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14.002 10. The Computer Wars Chronicles: ISSUE 74/ : Report from the Computer WarsIII. Sluff-off




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This article is from the Apple II Csa2 FAQ, by Jeff Hurlburt with numerous contributions by others.

14.002 10. The Computer Wars Chronicles: ISSUE 74/ : Report from the Computer WarsIII. Sluff-off

         For home users, developers, software publishers-- for everyone, in fact,
with a stake in the "low end" machine-- such half-hearted support has always
been as puzzling as it is frustrating. We invest hard cash in an Apple
computer, join Apple clubs, subscribe to Apple publications, (slap Apple
stickers on binders, use an Apple key ring, ...), fill shelves with Apple
software, and buy Apple peripherals. Apple, in return, drags out development of
a IIgs operating system, pours money into its business mac

hine, and adopts a 'dog in the manger' position which all but kills any chance
of a timely third party upgrade needed to maintain IIgs performance parity with
the competition.

     To be fair, Apple has behaved no worse-- indeed, on the whole, much
better-- than other home user 'flagships'. Each new II model has preserved
broad downward compatibility; and documentation, from early manuals through the
current Addison Wesley series, has been among the best. Finally, both the IIgs
and its operating system benefitted from recent minor upgrades. It's no wonder
home users are confused. If Apple is at all concerned about its II series, why
isn't it concerned enough?

     After the near brush with collapse in '85, we reasoned that Apple (now
also "Big Green" the business machine maker) would forever regard holding onto
its II home user base as a high priority. Surely, Apple had learned its lesson.

     So it had, though not the lesson we supposed. IIgs revenues were a help in
those troubled times; but the more important contribution was an industry-wide
confidence that "Apple is back". Stock values rose, capital rolled in, the Mac
II was launched, and viola!, Apple WAS back! The lesson for Apple was clear
enough: 'everyone' still equated corporate health with II prosperity. It had
become captive to its low end, low profit product line.

     There are several reasons why Apple might view this situation
     with alarm.  Of these, the popular notion that a IIgs resulting
     from a series of forced upgrades might impact Mac sales is
     probably the most over-rated. As Apple's own marketing people
     have adroitly demonstrated, it is entirely possible to render a
     product "business invisible". Your ads merely assert that the
     IIgs is a home/ school computer and that the Mac is for
     business. Once the systems are bundled with appropriate software
     and the price tags slapped on, few IS managers would consider
     filling an office with IIgs's.

     No, the simplest explanation for Apple's concern is also the one
     which best fits the facts. Well before the '85 crisis, Apple had
     decided that costs of its II series were beginning to outweigh
     rewards. Selling all of those computers, disk drives, and
     printers to create a large home user base was great fun. Customer
     service, support R&D, and selling upgrades to maintain it was not
     nearly so profitable. Apple wished to be free to deal with its II
     series on its own terms. Most certainly, the Lords of Cupertino
     were determined to be rid of a situation which allowed home user
     complaints, doomsday editorials, or expressions of teacher
     dissatisfaction to rock corporate pylons at the foundation.

     By 1988, an aggressive ad campaign and expanding Mac II sales had solved
the problem. Apple shed its "home computer maker" skin and became "Apple, the
maker of pricey, high class business computers". Whether the II line is spun-
off, sold, or merely "supported" at current low levels, one thing seems clear.
The odds are very slim that II users will ever again be an important part of
Apple's empire. Consider yourself sluffed.
    

 

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