Demise of Mac cloners fulfills Jobs' wish, but Apple will pay dearly

The Rat's computer justice antenna went on full alert after Apple Computer Inc.'s
unanointed messiah, Steve Jobs, engineered the purchase of Power Computing Corp.'s
Macintosh business in exchange for Apple stock.


The cyberrodent knows why Jobs likes to wear black. It's the executioner in him. The
acquisition of Power Computing, of Round Rock, Texas, was the Jobster's way of killing a
business he never liked: Mac cloning.


Jobs always did hate it when anybody tried to copy his technology. Remember what he did
to Franklin Computer when it cloned the Apple II back in the mid-1980s? He chopped the
company into little tiny pieces for his pet piranhas.


Now Jobs has thrown the other cloners over the side without a life preserver, using the
licensing agreement he bought back from Power Computing as chum for the sharks.


The whiskered one can only say, "Bad move, Steverino."


Jobs argued that the clone business hadn't grown the Mac market, and poorly structured
Mac OS licensing agreements ate away at Apple's profitability.


And because the Mac market shrank rather than grew, the only way Apple could return to
profitability, according to the sage of Cupertino, was to deliver a good, swift,
steel-toed kick to the heads of Mac cloners.


Apple customers are supposed to meekly chalk all this up to experience: a difficult
lesson learned.


Unfortunately, it seems that Jobs himself learned the wrong lesson--one he should have
absorbed at Next Computer Inc., if not during his first tour at Apple.


So far, he's run two ships aground and hasn't yet managed to spot the sandbar.


The answer is simple, at least in the Rat's eyes. Instead of killing its cloners, Apple
should have spun off its computer manufacturing business and become strictly a software
company years ago.


Apple should concentrate on putting its operating system onto a host of platforms. It
needs to be competitive in a larger market, not be the only fish in its own pond.


That would be better for computer users everywhere, better for the industry as a whole
and better for Apple.


The Rat has gotten lots of e-mail from fellow feds who complain that Apple's
questionable market position has made it difficult if not impossible for them to defend
buying Mac systems, even in situations where Macs are best for the task at hand.


Now that there won't be an alternate source of hardware for the Mac OS, agency
procurement people may be even more reluctant to buy Macs, considering the government's
aversion to sole sourcing.


Of course, Jobs hasn't given any particular thought to the federal market.


This is the same guy who contemptuously told his first federal reseller that he wasn't
interested in selling computers to people who manufactured, bought or dropped bombs.


Considering the size of the bomb Jobs dropped on Apple's former partners, it seems that
his reality distortion field is still fully functional.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets
in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.


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