Open Letter to Apple about Jaguar

by Derrick Story

Over the last few days I've been engaged in an online discussion about Mac OS X in general, and Jaguar in particular. I want to summarize the highlights of these exchanges because they represent viewpoints of a notable segment of the Apple customer base. And I think these opinions are worth hearing.



O'Reilly Mac OSX Conference.

I began the thread with the article, Jaguar: Time to Stop Pussyfooting Around where I advocated for a faster adoption of Mac OS X to grow the customer base to make the platform more appealing to developers writing software. Both AcaBen and J started threads on MacSlash covering the discussion too. Including the 50+ talkbacks at the end of my article, we have more than 175 comments, sometimes essays, about the topics I broached. This doesn't even include the email that was sent to me personally.



I think it's time well spent to read what these folks are saying. In all honesty, I respect them and believe they know what they're talking about. In case you don't have time to rummage through all the comments, here are the highlights:




  • Offer Jaguar at a reduced price for existing Mac OS X users. Asking the early adopters to pony up another $129 just doesn't seem right. Price is important. Amazon.com had to withdraw their $50 rebate because "it was too popular." If Apple does nothing else, it should offer a rebate for existing Mac OS X users across the entire customer base, and that includes ALL customers outside the U.S. too.


  • Do something about Quark. A large portion of the Apple customer base is being held hostage by Quark, and if someone doesn't rescue them, they can't join the Mac OS X party.


  • Make it faster. Make everything faster. Make Mac OS X faster. Make the hardware faster. Speed matters to many Apple users, and they're losing patience over this issue.



There are plenty of other good suggestions too, but doing something about these three will have a real positive effect.



We're three weeks away from the release of Jaguar. Now would be a great time to extend an olive branch to the early adopters who got things this far.


15 Comments

beno
2002-08-05 03:22:08
Quark...
There was an interesting story about the adoption of OSX by the publishing industry (esp. relating to Quark).


http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,431382,00.asp


Having read it, it seems to me there are two factors more important than having a OSX-native Quark:


- general unwillingness to adopt new technology by the publishing industry (even the transition from Quark 3 to Quark 4 has taken forever and is not complete)


- Classic-incompatibility of several XTensions - because I know for a fact that Quark 4.1 runs just fine in Classic, Applescript integration and all.


So Apple could be educating the Quark users and work with the XTension vendors, instead of waiting for Quark.

dsteinberg
2002-08-05 03:56:27
Offer Jaguar Free to existing OS X users

I know that Apple deserves to make money from the wonderful work they've done on Jaguar. As I said in my MacWorld article, however, it is important to the future of OS X not to splinter the user base right now.


Others are suggesting that Apple owes OS X users a discount -- I'm arguing instead that it benefits Apple to have all of us running Jaguar. It means that apps that target the Mac can all take advantage of the Jaguar features right away. If you don't move everybody over, then some mass market developers will write to the least common denominator and not support Jaguar.

invalidname
2002-08-05 06:03:17
The early adopters will take care of themselves...
Noted a poll over on MacSlash -- http://www.macslash.org/pollBooth.pl?qid=whatcharunning -- which shows that of those who frequent the site, 77% are running Mac OS X 10.1.x, and another 7% claim to be running a 10.2 beta. 84% on the latest OS X, versus 12% running OS 9, 8, or earlier... practically the opposite of the adoption rate cited by Jobs and mulled by Story in his original blog entry.


Seems like those who are most active with their Macs, those who read sites like MacSlash, are the ones who are keeping up to speed on OS X, and while shaking them down for another $129 is of dubious class, it's not nearly as serious a concern as the unheard masses who haven't upgraded at all.


Derrick's right to point out Quark, but it's more than that - graphics professionals are trapped with non-Carbon Photoshop plug-ins, non-existent drivers for hardware (thanks Umax! nice paperweight!), the cost of upgrading to Carbonized apps and OSX-supported hardware, etc.


And I think there's a third class of users who simply *never* update their system in any way -- anyone's parents own a computer? Do they do their own upgrades? In the Windoze world, a lot of home users only update the OS in the form of new hardware, and this may occur in the Mac world too. Even if OS X were free, these users wouldn't want it for fear of breaking something in the upgrade process, or because there's just nothing that makes them want OS X (eye candy and iPhoto notwithstanding), or just because Change Is Bad.


--invalidname

djacobs@cs.oberlin.edu
2002-08-05 07:10:29
This makes no sense to me...
What you're asking is impossible, here are my three (parallel) requests for O'Reilly:


1) I have spent too much money on O'Reilly books, and some of them have been real doozies (DBI, MySQL & MSQL) all of their future books should be cheaper. For crying out loud, they fly off the shelves at 40% off!


2) O'Reilly really needs to get on the Oracle Press about their cruddy books.


3) They need to come out with books faster! Why aren't there 12 Cocoa books already?


What's wrong with O'Reilly?? They're so far behind!

derrick
2002-08-05 07:47:39
Quark...
This is a really good point.


If there are any Quark vendors out there, I'd love to hear from you.

derrick
2002-08-05 07:53:09
The early adopters will take care of themselves...
I second your thoughts with the exception of shaking down the existing OS X user base for another $129 ... I think it's too much.


chad274
2002-08-05 07:58:58
The early adopters will take care of themselves...
Dealing with OS share in the installed userbase might not be a fair judgement among the Mac userbase; the original 'iMac' was marketed as the quick & easy way to use the internet. (Anyone remember the Jeff Goldblum commercials?) So, there are likely a lot of people that have thier iMac happily connecting to the web & e-mail, and that's good enough. (I mean, why buy an easy to use Mac, if you're upgrading and toying with the machine all the time?) A lot of utility users (like my parents), don't even buy new software for the machine...


On the other hand, the early adopters, UNIX heads & software developers (like me, and likely the vast majority of the people that read this site), are committed to the latest & greatest, because that's how we make our living.


Maybe the slogan should be "if your paycheck involves a computer, you should be upgrading..."

timmyers
2002-08-05 09:23:25
Quark...
My company is voting with our feet. For a similar cost to the probable upgrade to Quark for OSX we can move to InDesign on OSX NOW and we are. Quark have dragged their heels over the years producing expensive and less than compelling upgrades and counting on a captive Mac user base to keep buying them. Time to change?
bobbynow
2002-08-05 15:07:12
Is Jaguar Overpriced?

I could go either way on this issue of Jaguar's pricing. Honestly, I don't believe that it's over priced when you look at Apple's OS release history as well as some inflationary factors.


Apple's normal release pattern for upgrades has been pretty well Major Release of Mac OS for pay, a ".x" upgrade download for free or low cost CD. Then usually the next major update (often a .5) is also a paid upgrade. I remember paying my 99 bucks at CompUSA for my 8.5 release. (8.6 was a free download.)


Although Jaguar doesn't brandish a ".5" it truly is a .5 update when you look at the huge list of improvements and features it will provide.


Jaguar wasn't developed without some serious bucks involved. And with inflation and certainly compared to M$ upgrades it's pretty reasonably priced at $129. And I'm out of work and living on "unemployment" right now, even still I see the value that Jaguar will provide users.


On the other side, I'd appreciate if it they would allow some form of consideration for early adopters. Maybe $49 for 10.0 owners, $79 for 10.1 adopters and $129 for those that haven't owned anything before 10.2. That might be a good stepped pricing scheme.


That and make it free to those of us with Lombards that bought 10.0 and thought we'd have complete functionality of our Systems but were sorely disappointed! (aka the DVD, QT and Video fiascos)


Bob

zarembo
2002-08-05 15:10:58
Offer Jaguar Free to existing OS X users
Nice idea, free that is, not likely though.....I think a discount for early adopters would be a nice way to bring some folks over. Of course that would include me.


Then there are folks like me who permitted to purchase an iMac one month prior to Jobs pricing announcement. My employer actually purchased it. Being Mac-phobic anyway(I worked hard to have my superiors acquire an iMac), telling them I need to upgrade to fit in better with the existing Windows network will not be easy or fun.


Com' on Steve give me a break! I'm working hard to make inroads in the Wintel world, cut me some slack Jack!

shack
2002-08-05 16:25:41
Quark? What about ProTools?
At least Quark runs well in Classic mode - ProTools doesn't run at all. Our entire department was willing to suffer with Quark in Classic, but lack of ProTools is a total show-stopper - incredibly frustrating (we're not in a position where we can simply switch to another audio editing tool). Incredible that a single company can have such a profound effect on an entire upgrade plan. We're ready spend tens of thousands of dollars on upgraded software - Office X, FCP 3, Macromedia suites, etc. But we can't pour our money into the pot, all thanks to DigiDesign.
eggboard
2002-08-05 16:40:43
Quark overstatement
Quark isn't holding that many people hostage. I used to work in the DTP world pretty deeply and met a lot of folk building huge media publishing systems that used Quark as the fulcrum for all the add-ons they leveraged.


Quark users are maybe in the low millions, but many of those people aren't hostage to it in the sense that either they're not likely to upgrade, period, because their focus is on something that works, and Quark 4 -- despite certain problems -- is a very reliable and stable way to run an output business inside a printing operation, or as a client of output bureaus or printing operations.


The utility of Quark is so high that unless you need specific things that haven't really been articulated even with the release of 5.0 (so I guess you wouldn't need them) OS 8.5-9.2 + Quark 4.x is your platform as a unit.


The folks who are chomping on the bit to transition to OS X and are held back by Quark could be in the 100,000 to 200,000 range. Quark has said on many occasions that the OS X version isn't coming any time soon. I would be surprised if they shipped one before next summer, and it might even be 2004. Hard to believe, I know.


So what will happen? People will jump ship to InDesign 2.0, basically. It's a good piece of software, it's got a modern architecture, Adobe is responsive to users, it's fully scriptable, and it's equally strong on Mac and Windows. I don't love it like I love and hate Quark (it's a love/hate relationship without the love to steal a line quoted in Glyn Moody's Rebel Code).


But InDesign 2 is a good tool and those who need a good tool and are finally fed up with Quark's development cycle and featureset will take advantage of this historical pause to switch.


(I heard from a lot of folks who thought Quark was just communicating its message wrong when they said they were shipping an OS 9 version of Quark 5. They figured it had been a mix-up. They were awfully surprised when they found out it was true.)

eggboard
2002-08-05 16:42:30
Offer Jaguar Free to existing OS X users
Apple should cut the baby in half: if you bought a new Mac in the last few weeks, you can buy OS X 10.2 for $19.95, right? How about, if you bought an upgrade or full version of OS X 10.1, or a new Mac, in the last SIX MONTHS you get a special coupon that gives you a $19.95 upgrade option?


Apple ensures its most recent loyalists update that way. -- Glenn Fleishman

kcar
2002-08-05 22:32:13
Offer Jaguar Free to existing OS X users
Eggboard, I agree with you that there should be some sort of sliding payment scale, esp. for people who recently bought a new machine or new version of OS X. Apple already has something like this in place--but only for folks who buy a new machine between the keynote speech and the release date of Jaguar.


Apparently Apple has some sort of OS subscription plan for businesses with ten machines or more. If you subscribe to this plan, you pay something like $69 to upgrade 10 machines to Jaguar, $59 if you upgrade up to 100 machines to Jaguar, etc. It'd be nice if individuals could get enroll in some sort of OS update subscription plan.


I'm wondering in my half-sleep moments whether Apple is positioning us all very cleverly. Perhaps Apple is throwing in too high a price--$129--to get us to eventually settle for $109. I remember that previous major MacOS upgrades were only $89.


I strongly agree with Derrick about the necessity of speed increases from Apple. This is really Motorola's fault, but Apple needs to find a long-term solution to this soon. One industry analyst thinks that Apple will be switching to Intel chips in 2-4 years; frankly, I can't see how Apple could compete with Intel-based competitors like Dell if it did switch chips. Is IBM with its PowerPC line in a position to help?

timmyers
2002-08-07 02:32:06
Quark overstatement
Looks like the OSX version is due 1st or 2nd quarter 2003 BUT it's likely to be expensive AND it's incompatible with most if not all current 3rd party xtensions. That's another roadblock to getting the Quark people off OS8/9 onto X.