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Jobs behind moves on Claris

The company continues to be reshaped by the hand of its most famous son and interim CEO.

Apple Computer (AAPL) continues to be reshaped by the hand of Steve Jobs, the company's interim CEO.

The latest example of Jobs's desire to rein in the remnants of Apple's past was in evidence yesterday as Claris, the independent software subsidiary, was reorganized. (See related story)

In addition to absorbing the ClarisWorks productivity suite and various other software products, Apple will again take over full responsibility for distribution and production of the hot-selling Macintosh operating system. The company ceded control of production and distribution of the Mac OS to Claris in 1995.

"It [bringing the Mac OS in] was inevitable because Steve Jobs wants to have that puppy under his thumb with nobody in between him," said Robert Morgan, a financial market strategist with Connecticut-based Echo 4 Holdings.

Claris executives, he says, had significant input in the engineering of the Mac operating system. Sometimes, the company would continue to develop software programs for features that Apple had canceled out of sheer inertia, something which Jobs would like to curtail, Morgan surmises.

Peter Lowe, product line manager for the Mac OS, says the move to bring the operating system under Apple's direct purview is aimed at promoting development of Macintosh applications. As an example, he cites Microsoft, stating that it didn't have great success in moving the users of Windows 3.x to Windows 95. The result was that software developers were slower to bring out programs for Windows 95.

Apple, he says, doesn't want to repeat that mistake. By pulling all Mac OS development and marketing activities back in, the company has a better chance to get more customers to upgrade to the Mac OS. When that happens, "a higher percentage of applications will be getting [revised] to take advantage of the latest features," Lowe said.

Last year, Apple faced a similar dilemma when it had to decide to either allow the Macintosh clone computer market to continue to thrive or bring control--and hopefully more profits--back inside Apple. Ultimately, it chose the latter, cutting off almost all the clone vendors and regaining control of the market.