Sunday, May 02, 2010

Mark Bernstein: Platform Control:

In 1997, Apple was on the ropes. Every trade press story speculated that Apple would soon go out of business. Apple’s computers were toys, hapless, hopeless. The only hope seemed to be that Microsoft’s antitrust problems would extend the struggling company’s life a year or two and something might turn up.

The last straw — what everyone feared and anticipated — was the seemingly-inevitable Microsoft announcement that Apple’s market share was too small to be worth Microsoft’s trouble, and that Office for Mac would be cancelled. On that day — and we all expected it — Apple would for all practical purposes cease to have a business.

It didn’t happen. Microsoft didn’t want to face the anti-trust consequences. They promised to extend Office a few years, and lent Apple $150M, and Jobs came back.

And somewhere in the recovery was a moment when Apple stood on a hill, before the setting sun, and shook its fist at the heavens and vowed that it would never be hungry (and powerless) again. Never again would another company decide whether the Macintosh lived or died.