Steve Jobs at Macworld Boston in 1997

The keynote for Macworld Boston, August 6, 1997, was pretty bizarre by today’s standards.

The first speaker was Colin Crawford, President and CEO of Mac Publications for IDG, who put on the conference. He proceeded to recount all of the dire headlines surrounding Apple. This made an appearance:

The cover of the June, 1997 edition of Wired
The cover of the June, 1997 edition of Wired

It wasn’t pretty.

Jobs was next. Gil Amelio had only been ousted a month previously, and Jobs hadn’t yet been named Interim CEO, much less CEO. In fact, he introduced himself as the “Chairman and CEO of Pixar.” His first slide said “Status Report,” and he claimed Apple’s problems started at the top. There would be five steps to Apple’s renewal:

  • Board of Directors
  • Focus on Relevance
  • Invest in Core Assets
  • Meaningful Partnerships
  • New Product Paradigm


I’m not going to be talking about products today. I just wanted to let you know that we have some wonderful ideas that you’ll be hearing about between now and the end of the year.

That’s right. A Steve Jobs keynote without a single new product.

It’s really interesting to watch the entire thing – I encourage you to do so, if you can spare the 38 minutes – but I’ve pulled out two specific sections as I believe they’re pertinent to recent discussions on this blog about building sustainable apps on the app store. They pertain to Adobe and, more famously, Microsoft.

Adobe Photoshop was mentioned in the discussion on what markets Apple was relevant in. It begins at 18:46:

Next, Market Focus.

I can’t get anyone to tell me the definitive market share for Apple but it’s around seven percent from all I can gather, and the question is where is Apple relevant? Where is Apple still the dominant player? Which market segments? And there are two.

The first one I call creative content. It’s publishing, design, prepress, etc. It’s creative professionals using computers. And what’s interesting is Apple is still the dominant market leader for creative professionals by far. It’s like 80 percent of the computers used in advertising, graphic arts, design, prepress, all Macintoshes. And 64 percent is the best number I could find. 64 percent of all Internet websites are created using the Mac. It’s amazing! (Applause)

But we haven’t been doing a good enough job here. As an example, there is something like 10 to 15 percent of Mac sales which can be traced directly back to people using Adobe Photoshop as their power app, right. When was the last time you saw Apple and Adobe co-marketing Photoshop? When was the last time we went to Adobe and said, “How do we make a computer that’ll run Photoshop faster?”

These things haven’t been as cohesive as they should have been, and I think we’re going to start proactively focusing much more on how we do these things.

(Extended applause)

The announcement of the Microsoft partnership is more familiar, and starts at 26:12:

Now, I’d like to talk about to talk about meaningful partners.

Apple lives in an ecosystem and (drinks water) it needs help from other partners, it needs to help other partners.

And relationships that, uhm, that are destructive don’t help anybody in this industry as it is today, so, during the last several weeks, we have looked at some of the relationships, and uh, one has stood out as a relationship that, uh, hasn’t been going so well but had the potential, I think, to be great for both companies, and I’d like to announce one of our first partnerships today, a very very meaningful one, and that is one with Microsoft (audience boos and claps simultaneously).

I’d like to take you through this.

Uhm, the discussions actually began because there were some uh, patent disputes (crowd laughs). And, uh, rather than, I know, rather than repeating history, I’m extremely proud of both companies that they have resolved these differences in a very very professional way. And this has led, I think, to an overall relationship that we’re announcing today that’s got several parts to it and we’re extremely excited about.

First part of it is a patent settlement and cross-license. The two companies have reached a full cross-license for all patents that exist and for patents that are filed in the next five years. And, uh, it has been a very serious patent settlement.

The second part of this is Microsoft is committing to release Microsoft Office on Macintosh for the next five years (audience claps). They are going to release the same number of major releases as they release on Windows during that time. They’re first release uh, uh, they’re going to target to have it out near the end of the year, it might slip a few months into next year, but they’re working real hard on it and it looks very very good.

Next, we have taken a look at browsers out there, and Apple has decided (slide switches to Internet Explorer, and crowd immediately boos) Apple has decided to make Internet Explorer its default browser on the Macintosh (booing, clearly audible “Nos”). Since we believe in choice (laughter), since we believe in choice we’re going to be shipping other Internet browsers as well on the Macintosh and the user can of course change their default should they choose to (cheering), but uh, we believe that Internet Explorer is a really good browser (jeering) and we think it’s going to make a fine default browser.

Java. We are going to be collaborating with Microsoft on Java, uh, to ensure we can get the best from each other and ensure that, uh, there’s compatibility between our virtual machines, and uh, we think that, uh, that will serve everybody’s interests.

And lastly, Microsoft is making an investment in Apple. Microsoft is buying $150 million worth of Apple stock (booing) at market price. It is non-voting shares (cheering) and they’ve agreed not to sell them for at least three years.

So what this means is, is that Microsoft is going to be part of the game with us as we restore this company back to health, have a vested interest in that stock price going up. We’re going to be working together on Microsoft Office, on Internet Explorer, on Java, and I think that, uh, it’s going to lead to a very healthy relationship. So, it’s a package announcement today. We’re very very happy about it, we’re very very excited about it, and uh, I happen to have a special guest with me today, uh, via Satellite downlink, and uh, if we could get him up on the stage right now (jeering).

Bill Gates then appeared, to laughter, jeering, and applause:

Good morning (jeering, laughter, applause)

Some of the most exciting work that I’ve done in my career has been the work that I’ve with Steve on the Macintosh. Uh, whether it’s the first introduction or doing products like Mac Excel, uh, these have been major milestones. And it’s very exciting to renew our commitment, uh, to the Macintosh. We have over 8 million customers using Microsoft software on the Macintosh. Uhm, we make it very easy for people to use Macintosh, uh, to take their, uh, their documents and work with all kinds of machines.

Uh, we’re very excited about the new release we’re building. This is called Mac Office 98. We do expect to get it out by the end of this year. And we’ve got some, uh, real exciting features, uh, it’s a product that’s going to require no setup, it’s gonna be an easy transition from people in the past, uh, I think it’s going to really, uh, set a new bench mark for doing a good job with performance and exploiting unique Mac features. Uh, in many ways its more advanced than what we’ve done on the Windows platform (applause).

We’re also excited about Internet Explorer and we’ve got a very dedicated team that’s down in California that works on that product and, uh, the code is really specially developed for the Macintosh. It’s not just a port of what we’ve done in the Windows environment (cheering). And, so we’re pleased to be supporting Apple. We think Apple makes a huge contribution to the computer industry. We think it’s going to be a lot of fun helping out and we look forward to the feedback from all of you as we move forward doing more Macintosh software.



Jobs again, with one of his more famous keynote speeches:

Thank you Bill.

You know, where we are right now, is, we’re shepherding some of the greatest assets in the computer industry. And, if we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here.

We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win Microsoft has to lose. OK? (Applause). We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win Apple has to do a really good job, and if others (applause), and if others are going to help us, that’s great, cause we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody else’s fault. It’s our fault. So, I think that’s a very important perspective.

I think, if we want Microsoft Office on the Mac, we better treat the company that puts it out with a little bit of gratitude. We like their software. (clapping)

So, the era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I’m concerned. This is about getting healthy, and this is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry, to get healthy and prosper again.


The last perspective I’d like to leave with you on this is, you know, sometimes points-of-view can really make you look at things differently, when you hear a new point-of-view. Like for me, when I was looking at the statistics and it, it, uh, hit me that Apple is the largest educational company in the world, that was like a bolt of lightening. That’s huge! What an incredible base to build off of!

Another bolt of lightening is that Apple plus Microsoft equals 100% of the desktop computer market. (Cheering) And so, whatever Apple and Microsoft agree to do, it’s a standard, and uh, I think you’ll be seeing us work with Microsoft more, because they’re the only other player in the desktop industry. And I think you’ll be seeing Microsoft wanting to work with Apple more because Apple is the only other player in the desktop industry.

So I hope we have even more cooperation in the future because the industry wants it.

Jobe then foreshadowed the Think Different campaign,1 and that was a wrap. Like I said, bizarre by today’s standards, but historically important: I believe the aftereffects reverberate today.

Part 3 of my series on building sustainable apps in the app store comes tomorrow Monday.

Note: All transcriptions were done using Draft. It’s an amazing tool that makes doing stuff like this a cinch. Highly recommended.

This is a three-part series on enabling sustainable businesses on the app store.

  1. Transcript of the keynote conclusion:

    Lastly, I just want to talk a little about Apple and the brand, and uh, what it means I think, to a lot of us. You know, I think you always had to be a little different to buy an Apple computer. When we shipped the Apple II you had to think differently about computers. Computers were these things you saw in movies. They occupied giant rooms, uh, they weren’t these things you had on your desktop. You had to think differently because there wasn’t any software at the beginning.

    You had to think differently when a first computer arrived at a school where there had never been one before. It was an Apple II.

    I think you had to think really differently when you bought a Mac. It was a totally different computer. It worked in a totally different way. Used a totally different part of your brain and opened up the computer world for a lot of people who thought differently. You were buying a computer with an installed base of 1. You had to think differently to do that.

    And I think you still have to think differently to buy a Mac differently. And I think that the people that do buy them think differently. And they are the creative spirits in this world. They are the people that are not just out to get a job done but they are out to change the world. And they’re out to change the world using whatever great tools they can get. And we make tools for those kinds of people.

    So hopefully, what you’ve seen here today are some beginning steps that give you some confidence that we too are going to think differently and serve the people that have been buying our products since the beginning.

    Because a lot of times people think they’re crazy, but in that craziness we see genius, and those are the people we’re making tools for.

    Thank you very much.