Apple irrational? Maybe lack of perspective

Barry Levine themacguy at mac.com
Wed Jun 5 02:50:00 CDT 2002


Until this past December, I worked for Apple as their K12 Account Exec 
for El Paso and "Texas west of the Pecos". During the time I represented 
Apple, I saw dozens of cases where decisions were made by Steve (yeah, 
that Steve) that set us back (sales-wise) during critical paradigm 
shifts. The most ludicrous was when the B&W G3's were introduced in 
January 1999.

For a number of months prior to that, we (and every rumor site) knew 
that the unit would have FireWire ports. Camcorders had already been 
introduced that would connect to the FireWire port. However, there was 
no software owned or licensed to Apple that would "see" the FireWire 
ports. Now, it is important to remember that I worked for the Education 
division. Schools don't have unlimited funds for equipment. So the VHS 
camcorders (analog only, of course) the schools already owned and 
purchased, in large part, because of Apple's "Multimedia Bundle" (the 
Avid Cinema card and software installed in a 5260, 5400, 5500, or G3 
All-in-One constituted the bundle).

So we're all waiting from October 1st (the start of Apple's fiscal year) 
all the way to MacWorld SF where Steve shocks the crowd with that 
drop-down door (still an elegant design, eh?) and, a week later, when 
all of our "regional" staff meets in Kansas City for a close-up look at 
the B&W -AND-, presumably, what will be the replacement for our beloved 
MM Bundle. So what do they show us for the MM Bundle? Nothing. The 
decision is that we're going FireWire, folks, and y'all better get on 
the train. Is Apple going to include a heavily-discounted FireWire 
camcorder with the bundle? No? Then the true cost of the bundle is about 
$1200 more due to the necessity of purchasing a FireWire camcorder 
which, of course, the schools will not purchase.

So, without any warning, the MM Bundle (which I've been selling like 
snow cones on the 4th of July) is gone. The message we've been 
delivering to our customers - that multimedia is the cornerstone of the 
creative learning process, the easiest way to promote higher-order 
thinking skills - is skewered in a heartbeat. Why? What K12 site is 
going to buy a computer that won't play nice with their existing 
camcorders? Remember, this is a time when DV Camcorders sold for over 
$1200.

Our response to Mitch Mandich (Apple's Education VP at that time) was 
that he should prepare to meet his maker if we left that regional 
meeting (two days hence) without a MM bundle to sell. Mitch left the 
meeting to make some phone calls. When he returned about an hour later, 
we were told that ATI would write a driver for their XclaimVR card that 
would play well with a modified version of Avid Cinema. The XclaimVR 
card would be used in place of the ATI Rage128 that would otherwise be 
the standard. The cost delta was about $200 (quite reasonable). That was 
the good news.

The bad news was that the MM Bundle would not be available until the end 
of March. So the excitement generated by this incredible new computer 
was gone by the time the first MM Bundle shipped. Guess how many "non-MM 
Bundle" B&W's I sold during January-March? About a dozen. When they knew 
that a MM Bundle would be available "soon", why buy something less? It 
was the worst sales quarter I ever had during my tenure at Apple. Mitch 
Mandich was fired a year later.

Apple's history is filled with missed opportunities. We introduce 
wireless networking and, a few months later, Dell has a TV ad that shows 
people actually using it. What is Apple's ad for wireless? That stupid 
"flying saucer" base station with the bad sci-fi music. Talk about 
preaching to the choir!

I've always said (even before I worked for Apple) that Apple survived in 
spite of its management, not because of it.

However, I would still rather have Steve in that corner office than 
anyone else. In spite of that legendary "reality distortion field", he 
has many more "hits" than "misses" (misses like that Cube boat-anchor, 
but don't get me started!).

Would I ever switch to a Windoze machine? When you pry my cold, dead 
fingers from my Mac, buster!

*grin*

Barry
--------------------------------------------------------
Barry Jay Levine
"The Mac Guy"
Macintosh Troubleshooting, System Engineering, Training,
AppleShare/OSX Server Setup, System Upgrades and Enhancements
On-Site service for K20, Business, Consumer
Phone/VoiceMail: 915-581-1105
             Fax: 915-581-8167
           eMail: themacguy at mac.com
MacOS X: It does. You can. It will.
WindowsXP: Insert wallet into Drive A: Press any key to empty
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