TV-PGMay 25, 2000: It's IBM to the rescue-- but will the next PowerBook sport an SOI-enhanced G4, or "merely" a 700 MHz G3? Meanwhile, German ad agency Springer & Jacoby "apologizes" to Apple, and the government plans to keep its two-way Microsoft breakup plan in spite of the judge's preference for three Baby Bills instead...
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Revenge Is Sweet (5/25/00)

Loath as we are to lay problems on a scapegoat, we're going to do it anyway: we officially pronounce Motorola to be the bane of Apple's existence. We are now more convinced than ever that the PowerPC's relative stagnation is some kind of intricate vengeance against Steve Jobs for killing the Mac clone market and sticking Motorola with the loss on all those StarMax units. Think about it for a second and all the pieces click into place. First higher clock-speed G4 chips were late, forcing Apple into the embarrassing position of having to downgrade the speeds of its entire Power Mac G4 line. Then, by the time that 500 MHz G4s finally made it out of the gate, Intel and AMD had already crossed the gigahertz barrier, firmly entrenching Apple in loser territory as far as the Megahertz Wars go. And remember those rumors that Motorola pulled licensing strings to prevent IBM from shipping faster G4s to Apple out of sheer spite?

Aside from the whole clock speed issue, now there's this whole G3/G4 dichotomy that's probably got Apple's marketing people climbing the walls. As you well know, Apple's split its product lines into "pro" and "consumer" halves, but for the past six months only the pro desktop Mac has had the supercomputer G4 at its heart. The PowerBook continues to use a G3-- not a weak chip by any stretch of the imagination, but after Apple hyped the gigaflop performance of the G4, it's got to be a little tough pushing a pro laptop that isn't as crunchy as the pro desktop. Until the G4's power consumption issues get ironed out, though, the PowerBook is G3-bound. For a while it looked like IBM might be coming to the rescue with its new silicon-on-insulator technology which should be able to squeeze a G4 into the PowerBook; according to a ZDNet article, though, Apple's got another option for PowerBooks this fall: revamped IBM G3s running at up to 700 MHz. (Notice how all the problems stem from Motorola, while the solutions come from IBM?)

So that's the conundrum Apple faces... when it releases its next PowerBook, it can either throw in a 700 MHz G3 or an SOI-enhanced G4, probably running at a much lower clock speed. The first option risks disappointing pro users who have been holding out for a full-fledged PowerBook G4; the second would probably yield slightly lower overall performance, a lower clock speed, and a heftier price tag. Either way, Apple's marketing folks have a tough road ahead, and we figure it's all Motorola's fault. Remember, this is the company that's actually ditching all of its own corporate Macs in favor of Windows systems; doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it? If that isn't an indication that the PowerPC's lagging performance is an elaborate Motorola revenge scheme, we don't know what is.

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Whole Lotta Love (5/25/00)

The Springer & Jacoby saga continues, as the German ad agency who misappropriated Apple's trademark in a jab at Windows users issues a public "apology." For those of you who missed it, a couple of weeks ago (at the height of the ILOVEYOU virus panic) the agency took out a full-page ad in a major German newspaper that simply said "Dear Windows User: We Love You!" (referring to the Mac's relatively immunity to the virus) and bore the Apple logo and "Think different" slogan. Anyone without a magnifying glass missed the microscopic "Springer & Jacoby" name printed sideways in the top right corner of the page, and therefore the ad looked like a genuine Windows-bashing Apple advertisement to just about everyone who saw it. The agency claimed the full-page spot was their gift of free advertising to the computer company they love.

Except, of course, it became clear that Springer & Jacoby had asked Apple for permission to run the ad and were told not to. Even if they hadn't asked first, Apple has to protect its trademark, and therefore the company threatened legal action after the ad first appeared. Well, the latest news according to MacNN is that Springer & Jacoby have run another ad; this one's an "apology" to Apple for misusing the trademark. It reads, "Dear Steve Jobs, 'the crazy ones', 'the misfits', 'the troublemakers', 'the round pegs in the square holes', 'the ones who see things differently', 'those who are not fond of rules', 'those who have no respect for the status quo' are very sorry for having misused Apple's trademark." Cute, right?

So let's see if we understand this, now... Springer & Jacoby demonstrates its undying loyalty to Apple first by willfully violating the company's trademark after being expressly denied permission to use it. Moreover, the agency abused it in a manner that made it look like Apple was laughing at Windows users, thus alienating potential Apple customers. The original ad also falsely implied that Mac users needn't worry about viruses, and practically dared the script kiddies to come up with a nasty Mac-specific virus just as a challenge. Are we on track so far? Then the agency, who professes to love Apple so much, "apologizes" in a manner that makes Apple look hypocritical and unappreciative of its fans, when the company had no choice in its public actions but to protect its trademark or risk losing it. Wow. With friends like that, who needs a bullet in the head?

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Two's Still Company (5/25/00)

Well, if you were hoping for even smaller bite-size chunks of Microsoft in your cereal bowl, you may be disappointed. Behind-the-scenes sources on the set of "Redmond Justice" report that, despite Judge Jackson's strong hints that the government's cleaned-up remedy proposal should include an action-packed three-way corporate split, the government's opting for a less drastic rewrite and sticking with the original "cut 'em in half" plot. We won't know until the show airs sometime Friday, of course, but a Bloomberg News article claims to have the inside scoop on the last-minute script massaging.

Personally, we can't help but wonder if the government's toned-down breakup plan is meant to protect its case from the judge's arguably overzealous actions. Remember, this case is going to be appealed, and the more strident the remedy, the more likely Microsoft will be able to get an appeals court to overturn the ruling. Does anyone remember the last time Jackson smacked Microsoft down? His preliminary injunction barring Microsoft from tying Internet Explorer to Windows was crushed into dust by the appellate court, who cited "procedural errors" made by the judge in that case.

Jackson's lucky to have gotten a second chance to smite the Redmond Beast, but given that he just flat-out denied Microsoft six more months of hearings to debate the merits of a breakup, some might think he's just begging for another appeals reversal. Given the "no more process" mandate, we figure the government's a little concerned about what the appeals court will say when Microsoft goes crying about due process, so they're sticking with a more conservative two-way breakup than the judge's preferred three-company disarmament plan in hopes that it's more likely to stand on appeal. Clever, no? Here's hoping it doesn't tick off the judge too much-- but then again, he's awful cute when he's angry.

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