At this months WWDC Keynote speech, Steve Jobs once again announced the impending death of an Apple Computer product. Steve has been well known over the years for doing this well ahead of the actual death of a product and this is no exception.
Walking onto the stage where a coffin containing a large mock up of the OS 9.x product, Steve opened the coffin, set the box up so that all could see. While people laughed at the analogy, Steve walked towards the middle of the stage and quickly shushed the crown and began reading a eulogy for the product. While most product death knells have been laced with somewhat off the top, spur of the moment one-liners, this announcement was no ordinary Steve Jobs scene.
Looking like something right out of a bad horror movie, Steve said, “OS 9 was a good friend to us all” like he was talking about it in the past. This facet was quite hilarious and brought laughter from the audience. Whether the elimination of OS 9.x will be hilarious or even realistic remains to be seen.
While the focus of the developing community will change to the OS X platform, the OS 9.X platform continues to rule most of the Macintoshes out in users homes. Although the iMac and the new G4 machines are quite elegant, they also come with the price tags to fit. The average user continues to refrain from upgrading to the latest machines and with Apple Computer Inc. raising prices instead of leaving them as is, it is highly unlikely that the users will even consider upgrading to a machine which could be outdated within a month or so when Apple announces their next platform upgrades at Mac World Expo in New York.
Also with holes in the OS X software still to be filled, most people with lower models continue to use OS 9.x It also remains to be seen as to whether Apple will produce a version of OS X which will run on older machines. Up until this point, they have always skipped the support and just jumped to the next series of machines and the software to go with it. It has been this was ever since the Apple-1 and as we can see from Steve Job’s comments, this aspect continues 25 years later.
As for the impending death of the OS, Steve Jobs may want to look at OS 6, 7, and 8 which are still continually used throughout the Apple community and will continue to be used for the foreseeable future. It seems that each time Apple comes up with something new and better than the last bunch of items, Steve Jobs is a bit quick on the draw in discounting the continued usability of the former product. This is part of his job as the chief salesman of Apple, but I think he should also remember that it is the customers who decide when to discontinue using an item.
The Apple II, which Steve declared dead many times over the years, continued to be Apple Computer’s savior in the 1980’s and even into the 1990’s. This old workhorse continues to be used by many people even today in schools for teaching and for just plain old fun.
While the shift in focus is going from the closed environments of the old days to the open environment of the Unix world, there still needs to be a maintenance organization which supports those users who have chosen not to spend the $3000 for the latest and greatest machine because they just did that once in the previous six months or one year.
And thus, Steve Jobs may be announcing the death of OS 9, but we figure that there will continue to be those who develop for it. But in saying that I don’t figure that Apple will support anyone who does continue developing OS 9 products. Guess you will just have to let the economics of the market for OS 9 developed products decide whether to continue or not.