The reasons aren’t that simple

leave a comment »

I stumbled across this piece by Daring Fireball the other day, and man was I blown away. I’ve been following Daring Fireball for about a year now, but I have been nothing but amazed by him. When it comes to Apple and it’s successes, as well as it’s failures, he has an understanding that is clearly superior to those of most people I know. In this article (or blog post, whichever you think is more suitable), Gruber (his real name) explains why Apple couldn’t and shouldn’t have licensed their operating system, and why it wasn’t because of their lack of a licensing scheme that ultimately doomed the Mac to meager market share (and allowed Windows to become as widespread as it is today).

But except Apple couldn’t just license the “Mac OS” (which wasn’t called “Mac OS” until the mid-90s) in 1984, because there weren’t any computers that could use it. Much of the original Mac operating system was implemented in ROM, as hardware. The Mac’s designers didn’t do this to tie the operating system to Apple’s proprietary hardware — they did this because it was necessary in terms of price, performance, and the meager memory and storage they had available. Each 400 KB floppy disk had to store the System (to boot the Mac), whatever apps you wanted to run, and your data files. Every KB of the Mac Toolbox in ROM freed up another KB of space on your floppy disks.

He also talks about how Microsoft continues to build off their previous successes (like Windows and Microsoft) in order to make new products in new categories successful.

The key difference is that Microsoft focused — intensely and purposefully — on parlaying each of their successes into bigger successes. They got lucky once, when they got IBM to agree to license MS-DOS as the operating system for the IBM PC. (I say they were “lucky” not to discount the shrewdness on the part of Bill Gates and his then-colleagues, but simply because IBM so vastly underestimated the importance of the OS.)

Give it a read. It is a little long, but well worth it.

Sherbert Head by Boards Of Canada from the album:
The Campfire Headphase
5 Stars


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

March 27, 2006 at 6:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: