TV-PGApril 3, 1998: There's something fishy about the whole Newton situation, and the roots of the conspiracy can be traced to an old AtAT cast member, back from oblivion. Meanwhile, the debate over Quicktime 3.0 licensing rages on, and Netscape vents about Microsoft in an SEC filing...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Trust No One (4/3/98)

Conspiracy Alert: Faithful viewer Ben Dyer has sharper eyes (and a more paranoid mind) than most. Consider his latest scenario:

I just read today's episode and I got to the part about Planet Computing trying to get the Newton division and I had a theory: what if Planet Computing is actually the re-organization of Power Computing? Think about it, they are both based out of Austin and have similar names! They would barely have to change the letterheads! It makes sense to me...
Good lord, suddenly it all comes clear! Power Computing, in a remarkable burst of vision, predicted that the desktop computer will be obsolete in a few years, as technology progresses and handhelds become increasingly powerful, tiny, and popular. They realized that the Newton OS was the best handheld operating system by far. But how to acquire it?

First, after obtaining their Mac OS license, they sold faster Macs than Apple and advertised only to Apple's existing customers, thus stealing Apple sales and contributing to Apple's financial decline. Next, they needed a patsy; enter Joel Kocher, who did Kahng's dirty work by publicly decrying Apple's cloning restrictions in highly visible conditions, like Macworld Expo Boston, which was promptly followed by Kocher's "resignation." Apple was so enraged by Kocher's histrionics that they outright purchased Power's Mac OS license and business just to be rid of them-- now Power is rid of its desktop OS license and appears to the public to be ready to fold any minute. So far so good.

Next, Power made a half-hearted foray into the Wintel world to alleviate suspicion (a move so feeble it must have been fake), and finally "shut down" after its spectacular "failure." Owner Steve Kahng announces that the company will soon re-form and return with new products. Meanwhile, during all of these events, Apple's financial ugliness (architected by Power) mandates the ending of unfocused and unprofitable projects-- like Newton. Suddenly, "Planet Computing" from Austin, TX makes an offer for the now-discontinued Newton OS. If they get it, "Planet" Computing can release handhelds that can compete with the Pilot in size and price, but running the superior Newton OS, thus preparing to own the handheld market in the 21st century. And that's how the game is played. Diabolical.

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In Defense of Quicktime (4/3/98)

The heated debate over Apple's Quicktime 3.0 license fees continues to rage; just take a look at MacInTouch's Quicktime page for a sample of the e-bile spreading over the net. Now that the most vocal detractors have had their say, we're starting to see some backlash. The MacKiDo Temple, for instance, has posted one developer's point-by-point analysis of the license fee structure, which he eventually proclaims is both "fair" and "a good value."

By and large, we agree with the author's assessment and opinions, and he makes some excellent arguments. One that we hadn't considered before was that the licensing fee of $2 to include Quicktime Pro in a shipping product is a fantastic deal for both developers and customers; developers can spend two bucks per box and label their software with a sticker that says, "Includes Quicktime Pro, a $30 value!" Unfortunately, that argument can't be used to justify the $1 fee to include regular Quicktime: a box labeled "includes Quicktime, a $0 value!" isn't much of an incentive to buy. And claiming that to waive the $1 fee, developers need only "include a movie which encourages the user to upgrade to Quicktime 3.0 Pro" is misleading-- as we've seen, it's not the inclusion of the movie that people dislike, it's the requirement to install it on the desktop every time the application is run.

We've got to believe that somewhere in there is a licensing scheme that will make money for Apple, be fair to developers, and not annoy the living bejeezus out of the end users. Our official recommendation is that the whole policy is just and fair, with the exception of the bizarre requirement that applications waiving the redistribution fee install the "Get Quicktime Pro" movie on the user's desktop every single time the software is launched. Amend that one clause to specify that the movie is installed on the desktop every time the software's installer is used, and we think Apple's got a winner.

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Netscape's Red(mond) Ink (4/3/98)

We'd have to guess that it's relatively rare for a large company to file a year-end 10-K report to the Securities and Exchange Commission with a section on competitive factors that focuses heavily on how one single corporation's actions are destroying its business. However, it seems that's just what Netscape did in its report filed a week ago, according to Wired News. (If you can't guess which company they blame for their ongoing woes, you really haven't been paying attention...)

Yes, of course it's Microsoft's alleged anticompetitive practices that Netscape holds primarily responsible for its lackluster performance. The list of offenses includes: promotion of the proprietary ActiveX technology to create Microsoft-only web sites; corruption of Java to produce Microsoft-only Java-based sites; "preferential distribution and bundling contracts" for Microsoft software; bundling internet server software with its operating systems; and essentially bribing web content providers to create sites only viewable in Internet Explorer. All of these factors contributed to Netscape's continually-dwindling market share, which directly affects its bottom line.

Is this the beginning of a trend? We at AtAT wonder if more and more companies will be reporting that their financial woes stem from the Redmond Juggernaut as Microsoft continues to practice its own "special" brand of business unchecked. Netscape's set an interesting precedent, to be sure-- within a couple of years, we could easily see companies like Sun and Oracle (and Apple) follow suit. After that, it's only a matter of time before Frito Lay and Coca-Cola start blaming sales slumps on the integrated Snack and Beverage Wizards integrated into Windows '04. (Oh, great, now we've gone and given Bill an idea...)

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