SAN FRANCISCO-- Speaking at an industry conference, Apple Computer (AAPL)
interim CEO Steve Jobs pitched hope and "very cool technology" to
multimedia content developers while also elaborating on upcoming
distribution and product strategies and the Mac clone vendor imbroglio.
At the Macromedia Users
Conference, Jobs continued his campaign to restore confidence in Apple,
focusing on QuickTime as a key
multimedia playback technology for the industry, how Apple is revamping
its distribution and marketing strategy, and new product features.
Jobs also appeared to indicate that he is thinking about staying on as CEO.
When asked by an audience member when he was going to drop "interim" from
his title, Jobs obliquely replied that he was going to try to take a
vacation and "take a while to think about it." Apple is currently engaged
in a search for a new CEO after ousting Gil Amelio as its leader in July.
The company named Jobs, who repeatedly has turned down the CEO and chairman
position, interim CEO in September.
"Steve Jobs is our interim CEO," said an Apple spokesperson. "We are continuing our search for a CEO," insisted the spokesperson.
The focus, however, was on upcoming technologies needed by content
developers. A QuickTime engineer demonstrated QuickTime 3.0, which Jobs
said would be available in the "next few months" on both Windows and Mac
platforms, and how Apple is planning to give users the ability to apply
different special effects to a video clip in real time. The duo also showed a
way to easily build QuickTime VR (for virtual reality) scenes for a 360-degree view of an environment by "stitching" a series of photos together
During a question-and-answer period, Jobs said Apple would offer support
for FireWire and USB peripherals in Apple products by mid-1998. FireWire (also called IEEE 1394) is a
technology invented by Apple that offers high-speed connections between PCs
and equipment such as digital camcorders and VCRs. USB is a technology for
connecting peripheral devices such as keyboards, scanners, and cameras.
Saying that Apple hadn't kept up with the industry as a whole in terms of
innovations in distributing and selling products, Jobs stated, "We will be
doing some very, very, innovative things in distribution in the next 90
The new strategy could include some mixture of the direct and indirect
sales model based on a build-to-order manufacturing scheme such as the one
being used by Compaq. In this system,
computers are assembled only after orders are received from customers or
resellers, which saves companies the cost of storing parts and finished goods.
Apple recently implemented a new distribution strategy that
will allow more computer resellers to buy computers directly from the
company, a move which might result in better product availability and lower
Jobs also sought to allay fears that the Mac market was collapsing, saying
the recent decision to end Mac cloning would help the company's long-term
"We were charging $50 a copy to clones on the theory that the market would
be enlarged. The clone manufacturers were basically taking that license and
attacking the high end of the market," Jobs explained. "The market wasn't
being enlarged. Less than one percent of Power Computing's customers were new to
Jobs said he went to Power Computing and the other clone vendors and asked
for more money but that they told him to "go pound sand." After four or five
tries, he claimed, "We did what we had to do." The result was that Apple
bought back Power Computing's license
to the Mac OS, effectively taking it out of the Mac market, and forced Motorola to exit as well. IBM is
further expected to stop licensing the Mac OS, leaving Umax Computer as the only major
producer of Mac clones.
Jobs has said that the cost of engineering Mac hardware as well as the Mac
OS itself was hundreds of dollars more than the clone vendors were paying
in licensing fees and that a continuation of the program would have been
disastrous for Apple's financial health.
Most of the presentation reiterated themes he gave in a speech last week
at the Seybold '97 publishers
conference. At both speeches, Jobs outlined 12 reasons why Apple will
survive as a company and showed Apple's new "Think Different" ad to