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I mean, yeah, coulda, woulda, shoulda... but those sorts of alternate histories require some kind of A Priori knowledge that NeXT might become an incredible company, beyond that, augmenting the path of a company like NeXT will contaminate the timeline, provoking unpredictable ripple effects in the subsequent continuum. If Skynet kills John Connor, what will the machine world look like? What happens if Marty listens to Needles, and accepts his dare again??? (:

Without divining, based on now-known realities, that they had no insight into, what could have been done?

Apple's total disintegration isn't entirely imaginable at this precise moment, but planning for some dreaded rainy day, what disaster strategies could they use to anticipate a total failure of their bread and butter?

Microsoft probably IS facing this scenario. What can they do?

Good point on the "timeline contamination". We like to say that "hindsight is 20/20" - which implies that if one could go back in time, one could take advantage of that future knowledge without changing that future outcome. I could say that if I went back in time to the early 90s and bought a bunch of Apple stock for like $5/share that I'd not change the future. But what if I got greedy and bought a significant percentage?

I do agree with your assessment of AAPL vs MSFT. Apple has ingrained itself into the fabric of our personal lives in a way that would be very hard to challenge. Microsoft never achieved that - because it was run by corporate sales folk.

Apple's undoing, if anything, will be from being to greedy.

Regarding the current contrast between apparent states of Apple and Microsoft, I'd say Apple could be reduced to an identical state in a matter of six months by any other company coming out of the woodwork with some new, fully realized product the general public hasn't seen before. It's not innately reasonable to divine what such a product might be.

Meanwhile, consider that Microsoft was very strong in 2003, but through a few minor misteps, just missed the boat on a some key changes in technology. Then, when the things that killed their advantageous position finally made an appearance, they refused to give chase. Why they failed to jump on the new bandwagons, and how their own boat started taking on water, has a complex story of its own.

I'm not sure why you all think Microsoft has big problems. They still have the corporate and public sector, largely even the education market cornered. They are hugely profitable and right now taking crazy-looking but probably not exactly stupid steps towards changing their consumer business model.

Well, from the consumer perspective, their most visible and obvious source of relevance, they've got barely anything worth talking about, and everything they've bought up, people are holding their breath waiting for corporate inertia to contaminate and ruin.

But yeah all that business, corporate, government, enterprise activity is probably plenty more than just life support. It's not like I read shareholder earnings reports or anything, though.

Also: rich uncle Xerox did own PARC, and it didn't end up saving the company.

I was somewhat staggered in the late 1990s reading John Sealy Brown (former PARC director), in The Social Life of Information, which is otherwise and excellent book and one I'd still recommend, that the grand-daddy of technical reproduction businesses completely failed to mention its biggest competitor, the Apache Webserver, anywhere in the book (there was brief mention of the World Wide Web).

I've worked with some of Xerox's workhorse printers, multi-hundred-thousand-dollar systems that can crank out 120 prints per minute, sustained (hot-swappable paper trays, so you don't even have to stop to reload). But all of those were already being dwarfed in document presentation by a freely-available arrangement of software, with a $1,000 - $10,000 piece of server kit capable of kicking out millions of pages per day. A large print shop with several workhorse printers might make 1 million copies/day.

And at a fraction the cost.

Yeah, Xerox completely dropped the ball.

Rent-seeking behaviour is not sustainable in a functioning capitalist society. But it can be very lucrative while it lasts, and it only has to last until you retire.

How is selling printers rent seeking?

Xerox derives much of its income from contracts rather than selling printers directly. They rent you the printer and charge you per page printed.

Source: worked tech support for better part of the 2000's and had to get Xerox printers on our networks often. Spent a lot of time updating settings when the contracts renewed and new printers were leased.

That sounds like something their customers want, whether you think they should or not.

That's essentially what I found in my time working with them. This was public sector so the idea of budgeting the hardware cost as a lease and paying per print really appealed to the administration.

Possibly exploiting patents.Though Xerox lost out on much of that to IIRC Toshiba.

If I hat to bet on any of the two, I would bet on Microsoft. They have standard Products used in businesses all over the world. Corporations moving much slower than trends I think Apple is in much more danger...

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