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Newsletter #395 Preview: Do Macs Make Sense for Business?

From the very first day the Mac appeared, the critics said it wasn’t a serious personal computer. The graphical user interface meant it was just a plaything for the rich and restless, and that you couldn’t get any serious work done on it. That was the function of the real computer, the one that you manipulated with text commands.

Of course, that argument didn’t sit very well when Microsoft adopted many of the same interface niceties. Maybe it was a pale imitation of the original, but the basic concepts, requiring keyboard and mouse, were still present and accounted for.

Yet even when so-called business computers came with point-and-click interfaces, somehow the Mac was still relegated to the category of a toy. It didn’t matter that graphic artists embraced Macs for such chores as desktop publishing, digital artwork and movie special effects. You see, a real business computer was supposed to be used for spreadsheets, and databases and that sort of thing. Sure there was Mac software available that could carry out those functions as well, but Apple did an extremely poor job of making its products affordable for companies that needed to order them by the hundreds or thousands.

That and other strategic missteps left a bad taste in the mouths of even devoted Mac users who, by the mid-1990s, deserted the platform in droves, along with some software publishers. Yes, the Mac wasn’t in a good way when Steve Jobs took control of the company he co-founded a decade ago.

Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.