TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Schemers
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Inside Info

Schemers

By Chris Espinosa, Apple Computer

All summer the news has been full of big deals and grand schemes in the computer industry. The most notable ones are the failed Microsoft acquisition of Intuit, and the IBM purchase of Lotus Development.

(It’s funny that, five years ago, IBM’s purchase of Lotus would have run into major anti-trust problems, but Microsoft’s bid for Intuit might have gone unnoticed. But that just shows how much changed from 1990 to 1995).

The interesting thing about these deals is that they were seen as not just normal bids to broaden a product line or buy market share, but rather as the first play in intricate schemes. Microsoft’s acquisition of Intuit, if you recall, was not just a trade of a losing position in home finance software for a winning one. It was seen as the foundation for a massive Pynchonian scheme to control electronic banking and commerce, wired into the Microsoft Network, credit cards, video-on-demand, new forms of software distribution, and even the nature of money itself in the new century. Pretty heady stuff for a checkbook program.

And IBM’s Lotus move was not simply to buttress a traditionally thin applications offering from the world’s largest computer company: it was a strategic play to control corporate client/server application development and internal communications, and place IBM mainframes, servers, and communications back in their rightful role as the backbone of the world’s corporate information structure.

Doubtless some of the executives of the two firms were harboring dreams like these. And maybe these schemes swayed the finance types and board members who normally cast a cold eye on big-money transactions. But the reality of the industry is that for every big scheme that works, plenty fail.

The failures are quickly forgotten. Perhaps the biggest was IBM’s System Application Architecture (SAA), a grand scheme to unify the PC, mini, workstation, and mainframe lines under a single family of operating systems, user interfaces, and communications protocols. The downfall of SAA was its largeness. So many constituencies wanted the standards to address their needs that the standards were simply generalized to cover everything that existed, and all the benefits of convergence were lost. Apple, too, had a grand scheme in 1992 called “client/client/server,” where desktop Macs, PDAs like Newton, and Unix-based servers would all be united under a common set of protocols and APIs.

Microsoft is the current king of schemes, some fruitful (like the Microsoft Office) and some less so (like the ACE initiative, Microsoft At Work, Windows for Pen Computing, OS/2 as the replacement for DOS, Windows NT as the replacement for DOS, and Windows 95 as the replacement for DOS).

But there have been three big schemes these companies that have worked tremendously well. And what they have in common is that they were just simple ideas that were only seen as schemes after the fact.

IBM’s big win was making the IBM PC architecture dominate 80% of the computer market in about two years, displacing the CP/M and S-100 Bus architecture and blowing by the Apple II, Commodore PET, and other competitors. They did this by doing things common to their competitors but entirely out of character for IBM. They bought their OS from someone else; got others to write applications for them; and even published the circuit diagrams of the computer. The scheme was to dominate by having the most hardware and software add-ons. What really happened, of course, was that Compaq cloned their machine, as did hundreds of others. IBM ended up with less than ten per cent of the IBM market. But the market was many more times larger than it would have been if IBM had sold yet another closed box.

Apple’s successful scheme was to avoid IBM’s mistake. With the Macintosh, we encouraged lots of consistent third-party software by having a huge amount of built-in system software and heavily promoted design guidelines. But we kept the design proprietary to ensure a virtual 100% market share of the GUI segment, which we had for eight years. And even today, when people write that the Mac is easier to upgrade, maintain, learn, and use than a clone, they hastily follow that with “but it’s only available from Apple,” as if they do not see that the latter was the cause of the former.

Microsoft’s scheme, of course, was to come from nowhere in the applications business to near-total domination in three years by shifting the system software from DOS (which Lotus, Word Perfect, and Ashton-Tate dominated) to Windows (which looked a lot like the platform that Microsoft applications dominated - namely, the Macintosh).

These schemes were simple in concept, executed well, and made billions of dollars for the companies involved. They didn’t have to be an ounce more intricate, or have any sinister motives or actions. They weren’t even recognized as strategies at the time, and were even called bad business decisions by some, but the results speak for themselves.

And all the schemes cooked up by those companies afterwards have not come close to matching the success of the originals. Maybe there’s a lesson there for companies both big and small: keep your schemes simple, execute them doggedly, and don’t be any more clever than you have to.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Pinegrow 6.23 - Mockup and design web pa...
Pinegrow (was Pinegrow Web Designer) is desktop app that lets you mockup and design webpages faster with multi-page editing, CSS and LESS styling, and smart components for Bootstrap, Foundation,... Read more
WhatsApp 2.2149.4 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 10.7.4 - Connec...
Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac is an application that allows connecting to virtual apps or another PC remotely. Discover the power of Windows with Remote Desktop designed to help you manage your... Read more
ffWorks 2.6.7 - Convert multimedia files...
ffWorks, focused on simplicity, brings a fresh approach to the use of FFmpeg, allowing you to create ultra-high-quality movies without the need to write a single line of code on the command-line.... Read more
Opera 82.0.4227.58 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
Day One 6.15 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is an easy, great-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through quick Menu Bar entry,... Read more
Default Folder X 5.6.3 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
OmniOutliner Pro 5.9.2 - Pro version of...
OmniOutliner Pro is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
OmniOutliner Essentials 5.9.2 - Organize...
OmniOutliner Essentials (was OmniOutliner) is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually... Read more
QuickBooks 19.0.11.984 - Financial manag...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The Best Wordle Clone in Town – The Touc...
In this week’s episode of The TouchArcade Show we dig into the drama of the moment which is the cloning and subsequent gloating about the cloning of the lovely little free word game Wordle. This leads into some additional drama about how PUGB Mobile... | Read more »
TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Cards Inf...
There’s nothing I love more than a perfect mobile game. What do I mean by that? Well, no game is actually perfect, but there’s something special about a game you know you can just whip out at a moment’s notice and dive into, and you know it will... | Read more »
‘Micro RPG’ Bringing Streamlined RPG Goo...
Originally announced on our forums more than 3 years ago, Micro RPG is an upcoming mobile game from a two-person studio that goes by the name JoliYeti Games and, as the title implies, it looks to offer all the fun of an RPG but in a more condensed... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Kensei: The Seco...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 14th, 2022. Yesterday was a big day, but today shows that we’re still warming up the engines for this year. There are a handful of new releases, but nothing nearly as... | Read more »
Mobile MMORPG Shooter ‘Avatar: Reckoning...
Archosaur Games, Tencent, Lightstorm Entertainment, and Disney have just revealed a mobile MMORPG shooter Avatar: Reckoning. Avatar: Reckoning will be published by Level Infinite when it hits iOS and Android. It is an official Avatar game developed... | Read more »
‘Crashlands+’ Is Out Now on Apple Arcade...
The brilliant Crashlands from Butterscotch Shenanigans was confirmed to arrive on Apple Arcade as an App Store Great in the form of Crashlands+ () a little while ago and it has just released worldwide. If it isn’t live yet, it should roll out in... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Eschatos’, ‘To B...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 13th, 2022. It’s a Thursday, and we’ve got a pretty hefty bag of new releases to dig into. There are always some fun surprises, and this week that came in the form of SNK Vs... | Read more »
‘Crush the Castle Legacy Collection’ Lau...
Ever since Angry Birds broke into the mainstream and became a household name more than a decade ago, there’s always been a small niche of people on the sidelines who would pipe up to remind everybody that “Crush the Castle did it first!" Indeed, the... | Read more »
Non-Violent Stealth Game ‘El Hijo – A Wi...
Over a year ago, Handy Games brought the non-violent stealth game El Hijo – A Wild West Tale to Switch, PS4, Xbox, PC, and Stadia. El Hijo – A Wild West Tale has been developed by Honig Studios and Quantumfrog. You play as El Hijo, a six year old,... | Read more »
‘ZED BLADE’ from SNK and Hamster Is Out...
After a bit of a break likely due to the holiday season, we’ve gotten a new title in the ACA NeoGeo series on iOS and Android. SNK and Hamster originally brought the series to mobile with Samurai Shodown IV, Alpha Mission II, and Metal Slug 5.... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Get an Apple Watch Series 7 for $50 off MSRP,...
Amazon has Apple Watch Series 7 models on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest available for Apple Watch Series 7 models today: – 41mm Apple Watch Series 7 GPS... Read more
Here are the details of Apple’s 2022 Educatio...
Need a new Apple Mac or iPad for school? Whether you’re a student, teacher, or staff member, you can use your .edu email address when ordering at Apple Education to take up to $400 off the price of a... Read more
Amazon is blowing out 2020 21″ iMacs for only...
Amazon has clearance 2020 21″ iMacs (2.3GHz Dual-Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) on sale right now for $599.99 including free shipping. Original MSRP for this model was $1099. Amazon expects delivery in... Read more
Find the best deal on an Apple MacBook using...
In the market for a new 13″ MacBook Air, 13″ MacBook Pro, 14″ MacBook Pro, or 16″ MacBook Pro with M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max Apple Silicon? Use our Apple award-winning and exclusive price trackers to... Read more
Red Pocket Mobile is offering the Apple iPhon...
Switch to Red Pocket Mobile and get an Apple iPhone 13 Pro for $50 off MSRP, plus get free 6 months of Unlimited nationwide 5G service with the purchase of any iPhone 13. Red Pocket Mobile is a... Read more
24″ M1 iMacs on sale for $1249, $50 off Apple...
Amazon has base 24″ M1 iMacs (8-Core CPU/7-Core GPU/8GB RAM/256GB SSD) on sale today for $1249 shipped. Their price is $50 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a new 24″ M1 iMac... Read more
Open-Box 16″ M1 Pro MacBook Pros available fo...
QuickShip Electronics has open-box return 16″ M1 Pro MacBook Pros in stock and on sale for $200-$300 off MSRP on their eBay store right now with free express delivery. According to QuickShip, “The... Read more
Stock Alert! Order a new 16″ M1 Pro MacBook P...
New 16″ MacBook Pros with Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max CPUs have been very hard to find, largely due to current global supply constraints. However, B&H Photo is reporting stock of Space Gray... Read more
Apple has maxed-out 13″ M1 MacBook Airs (16GB...
Save $250 on maxed-out 13″ M1 MacBook Airs today at Apple (16GB RAM/1TB SSD) with Certified Refurbished models available for $1399 in Space Gray and Gold colors. Regular price for this configuration... Read more
New promo at Xfinity Mobile: $400 off any App...
Xfinity Mobile is offering any new Apple iPhone for $400 off MSRP for new customers. This includes the iPhone 13. Price for the phone, including the discount, is spread monthly over a 24 month term... Read more

Jobs Board

Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH -...
…is calling for a Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** We are seeking a Registered Nurse (RN) Employee Health PSJH to be Read more
Systems Administrator - Pearson (United State...
…and troubleshoot Windows operating systems (workstation and server), laptop computers, Apple iPads, Chromebooks and printers** + **Administer and troubleshoot all Read more
IT Assistant Level 1- IT Desktop Support Anal...
…providing tier-1 or better IT help desk support in a large Windows and Apple environment * Experience using IT Service Desk Management Software * Knowledge of IT Read more
Human Resources Business Partner PSJH - Provi...
…**is calling a** **Human Resources Business Partner, PSJH** **to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** **Applicants that meet qualifications will receive a text with Read more
Manager Community Health Investment Programs...
…is calling a Manager Community Health Investment Programs PSJH to our location in Apple Valley, CA.** **Qualified candidates will be invited to do a self-paced video Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.