Will Apple turn on clone makers?

The Apple situation is starting to look more like "Lord of the Flies" every day: Just days after some strange name calling between Apple and its clone makers, it appears that Apple will significantly raise the licensing fees for the next major version of the Mac OS, code-named "Rhapsody."

Apparently, Rhapsody will adhere to the PowerPC Reference Platform, making the OS somewhat hardware independent. Current versions of MacOS 7.x.x are tied closely to the particular hardware, be it a type of Performa machine, and/or type of PowerPC chip. Currently, each new system out of Cupertino causes a special version of the Mac OS tp be created, accounting for the differences between various systems. With the reference platform compliance, clone-makers will be able to improve their own system and give their products far more value than real Apple systems. And that's the problem.

"Privately, Apple executives express irritation at the clones' 'cherry- picking' and claim that Apple's making all the investment in the platform \[while\] cloners reap all the profit. Let's hope these are false rumors or merely reflect a temporary loss of composure," said Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive and CEO of Be, Inc. Apple's real motives may be a little less speculative: There are massive engineering costs involved when creating a new operating system and they may want to recoup part of that cost.


If you're interested in Apple Computer, there is a must-read San Jose Mercury News story: in it, former Apple CFO Joseph A. Graziano describes the dark days of early 1996 when Apple lost almost a billion dollars and Sun walked away from the negotiating table when they realized how far the company had fallen. In the "who are they, Commodore?" department, Graziano criticized Gil Amelio for not having "a clue" and performing a deft marketing maneuver in September to show a supposed profit and receive a handsome bonus. "Only in corporate America can anyone get away with that stuff," he said. "It's theft on a grand scale, only it's legal.

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