December 12, 2000
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A Modest Proposal
There's been a fair deal of talk both here and elsewhere on AAPL's current situation. I find it amusing that, for some, the answer lies in bringing someone more business minded on board to compliment Steve. Actually, we've already done that once. Early on, AAPL took on former Pepsi CEO John Scully when Jobs realized that AAPL needed a "grownup" at the helm. Then, as now, AAPL's stock was in trouble and the company seemed besieged on all sides by competitors and nay -ayers. Then, as now, AAPL seemed headed for market irrelevance. AAPL today, 2001, seems to be eerily reminiscent of AAPL circa 1984 (2001 & 1984 � two influential novels of futuristic speculative fiction; parallels everywhere!). The triumphant return of Jobs and the resurgence of AAPL now completed, might I propose that APPL's next move should be to bring back John Sculley?
Consider that AAPL was never more successful than under Scully. While the Macintosh is inexorably linked to Jobs, the original Mac was pretty much a market flop. Then, as now, the failure of the Mac was due in part to Jobs' unwavering devotion to his own ego and his undeniable belief in his own infallibility. The original Mac had no hard drive when the market was demanding one because Jobs hated the noise associated with it (what is Jobs' obsession with noise anyway?) It had far to little RAM and almost no software available for it. Substitute MHz for RAM and its shades of 1984 all over again.
It was Sculley who made the Mac successful. In fact, in many ways, today's Mac owes more to the developments undertaken under Sculley's reign than Jobs'. The Mac became the graphic designer's & publisher's tool of choice, software development for the Mac was at an all time high, and sales peaked; all under Sculley. Under Sculley, Apple also pioneered some of its more (in)famous developments including the Powerbook and the Newton. He even looked seriously at porting the Mac OS to Intel and/or licensing the OS to clone makers when it might have made a difference, although he was talked out of it.
Many people forget that for most of his time at AAPL, Sculley was largely considered a genius for his turnaround of AAPL following the introduction of the IBM PC as well as his management of the company throughout the 80's. Of coarse, Sculley's success was not complete. AAPL bled research dollars throughout the 80's & early 90's without seeing a modern upgrade of the Mac OS (still waiting) and Sculley ultimately failed to grasp the nature of the Wintel duopoly. By 1995 and the introduction of Win95, AAPL had squandered a roughly 10 year lead in technological superiority and failed to build upon the Mac's success in the broader market.
Still, it seems that given the circular nature of AAPL's fortunes our coarse seems clear � bring back Sculley.
Or maybe I'm just bored�
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