Welcome to the June issue of ATPM! We’ve unpacked our bags from the recent World Wide Developers’ Conference and we’re getting ready for some summer fun. That’s right, until Macworld Expo New York, we’re taking time to enjoy the warm weather and the sights and sounds of summer. We’re headed to the beach with our iBooks and eBooks. Not discounting the effects of sunstroke, we’ll return in early July with a unique pre-expo blend of news, views, and reviews. Until then please enjoy our latest collection of Audacious Tidbits and Puckish Musings!
1, 2, 3—WWDC
Last month we promised an in depth look at the announcements from WWDC. Our editors and staff writers will report individually on some of the more tech-related news. In brief, we’ve listed the three most important announcements for everyday Mac users:
- This announcement was terrific! Read #2!
- Cool! We couldn’t believe it either! Read #3!
- What a conference! Go ahead, read #1 again!
Perhaps it’s a good sign that Apple Computer is no longer burdened with the need to make sensational announcements at every Mac-related conference. Attendance at this year’s WWDC was up substantially from last year, and new developers are committing themselves to the Mac platform on an almost daily basis. Forget the rumor and speculation Web sites, but keep your eyes on Apple and the major software developers who help shape the market.
A Beta by Any Name
The most telling announcement at the WWDC (and the only one to grab general business headlines) was Apple’s decision to release this summer’s version of Mac OS X as a public beta rather than shipping it to stores as a commercial-grade product. In our view, this makes smart business sense. Apple did not intend to ship hardware with Mac OS X installed until the first calendar quarter of 2001. Why would a savvy computer hardware company put on sale an operating system five or six months before it began to ship on its hardware products? Further, had the product gone on sale in July, Mac users would have been treated to little more than an opportunity to beta test software at their own expense.
It’s impossible to recreate in a lab all the different computing scenarios encountered by end users, and the developer release of OS X distributed at the conference showed that much work remains to be done. While the latest developer release is a mature build of Apple’s revolutionary new operating system, we applaud Apple for not rushing it to market.
As a rule we don’t recommend that most users install beta software. But there are a substantial number of Mac geeks who may wish to work with the beta of Mac OS X when it’s released. The feedback from beta testers will be helpful to Apple and third party software developers.
The editors and staff writers at ATPM are excited about Apple’s new Unix-derivative operating system, its open source foundational layers, and modern computing features. Over the past several months we’ve reported on its progress and we eagerly await its commercial release. But like the Mac community at large, there is significant debate among members of our staff about the appeal of the Aqua interface and the merit of the more animated features that look good on screen but also chew up processor cycles while adding nothing to a Mac’s performance.
By choosing not to release a commercial version of Mac OS X until the company is ready to ship it on new products, Apple is showing great wisdom and foresight. The revolutionary aspects of OS X and the way in which a well tested commercial release will change the way we use our Macs makes it worth the wait.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Well, yes. The editors of ATPM would like to welcome Gregory Tetrault, M.D. to our staff. Greg is a clinical pathologist and the lone Mac user among his professional colleagues. We look forward to Greg’s help as we suffer a few bumps and bruises in the next phase of our publication’s growth.
The Revenge of the Bean Counters
What’s the difference between Apple Computer today and Apple Computer three years ago? Better fiscal management. Gone are the fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants financial decisions that made owning Apple shares a roller coaster ride through the warmer areas of the nether world. Under the careful management of Fred Anderson, Apple’s CFO, the company’s balance sheet has not only improved, but the company is also winning praise for effective management of its assets.
One of the clear differences between the Steve Jobs of today and the Steve Jobs who left Apple many years ago is the executive team that helps him run the company. Industry observers have pointed out that most of Apple’s top executives came on board through the NeXT acquisition, with Mr. Anderson being the notable exception. Originally hired by Gil Amelio, Mr. Anderson has earned the confidence of Steve Jobs and the institutional investors who control most of Apple’s common stock. We predict tough times ahead for many hi-tech companies, but we rest easier knowing Apple’s assets are under “adult supervision.”
Aladdin and His Magic Lamp
The popular Disney series aside, we wonder if the folks at Aladdin Systems have a genie of their own. Founded in 1988, the formerly privately held company teamed up with a 15-year-old high school student, Raymond Lau, to release StuffIt, the Mac platform’s #1 compression utility. Since that time the company has endeavored to market useful and inexpensive software applications and utilities, with a decidedly Mac orientation.
Like its products, Aladdin Systems appears to do things in a quick and inexpensive way, not discounting a little bit of magic. In late 1999 Aladdin Systems reorganized and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Aladdin Systems Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company.
Now for the magic. In October 1999 Aladdin Systems entered into an “agreement” with a non-operating but publicly traded company called Foreplay Golf & Travel Tours, Inc. in which shares of Foreplay were traded for shares of Aladdin Systems. Aladdin Systems became a wholly owned subsidiary of FGT. The executive officers and directors of FGT resigned, and certain executive officers and directors of Aladdin Systems became officers and directors of FGT. That company soon changed its name to Aladdin Systems Holdings, Inc. Presto-Change-o, Aladdin Systems is now the wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly traded company called Aladdin Systems Holdings, Inc.! Was all this a bit of real magic or just a little financial slight of hand? We’ll see if its quarterly results give any clues.
Down the Up Staircase
At press time technology stocks have continued to take a beating on Wall Street. Rising interest rates, lack of significant dividend yields, and the doubtful future for many “dot coms” have pushed money managers to move funds away from technology companies. Apple, Oracle, and other technology companies have seen their share prices drop well below their 52-week highs.
There’s no holding back innovation, and quality companies will continue to grow and prosper. In time the “smart money” will find the enterprises that offer compelling technology solutions for businesses and consumers. The technology revolution is still in its infancy but every year has its seasons, and even the tide has its highs and lows. No matter the ups and downs on Wall Street, the trend toward technology, and technology-based solutions for businesses and consumers will continue.
This Weekend Only: 99.986% Off!
Of course we’re joking. The sale will last well beyond the weekend! In a surprise announcement at the WWDC, Apple Computer reduced the price of its WebObjects package, which includes WebObjects development tools and unlimited usage license for one server, from $50,000 to $699.
There’s been a lot of speculation as to why Apple reduced the price of its award winning (and formerly high-priced) package so drastically. It’s our view that Apple has chosen to put hardware sales before application software sales, and the new price will create more interest in Apple’s pro-level hardware solutions. Ironically, when Apple acquired ownership of WebObjects in the NeXT deal that brought Steve Jobs home to Apple, the product was not Mac-compatible. Lots of things about WebObjects have changed, including Apple’s other announcement that the next version of WebObjects will be written entirely in Java.
Thanks for your continuing support!