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An AppleTalk - On Thinking Different

January 1999
Two years ago, Apple was in trouble. Its stock was plummeting. Consumers were flocking to the domain of Bill Gates. Business Week reported the creator of the Mac was in a certain-death spiral. Enter (for a command performance) Steve Jobs. Four straight profitable quarters, several technology announcements and the company is now the Wall Street Journal's most successful technology stock for 1998. Why? Because Apple "Thinks Different," of course!


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


"Think different," the latest ad campaign of the inventor of the Macintosh, symbolizes creativity, innovation and truth. The "Think Different" theme also taps into the core desire that burns in the hearts of every visionary man, woman and child for individual choices, total deliverance, unbridled conviction.

OK, let's not get carried away; it's just a series of commercials.

But Apple needed "Think Different" to be more than a soapbox. It had to be grand, it had to be moving and, above all else, it had to be memorable. Images of cultural icons—from Albert Einstein to Amelia Earhart—were called upon to convey a sense of devotion, commitment, duty and dedication.

It worked. Since the "Think Different" ad campaign started early last year, Apple has been riding high. Of course, technology played a part in Apple's upswing, as well. Two major pushes in 1998 locked Apple into a still-pioneering position for continued greatness into the year 2000.

Apple launched Mac OS 8.5, a major upgrade to the Macintosh operating system. Termed a "must-have" upgrade for Apple's design and publishing customers, Mac OS 8.5 includes significant advances in Internet search capabilities with its market-leading networking performance, advanced workflow automation and new Sherlock technology.

What's Sherlock?

Simply put, Sherlock is a new technology that allows users to search the Internet without using a browser and to conduct searches for documents on local hard drives based on their content.

Apple introduced the 333 MHz G3 server, the most powerful Macintosh G3 server to date. It combined Pentium-toasting PowerPC G3 performance and AppleShare server software to create the most powerful, easy-to-use Apple server yet.

Chris Gulker, business development manager for publishing, entertainment and new media markets at Apple Computer, recently spoke with Printing Impressions about Apple's Mac OS efforts—brace yourself for Mac OS X—as well as the company's core commitment to the design, prepress and commercial printing sects, despite all the hoopla over the cute and cuddly iMac.

The iMac is receiving considerable attention on the consumer side, but is Apple's energy as high on the commercial printing and publishing side?

"Absolutely. Publishing is one of the primary thrusts for Apple, including design, prepress and printing. We understand all the major concerns of the prepress business, the printing business, the graphics studio. And what's really good news for printing and prepress operations is that Apple Computer—alone among computer companies—controls hardware as well as OS systems. We have that understanding; we know how to make an environment productive."

How does Apple keep in touch with the prepress needs of general printers?

"To make sure that we're not just guessing or giving people what we think they ought to have, Apple turns to a grouping of its best customers from a variety of markets in the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. We do two things: have them critique our current technologies and, through nondisclosure, get their thoughts on some of our forthcoming offerings. In the more than 18 months we've been doing this customer focus, we've found that innovative customer input has added value to our finite number of engineering resources."

What has Apple learned from its commercial printing customers?

"For one, they need Quark files saved faster. Prepress customers told us that a lot of what they do is save Quark files. To them, what makes the difference is not buzz-words like multi-tasking, multi-threading or Java, but rather throughput. The more jobs, especially for prepress firms, they can get done in a finite period of time, the more profitable they are and the more they can expect new jobs to become even more profitable.

From our talks with prepress and commercial printing professionals, we know that they need six technological keys to unlock productivity: better color management; better PostScript performance; better font usage; more stability and performance from their networks; ease of configureability and support of their networks; and a highly automated workflow."

How is Apple reacting to these six key needs within the graphic arts? And will Mac 0S X hit all the marks?

"In Mac OS 8.5, we've revved up ColorSync, now supporting more color modules than ever. Also, AppleScript is five times faster and easier to operate.

Major software developers, including Adobe Systems, Macromedia and Quark, have already pledged support for Mac OS X, the next-generation evolution of Mac OS that's expected to be available this fall. Mac OS is continuing to evolve. Apple has the fastest PostScript driver in the world; we've been working on it 11 years with Adobe. Of course, Apple has been a big supporter of PDF, Adobe's Portable Document Format. Mac OS X will offer full PDF support. Mac OS X's internal-spooler file will be PDF, creating PDF files on the fly—removing the PostScript error potential. We are working very closely with Adobe and other vendors to make sure this PDF absorption into Mac OS is as robust and bug-free as possible."

What do you think of Steve Jobs?

"If there is any question in anyone's mind why or how Apple made its turnaround from its downswing in 1996-97 to its strong showing as we welcome 1999, the answer is obvious. Steve Jobs came back to Apple.

In 1996, the industry was reporting that Apple was in a total death spiral. Then Steve comes back. Next thing we know, we're back on a mission, we're moving toward straight profit quarters and launching new products.

Apple's stock has tripled since Steve's been back. He has undoubtedly restored Apple to its role as the industry innovator—making tools for people who think different, creative people, especially in the publishing environment."
 

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