TV-PGDecember 13, 1999: So much for a real Microsoft innovation-- the IntelliMouse Explorer's real daddy is Hewlett-Packard. Meanwhile, Apple marketing personnel in the UK get pink slips as early Christmas gifts this year, and Apple's stock continues to take a beating (relatively speaking, of course)...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Doubt of the Benefit (12/13/99)

Well, so much for the idea that Microsoft actually came up with something new on its own. Following yesterday's rant about the IntelliMouse Explorer, in which we expressed a certain degree of shock at what appeared to be an "honest-to-goodness example of actual Microsoft innovation," legions of eagle-eyed faithful AtAT viewers wrote in to set us straight. Matt Ball was the first to remind us of Mark Morford's recent SF Gate article. When we first read that article, Morford slammed Microsoft for being almost completely innovation-free, with the exception of the IntelliMouse Explorer; since then, it's been corrected with a note about how the Explorer's optical tracking technology was actually licensed from Hewlett-Packard. There's even a handy link to an article about Gary Gordon, the guy at HP who invented "MouseJet"-- which Microsoft licensed, repackaged, and renamed. You can read more about the MouseJet in another HP article, complete with a picture of an HP 3-button mouse with a glowing red bottom.

Okay, so the IntelliMouse Explorer's most "innovative" feature-- the any-surface optical tracking with no rolling ball-- isn't a Microsoft innovation. How about the other features, like the thumb buttons, center-positioned scrolling wheel button, and distinctly right-handed shape? Well, faithful viewer David Portela pointed out Logitech's MouseMan Wheel, which looks eerily familiar somehow. Perhaps it's the thumb button, center-positioned scrolling wheel button, and distinctly right-handed shape. And our friend Todd Wheeler has been using the MouseMan Wheel for many, many moons now, so there's no question as to which design came first. So let's see... what's left about the IntelliMouse Explorer that Microsoft could have come up with on its own? Ah, yes! The 30 MB of hard disk space required for the Windows drivers! Now that's the Microsoft we know and love. We're glad to see that they're at least maintaining their solid lead in finding new and innovative ways to bloat software beyond all reasonable limits.

We'd like to thank all of you not only for correcting our false assumption, but also for restoring our world to its full upright and locked position. If Microsoft had been the inventor of the IntelliMouse Explorer's "revolutionary" tracking technology, we'd have had to lock ourselves in a bomb shelter come New Year's Eve. Because if a true Microsoft innovation isn't a sign of the coming apocalypse, we don't know what is.

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"Ow! Nooks & Crannies!" (12/13/99)

Well, well, well-- the United Kingdom certainly is a hotbed of Apple drama these days, isn't it? First there was all that hubbub about Apple's continuing cancellations of Apple Expo UK. In the midst of that came the controversy over Apple's elimination of the British-localised edition of the Mac OS; beginning with Mac OS 9, those Brits will have to endure Americanizations like improper spelling and a weird new name for the Wastebasket. Well, the strife continues; faithful viewer Grant reports from the English trenches that all is not well with Apple UK's marketing team.

Yes, if The Register can be believed, it sounds like Santa Steve (er, Father Stevemas?) visited Apple's UK marketing division a bit early this year, and he left a lot of pink slips under the tree. Reportedly four people were laid off and "further job cuts" are "in the pipeline." All indications point to the eventual complete elimination of Apple's UK operations, in favor of a centralized "Apple Europe" residing in Paris. (We know that Steve seems to like Paris; while the Apple Expo in the UK keeps getting short shrift, the Paris show gets His Steveness complete with keynote address.)

So is it another anti-Brit volley fired by an increasingly Brit-hostile Steve Jobs, or is it just good business sense? The Register notes Apple's continuing consolidation of its European business in a "new unified, global approach." The UK Apple Store may quote prices in British pounds, but the centralized European Apple Store now takes payment in Euros. Apple's marketing efforts in Europe now all come straight from the U.S. Everything's getting mushed together, and from an efficiency and cost-savings standpoint, it's hard to argue with that strategy. Hopefully the UK won't take the unification of Apple as just another slap in the face. Then again, many Brits aren't fond of the unification of Europe, either, so who can say? Personally, we still suspect this all comes down to some traumatic event in Steve's childhood; a terrible accident involving an English muffin, perhaps?

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Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda (12/13/99)

That's it, it's all over; Apple's stock is now doomed. After hitting a high of 118 just a few short days ago, it's closed lower with each successive day and now rests at a lowly 99. At this point we can't imagine why the news wires aren't chock full of reports of Apple investors jumping off ledges left and right. (Note: at broadcast time, AAPL was down still further...)

What's interesting is that there seems to be a complete reversal on Wall Street when it comes to support for AAPL these days. Back in the Scary Times a couple of years ago, even if Apple was doing things right and the stock price was going up, the analysts kept saying that Apple's imminent death was inevitable and kept their ratings low. Now, though, AAPL's price has dropped 19 points in a matter of days (while the rest of the NASDAQ's been rising, to boot), yet the analysts are reiterating their positive ratings on Apple. With every positive analyst comment, we keep expecting Rod Serling to pop out from behind a bush and say "Booga Booga Booga!" or something.

To put things into perspective, of course, it's worth noting that even after the losses of the last several days, Apple's stock is still trading at over triple what it was a year ago. For those of you kicking yourselves for not investing earlier when you had the chance, we've got great news for you-- Stockmaster now has a great new feature we call the "Sucker Page." Basically it lets you see how much money you would have made (or lost) if only you'd taken a chance and invested ten grand a year ago. The "Sucker Page" for AAPL shows that a $10K bet-- er, investment-- made a year ago would be worth over $30K today. Which may explain the lack of AAPL-related suicide stories in the news these days. Of course, now we're going to see all the folks who didn't invest jumping out of windows. It's a violent game, isn't it?

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