Computer Reseller News
January 13, 1997, Issue: 718
Apple's Amelio Blows Chance
By Robert Faletra
After a setup in which the expectation was that Apple Computer's chairman and chief executive, Gilbert Amelio, would crystallize the strategy of the Apple operating system in his Macworld keynote last week, the chief executive instead left the attendees and the industry shaking their heads in bewilderment.
If there ever was a time when a company needed a well-delivered, focused keynote to excite independent software developers, resellers and end users alike, this was it.
Instead, Amelio stood before the assembled audience and seemed uncomfortable in his delivery, poorly scripted and unsure of his message.
In short, after announcing just a few short weeks ago it would spend $400 million to buy Next Software Inc. and with it change the direction of Apple's operating system strategy, Amelio did little to allay the fears and clear up the confusion surrounding just where the Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor is headed.
What Amelio needed to do was tell Apple ISVs which operating system they should write for, the Mac OS or its upcoming Rhapsody OS, which is a combination of the Next and Apple operating systems.
Instead, the chief executive emphasized the three points of his three-year turnaround plan he put forth the middle of last year.
The three points are financial stability; a renewed product line; and, finally, a return to growth.
The big problem is that Apple does not have three years to play around with.
In the past three years, Apple has seen its market share and profit margins fall by 50 percent.
The company is already on the brink of holding so little share as to not matter. Three years from now, without some passionate leadership, the company could truly not matter.
The one bright spot in the entire two-hour-plus keynote was the 10 minutes that Steve Jobs was on stage, during which it looked as though someone connected with Apple just might have a clue as to how to articulate what needs to be done and convince the industry it will happen.
But that faded quickly, and during a press conference after the keynote-which Amelio was scheduled to attend but instead became a no-show-Ellen Hancock, Apple's chief technology officer, was somewhat less than convincing that the strategy isn't being made up as they go along.
So for the resellers out there in the industry, what does this all boil down to for the channel?
If you are an Apple-only or even an Apple-dependent reseller, run, don't walk, to a new business strategy and platform.
If Apple is a small portion of your sales, consider yourself a very lucky reseller and understand that the company is unlikely to right itself anytime soon.
The Apple team needs to articulate a real strategy and convince the world it can and will deliver on it.
Amelio failed to do that last week.