He Also Likes "Family Ties" (2/7/02)

Looks like we were right to bite the bullet and finally get TiVo, since it's now been confirmed that, despite its "digital hub" strategy, Apple has no current plans to make its own similar device. Faithful viewer Stephanie pointed out that ZDNet's David Coursey is still bragging about his recent hour-long meeting with Steve Jobs. (Meanwhile, Steve has never even so much as sent us a birthday card; we are so unloved.) In his latest piece, Mr. Coursey reveals that Steve flat-out told him that Apple isn't planning to delve into the "home entertainment business" for the next twenty-four months, at least as far as personal video recorders and set-top boxes are concerned. So with no Apple equivalent in the works, as fans of "managed TV," we're in for at least two more years of wondering why the heck TiVo keeps thinking we want to watch old episodes of the "$1.98 Beauty Show" all the time. (Note to TiVo: the "Thumbs Up" and "Thumbs Down" buttons on the remote are great, but AtAT's resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae Katie sees a desperate need for the addition of a "Good God, NO" button as well.)

So what is Apple working on, if not a set-top box that will let Mac users tune in to whatever channel Phil Schiller is currently watching? (We bet the guy's a big "T.J. Hooker" fan. Just a hunch.) Well, Coursey claims that Steve's not saying, preferring to play it all cool and mysterious in that way that's so popular with the ladies; you know, kind of like Fonzie. "Aaaaay." But apparently the subject of UNIX came up in a big way; for the uninitiated, UNIX is that scary junk lurking under Mac OS X's Aqua-tinted hood which, thankfully, Apple has done a commendable job of hiding from "regular people"-- but hardcore geeks just love that stuff. And apparently Mac OS X's UNIX core is quietly winning Apple some fans among certain UNIX-breathing denizens of the scientific and corporate realms.

According to Coursey, Apple is "quietly gearing up, adding technology evangelists, developer support staff, and the other people and programs necessary to launch a drive to sell OS X versus other UNIX systems." And guess what? Some of the company's moves in this arena aren't exactly rating "Silent As Shadow In Fluffy Bunny Slippers" on the Ninja Scale of Divine Sneakiness. Take, for example, Apple's new press release announcing the availability of its free, Open Source enhancement to a popular bioinformatics application called BLAST. The new version, co-developed by Apple and Genentech, just happens to run five times faster on a dual-1 GHz G4 than on a 2 GHz Pentium 4. Is Apple, as faithful viewer Socky suggests, simply trying to accelerate the research into what genetic accident led to the existence of Steve Ballmer? Or is this a not-so-subtle limb of Apple's grand scheme to become a major player in the scientific UNIX community?

So there you have it: evidence of one long-term strategy to extend Apple's share into markets beyond those of consumers, graphic artists, and schools. If this plan to exploit Mac OS X's inherent UNIXy goodness plays out the way we suspect it might, a couple of years down the road we might not even be completely surprised to find that Apple has also quietly made inroads into what were formerly all-beige corporate arenas. Heck, it's no iTube featuring glorious SchillerVision™, but we'll take it nonetheless.

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The above scene was taken from the 2/7/02 episode:

February 7, 2002: Apple's not working on set-top boxes, but it is doing some neat things with UNIX these days. Meanwhile, Apple buys out a company that makes high-end 3D compositing software, and the Justice Department reveals that public comments about the proposed "Redmond Justice" settlement are running two to one against it...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3554: Shaking With Excitement (2/7/02)   Speaking of Apple sneaking into new markets, what's up with the company's stealth purchase of Nothing Real? If you're a slave to Mac dirt, you've doubtless heard about this by now-- as noted by faithful viewer Jason Wardle, several news outlets (including VFXPro and MacMinute) are reporting that, yes indeedy, Apple busted out the checkbook again and forked over an undisclosed sum for the creator of such applications as Shake and Tremor...

  • 3555: 15,000 Folks Can't Be Wrong (2/7/02)   The people have spoken-- and the people don't like it. We speak, of course, of the latest development in "Redmond Justice," which, at 412 years and counting, is the longest-running antitrust drama still on the air...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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