Steve Jobs keynote address

Steve Jobs keynote address

You probably don't need me to tell you the highlights of Job's keynote address (it's already been reported everywhere and Apple stock jumped up almost 7 points as an aftermath). But I'll summarize anyway (and offer a few personal views).

First up was the announcement of Apple's new Board of Directors. There are 4 new members, including Steve Jobs himself and Larry Ellison. No Chairman was named; neither was there an announcement about the naming of a CEO.

The other "big news" was the announcement of the first of what is intended to be many "meaningful partnerships." This one is with Microsoft. The best news here for Apple is (1) Microsoft purchased $150 million dollars of non-voting stock and (2) Microsoft committed to upgrading Microsoft Office for the Mac at the same pace as the suite gets upgraded for Windows. Bill Gates actually appeared briefly over a video link, and emphatically stated that the new Mac Office (which should be available by early 98 at the latest) will be specifically written for the Mac, not merely a port (a la Word 6). On the other hand, Microsoft Internet Explorer will now become the default browser of the Mac OS (not good news for Netscape) and all present and future patent disputes between the two companies are settled via a new patent cross licensing (what this exactly means still seems a bit unclear). Whatever happens here, it seems it work out well for Microsoft. How well it works out for Apple is still undecided. But Jobs was emphatic that Apple must stop thinking of Microsoft as the "enemy." This agreement certainly helps to do this.

On other fronts, Jobs said he intends Apple to focus on its two dominant markets: "creative content and education." I am not sure where that leaves Apple's commitment to the home/consumer market. Does this spell the end of Apple's support for games, for example? We can only wait and see.

Buoyed by the sale of over 1,200,000 copies of Mac OS 8 since its release, Jobs also asserted that the Mac OS 8 is a "core asset" and would not be abandoned after next year's Allegro release. However, he never mentioned the word "Rhapsody," so I am still a bit unclear as to what he means by the continuation of the Mac OS.

He also made no mention of the clone licensing dispute.

Finally, he introduced Apple's latest slogan: Think Different. This may not be correct grammar, but it is meant to put a positive spin on the idea that Mac users have always been a breed apart from the computer mainstream.

Overall, it was an effective speech; the best I have heard at an Expo in several years. The jury is still out on whether this ultimately represents a turning point on Apple's road to recovery.

 

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