bigger isn’t always better. Decide where you want to play and go after it with all the gusto a niche player can muster or die.
To Microsoft I applaud your successes but caution you to recognize an industry where they eat their own.
To Mac users I say recognize that it’s a choice which platform you use and stop whining. Quit lamenting the lost horizon. Instead, envision the future where your options make a difference.
Nestled among the other Mac lemmings I’ve chosen to maintain rank and file. Step-by-step, dancing our way toward the abyss. And yet as I walk on and consciously step over the edge I can’t help but wondering, “Where would you like to go today?”