One would expect that Apple's unveiling of the most powerful PC on the planet would make news round the globe. Although the 225MHz machine was trundled out at Macworld Expo, it didn't make the headlines because of a perception that a hardware orphan had been born.
Apple has made some big mistakes. It has taken too long to bin its prima donnas. It's hardware was over-priced. It squeezed its customers dry with over-priced kit, and it attempted to take on the mantle of an IBM, in dictating terms, to its Vars and dealers.
The five-year-old failure of IBM, Motorola and Apple to have Windows and Mac software running concurrently on the Power PC platform still clouds any good news. Despite another climb under the sheets with Microsoft as it tries to avoid anti-trust action, Apple has got a long time out in the cold before the good times roll again. The promised back-to-profitability in Q2 of 1997 looks a mite optimistic, and Mac cloners will soon have a raft of machines to offer.
As the new team of Microsoft buddies labours under the San Jose sun to keep Apple's browser strategy afloat, they should look closer at Gil Amelio's plans for an Apple revamp. Prices are still too high and low-end kit is not shifting enough to make a difference in next quarter's results. Even Amelio had to give the software developers a kick to release the bits of Copland that were accumulating dust on a shelf.
Apple CFO Fred Anderson may be optimistic that focusing on market share in specific target areas will work, but it has been the rock on which many troubled companies have foundered. Continually shifting core strategies only confuses a channel which understands consistency.
Apple is still going for the high profit margins with new machines, but if Amelio doesn't tread carefully he'll destroy the low-end market and put off programmers who'll be loath to write software for a platform in terminal decline. It still has 25 million Macs out there and the health of Apple is life or death for many small businesses.
How the mighty have changed their strategies. The days when IBM and Apple believed the key to branding was in placing colour co-ordinated furniture in dealerships are gone. Dealers won't be satisfied with just a leaner, fitter new Apple. It has to prove it can develop platforms like the Power PC within time.
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