Getting some stuff off my chest

Written by David Tebbutt, MacUser 12/91 item 01 - scanned

Dear Apple,

I thought it was about time I dropped you a line. After all, I haven't really seen you since I was in Cupertino in July and a lot has happened since then. I won't bore you with the details of what's been happening to me, but it would be nice to chat about what you've been up to.

That stuff I saw in your laboratories was really nice. It's a pity that the really juicy bits had to be cut from my Inside Apple series before publication. Some of the opinions expressed by your HIG team would have spiced the articles up no end. Never mind, the readers appeared to enjoy the stuff and seemed really disappointed that the series came to an end so quickly. I don't suppose you'll want me back in a hurry though...

Never mind, that's not why I'm writing. It was interesting to see two of your top guys, Sculley and Spindler, in London recently. It's a shame they didn't say anything. Well, that's not quite true, Spindler said "hello" and showed me a few adverts. It was interesting to hear MS-DOS compatibility mentioned in the first few words of one of the portables adverts. Boy, did I have trouble explaining that to some naive observers. They thought you meant that PowerBooks would run DOS software.

I thought that if we had a chance to ask questions, I'd ask Spindler if he knows Eckhard Pfeiffer, the new top man at Compaq. If he did, I was going to tell Sculley to watch out. He might find that a little chat with Rod Canion would pay dividends. (If you don't follow the non-Mac press, Canion was the Compaq founder who couldn't or wouldn't respond quickly enough to the changing realities of the marketplace. He was ousted and Pfeiffer took his place.) I only mentioned this because Spindler and Pfeiffer both had moved from Germany to high positions in their respective companies.

So where was I? Well, I wasn't anywhere really. Just wittering on. I mean, all this IBM stuff and now your dealer deal with DEC. Oops - sorry, I mean Digital. They get so shirty when you call them DEC, but it's difficult after twenty-some years to get out of the habit. When I said "oops", I actually meant oops, not OOPS, which is this month's buzz word around the industry. And quite right too - although I think there's a load of people who are jumping on the bandwagon, calling any program that's vaguely structured an object oriented program. And why not? That's what buzz words are for, isn't it?

By the time PINK arrives, everyone will have moved on to a new buzzword, while destroying the meaning of object oriented forever. Never mind, I'm sure that your marketing folk or IBM's will think of something. That's assuming your relationship has survived. I am so glad you didn't call Taligent Taligen. Did you know that, although that might sound better, it would make the company name an anagram of "genital"?

Still, I would like to raise a more serious issue with you. It's to do with the way you present yourself to the world at large. Oh yes, very smart and all that. But why are you still calling all your computers Macintoshes? You'd think IBM was barmy if it called all its machines Juniors, or if Digital called all its machines Rainbows. If you want to be perceived properly, you should give each range a different name.

Keep the Macintosh name for the little beige boxes with mono screens, and maybe the LCs too. Call the Mac II series something else and the notebooks something else. You're halfway there already. Why not have the courage to go that extra step and give them all the generic Apple name, but forget the Mac bit? Now you've got that court case with Apple Corps out the way, you should be able to do it. (Did you really have to pay 15.5 million to them? Outrageous - send the bill to Steve Jobs!)

While I'm here, I have to tell you that Frank O'Mahony was an absolutely superb ambassador for your company at the recent MacUser awards. He came in for a bit of ribbing (a bit unfairly, if you ask me) but kept smiling through. In case news hasn't reached you, you won four awards - including the one that came to pieces in Frank's hand. Not his fault. It's happened before. I think they should be made of rubber to withstand all that handling by the excited winning team.

Before I go, I just want to make a complaint. When are you going to throw your voice mail system out? Calling California is a nightmare (Too true - Ed.). Surely everyone isn't away from their desks all the time? When I was over there, I got the distinct impression that voicemail was cool and you were no one without it. The reality is that it appears bloody rude. It's as if you're all far too busy and important to stop and listen to anyone's calls.

Well, that's all for now. Write soon.