It’s been an eventful week. The TidBITS Forum on CompuServe opened and Apple took HyperCard back from Claris and added it to the Developer Tools group. We have the scoop on why the Apple Color Printer is so lame, specs on new Macs due out in a few weeks, lower prices on older Macs, an article on executives shuffling all over the place, and news of an innovative marketing program for CE Software’s QuicKeys.
This week I’ll make like a toggle switch and flip-flop. First I said the AppleCD 300 was impossible to find, then I heard from a bunch of people who had seen them and my local dealer had some, but this past week I’ve received agonized requests asking what strings I pulled to buy one. Sorry folks, I didn’t pull any strings other than lining up early. The drives are shipping, though clearly many dealers don’t have them. If it’s any consolation for those of you waiting, I like my AppleCD 300 a lot.
Adam as information server — I like providing useful and timely information to people – that’s why I write TidBITS. However, recently I’ve been hammered by email from readers searching for information that may exist in back issues of TidBITS. I normally try to help and search in Easy View on the my TidBITS archive. Now that I’m having trouble keeping up with my email, I ask that you try to do those searches on your own. It’s not difficult to get back issues and Easy View from sumex or another archive site, and if you are on the Internet, you don’t even have to do that since Ephraim Vishniac added TidBITS to the WAIS (see TidBITS-160). Information on obtaining back issues and searching the WAIS is in the automatic reply file you get if you send email to <[email protected]>, and please, use that automated information. It will give me more time to work on TidBITS and less stress for my wrists, both of which will ensure that TidBITS continues to improve. Remember, the address for automatic information is:
Thanks for helping remove an unnecessary load, and as always, don’t hesitate to send information, comments, or suggestions. I’ll reply eventually.
Thanks to Neil Shapiro and MAUG, we now have our own message section and file library on CompuServe. The new section is #5 in the just-opened Macintosh D Vendors Forum (GO MACDVEN), and in a week or so you should be able to use GO TIDBITS. I’ve uploaded all the back issues there in chunks of ten, and new issues will appear in that file library as well as in the current places in MACCLUB #8, ZiffNet/Mac, and the Desktop Publishing Forum.
Navigator users will have to add a new tile to visit MACDVEN in an automated session, but that’s easy to do. Open your database with Show Database under the Session menu, then go into the following nested areas: Macintosh Support -> Macintosh Support Forums -> Macintosh Vendor Forums. From your Arrange menu choose Add New Tile, make sure the Forum radio button is selected, in the Tile name box type "Mac D Vendor Forum," in the Comment box type "TidBITS & Company Product Support," and (this is the important one) type "MACDVEN" into the GO code box. Double-click on the new tile to open and activate it, and then close all the windows you just opened.
As I said, we have a TidBITS message section as well as a library section in MACDVEN. I encourage those of you on CompuServe to stop by to discuss TidBITS articles (that would have been fun with the massive discussion prompted by the pornography articles), suggest ideas for future articles, or just schmooze. I’ll try to post some rough drafts and article ideas up there so you can preview what might be in the next issue (and so I can do reality checks on if I’m saying something dumb).
Once again, thanks to the kind folks on CompuServe for setting this up for us!
Neil Shapiro, Chief Sysop — [email protected]
In the ever-increasing competition for just a little bit more market share, third-party manufacturers and publishers, and the dealers that handle it, have to come up with increasingly creative ways to peddle product lines. Some companies, such as Apple, irritate the traditional dealers by going through other channels, or even competing directly. Others, such as CE Software, find the best of both worlds.
This week, CE Software is introducing its "QuicKeys Test Drive," an experimental marketing program that, if it works, could revolutionize the way companies publish and market products. The test drive consists of the typical "crippleware" demo disk that gives potential customers just enough of a taste of what the product can do to get them hooked, then tells them to buy the real thing at a discount.
What makes the QuicKeys Test Drive different from the ordinary demo disk, though, is that dealers who distribute the Test Drive disk receive a commission for every sale they generate. When the user calls CE’s toll-free sales line, the operator asks for the serial number encoded on the disk. That number identifies the source of the disk and tells CE where to send the check.
Dealers who are otherwise reluctant to give out demo disks, fearing that customers will bypass them when buying the product, will undoubtedly be pleased with this approach, which recognizes the dealer’s role in recommending or promoting the product. CE Software obviously stands to gain as well, because people who have tried the product are more likely to buy it. The end user wins too, since this promotion carries with it a discount price that brings it in line with mail-order pricing.
If you’re interested in trying the latest QuicKeys, by all means give your friendly neighborhood CE Software dealer a call. You may like what you see, and if not, you may get a free blank disk out of the experience!
[It appears that the QuicKeys Test Drive software will be available in various places online, but according to Jim Sheldon-Dean, product manager for QuicKeys, since the purpose of the marketing program is to compensate resellers for lost sales, not reward the promoter, archive sites won’t be able to earn money from this promotion. However, Mark and I have planted the seeds of such a concept at CE, and in the future user groups and archive sites may be able to earn money based on the number of copies of a program they recommend. I’m sure abuses could happen (such as recommending WhizzyWriter over the WriteStuff because the user group earns money for each WhizzyWriter sold to a user group member), but on the whole, I applaud CE for coming up with an innovative idea that could possibly grow into an entirely different method of software distribution. CE’s technique could result in lower prices and users would have a better chance to determine if a package would fit the bill. Interesting stuff. -Adam]
Jim Sheldon-Dean, QuicKeys Product Manager
A month or so ago, a friend implored me to try and find the dirt on what was happening with HyperCard. I hadn’t heard much of anything in a long time, which meant to me that the program was dying a slow and unnecessary death. Late last week Apple announced that HyperCard would have a new lease on life – on the Apple campus.
Apple plans to merge future versions of HyperCard into the AppleScript environment, something which should go over well with potential AppleScript users. Heizer Software probably won’t be pleased to hear that their forthcoming front end to AppleScript will compete with HyperCard instead of just an Apple event-based interface environment from UserLand for Frontier scripts.
AppleScript will offer control and integration of the Macintosh environment via a scripting language that works with Apple events. Even though AppleScript has been talked about for years, and shown publicly for six months, it has yet to appear in a form that most people can use. Apple has scheduled AppleScript for release in the first half of 1993. By using HyperCard (or at least the ideas embodied in HyperCard) as the front end for AppleScript, Apple benefits both AppleScript and HyperCard. AppleScript needed a better scripting interface, and as Frontier proved, only wireheads can conceptualize the abstract Apple event links between programs. With HyperCard providing an interface for those links, the conceptualization should become much easier for the average user. As far as HyperCard goes, it will appreciate the relative freedom of being released from Claris’s stable of productivity applications, where it never fit in. Although Apple made no noises about bundling a full HyperCard with new Macs again, and I doubt AppleScript will ship with all versions of System 7.1, there’s still a sense that HyperCard is in some way back where it belongs. The world is safe for stacks again.
On a related note, I’ve heard that Aldus is busy drafting a statement on the fate of SuperCard, the HyperCard-clone produced by Silicon Beach Software before Aldus purchased the company. No news on what the word will be, but something is definitely happening there. SuperCard has never quite fit with Aldus’s product line, which is interesting given that Aldus portrays itself as a communication company, and perhaps the primary use of SuperCard, and HyperCard for that matter, is communicating information on screen, much as does Persuasion, Aldus’s presentation package.
Claris will continue to market, sell, and support the current version of HyperCard until Apple comes out with a new version sometime later this year. At that point, HyperCard will again become an Apple-labeled product, although I should note that in France and possibly other countries, Apple never stopped selling HyperCard. Response from users and others was extremely positive – Kevin Calhoun of the HyperCard team said only "Personally, I’m delighted." but declined to say more because he was so busy with the transition and catching up with email about the move, most of which, he said, was "very, very positive." Seeing Apple do things like this and the MODE32 deal restores one’s faith in the company. We may not always like what Apple does, but it seems that they do listen, albeit with the speed of a corporate tortoise.
Pythaeus recently explained why the new Apple Color Printer is so lame. Apple realized they lacked a color printer, but didn’t have one ready internally. So, Apple went to Canon and said, "Hey, screen an Apple logo on that color printer over there and ship it in our boxes, OK?" Canon agreed, and that’s why we have a SCSI-based color printer that doesn’t have a color Apple logo on it. Apple never sets hands on the printer, which is really a Canon BJC-820 in sheep’s clothing.
Everyone makes mistakes, and Apple apparently plans to fix this one as quickly as possible, although that may take a year. Perhaps the worst part is that the $2,349 Apple Color Printer is (according to tests in the Mar-93 issue of Macworld) slower than the $2,995 Canon BJC-820 and because it uses different drivers, the quality suffers. Oh well, if you want a printer in this range, check out that Canon printer as well as the $3,495 HP PaintJet XL 300.
Keep in mind that if you buy this printer and call technical support because MegaChart won’t print to it, the support person will offer to test it for you and call you back three weeks later because it took that long to find, configure, and test the printer. Three years from now when Apple has abandoned the printer the support person will snicker at you and tell you to call back after you’ve chanted a few hours of incantations to the SCSI daemon, reinstalled the printer driver, and performed the ritual tofu sacrifice. If you don’t believe me, think back to the ill-fated Personal LaserWriter SC. What, you don’t remember? It was introduced along with the Personal LaserWriter NT, and it lasted for about three months.
StyleWriter problems — In related news, Patrick Warn writes, "To follow-up your story on the StyleWriter, I discovered that the grey scale printing option only works on Macs with Color QuickDraw [such as the SE/30, Classic II, Mac IIsi, and more]. I found this out after a call to Apple to find out why it would not work with my PowerBook 100. Also, although the new StyleWriter II driver works with the old StyleWriter, don’t use the head cleaning option! It will damage the printer. I believe this is because the StyleWriter II driver tells the printhead to go to a place that does not exist on the original StyleWriter."
[Lame, but it makes sense that grayscale printing would be related to internal Color QuickDraw. Perhaps more upsetting, Apple’s StyleWriter II spec sheet specifically ignores this issue, setting some customers up for a disappointment. -Tonya & Adam.]
Patrick Warn — [email protected]
On January 4th, Roger Heinen, senior vice president and general manager of Apple’s Macintosh Software Architecture Division, resigned to take a position at Microsoft as vice president of Database and Development Tools. Rumor has it that Mr. Bill made it worth Heinen’s while to leave. I waited to say anything about this because I wanted to see if any juicy news came out of it. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to report.
Apple’s president and COO, Michael Spindler, offered the traditional platitudes (I’d rather he offered platypuses, but I suppose that’s out of the question) about wishing Heinen well, but you have to suspect that the top Apple brass is worried about Heinen leaving. Projects that came from Heinen’s team during his three years at Apple include System 7 and QuickTime, and even if Heinen is contractually limited from revealing Apple confidential secrets, you still have to wonder. Apple announced eight days later that David Nagel, previously senior vice president of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, will replace Heinen and serve as temporary head of ATG until Apple can find a successor.
In other boardroom beatings, John Akers, chairman of IBM, will step down in the next few months. I believe the dollars behind that move number around $5.64 billion, with a negative sign somewhere in front. That’s a lot of money to lose in a quarter, and about $4 billion more than IBM lost last year in the fourth quarter. Bean counters hate counting out that many beans and giving them to other people. The question, of course, is what form IBM will appear in after it recovers, which it will do at some point. IBM is too large to go away as we know it. Interestingly, it appears that one of the top names considered as a replacement is Apple CEO John Sculley, along with the Intel President Andrew Grove, Motorola Chairman George Fisher, GE Chairman Jack Welch, and even Ross Perot.
One thing to note. As much as IBM bashing is a good time, keep in mind that IBM in the past has had enough money to devote a great deal to basic research, the sort of research that will never earn any money in our lifetimes. Over the past decade, IBM has spent $50 billion on R&D, and that’s more than any other company ever. Writing IBM with individual xenon atoms is neat, but useless… today. Who knows what we may lose if IBM’s research arms shut down entirely?
MacWEEK — 25-Jan-93, Vol. 7, #4, pg. 34
Augury of upcoming Apple product introductions is often made easier by the company’s tendency to dramatically lower prices shortly before they add new items to the hardware lineup. Last week, Apple allowed us to anticipate a group of new products (expected, according to rumor, to be introduced at Macworld Expo in Tokyo on 10-Feb-93) by dropping many of the prices (suggested retail and/or "real" end-purchaser prices) on the bottom half of its product line.
As the below chart shows, Apple slashed prices on the lower end of its family: the Classic II, LC II, and IIsi. The reductions are most dramatic in the IIsi, which with the addition of an inexpensive math coprocessor (via one of the two Apple slot adapter cards, either of which can be had for under $200, or an assortment of third-party options) becomes a serious option for a respectable desktop computer. The IIsi rests high on the price performance curve with a monochrome monitor, math coprocessor, keyboard, 40 MB hard drive, and 3 MB of RAM coming in under $1500.
SERIALIZED PRODUCT OLD SRP NEW SRP Macintosh Classic II M1543LL/A Classic II 4/40HD $1,079 $1,079 * M1542LL/A Classic II 4/80HD $1,209 $1,079 Macintosh LC II M1701LL/A LC II 4/40HD w/System 7 $1,239 $1,239 * M1723LL/A LC II 4/40HD w/System 6.0.8 $1,239 $1,239 * ** M1707LL/A LC II 4/80HD w/o keyboard $1,349 $1,349 * M1387LL/A LC II 4/160HD w/o keyboard $1,489 $1,489 * Macintosh IIsi M0491LL/B Mac IIsi 3/40HD $1,729 $ 969 M0364LL/B Mac IIsi 5/80HD $1,999 $1,199 M0954LL/A Mac IIsi 5/160HD $2,139 $1,429 Macintosh Color Display (14") M1198LL/A Macintosh 14" Color Display $ 589 $ 539 Higher Education Smart Solutions B1051LL/A Mac IIsi 5/80 Business S/W $2,198 $1,398 ** B1057LL/A Mac IIsi 5/80 General Faculty $2,198 $1,398 **
Products marked with * are those whose retail prices stay the same, but whose "channel" prices have dropped. Dealers now pay less for the products, which generally means the end user prices will drop as well. These "channel" price reductions often either precede or follow changes in the suggested retail price. It’s important to realize, therefore, that a change in the SRP may NOT change the end user’s final purchase price, since such a change may not have a corresponding "channel" price change. The items marked with ** are only available through Higher Education channels.
The standard caveat applies here, of course. If you opt to take advantage of the new, lower prices on some of this equipment, which Apple obviously feels is heading for obsolescence, you may kick yourself when you see what arrives next week. Or, if you decide to wait, you may miss out on the chance entirely, since quantities are limited and are likely to be depleted quickly. No matter how you slice it, though, I can hardly think of those IIsi bargains as anything but win-win choices.
Apple doesn’t stop. They keep introducing new models of the Macintosh at an increasingly fast rate. If only they could ship those new models in quantity when they announce the fool things. Teasing your customers works, but only for a while, after which the only emotion the customers feel is pure unadulterated… frustration.
We’d also like Apple to specify and name machines with thought to the people who must memorize and order new and old Macs in a comprehensible way. The average consumer who buys a Mac every five years won’t care, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep the top ten facts about each Macintosh model in active brain cell memory, and the fact that the 165c is much like the 180 only with a color screen does not facilitate memorization. If it’s that close to the 180, take a clue from Toshiba and call it the 180c.
A number of people have passed on information about the new machines, and although I’m sure Apple will send me pounds of paper that tell me all about it in two weeks, I figured there was no reason to wait. I have to hold off on the specs on the new LaserWriter Select 300 and 310 for lack of space this week – wait for that next week.
New Macs — The new Macs due in two weeks span the range of the Macintosh line, from the low-end Color Classic to the high-end Quadra 800. On the whole, the prices and features look excellent, and should make for some good deals on the older machines, as Mark says above.
The RAM configurations struck us as interesting. The desktop machines offer at least one slot for additional RAM. These slots, however do not take the usual 60-pin SIMMs that Mac aficionados are used to. Instead they sport what Apple will tout as "industry standard" 72-pin SIMMs. We hope to have more details in a future issue, but one reason for the change is to eliminate the rules concerning banks of RAM and SIMM placement.
Color Classic — The 4 MB Color Classic looks like a pudgy Classic II with a facade-style front. The exciting thing about this machine (one hopes) will be its built-in, 10-inch, 76 dpi, 512 x 384 pixel, Sony Trinitron color monitor that does 256 colors standard, and accepts 256K more VRAM for 32,768 colors.
The Color Classic uses a slightly modified LC II motherboard. As such it accepts LC PDS cards, uses a 16 MHz 68030, suffers from a 16-bit data bus, and only addresses up to 10 MB of RAM. Rumors imply that you will be able to upgrade this Mac to a PowerPC in the vaporous future. I’ll believe it when I see it, but it does come with a socket for a math coprocessor should you need one. All this for a suggested retail price of $1,279 in the 4/40 configuration.
LC III — Apple has finally broken their ban on using the number three in a machine name, a ban reportedly started when the Apple III flopped. I predict that the LC III will not suffer the Apple III’s fate – it’s basically a IIci in an LC case with its 25 MHz 68030 and full 32-bit data bus.
The LC III’s expansion slots make sense for a cross between the now outdated LC/LC II and IIci, with a single NuBus slot (although the internal size limits the NuBus card length to 6.5 inches), an LC-type processor-direct slot, and a socket for a math coprocessor.
The LC III takes up to 36 MB via a new single 72-pin SIMM slot. Its internal video can do 256 colors, expandable to 32,768 with more VRAM. Interestingly, the LC III will include RAM disk software – presumably the same sort that comes with the PowerBooks. The price is pretty good at $1,379 for a 4/80 configuration with no monitor. After a long life in the Apple product line, the IIci will no longer be sold, so look for some major price cuts in the near future.
Centris 610 — The Centris 610 introduces a new case design reminiscent of a fat LC, and sounds like a promising machine. It features a 68LC040 and can include an on-board Ethernet adapter and internal CD-ROM drive. The Centris 610 expands to 68 MB of RAM via two 72-pin SIMM slots, includes RAM disk software, and has the basic 256-color internal video. Apple claims the Centris 610 will check in at about twice the speed of a IIci, even without a math coprocessor. Like the IIsi, the Centris 610 takes an adapter card that lets you choose a single NuBus or PDS slot, but it apparently does not have a math coprocessor on that adapter card. Bummer. The 4/80 configuration will run you $1,859, without a monitor, of course.
Centris 650 — The Centris 650, oddly enough, uses the same case as the IIvx and Performa 600. The 650 uses a 25 MHz 68040 and is slated to replace the Quadra 700. Unlike the 610, the 650 holds up to 132 MB of RAM via four 72-pin SIMM slots, has three NuBus slots, has an inline 68040 processor-direct slot, includes a socket for a math coprocessor, and even has an 8K cache architecture. The two machines share similar video abilities, RAM disk software, optional on-board Ethernet, and an optional internal CD-ROM drive. The price is still decent, at $2,699 for a 4/80 machine sans monitor.
Quadra 800 — The Quadra 800 is basically a Quadra 950 in an upright mini-tower case. It uses the same 33 MHz 68040 and comes with three NuBus slots, but because the Quadra 800 uses interleaved memory (when SIMMs are placed in adjacent banks, I hear) and has an 8K integrated cache, it is supposed to clock in 5-10% faster than the 950. Like the Centris 650, the Quadra 800 has three NuBus slots and an inline 68040 processor-direct slot (which blocks one of the NuBus slots, unfortunately), and you can install an internal CD-ROM drive. Memory expands to 136 MB from the 8 MB on board. The price goes up fast at this level, a whopping $4,679 for a 8/230 configuration.
PowerBook 165c — As far as we can tell, the PowerBook 165c is a PowerBook 180 with a 9-inch, 256-color, passive-matrix screen. It uses a 33 MHz 68030 and a 33 MHz 68882 math coprocessor, has 4 MB of RAM expandable to 14 MB, and includes the same internal slots and external ports. Apple claims battery life will be between 1.5 and 2 hours, but early reports we’ve heard that suggest times more like 45 minutes. Ouch, but if you absolutely need that color screen… The PowerBook 165c is a bit heavier and thicker – about seven pounds in the end. Price? $3,599 with the 80 MB hard disk.