December 6, 2004


I find the rumors of a potential Apple/IBM union hard to believe.

I do think that IBM has been trying to distance itself from Microsoft with their major push into Linux. Apple’s OS X runs on IBM’s PowerPC chips. Despite how far-fetched it all sounds, I guess I could see the synergy of putting OS X on to IBM boxes with very little effort. How things have changed. 10+ years ago IBM and Apple were arch enemies.

During my tour of duty doing IBM branding at O&M, creatives were never allowed to let the client know we used Macs. All presentations— and work done in front of the client— had to be on Thinkpads. By the time Clement Mok Design took on the IBM online brand, I think Big Blue had warmed up to Macs as their agency’s tool.

When I developed the first IBM online store, I designed half of it in the CKS|Partners New York office— and the other half at IBM’s Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. We spent a month at IBM putting the final touches on the templates that would drive the 80k pages of the site. I had my Apple G3 shipped to IBM as my design tool, and I set it up in an office deep in the heart of the IBM PSG (Personal Systems Group). My design assistant and faithful quit-your-day-job-programmer also setup Mac workstations. The rest of the team, CKS Enterprise and our own CKS NY Information Architect had PCs.

Working onsite for over a month, we had daily visitors of IBM developers to our tiny office to see the wonderful and mysterious “Apple Macintoshes” that the “designers” had brought deep into enemy territory. All of them seemed truly amazed at Apple’s hardware and OS9. Mixing Apples and oranges. It was an experience— and a project— I’ll never forget.


No. Absolutely not. "Marriage" Is that a merger, acquisition, joint venture, or strategic alliance? There are big differences in the workings of each, and even larger differences in the plausibility of the potential of each. Could I see them somehow taking Apple to the corporate desktop through an alliance? Yeah, it makes some far-fetched sense. Would one buy the other? Never.

Could you imagine a true "marriage" between Mr. "Think Different" and Big Blue? Everything they teach us at business school* is geared towards convincing us that this will never work---ever. Aside from the absoulte corporate culture clash, what does one offer the other? BSD UNIX? What's that? Yeah, I'm not as geek as I like to think I am, but whatever it is, I know it's not enough to justify a merger of these two. Furthermore, could Steve's ego really shrink enough to be acquired while Apple is in one of its fleeting hot stages?

Then there's the economics. I'm not even going to get into Free Cash Flow, and crap like that. because I'm too tired now. But here's some business sense that you don't even need B-school for: just because one buys processors from the other does not a "synergy" make. Why don't they "marry" the maker of the iPod micro drives? Why doesn't Bono acquire them?

Next: not on the short list of PowerPC consortia? Put that together with "Apple..PCs, which coincidentally are now built around IBM's PowerPC chip". Hmm. IBM moving into services....Apple riding high on the wave of popularity...New supplier with less bargaining power? That's not a fun rumor, let's go with merger!

OK, I've just fired off this rant, and the only conclusion I've come to, is--why do I care so much? Hey, let's start some business rumors on just for shits and giggles! Here's the first one: Joanne Hudson Associates acquires the Joanne Jordan Group in a clandestine meeting in the Virgin Islands for two sock monkeys and a bottle of rum.

*Yes, I do understand that nothing they teach you at business school is worth a hill of beans in the real world, but come on...

OK, 24 hours later, still quite tired, and equally as drunk, I can't believe noone else has sounded off on this rant. OK, I've got my next great business rumor. Sprite has fired their advertising agency because Myles Thirst is considered "Too Ethnic" by the target demo.

Speaking of Thirst and rumors- Dave dumped all his photos on my machine during the wedding. There's some suspicious off-set photos of Dave and the "Thirst Cheerleaders" from the latest commercial:

He's quite the art director... notice the 70s style porn style "soft-focus" in the photo above.

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