Biting Back

Editor's note: A few weeks back, we ran an essay in this space about Apple and the iMac, written by computer consultant Frank Catalano. The piece generated a deluge of mail, some of it addressed to City Pages, even more of it to Catalano personally--and all of it negative.

A sampling of the correspondence we received appears below, edited for length and clarity, along with a brief response from Frank Catalano.

Before getting to that, however, we'd like to clear up a couple of things. The volume of the outpouring from readers may have been attributable in part to two factors Catalano had nothing to do with. One was the headline, "Apple Bites"--which may well have been more incendiary than the title the author had suggested for his piece, "Internet Appleiance." The second was our choice to highlight some of the more vehemently worded parts of the column in boldface.

Corey Anderson



As an Apple enthusiast, I feel obliged to stand up and open a window to help dissipate Frank Catalano's recent spell of stale flatulence. Has Catalano had any actual contact with Apple products in the last few years? No, reading a poorly researched article in "Newsweak" doesn't count. Neither does an online extract from the Wall Street Journal, even if it is just as poorly researched.

Frank, you're perpetuating myths and tired old lies. Honestly, how out-of-touch have you gotten?

Scott Puhl



Frank Catalano's comments on the demise of the Apple are strangely reminiscent of those doomsayers a few years ago who all but pronounced the company dead. Puh-leeeze, gimme a break. I am a system administrator. I manage Microsoft NT networks worldwide. I enjoy my job and have NT servers at home. I also have a Mac, and whenever I want to have some fun or get some work done, I use my Mac. So many things are done so much better in six colors. Apple is in recovery. It takes time, it takes work, but it is happening. So don't help the cause of those other folk, those other nonbelievers.

Vincent Watson



I just want to inform you that Macs are not dead and iMacs are not just glorified Internet toasters. I administer and maintain around 50 Macs, ranging from the ten-year-old MacIIfx to brand-new G3 towers and iMacs. We use these computers to run laser trim stations that adjust set points on hybrid ceramic circuit boards; to control in-process and final testing of parts; and to have the secretaries use iMacs for spreadsheets, databases, and word processing. In fact the iMac is so nice, it is great not to have a floppy drive included, because it makes it harder for employees to take confidential files.

Ryan Steckert
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin



Frank Catalano laments that his Mac software is out-of-date and that Apple produces only Internet appliances. Might I suggest Frank update his software to any of the current products rather than mourning the death of old software. This is a fast-paced business that gets shaken up occasionally, and it appears Frank got left behind this time.

Further, as an obvious power user, Frank should realize that the iMac is not for him but for casual consumers who want nothing more than an Internet appliance. Perhaps he should check out the rest of Apple's product line, or are their more powerful computers simply more powerful appliances--Internet refrigerators, as it were?

Or perhaps Frank is just hoping to start controversy where there is none. I live and breathe pretty deep in the industry, so either I'm surprised that I've not heard one single person--power user or not--recently bemoan the Mac hardware's inflexibility or lack of software, or I'm surprised that I haven't heard of Frank Catalano before.

Chris Holmes
Oakland, California



Unfortunately Frank Catalano distorted the picture about the availability of applications for the Mac operating system. There are thousands upon thousands of apps written for the PowerPC-based Mac. Some counts (yes, they may be overstated a bit) are as high as 12,000.

But I don't want to debate quantity here. The bottom line is that there are more than just "basic" apps available for Mac. Yes, the Windows market has more apps available and sometimes no Mac equivalent. But consumers should always ask themselves and their sales reps: "This is what I want to do; can I do this on the Mac?" Does Frank really expect Apple to say, "Now we gotta tell you, there's more apps in the Windows market. More is better"?

More and more business apps are moving to a Web/Java-based model. Apple is positioned here. Just as we have seen an explosion of Mac gadgets over the last 11 months, we will soon see an explosion of apps. In truth, we've already seen it. More and more big-name games are on the Mac. Lotus is on the Mac. Yadda yadda yadda.

Victor Trombettas
New York, New York



Frank Catalano asserts that the Mac market is on a downward spiral and Steve Jobs is quietly steering the company from making PCs to making information appliances. I disagree.

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