“Grandmommie” just bought a home computer for my two kids, and yesterday I found myself installing a PC in my home for the first time. Today found me reading your February issue, including Three Kids and an iMac. I may just put the Windows machine and my Mac in the same room and let them slug it out. In response to The Question, let me add this:
Several years ago, I worked on a project for Hewlett Packard. Knowing that I have been a Mac user since 1988, they asked me what the real difference is between a PC and a Mac. I explained that for a Mac’er, working on a PC was like visiting Canada...it seems a lot like home, but if you let down your guard, somebody’s gonna dump vinegar all over your french fries! (Then they’ll try to convince you it’s really better—once you get used to it and the only way that actually makes sense!) Pass me the ketchup!
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Pismo and the Channel
Your article Why Jason Needs a Pismo makes a passionate and reasoned argument, with many good points, but you offer one flawed argument that I am forced to call your attention to.
You suggest that the delay in the introduction of Lombard was due to the need to clear the large supply of laptops in the channel. Uhh, are you calling Steve Jobs a liar? Apple has been boasting for a year that they carry an “industry leading” less than one day of inventory. If that is accurate, I can only ask, what large inventory of laptops in the channel? At dealers? If so, is that Apple’s problem? Apple has not treated it as such in the past, have they?
If Apple is running a lean “assemble as needed” manufacturing control, as they claim, it strikes me that all they’d need to do is stop the line and retool it for the new model. That is, provided the new model and its needed software revision is ready, and all indications suggest that the latter was the problem that prevented the introduction of a revised laptop at Macworld San Francisco. Is that the fault of the rumors sites? Not remotely. Stories of a “big backlog” strike me as simply an alternate rumor, but not a very logical one.
I took exception to Robert Morgan’s column lambasting the rumors sites as hurting Apple’s sales, and I must take exception to yours. I think Apple is doing exactly what it should be doing, by trying to keep any and all details and timing of upcoming products from the public, but equally I think the rumors press is doing exactly what they should be doing, as investigative journalists, to try to discover that information, despite Apple’s efforts to keep it secret. Anyone who chooses to delay a purchase will in fact get a newer generation of equipment. Always. You argue the improvements or changes in Pismo won’t be significant, but guess what? Even if a buyer agrees, and chooses to buy a Lombard after all, they’ll save $500 by buying at the “close-out price” after the new models are released. Not a bad consolation prize.
I think Apple is quite capable of protecting itself from the dubious might of the rumors press. Anyone who chooses to buy or not buy on a rumor, is obviously making an informed decision to bet on a rumor, rather than a sure thing. They’re big boys, and if they are upset about the choice they’ve made, let them sue the rumor sites for disseminating “false rumors”, if there is such a thing. I would emphatically suggest that the public does not need to be protected against information, or against making mistakes.
Heck, Apple doesn’t even always get its own release dates right. I’m writing this on my G4/450 & Cinema Display combo. I ordered it at 12:01 AM on October 1st, 1999, and received the display on January 4th, 2000, although when I placed the order Apple promised it would be delivered in 45 days, if memory serves me. So who is full of beans with their predictions of when new products will ship? Apple, O’Grady, or sometimes both?
A lot of what is on the rumors sites is just common sense, and requires no “insider info.” If you look at Apple’s Tech Info Library articles on PowerBook models, and look when they were introduced, you’ll see that a new model PowerBook comes out every eight to nine and a half months.
I don’t think Apple needs us to protect it any more. It is a $16 billion corporation, on quite a roll. If you feel the need to protect a large corporation, pity Apple’s competitors. They’ll need it.
(A consumer, fan, shareholder, and reader of rumors sites, and happy to be all four)
Thank you for your letter. I enjoy receiving feedback from the readership, whether it be positive or negative. However, I need to address what you say is “one flawed argument” in my column.
You made a point regarding Apple’s inventory, and my notice of the Lombard delay due to a large supply of laptops in the channel. First, let me apologize—I should have been more clear in my definitions, and I shall do so now.
No, I am not calling Steve Jobs a liar. Steve is correct in stating that Apple carries less than a day of inventory. But that is Apple, not the retailers that receive and sell systems. These retailers and the suppliers that provide them with product are considered “the channel,” as in the retail channel. Just because Apple has less than a day of inventory of PowerBook G3s doesn’t mean that MacMall, MacWarehouse, CompUSA, MicroCenter, and other Macintosh retailers nationwide have that same less than a day inventory. In some cases, like CompUSA, they may have a couple of weeks worth of inventory in their respective channel.
Apple is indeed running a lean assembly process now, and they are able to retool their lines relatively quickly for new models. However, Apple has to maintain extremely good relations with its retailers, and rolling out a new model while leaving tons of merchandise out there among retailers and not giving them any price breaks is not going to win them friends.
According to remarks made by Apple CFO Fred Anderson to Wall Street analysts following last year’s 2nd calendar quarter announcements, Apple had significant in-channel inventory and lots of parts on PowerBooks when the Lombard rumors began appearing on the major Mac rumor sites. After the Lombard was rumored, demand for the predecessor drooped off a cliff. I believe Mr. Anderson held up shipment until the last possible moment. Had demand not fallen off the Lombard might have been released at the end of the first calendar quarter. This is a prime example of rumor sites hurting Apple sales, even though Apple had done as much as possible to streamline the manufacture-to-retail process.
I would not call what the rumor sites are doing investigative journalism. This may simply be a matter of opinion, and an area where we will have to agree to disagree. In my eyes, the rumor sites do no service to Apple customers. They often raise false hopes with misinformation, constantly adjusting the claims made by their sources. Which brings up another point—as much as Jobs has done since his return to cut down on information leaks, it is a wonder the rumor sites have as many varied sources as they do inside Apple. Those close enough to projects to offer accurate, dead-on information are not going to risk their jobs just so a Web site can get extra hits a day.
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A Hot Rumor
Heard the latest rumor? I have it on good authority that Jason, et al., is a Microsoft mole paid handsomely to disseminate false information to the loyal, but often not so bright, troops, leading them down the primrose path of high expectations and ultimately disappointment. The lengths Bill will go to for a good time.
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Thanks for your article about the Macintosh rumor sites and PowerBooks. Having just ordered a Lombard to replace the 12.1"/233MHz Wall Street, I’ve been feeling pangs of doubt about the wisdom of doing this.
Why? Pismoitis! Good for Apple for updating the product line. That’s what companies do. Unless you’re Wonder Bread, sticking to the same formula is bad business.
However, your article has helped me regain my perspective on the nature computer purchases, and reminded me how easy it is to get too geeked up about what machine is lurking in the shadows. I don’t need FireWire; I do need SCSI. AirPort? Nice but I don’t need it. Plus, both technologies are easily adapted to a Lombard.
All I have to do is remember back four or five years ago and actually running Photoshop and Quark on a PowerBook 180 (true!) to clear out the notion I need the fastest bus, 128-bit graphics and ATA-66 hard drives and whatever else is rumored to be in Pismo.
What I need are more CPU punch, a bigger screen, bigger drive, and less weight. Lombard has all that a more, and it has it in three days (if I can believe the mail-order house).
Let the rumor sites pontificate and predict away, I actually find them interesting and entertaining. But, it very helpful to see article such a yours that prevents them generating a false reality that detracts from prudent decision-making.
Shortly (ten days or so) after ordering the previously mentioned Lombard, (which I’m using to write this) the latest generation of PowerBooks were released, “PowerBook 2000.” Immediately the price dropped $500 on the G3/333 I had just bought. It made me sick.
Obviously, I wish I had known that these new machines were really being released. I wish I’d known the price points for the new models. I wish Apple would change it policy regarding providing “official” information on new models. How do the rumor sites figure into this? I’m not really sure.
I guess I’m just sitting here stewing and trying to find someone to blame for, in effect, my feeling that I lost $500.00 for no apparent reason except bad timing.
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This topic may be old to most of you, but many columnists still like to complain about it. I’m talking about Sherlock banners.
What’s wrong with them? I am willing to wager that if search engines didn’t need to support themselves with banner ads, Sherlock wouldn’t have them. Most search engines (and Web sites) make money by running banner ads. It would be a money loosing venture for sites to use Sherlock without ads, and Sherlock would loose most of it’s functionality without having support for search engines.
Ads in Sherlock are a result of companies trying to pay for their free services, not some evil advertising campaign by Apple. If you don’t like the ads, don’t look at them. It’s really easy. I do it every time I use Sherlock. I’d change my stance, however, if ads started showing up the local search areas.
I agree with you that there’s nothing wrong with displaying a search site’s ad when looking at results from that site. The controversy stems, I believe, from Apple’s change of policy for Sherlock II. With Sherlock II, only Apple-approved search engines get to display their banners. All other engines, as well as the Sherlock window before a search has been performed, display Apple banners. Although it doesn’t bother me that much, I can see how one could view this as an evil advertising campaign by Apple.
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