The Mac at 25: Successes, regrets, Apple's had a few

5 things Apple did right and 5 things it didn't over the last quarter-century

The Perfomas -- oh God, the Performas

After Apple disgorged Steve Jobs and brought in ex-soda CEO John Sculley, the latter got the idea to spew out many SKUs of Macs. This was the Perfoma line, designed to be less intimidating than the Mac itself (intimidating?), but the sheer landslide of barely distinguishable models was intimidating enough. With the same basic hardware, there were educational models, direct sales models, models for sale at a mass-market retailer ... each software bundle might be a little different from the others, but who could keep track?

Also, it didn't help that most Perfomas were, well, crap. The quality ranged from not so great to awful. For example, the 4400 -- a "fat pizza box" desktop -- was supposed to be targeted at casual business users, but it was so poorly built that peripherals would suddenly not work, hardware glitches would cause hard crashes, and so on.

Needless to say, this adversely affected Apple's image of providing high-quality products. Soon after his second coming, Jobs made quality Job 1, or something like that. He also quickly stripped down the product matrix: one consumer laptop, one pro laptop, one consumer desktop, one pro desktop. There is no Step 5.

The cloning vats

From 1995 to 1998, Apple tried something new: licensing. It's been an article of faith among the "Apple will die ... any day now" crowd that the company made a fatal mistake in restricting Mac operating system use to actual Macs. The idea was that if Apple became just an operating system vendor, like Microsoft, it would grow like topsy, like Microsoft.

Shaky logic there, but Apple tried it. Starting in the non-Jobs era, I should add.

The strategy did have some salutary effects, not the least of which was enabling Power Computing's awesome ad campaigns . Daystar Digital experimented with then-unusual multiprocessor configurations; some lower-priced Mac clones hit the market; some companies pushed the build-to-order and direct sales models; and Power Computing armed itself with ex-Apple engineers to push a few technical boundaries.

But the hardware licensing agreements were awkward, shortsighted and restrictive -- Apple never quite seemed to commit. And the third-party developers, without strong Apple support and with high licensing costs, couldn't find a way to offer products significantly different from Apple's own. After Jobs' return, he decided to end the licensing experiment. His rationale: It had begun too late to really make a difference, and the clones were cutting into Apple's own sales instead of expanding the market. In late 1997, the whole shebang wound down, with Apple buying some of Power Computing's assets for $100 million.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Turner

Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?