Hasta la "Be"vista: Apple buys NeXT

Wow. This week has reaffirmed my belief that *anything* can happen in this industry. At a hastily assembled press conference on Friday, Apple Computer CEO Gil Armelio announced that the Cupertino, CA.-based manufacturer of Macintosh computers would be buying NeXT, Inc. NeXT is run by Steve Jobs, a mercurial figure in the history of Apple (and personal computers in general) and his incredibly unsuccessful second company hasn't ever sold a product in volume. Perhaps most perplexing is Apple's plans for NeXT: using NeXTStep, a Mach kernel-based UNIX-like OS, as the next version of the Mac OS. NeXT stopped making and upgrading NeXTStep years ago and the OS will not run on anything but the Motorola 68K chipset, a line that Apple dropped in favor of the PowerPC two years ago. Supposedly, NeXT had worked on a PowerPC version of the OS briefly, but they have no real experience with multiple CPU systems or Mac compatibility. Of course, the NeXTStep interface is gorgeous, and NeXTStep always supported multitasking and multithreading, two features the MacOS still lacks. After NeXT dropped NeXTStep, they created OpenStep, and API-compatible development environment that runs on Motorola 68K, Intel x86, Sun Sparc, and the HP PA-RISC chipsets. This, like NeXTStep, was wildly unpopular. Apple apparently has plans for WebObjects, as well. WebObjects is NeXT's object-oriented Web-based database development system. Like everything NeXT has created, WebObjects has generated lots of press but few actual sales. The sale has Steve Jobs returning to Apple computer. He will report to Gil Armelio. Said Armelio, "I can boil it down. We picked Plan A instead of Plan Be." Ouch. Most humorous? Gil Armelio's claim that Apple's and NeXT's technologies are complementary. Carefully read the way he words this: "Apple needed a truly modern operating system and NeXT had an exceptional operating system with modern services and API's. At the same time, NeXT needed a high-volume installed base." What is this, charity work

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