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Apple will support Next

Apple posts a letter on its Web site to reassure Next Software customers support for Next's full product line.

Apple Computer (AAPL) has posted a letter on its Web site to reassure Next Software customers that Apple will support Next's full product line following Apple's acquisition of the company.

"We're firmly committed to you and to Next's enterprise solutions," AppleChairman Gil Amelio said in the letter, seeking to quell uncertainties among current Next customers about Apple's intentions beyond Apple's own product line. Amelio's Next message: We're maintaining the status quo.

Specifically, Amelio said Apple will continue to enhance WebObjects, Next's object Internet authoring tools, and make WebObjects available for Power Macintosh. "Over time, we'll work to tie WebObjects closer to Apple technologies, incorporating Apple's unique platform offerings," he wrote

WebObjects accounted for nearly half of Next's revenues last year, Apple chief technical officer Ellen Hancock told CNET, adding that Next had projected that in 1997 WebObjects would generate more than 50 percent of Next's sales. In its 1994 fiscal year, privately held Next posted a $1 million profit on $50 million in sales.

Amelio also pledged to enhance Next's application development environment, OpenStep Enterprise, and its OpenStep Developer tools. Apple will update and improve OpenStep's application programming interfaces, he wrote, and the OpenStep API and development tools will be a key element in Apple's new operating system, code-named Rhapsody.

Amelio also promised to keep Next's commitments on supporting multiple operating systems and multiple microprocessors. Today Next supports Windows NT, Solaris, HP-UX, and NextStep, and Apple will add PowerPC support in Rhapsody.