by Mike Masnick

Did Steve Jobs Pull An Osborne?

from the marketing-gaffe? dept

Perhaps the most famous marketing gaffe in the history of Silicon Valley was the decision by Osborne Computing to pre-announce the Osborne 2 computer well before it was ready to ship, killing off all sales of the Osborne 1, and making it impossible for the company to fund the eventual launch of the new machine. With Steve Jobs' announcement today about moving to Intel by this time next year, the folks at Silicon Beat are asking the very reasonable question about whether or not Apple is about to face the Osborne Effect with computers over the next year. It certainly is likely to make some people pause and wonder why they should buy a machine when the company is moving to another platform -- but it might not be that bad. If the existing machine does what people need, and will continue to do so (as it will) for a few years, many people will still be able to justify it. Still, there are definitely going to be some people who pull up and wait. Of course, the other big difference is that Apple should be able to hold out for some time should that happen -- especially knowing the additional boost they'll get after they introduce the new machines.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    ken murray, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 8:38am

    Osborne effect

    Better to let us know before hand. In 1984 they did the same thing (product change) going from the Mac1 to the mac2. There wasn't any support for the mac1 after that. The computer was basically use less.

    I have never had a mac again.

    The apple computer was so much more, but I had such a sour taste in my mouth because of this, I'd probably never own another Apple though I've bought several since then (Wintel)...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Chomper, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 9:03am

    No Subject Given

    The problem with assuming that sales of the new macs will do well is that you assume people will come back.

    This will cannabalize sales of Macs for a while and good luck trying to get people to come back. Apple has to do a better job getting info out there and EXPLAINING what will happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    alaric, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 9:13am

    Sales will Increase

    The next 12 months will be difficult but apple will do quite well when it starts shipping intel-based apples.

    I think the potentially lower prices will do a lot to heal the mac faithful.

    Apple users have a right to be angry but its pretty obvious that jobs had no choice. Apple's laptop offerings were suffering from slow G4s and non existent mobile G5s and ibm was moving slowly on G5s in general, possibly to protect its own server business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    tim shea, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 10:12am

    Re: Osborne effect

    Since the Mac II was introducted until 1987 you must of gotten 3 years of that computer - which is pretty good.

    Oh - and this is a long time to have a sour taste for something so minor... especially with all the tricks intel vendors have pulled over the years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    tim shea, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 10:17am


    Apple has two things that osbourn doesn't have: the first is they have more than one business line (e.g. ipod) and the second is about $4 billion in cash.

    they will survive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Osborne effect

    What the heck are you talking about? 1984 and Mac1 to Mac2?

    In 1984, they released the original Macintosh. Before that, there was not a Macintosh.

    They did have three other lines of computers: the Apple II, the Apple III, and the Lisa. There was also the Apple I, but that was only a few units in the very early days (i.e. garage days).

    I do know a few people who swear they won't deal with Apple because Apple "orphaned" them when they switched from the Apple II to the Mac. I think such people, while entitled to spend their money however they want, are nuts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Daniel Burns, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 3:29pm

    Um... not really.

    I guaruntee that they thought of this.

    Steve said in a meeting one day, "Would it be harmful to announce this too early?"

    And someone else said, "Steve, we have B-I-L-L-I-O-N-S in the bank."

    And Steve replied, "Oh yeah. Meeting adjourned!"

    Everything is going to be just fine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Jacques (profile), Jun 7th, 2005 @ 9:14pm

    No comparison with Osbourne

    Today, everybody knows and expects that the computers sold today will be replaced by something better, faster, and cheaper very soon. If Apple had announced a G6 processor that will be available in a year, and be faster and cooler, but require some tweaking of the OS and the applications to take advantage of new features (like hyperthreading), today's G4s and G5s would be just as obsolete just as fast.
    But somehow, that would be OK, because that's what everybody expected?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    admin, Jun 7th, 2005 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Um... not really.

    And isn't that a big FU to the shareholders who
    actually *own* that big hoard of cash? So in
    effect Apple will be pissing away 12-18
    months of sales to some unknown degree on the very
    suspicious *hope* they will sell PCs at rate in
    excess of the current product line and at a *net*
    margin equal or better.
    Not a company to own now. They will survive
    but the execution of it all is already a poor

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Daniel Burns, Jun 8th, 2005 @ 12:40am

    Re: Um... not really.

    Well... I bet iPod sale would keep them profitable. My bet is that they don't even dip into that stockpile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    eeyore, Jun 8th, 2005 @ 5:15am

    No Subject Given

    Apple doesn't always guess right when they make big changes. Remember when they licensed the Mac OS to clone vendors and sales of the clone Macs badly outstripped their own sales until they terminated all the licenses and brought it back in-house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Paul TS Lee, Jun 8th, 2005 @ 10:19am

    Re: Um... not really.

    And isn't that a big FU to the shareholders who
    actually *own* that big hoard of cash?

    I'm a shareholder, and I would hold Jobs and the board responsible of they had not done something like this. What has IBM done for Apple lately? I am actually very happy that this little project has been going on for five years, in case people hadn't noticed that part of Jobs' presentation. This means that he (or someone with pull inside Infinite Loop) was keeping Apple's options open.

    If there was a G5 TiBook, 3 GHz desktop, or even an announcement for the G6 back in January, then maybe sticking with Big Blue makes sense. As it is, I'm perfectly happy for Apple to get off of the "not invented here" mindset with respect to CPUs. (Possibly a NeXT meme, but I'll take it where I can get it.)

    As for this "pre-announcement", so what? Am I annoyed that there is something better coming down the pipe in 12-18 months? Sure. Just like every other person who's owned more than one computer (or even gadget) in his/her life. But speaking as someone who bought a TiBook in November 2002, six weeks before the aluminum, improved wi-fi, backlit keyboard, USB2, Bluetooth, available in mini-/midi-/maxi- sizes, increased maximum RAM TiBooks were announced, I'd been much happier if Apple had done more pre-announcing, so I could at least planned my purchase, not just hope that I don't get obsoleted before the packaging makes it to the recycling bin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Mike Cloud, Jun 9th, 2005 @ 9:49am

    Put Off Buying?

    So do I put off buying a Mac or wait for an Intel-based version of Tiger and install that on my existing Windows computer? Will the reconfigured Tiger come out first or at the same time as the new Mac?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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