John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

If You Think Apple and IBM Were Never Rivals, Steve Jobs Has a Funny Story for You [UPDATED]


Mark Papermaster’s memory of Apple and IBM old rivalry is quite a bit better than originally thought. Turns out the quote that inspired this post was excerpted from a longer, far less contentious statement by an Information Week reporter.

What Papermaster said in his declaration was this:

Until this litigation effort by IBM, aside from the divested IBM personal computer business and a single sale several years ago of Apple’s Xserve product to a university, I do not recall a single instance of Apple being described as a competitor of IBM during my entire tenure at IBM.”

What Information Week reported him as saying was this:

I do not recall a single instance of Apple being described as a competitor of IBM during my entire tenure at IBM.”

A juicy quote, to be sure, but without the caveat that preceded it, an inaccurate one. My apologies to Mark Papermaster.

This is pretty funny.

Mark Papermaster, the 26-year IBM (IBM) veteran being sued by his employer for taking a job at Apple (AAPL), is convinced Big Blue’s suit is entirely without merit. Why? Apple doesn’t compete with IBM and never has.

“I do not recall a single instance of Apple being described as a competitor of IBM during my entire tenure at IBM,” Papermaster said in a court filing.

Now, I know Apple’s famous “1984” ad (see below) is a few decades old now, and memories of the company’s 1984 Annual Shareholders meeting are well faded, even at Apple. But surely someone, somewhere in Cupertino must recall CEO Steve Jobs’s comments at that meeting.

The early 1980s. 1981–Apple II has become the world’s most popular computer, and Apple has grown to a $300 million corporation, becoming the fastest-growing company in American business history. With over 50 companies vying for a share, IBM enters the personal computer market in November 1981, with the IBM PC.

1983. Apple and IBM emerge as the industry’s strongest competitors, with each selling approximately $1 billion worth of personal computers in 1983. The shakeout is in full swing. The first major personal computer firm goes bankrupt, with others teetering on the brink. Total industry losses for 1983 overshadow even the combined profits of Apple and IBM.

It is now 1984. It appears that IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, after initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future, are turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom.

IBM wants it all, and is aiming its guns at its last obstacle to industry control, Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?

I’d say that qualifies as an instance of Apple being described as a competitor of IBM, wouldn’t you?

Apple legal must be on a class trip or something….

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald