With friends like these…Comments

As someone who has used Macs since my dad purchased a Mac SE in the 80s, certain segments of the Apple-using population are a constant source of embarrassment to me.

Like this one: Sorry Adobe, You Screwed Yourself.

In what universe not solely populated by overinvested Apple fanboys is it a good idea to anthropomorphize and simplify the complex relationships between multi-billion dollar companies to what is, essentially, not sticking up for your bro?

Or, less flippantly:

Apple in the 1990s without the rosy glasses

I think it’s pretty revisionist to say it’s Adobe’s fault that they started focusing on Windows in the late 90s.

Apple had really crappy developer tools. It took a third party, Metrowerks, to make a usable, let alone decent environment. If it wasn’t for Metroweks, Apple would have been crushed. Meanwhile, during all of this, Apple would release technology after technology that was poorly documented and poorly supported. Does anyone remember Quickdraw GX? OpenDoc? The promises of Rhapsody and Gershwin?

Meanwhile, Microsoft was going on all cylinders with developer relations. For all the crappy Win95 programs, at a certain point it did everything Apple did only with more stability and without the weaknesses. Of course, Microsoft then screwed it all up with horrible security and generally bad PR. But really it was Apple who was the cause of most their own problems in the 90’s. They didn’t need anyone else to drive the nail in their coffin. They were doing poorly enough by themselves. If not for NeXT and Jobs, Apple would have almost certainly ceased operations.

People like to make fun of Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” monkey dance, but it really was one of the things that Microsoft did exceedingly well when compared to Apple. They coddled their developers: provided them with roadmaps, sneak peaks, and resources that Apple (to this day, in some parts) didn’t come close to matching.

So Apple didn’t exactly have the greatest record when it came to thinking and caring about their developers.

But it makes sense if you look at it this way…

John Gruber and many others have very comfortably put themselves in Apple’s shoes. They’ve been able to easily — and rightly — point out that many of Apple’s recent moves make sense when viewed from Apple’s perspective.

Why then, is it so hard to afford that same understanding to other companies?

Adobe, at the end of the 90s was faced with a choice: to continue devoting significant resources to a platform that appeared, from all indicators, to be dying, or to refocus efforts on Windows, which was in no danger of disappearing.

Even OS X didn’t really change things all that much from the perspective of major software houses trying to determine the extend of their Apple engineering resources. Until then, no company in the history of the industry had successfully introduced a new OS outside of Mac Classic and Windows. Be tried it. IBM tried it. NeXT tried it. They all failed.

The logical choice, and in many ways the responsible choice for companies like Adobe was to look towards Windows for growth.

So now to have so people point fingers at Adobe’s decision a little over a decade ago and say “I told you so!” is fairly exasperating and annoying.

  • Many of them probably hadn’t even used Macs yet at that point.

  • A person, using knowledge contemporary to the late 90s, could have not reasonably advised a company to stick it out with Apple. Any arguments to do so would almost have to be an argument made from unreasoning emotional investment. Unreasoning emotional investment is great for some. It’s not for a company aiming to keep its employees employed and its investors happy.

These are corporations we’re dealing with here. Let’s not turn this into the equivalent of a spat between once best friends.

Adobe wants to do what’s in their best interest and what’s in the best interests of their platforms (Flash, AIR, etc).

Apple wants to do what’s in their best interest and what’s in the best interests of their platforms (iPhone, iPad, etc).

To crib from the Joker, why so personal?

Why is there a need to point with gleeful fingers that Apple is wreaking vengeance against some gross injustice?

Keep it civil. Keep it contextual. And for all that is holy, keep it sane. Unbridled zealotry is ugly in any form.

Posted Monday, April 12th, at 12:26 AM (∞).
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