Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 5.07
July 1999


How To



Download ATPM 5.07

Choose a format:

Apple Cider: Random Squeezings from a Mac User

by Tom Iovino,

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

The French have a saying when it comes to the differences between men and women: Vive la difference!

The French, legendary for their abilities to romance, were referring to the pleasant differences which attract men to women and vice versa. There are some differences, however, which cause more friction than good.

For instance, men leave the toilet seat up. Women take forever to get ready to go out. Men like to scratch themselves. Women like to ask questions such as, “Do these jeans make my butt look big?”

The most annoying difference between the sexes, however, occurs in the car on road trips. Ya see, when couples are going somewhere for the first time, there is usually a great deal of tension. The man will drive onward, relying on his innate sense of tracking, bred into his sex after tens of thousands of years of mastodon hunting. Even if the road signs change from English to another language, he will press on, doggedly seeking to get to his destination.

Women tend to backseat drive more often than not. While their man is taking them on a tour of uncharted territory, women will offer such helpful suggestions as, “ Slow down! You’re right on that guy’s bumper!” or “Why are you going so slow? We’ll never get there at this rate! Go faster!” or, the ever popular, “That gas station looks very familiar. Haven’t we been here before?”

I wonder what would happen if my wife were along for the ride with Steve Jobs and the Apple bigwigs? After all, I thought we were dealing with the new, streamlined, lean, mean Apple, not the bloated, inefficient model.

When Steve Jobs sorta-kinda took the official reins of the company from Dr. Gil, the company was awash in product. There were more model numbers out there than you could shake a stick at. Add on the fact that cloning was running amok, adding more hardware to the mix. With the hardware efforts spread all over the place, Apple was having a hard time keeping their promises for its product line—release dates slipped. Research and development dollars were wasted on one scrubbed project after another. Things looked bleak because the company had no clear direction.

One of the first decisions Jobs made was to adopt the KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Stupid. Projects which had no chance of seeing the light of day were scrapped. Manufacturing facilities were closed to centralize production. And, most importantly, the product line was slashed drastically.

The hodge-podge of models—a proven losing tactic—was reduced in favor of a four-pronged approach to customer satisfaction:

  1. The High-End User’s Macintosh. The graphics professionals and other high-end users were going to have their own model which would meet their needs. The new, curvy G3s were released, and this crowd has found them very useful.
  2. The Home User’s Macintosh. The average home user was going to get an easy-to-set-up, easy-to-configure model for regular home use. The wildly successful iMac has satisfied this group, and its popularity has not wavered yet.
  3. The High-End Traveling Person’s Macintosh. Business professionals on the road looking for computing muscle have been happy with the Wall Street PowerBooks.

    and, the final peg of the Apple Product Line:
  4. The Consumer Portable.

I say this is a big question because this model has yet to be realized. There are no pictures of the new computer. There are no spec sheets. Vendors are not yet taking orders. This is the computer, however, that is generating quite a bit of excitement.

The promise of such a model is vast. Imagine, portable computing which is both powerful and affordable. Also, it is speculated that the Consumer Portable is going to show some eye-popping design elements, much the same way the iMac did. Imagine what this type of portable emissary could do to bolster Apple’s image even further. Picture a traveler at an airport terminal working on her stylish Consumer Portable, attracting a crowd looking over her shoulder. Someone steps forward and asks, “What type of computer is that?”

“It’s a Macintosh.”

With the successful roll out of the first three parts of the Apple strategy, you would figure that the roll out of the fourth part would be a piece of cake, right?

Not so, according to reports in MacWEEK. The computer, expected to debut in July, may have to have its debut pushed back until the late summer or early fall. In fact, speculation is that the Consumer PowerBook is in danger of being completely scrapped due to engineering difficulties.

Now, wait a second—I thought this was the new Apple. You know, the Steve Jobs run, hard-nosed, OS-updating, I’m-not-allowing-any-shenanigans Apple Computer. Now, we have the captain at the helm. Our ship is back on course, right?

The media and the public have been seeing Apple as a company no longer at death’s door. No longer on the rebound. Instead, it is believed that Apple has arrived on the scene as a vibrant company. Again.

This perception is due to the dogged, and deadline conscious, work the company has done. Apple has done exactly what it needed to in order to return to the ‘land of the living.’

Now, where are we? Is Apple really having trouble getting the Consumer Portable to the market? Is this a return to the bad old days when Apple leadership would announce the next greatest thing, only to change their minds mid-stream, or fail to put the appropriate effort and funding into getting the problems solved?

I fear that if Apple failed to get the Consumer Portable to market, after already teasing consumers with the promise of a new, innovative product, the questions which once plagued Apple could resurface.

“Oh, nice streak, Apple, but I see you are back to your old tricks.”

July promises to be an exciting month. Can Apple shake the bugs out of the Consumer Portable before the Macworld Expo? Can Apple deliver the product to the waiting consumers, who are just itching to get their hands on these new toys?

Or, is Steve Jobs perhaps playing an interesting strategy? Maybe Apple’s top brass are cranking up the rumor mill to spur interest in this, the last leg of their product strategy? That’s an interesting idea, but I doubt that.

Either way, I hope that Apple doesn’t go back to its old, bungling ways. If it does, you can bet my wife won’t be the only one asking, “Haven’t we been here before?”

apple “Apple Cider: Random Squeezings from a Mac User” is copyright © 1999 Tom Iovino,

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (0)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article