Apple spun off Claris in April of 1987 because Apple felt it was a hardware company, and the only software it wanted to develop was new system software. Since then Claris has updated the backbone programs that were first available for the Mac-MacWrite, MacPaint, and MacDraw-and aggressively acquired other products such as FileMaker and the Wingz technology. Last week, however, Apple announced that it was re-absorbing Claris back into Apple. No one is quite sure what effect the absorption will have on the Macintosh market, although some third-party developers are concerned that they will be unable to compete with Claris. Presumably, Claris would see new Apple technology first and be able to take advantage of it before third party developers.
Feelings about the re-acquisition at Claris are generally positive, according to Dennis Cohen of Claris. "As is to be expected, the engineers like being part of Apple and the "suits" aren’t sure yet." But what are suits ever sure of?
We hope that the closer connections between Apple and Claris lead to innovative products without suppressing third party innovation. Our feeling is that Apple now sees (rightly) Microsoft as its main competitor and cannot compete with hardware alone. In some respects, the Apple hardware is nothing special-it’s the software that makes a Mac a Mac. If Apple has finally realized the importance of pushing their vision of Macintosh software along with their hardware, the re-acquisition of Claris makes perfect sense. After all, Apple owned over 80% of Claris, and Claris is one of the leading Mac software developers with some cutting-edge technology (particularly in System 7 applications). Besides, we would far prefer Apple/Claris-dominated software interfaces to the er, idiosyncratic interfaces favored by Microsoft.
Dennis Cohen — [email protected]
Adam C. Engst — TidBITS editor
News Notebook 1.08
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