An Apple a day, keeps the hype away

Greg Lefevre

August 23, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- What a week for the Macintosh! Amid the tidal wave of publicity over Microsoft's Windows 95, Apple Computer chooses to grab a board and surf the hype. Michael Mace, Apple's director of Macintosh Platform Marketing calls Windows 95 a wildly over-hyped product.

Mace is busy this week, rushing from studio to studio, doing interviews at a rate of more than one per hour. "We're certainly getting a lot of attention because we're the alternative to the PC."

Apple's line, hyped on T-shirts, rushed out this week. The shirts detail the many features and accomplishments of the big Apple. The shirts exclaim "Been there, done that."

Mace says, "That's half of it. We don't want to just say Macintosh has had all these things in the past which those guys have copied. Also we're moving ahead to the future as well. If you want to see what Windows will look like five years from now, look at a Macintosh today and you'll get the idea."

Indeed, a promotional tape circulated by Apple shows a complex graphic draws three times faster on the Mac than on the Microsoft operating system. "On average applications, independent tests run about 50 percent faster when you have the same clock speed on the two machines," Mace says.

In another scene (478K movie) [ ] on the same tape, a Harrier Jet video game plays smoother on the Mac, while a Microsoft operating system version's image looks jumpy and halting. "A lot of these things that the other side is crowing about as innovations are things that Macintosh has been doing for a long time," Mace says.

Michael Wise wears his sentiments on his chest, "Been there, Done that," as he supervises desktops at "Wired" magazine, home of 150 Macs and... one PC. Wise says, "I'm one of the biggest Mac bigots you'll find." He uses the PC only to review products that come in Windows Format.

Mac's biggest fans are also its toughest critics. John Battelle is "Wired's" executive managing editor. He says, "When it comes to the concept of a network operating system, an operating system that keeps you connected to the rest of the world at all times, neither Microsoft or Apple have any lock on that market. "People that are major players in that right now are Netscape and Spry and others. Now, who buys those companies or controls those companies or does smart alliances with those companies may well control the future."

Mac's make up about 10 percent of computers sold. In multimedia, where the Macintosh shines, Apple says the number jumps to 20 percent. Mace: "We get the biggest performance increases on graphics, multimedia and other things like that. But you know what? If you look at Intel's commercials about why you should buy a Pentium, they say buy it because it does multimedia and graphics and video conferencing and dancing capacitors. Well, those are the things that we do best... today!"

Apple uses the Windows 95 promotion to highlight it's own advances. Mace: "We add in new innovations. The other guys eventually copy them. We move on to other stuff."

Mace claims that Windows 95 looks a lot like Apple 87: graphical user interface, folders, multi-tasking and, he chuckles, a trash can that you can put stuff into and take stuff out of. Mace: "They (other guys) will eventually get you there. It only took 11 years to get a trash can out of Windows. You will eventually get it if you stick with a PC. In our business, we think we can take you there quicker. We think we can make it a lot easier to go for those things.

Mace and apple have seized the moment. He says, "We think Mac has four areas of advantage: a lot more powerful, back to those processor things we were talking about, easier. And that's primarily because we're the only major PC company that makes both the hardware and the software together so we can make the pieces fit together. Third, much more advanced multimedia. So we shipped with our new machines 3-D, video conferencing, built-in speech recognition and speech synthesis... the sorts of things that the other guys are promising for the future, we're shipping right now. The fourth advantage is compatibility, which sounds weird coming from Apple because you expect that to be a disadvantage in the Mac, but we've invested very heavily in making it possible for people to buy a Mac and also run DOS and Windows programs if they want to."

Mace and Apple believe their big payoff will come two months from now at the start of the Christmas buying season. "They've created the expectation in people that Windows 95 will absolutely duplicate Macintosh. As it dawns on people that that is absolutely not true, it then rebounds to help us and actually give more attention to Macintosh."

But the fact that Apple insisted on making the machines itself has hurt it in the long run. While Microsoft went mass market, pushing computer makers to use its operating system MS-DOS, then Windows, Apple insisted people pay a premium and buy Macs.

Bartelle of "Wired" says, "Apple unquestionably had the lead in defining how you interact with computers for a good 10 years if not 12 years. And instead of opting for what was certainly a very painful thing to do, which is cut your very high margins and go mass market they decided to stay as a very high margin business, high prices, high value added and not clone their operating system... not allow other people to build Macintosh clones and sort of basically keep the market to themselves. They built a very profitable, very powerful and very important company. It's just not one that's going to be as large as the Windows-Intel megalith."

Battelle says the Windows 95 buzz is a bit short sighted. He advises, "Capture the next future. Stop trying to fight about this one."

His conversation is interrupted by the "chime" as another Mac on the editorial floor starts up. He says, "What people forget sometimes in of all this hype, is that there will be another operating system. There will be another paradigm. And it, quite possibly, will not be Microsoft's. You're seeing the reason that Apple maintained its market share, starting to go away. All of a sudden Windows does everything that the Macintosh has always done and it's up to Apple to prove that they can do whatever's next."

Apple says "Copeland" is next. It's an operating system still in development, "Copeland" is Apple's hope to make the quantum leap ahead of Windows 95. It might be ready in the middle of next year. But Apple is loathe to predict, given the awful time Microsoft had with the often delayed release of Windows 95.

Appearing on CNN's Moneyline with Lou Dobbs, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates pushed aside questions that he's out to get Apple's operating system Gates said (90K .aiff) [ ], "Windows 95 is aimed at today's Windows user, Windows 3.1 users and it's a big step forward for them. The kind of multi-tasking we have, the kind of networking we have here is actually quite unique. No other operating system has it. There are some areas where the Mac has some excellent ease of use, and the Mac's a great system. We continue to develop software for the Mac. So the goal here wasn't to go after the other operating systems but rather to help Windows users by giving them something really new."

Apple is fronting some publicity of its own, re-releasing its "Dinosaurs" commercial. In it a dad offers to show dinosaurs to his son on the PC. After some struggling with what sound like Windows instructions, the dad sees his son leave for the neighbors' Mac.


Announcer: "If you want a computer that's easy to use..."

Dad: "Where you going kiddo?"

Boy: "The Crandall's. They have a Mac."

Announcer: "...there's still only one way to go."

There are other ways to run a computer. IBM's "Remember Me" ad ran full page in this week's "Wall Street Journal."

Newspaper ad:

"What's the future of OS/2 now that Windows 95 is shipping?"

"The future of OS/2 is very bright thank you."

IBM goes on to say that OS/2 is a part of the world's business fabric.

The spotlight may be on Microsoft this week, but Apple is using the reflected glow to make their Macintosh shine.

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Greg Lefevre is CNN's San Francisco Bureau Chief. He uses a Mac at home and on the road and in the office.

Copyright 1995