History - why Apple chose NeXT instead of BeOS

Section 9 is relevant.

Turns out, Apple wanted x86 system since promised CPU speed was higher than PPC. NeXT had x86 port while BeOS didn’t.


What nonsense is that? BeOS has been x86 since R3.0, I believe. Or was NeXT bought up before BeOS went x86?

Apple’s purchase of NeXT was in December 1996 (announced December 20th) and BeOS R3.0 (PPC and X86) was released March 1998.

So, BeOS was late to the Intel X86 train.

Beyond code base and technology, there were also a divergence between what Jean-Louis Gassée wanted for Be Inc. and what Apple’s Board thought it was worth. Given that both Gassée and Jobs were ex-Apple executives, there were likely also preferences for one over the other by Apple’s Board.

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I agree. The best reason behind the buying of NeXT is called Jobs. And the history gave to Apple the reason. (iphone)

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Though I love BeOS, which was probably the best operating system to be available to the general public in the late '90s. I would have to say that the purchase of NeXT was a wise one for Apple as it brought the best of both companies together, turning it into the juggernaut it is today.

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Jobs had the history, knowledge, Apple fanbase, Pixar and the NeXT hardware.
He brought a battleship to a fist fight. He appealed to a older fanbase that used Apple products for computer graphics and desktop publishing - but wanted ‘new and shiny’ objects to brag about to friends.

It was more like offering an orange versus a watermelon to a starving person. You can’t fight a juggernaut without good aim and slingshot…

UNIX was also popular to academia, proven in the field, and documented. So, it was not a very hard sell. Also, back then many people was heading for x86 hardware for the faster and cheap access to available computer hardware on the grey street markets (i.e. home hobbyists/enthusiasts).


NeXT may have had hardware, but it was based on 68k with an attempt to port to Motorola 88k (you don’t know what it is? guess why).

BeOS was already running on Apple machines, so that would have been a more pragmatic choice on the hardware side.

It’s just that NeXT started 5 years earlier than Be, and Be just couldn’t catch up these 5 years. The BeOS was not quite done back then, they only had a few developer releases while NeXT was already production ready. And Apple did not want an unfinished OS to work from, they had enough delays already.

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Agreed. BeOS back then was far more primitive than NeXT (No printing support, for one) and would have taken quite a bit to bring it up to what Apple needed.

I love discussing those kinds of what if scenarios. Expecially after having been read an interview to Lisa Brennan-Jobs about her “Small Fry” book.

The fact that Jobs was not exactly a sweetheart is not a secret.

But, aside the OS features, i was wondering how Apple would look now having been acquired Be Inc. instead of NeXT these days. I mean, in term of corporate values and missions.

Not that huge leviathan as it looks as today, that’s for sure. Probably still a niche player; filed down, in the worst cases.

But the what if game can go further. Jobs was (in part) responsible of a new way of intended the mobile connectivity. The iphone, obviously. And after Jobs we’ve entered in the compulsive swipe-and-like era.

Gassée had probably not the ipod, the iphone, the “i’m a mac; and i’m a peecee” and the ipad in his pockets.

I’m not saying that Jobs is responsible of the social hateness and cyberbullying phenomenon, the selfish obsessions etc. that plague our society, ofc.

But Apple invented the devices that made that world possible. It’s not egg-and-chicken question, but it is part of the equation.

Probably a more conservative executive, focused on carrying quality of the desktop product, like Gassée, would have deayed the mobility revolution a bit enough for the society to take the driving license on how to use the mobility for good.

Or maybe not?

PS I’m an Apple fan since, well, the Lisa. But i’m definitively much more devoted to Woz rather than Jobs. This is normal: I’m a nerd, after all.

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This is not so nice to Gassée involvement in 3com and therefore Palm, nor on him giving the “go” to the Newton at Apple before he left. Not to forget the Apple PowerBop, one of the first laptops with wireless connectivity.

Jobs was very good at taking technology when it is mature and turning it into a profitable product. But the technology was in development long before the iPhone and Gassée was involved in the early work that eventually led to the iPhone, more than you may think.

Who invented what is irrelevant. It’s the people who act the way they do. The technology itself was an inevitable step forward.

Nonono, i absolutely don’t want to to say that Gassée was irrelevant when at 3com and Palm and/or that Jobs was responsible of starting the development of all those astounding (for the times) new products (Newton is a bright example and ofc the early days of the iphone is too).

I was just saying that Job’s timing was absolutely perfect for turning those assets in sellable products, and for Apple wealthies. But the “society” was imho probably not.

I think that a technology and the cultural shift of the society which is going to receive that technology have not necessarily the same speed. And as a corollary, I think that is not automatic that if a society actually use a product, they automatically are going to end up being capable to use it properly, sooner or later (without the aforementioned cultural payoff).

My joke was just to think about a what if Apple had a less unprejudicated CEO, how the society would look now (having more time to fulfill the digital divide and so)

But i’m going of topic now :slight_smile: