cisler on Fri, 8 Jan 1999 22:29:03 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> MacWorld: Yum!

     [also to, AFCNmembers 

Should you buy a Mac? How's the company doing? Is anyone doing new software?

I did a drive-by visit to MacWorld in San Francisco for a few hours. Very
fast and very superficial. I am still a rather loyal Mac user but have had
worries about the company and its direction, as well as the mindset of  the
company where Mr. Jobs is the only visible personality who surfaces these

He was the star, of course, and I tried to watch a ZDNet webcast the day
after he spoke, but my 150 kb/sec connection to the RealVideo server could
only squeeze out about 2 minutes of broken up talking heads in a ten minute
period.  The networks and technology are not there folks, especially when
there is significant demand for an archived (or realtime) sound/video file.
Since the net could not satisfy me, I hopped in the car and headed for San

I was there in the afternoon of the third day, and it was very busy. Aisles
were crowded, like the old days, but there were fewer exhibits.  The Apple
booth was grand, clean, and well staged. Most impressive were two rows of 64
multi-colored iMacs (blueberry, lime, tangerine, and other vegan colors) and
then then new G3s with the tu-tone plastic cases and a bunch of demos of
system improvements and serious apps. There was a bin of buttons showing a
multicolor cluster of the new iMacs. Under the picture was one word:


All sorts of booths offered add-ons, peripherals, and iMac prosthetic
devices: little mouse covers to make those work better, a cordless phone
designed to communicate with the iMac, new printers and scanners, and a
video editing device from Avid.

In another part of the hall there was a large, dimly lit area devoted to
games. This is clearly the direction Apple (Jobs) wants to emphasize.
Certainly more than business or enterprise or  "learning" (education) though
there was a smaller, more sedate section --also off to the side-- where K12
vendors were showing their products.  But the gaming area was hot. There
were networked competitions with prizes, a store to buy the games, and a
whole section (temple?) devoted to Laura of Tomb Raider fame. If you don't
know about Laura, well...I guess you'd say she's a cross between an Outward
Bound guide and a super-model, as envisioned by the National Rifle
Association. There was a life-sized action statue of Laura where a line of
boys would pose for pictures. Usually, they grabbed her large breasts,
something I don't think they can do on the screen version!

The big hit of the show was from the consistently innovative company
Connectix. They were selling a Sony PlayStation emulator for $49. It only
works on G3 Macs, and it's not perfect, but it's going to expand the game
market for Sony, if their legal department does not go after Connectix.

The other emphasis was on advanced digital media for web site builders, ad
agencies, and new media companies. Projects that almost died when I was at
Apple (like FireWire) are now part of the new G3 line, giving bandwidth
hungy producers simple ways of moving large files and doing even more
production on the Mac. Lots of digital camera booths. Hitachi showed a
slightly changed MPEG camera, and Canon and Olympus had their full lines
available for fondling and lusting.

AOL had a very tiny booth, and the Internet was sort of embedded in various
vendor exhibits, but only a few were selling products that had much to do
with ISP (except for a high speed wireless access company operating in
Orange County, San Franciso, Houston, and Lima, Peru). LinuxPPC had a very
busy booth, and the Cobalt Cube was looking good. This is a little cube,
about the size of Italian pannetone, that runs Linux and is a plug and play
Internet host for mail, news, web, etc. all for less than $1000.  Very, very

The retail stores like CompUSA were doing a lot of business, and I think
that first time consumers, old die-hards, and even OS agnostics were happy
with the level of activity in the conference as a whole. It is clear that
some analysts and writers are going to keep saying "Let's give Apple another
quarter; they are not out of the woods yet." And we will hear it  even as
our descendents confront the Y3K problem which leads me to recommend a new
ad on the Y2K problem that is in QuickTime (free extensions for mac/wintel)
on Apple's home page <> It's about 1 mb but rather amusing, if
you have a fast connection.

In sum, I'd say it's a good time to buy a Mac,even though I know that I
don't need a new one, that the PowerPC I have works fine for the things I
do. The success of companies depends on their ability to convince you that
they know what your needs are and that their products can slake your desire
and to blur what you need with what you may want. Clearly Apple is doing
that quite well these days.

Steve Cisler
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