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(c) 1998 Andrew C. Stone. All Rights Reserved.

It's all "Hush Hush" over in Cupertino and across the 'Net - have you noticed the resounding absence of any news concerning
Mac OS X Server and the Yellow Box? Even the Stone's Throws have been quiet! Of course, as an Apple Developer who has signed a non-disclosure agreement, I walk a well-delineated line - Stone's Throw is not the site to get the latest rumors, but a "clean, well-lighted place" to reflect on the issues affecting developers and high end Mac users. These users, I may add, are anxiously awaiting the chance to get their hands on the most robust and sophisticated operating system ever available for the desktop.

The current situation is very much akin to the recent Hurricane Georges. The front end of the storm was the release of the iMac and the great brand building commercial barrage of this last summer. Now, we sit back as the calm eye of the hurricane is upon us - the bardo of a false sense of "business as usual". And just like a hurricane, it's the backend that bears the brunt of the storm: I expect no less than computer-industry shattering news when Apple plays its hand sometime in the next several weeks (months?). Something grand is surely cooking!

Apple's OS X technology is completely solid, and yet the marketing must be stronger still. Weak technologies with excellent marketing sell oodles in the PC world! So the success of Mac OS X, Yellow Box and even Apple Computer, Inc. now falls to the magicians in marketing. When you consider the wealth of tools that comprise the Yellow Box, Web Objects, Enterprise Objects, et al, you begin to appreciate the scale of the challenge that these SpinMeisters face. How to present this much power without numbing or confusing the customer? How to frame the capabilities in the most compelling way to the maximum number of high end users? And ultimately, how to get them to buy?

It's a lot like marketing a magic lamp - what it can do depends on who you are and what you do with computers. To the developer, it's a powerful, write-once, deploy-everywhere development environment featuring a warehouse of reusable objects. To the corporate IS manager, it's reusable business logic. To the sysadmin, it's the easiest network to maintain. To the webmaster, it's a scalable, uncrashable web server. To the graphics and web content designer, it combines the traditional tools of the Mac with new generation applications built to take full advantage of Mac OS X. To the beancounter, it's inexpensive access to a host of expensive functionalities. Apple marketing masters, do your magic!

For the rest of us, sit back and enjoy the ride - it might be a wild one.