Is Apple Bruised?

1999 – If you haven’t read Fred Langa’s latest anti-Mac tirade, you’ve missed a great compilation of misinformation and innuendo. (By now most Mac users know that Fred Langa seems to have a low tolerance for Apple Computer, the Macintosh, and especially the iMac.)

Bondi iMacI’ll respond to some of his points in the order he presented them:

“Apple has done some things well. It has hyped and advertised the iMac to death, and as a result managed to move a boatload of the curvy little boxes.”

It’s hard to argue with success. The iMac has spent many months as the best-selling computer in the world. So instead of dealing with that, Langa labels it the result of hype – maybe the same kind of hype Microsoft used to launch Windows 95 and 98 and that Intel is using to launch the Pentium III?

Deceptive?

“(Long-time readers know how I feel about the deceptive and elitist advertising tactics Apple used to achieve this goal – you can find past columns in the archives.)”

Bytemark, January 1998Fact: Some objective benchmarks (e.g., BYTEmark) showed that the G3 processor in the Power Mac G3 was twice as fast as a Pentium II at the same clock speed. Apple worded its ads carefully, “The processor in every Power Mac G3 is up to twice as fast.”

They never claimed the computer was twice as fast, or that the G3 was always twice as fast, but only that it was up to twice as fast.

Elitist?

Then Langa attacks Apple’s Think Different campaign for being elitist.

Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog are elitist? Fred Langa must also have it in for Sesame Street and all those ridiculously fun Muppet movies, not just Apple Computer.

Think Different poster, Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog Think Different poster, Mahatma Gandhi Think Different poster, John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Gandhi elitist? Only if you think liberating the human soul isn’t for the masses.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono elitist? Nobody who grew up listening to the Beatles would say that.

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.I could go on, but you get the point – Langa uses the words “deceptive” and “elitist” in his own way, just like Humpty Dumpty, who said, “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to – neither more nor less.”

“Steve Jobs, with an undeniable sense of style and showmanship, has breathed new energy into Apple, and may succeed in his in-progress work of bringing Apple back from the brink of extinction to a secure market niche.”

Langa excels in characterizing the Mac as a niche computer. Of course, there are a lot of ways to define a niche. If the niche is user-friendly, relatively affordable, powerful, and pretty darn stable computers, it’s a great niche to own.

But the spin on the term “niche” is almost always a negative one, implying Macs aren’t for just anyone. Sort of like the term “elitist”.

If having an easy-to-use, relatively stable computer does define a niche, I think most computer users (especially those suffering with Windows) would gladly be part of that niche.

“…the Mac’s memory management/memory protection scheme is legendarily outdated – the Mac has probably the very worst memory management among all the currently shipping major operating systems. (And let’s not even discuss the Mac’s lack of preemptive multitasking….)”

The Mac OS has had  cooperative multitasking since System 5 and MultiFinder (1987) – the same kind of multitasking found in Windows 3.1 and earlier with their 16-bit architecture. Of course, the hot buzzword today is preemptive multitasking, which System 6 and System 7 didn’t offer. However, Mac OS 8 offers some level of it, and Mac OS 8.6 is supposed to bring more preemptive multitasking to the Mac OS. Mac OS X (now shipping in a server version) offers stable preemptive multitasking.

The same goes for memory management. Personal computers really fall down here in comparison to mainframes, minis, and Unix systems (Mac OS X is rooted in Unix). Apple’s memory management scheme was developed in 1983, the year Apple cobbled together the first version of Mac OS, and modified in 1987, the year it added multitasking.

Of course, the Windows 3.1 world, which still has a significant number of users, is still saddled with IBM’s 1980 decisions to use a CPU capable of addressing only one megabyte of memory – and then they further reduced that to 640 KB available for the operating system and other software.

Macs have never had that problem. A few models since 1986 were limited to 4 MB, others to 10 MB, and today’s Power Mac G3 to 1 GB, but those were far less restrictive than what IBM, Microsoft, and Intel put together almost 20 years ago.

Still, despite “outdated” memory management and multitasking, Macs seem a lot more stable than the Windows computers that offer supposedly superior memory management and multitasking.

Let’s talk real world vs. theory, shall we.

And speaking of outdated operating systems, which one will survive 1/1/2000 unscathed while millions using the other system have to replace hardware and/or the OS?

“OS X is supposed to remedy many of the problems with the current Mac OS, but OS X is still some ways out.”

Mac OS X Server is available today. Mac OS X (the non-server version) should be out in the July/August 1999 timeframe. [Update: The OS X Public Beta was available in September 2000, and OS X 10.0 Cheetah in March 2001.]

And when is Windows 2000 supposed to ship? October 1999? With Microsoft’s penchant for missed ship dates, the joke of the century is that it won’t be released until first quarter 1901. 😉 [Update: Windows 2000 was available to manufacturers starting in December 1999, but it was not available for purchase until February 17, 2000.]

Oops

Langa goes on to comment on a pretty disastrous product demo Steve Jobs did at Macworld Tokyo. Of course, he never mentions Bill Gates and the Blue Screen of Death as he tried to show off Windows 98 plug-and-play.

“Few companies survive near-death experiences as dire as Apple’s. And I know of none that have survived two such experiences. If Apple continues to stumble and loses its way again, it could well be lights-out in Cupertino.”

Let’s ignore for a moment the bumblings of Bill Gates and Microsoft, which could lead to dismantling the most powerful software company in the world.

Let’s ignore Intel’s recent settlement with the government over its practices.

Let’s ignore the Y2K fiasco that has almost everyone outside of the Macintosh and Unix communities up in arms.

Blue and White Power Mac G3Where is Apple stumbling? They have the most innovative and powerful product line in the personal computer industry! The iMac. The PowerBook G3. And that Blue & White Power Mac G3 with the motherboard bolted firmly to a convenient door.

In this era of Windows 2000 and Pentium III hype, it’s too bad Apple didn’t make the door on the Power Mac G3 Blue Screen of Death blue.

Further Reading

  • Lanaga’s Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’, The iMac NewsPage, 1999.04.01. “Langa meanwhile has done his darnedest best to condemn the iMac to death, passing off a shipload of ludicrous arguments as his basis for predicting the iMac’s impending demise….”
  • A Bruised Apple? I Think Not!, Robert Aldridge, The iMac, 1999.04.01. “Fred Langa of InformationWEEK wrote an article yesterday that showed PC bigotry and biased reporting to the fullest.”
  • Fred Langa Strikes Again, MacKiDo, 1999.04.02. “…Fred Langa is either the least perceptive analyst in the computer industry, or he’s just flame baiting you all.”

Keywords: #fredlanga #twiceasfast #thinkdifferent

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searchword: fredlanga

2 thoughts on “Is Apple Bruised?

    • Thanks. I was sure I’d pasted in a link through archive.org (what a wonderful resource), but it seems not to have taken. I’ve fixed that again.

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