Apple in the press
Is Apple treated unfairly by the press?
Apple certainly at the moment is generating some negative press,
and I would say the burden is on Apple to improve its own performance. But
I think it would be better if the press dealt with the performance issues
and a little bit less with the politics issues.
What is Apple, as it stands right now?
Apple is a platform company. It's a systems company, so it's a
company that has hardware, software, and service. And it is a company that
responds to their customers' needs relative to computing.
Your title now is executive vice president. Can you run through
what you're in charge of?
Sure. I'm responsible for the group that does quality and
assurance for the company, for the group that does research and interface
design for Apple, and for the chief scientist area in AppleNet. As part of
that, I'm responsible for assessing and working on the technical strategies
across both our hardware and software.
Could you clarify "technical strategies?"
It means the technologies that we're going to work on, what are
the OpenStep APIs,
how we are doing with Java, what are the technologies that our hardware
should be offering, how we relate to things like DVD. Also,
what are the advancements that we need to make in multimedia, what are the
advancements that we need to make in networking--those kinds of issues.
The press viewed this reorg in your case as a demotion.
There are various mixtures of accuracy in some of those reports.
One said I gave up all the hardware, which is interesting because I never
had the hardware!
How do you view this shift?
I think that the company is going through a dramatic restructure.
There were some very difficult tasks for all of us. I think many of us have
had our jobs changed one way or another because of the restructure, of
flattening the company, and having the CEO more involved in the different
aspects of the firm. And so it's important for all of us to work as a team,
to continue to contribute. And I did have several discussions with Gil. I
basically said that if there's still a role for me, I want to help out,
that's why I came here.
People applauded you for your decision to stop Copland and to
look for outside help.
Right. I got an award for stopping Copland!
No, externally, at Macworld.
So you came in and you played the heavy.
I'd prefer another word besides "heavy," but go ahead.
It's not necessarily a bad thing. Do you like playing that role?
I don't think you enjoy making that decision; I think you
face making that decision. When I came here, I thought my job was to bring
that product to market faster, until I discovered some of the design flaws
in the product itself. And then it wasn't true--it wasn't worth bringing it
in faster because it had the wrong design point. I also felt that a year
and a half with no technology in your operating system is a mistake. And
Gil had already started to work on that. So hopefully we made some positive
decisions about improving the Mac OS. We've already shipped the first
release in January. I think the reaction of the team has been very positive
that some of the technologies were getting out of our laboratory and into
customers' hands in 1997, where that was not the plan when I came here.
In a systems company, which is essentially a single-product family, it is
an awesome decision. But even the engineers working on Copland were
beginning to get uncomfortable that what they were delivering was not
compelling. If they looked to see whether it was competitive at the time
frame they were going to ship it, I think there was general concern among
our developers that it was not compelling. And so I think I got buy-in from
the team: "Yes this was the right thing to do. Let's go back."
What's the hardest decision you've ever had to make in your 30
years in this business?
I think that stopping products is about the hardest. When you
realize that quite a few good people have spent time working on a product
and it's clearly not going to be successful. So stopping products was
Maybe I should have listed this first: Any time you have to deal with
moving people out of a company, it becomes a very personal matter, both for
you and for them. Sometimes it's hard to figure out who is hurt more in the
process, but I would say moving people out of a company is probably the
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