An AppleTalk - On Thinking DifferentJanuary 1999
"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."