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and someone making exquisite hardware with them--but it just can't be exquisite because of that divide, it's not the same thing. Apple's great strength is doing the hardware and the software at the same time.
Mac fans are often described as fanatic. What is the "cult of Mac"?
The cult of Mac, I think what it is...is essentially passion. It starts with the designers and the people in the company being passionate about what they're doing. It starts with the designers making something that they want for themselves more than anything else in the world, that's the single secret. As soon as you're making something you want more than anything else, you don't have to do research about the customers. You just look inside yourself. You run the risk of being wrong about it, but at least you make something that has integrity.
Maybe even a better word is love. You fill the product with love and then people will love it.
Do you still see that passion today?
Definitely. Steve Jobs--he only has one gear.
What about in the industry in general?
Definitely, again look at open source. Those people mostly aren't doing it for money. Eric Raymond has the phrase "scratching an itch," which is a similar type thing. You show me a great program and I'll show you a passionate individual somewhere behind it.
What do you think the challenges are for the PC industry?
The biggest, most important challenge is renormalizing after the nightmare of Windows. You can see the handwriting on the wall--the Wintel thing hasn't run its course yet, but it's run enough of its course that we're on the downhill side and you can kind of see the end of it. So I'm hoping a much fairer, freer, more robust software industry emerges. The big challenge is where will the lock-ins and the values be? You consistently see the value move up and up the chain, from the hardware--and Microsoft commoditized the hardware--and now the operating system has been commoditized. That's happened, it's just a question of how it plays out. How Microsoft reacts, that's going to be fascinating to see.
Another challenge is furthering the network revolution. The ubiquitous connectivity profoundly influences how we use our computers. We're 10 years down the road--we're just in the middle of the transition. Essentially the hegemony of the PC is over. Now the center of every user's world will be in a network repository projected into many different devices. How those ecologies interact and work out, that's the story of the next five, 10 years.
Apple chose a unique position regarding open source--they took FreeBSD and layered their proprietary OS on top of it to get some of the benefits of open source. Do you think they should have chosen Linux? And what would that have meant?
I think they still could choose Linux. The key decision was NeXT choosing Unix back in 1986. They're already Unix based--that's good. Taking the commodity part where they're not really adding value and open-sourcing it, that's a great strategy--Darwin and all that.
(But) it's not enough. Apple is a closed platform--they just opened the part they don't care about. I'd like to see them contribute a lot more, and I think there could be tremendous business gains. I've talked with Steve Jobs about this too, and he doesn't really see it. I had a talk with him about a year ago where I was telling him, "Hey, there's this huge opportunity, things are shifting." And he kind of said, "No, they're not. Windows is going to be dominant for at least the next 10 years." I said something like, "Is it going to be the rest of our lives?" He said, "Depends on how long you live."
Technically that doesn't make much of a difference at all. Commercially...The more free software on the system, the more alliances it would allow them to make with companies like IBM, and some of the other open-source systems. IBM survived the nightmare of this Microsoft hegemony, the last thing they want to do is put Steve Jobs on Bill Gates' throne. By having the system be fundamentally open at various levels--you know you have the right to fork, so you don't have that control and you can have competitors cooperate. We saw that in the Eazel days. We had a big announcement with Sun and HP, both supporting the same open thing--arch enemies, but they're able to work together on the same piece of software because neither of them has proprietary rights.
Doesn't that create a world in which the oligarchy would benefit? Sun and HP can say, "Let's use common open platforms and none of you small guys can rise up because we've got the money and the people."
No, because they're open to innovation. Let's say I have a brilliant idea, that if I can make it happen users will love it and it'll make a difference. In a closed platform...I'm shut out just because I don't have
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