Rants & Essays
By Paul Somerson
Boom! (Splash.) Hey, what was that? Something just whistled
overhead and it landed awfully close. Wait
over there. Where all the smoke
the big guns from Apple. But was that a shot across our bow, or
just bad aim? Hold on---they're yelling something that sounds faintly
religions. Something about
rapture? No, it's
coming rupture." What in the world are they talking about? Now they're
hollering about Wintel, the monolithic market domination of Windows and
Intel. The dark side, the evil empire. The bad guys on the big screen who eat
the sledgehammer in the 1984 Big Brother TV commercial.
Apple's message? The Wintel world is about to undergo a
painful rupture - x86 CISC will slam into a dead end and blow up. Ditto all
that bloated assembly language-based fatware. The only thing that can pick up
the pieces and save us is RISC, as in PowerPC RISC.
It doesn't help that there are only a few hundred native
PowerPC apps, and just a dozen or so that you'd recognize. Or that the only
other PowerPC player, IBM, pulled its PPC products a week before introduction
and still doesn't have a real operating system for them.
The guys from Apple sound bitter. Why? Maybe it's that the
industry is heading in the direction they pioneered, but all they can scrape
out is a static 10 percent market share, and little of that in the corporate
Maybe it's that for the first time they have to give up the
family jewels and license the precious ROM, and they're mad both because
they're being forced to do it and even more because it took them so long.
Or maybe it's takeover fever, and the loss of control that
comes with it. Who's buying? Maybe Motorola, who could turn the Mac into
another quasar disaster. Or monolithic market dominator AT&T. Or a
Nipponese company (what would they call it? Japple? Nipple?).
And if it's IBM, look out. You know the routines: "What do
you get if you cross Apple and IBM? IBM." And if IBM had invented sushi they'd
market it as raw, dead fish.
Then the Apple execs trot out the technology goodies. And
they're insanely great: QuickTime VR which lets you produce mind-boggling
interactive fly-through demos that navigate you around scenes and objects and
hardly take up any file space. New intuitive 3-D graphics that make your jaw
drop. Groundbreaking OS features in their next two releases ("Copland" and
"Gershwin"). And more. But technology isn't everything.
The problem is that the PowerMac is like a nitro-fueled race
car - fast, sleek, futuristic, fun. The Windows/Intel world is a Mack truck: a
giant, antiquated, fuming diesel barreling down the road carrying all our
business stuff. On a track, Mac beats Mack. But put Apple in the same business
fast lane with the big rig and point them at each other and
BOOM! RUPTURE CITY.