As we reported on Oct. 11, Research Systems Inc. (RSI) is abandoning the Mac platform. According to an
online announcement, as of Oct. 8, the company discontinued “support for several platforms in order to focus on our core competency platforms, which have the greatest market share.” Now the company’s CEO has posted an online letter to its Mac customers.
RSI’s decision was dictated in large part by the limited number of customers RSI has using their products on these platforms (which also include Compaq Alpha Linux, Compaq Alpha Tru64 Unix, and Sun Intel x86 Solaris), “as well as the external economic conditions that require all companies to make prudent business decisions,” the company said.
Although IDL 5.5 will support Mac OS 9, RSI has no plans for Mac OS X support. In March the company announced plans to rewrite IDL, its Interactive Data Language. It would have been the product’s first major overhaul since the original Mac version debuted in 1993. IDL is designed to enable in-depth data analysis through “industry-leading visualization.”
RSI CEO and President Mike Scally said in
his online letter
that “we believe the Macintosh platform and the new Mac OS X operating system are excellent and important technology.” He said that RSI has a “strong relationship with Apple and have been committed to supporting the Mac since the inception of IDL on that platform 8 years ago.”
“We were eagerly anticipating the benefits of the new Mac OS X functionality for IDL and had invested significant money and resources into its development,” Scally said. “Unfortunately, the realities of business don’t always go the way you want them to or even the way of doing the ‘right thing’. Despite our best intentions and commitment, the hard facts of our revenue from the Mac platform combined with the high cost of supporting OS X with a separate code base led to the decision that going forward with the Mac OS X release would not only be unprofitable for RSI, it would jeopardize the quality of support for our core platforms. As much as we would like to provide this release to our customers we would not be acting in a responsible manner of sustaining a viable business for our customers and shareholders.”
Scally said that RSI is currently evaluating the possibility of providing support in IDL for both a Mac Classic format (OS 9 running on OS X) and/or a native Unix/X-Windows implementation on Mac OS X.
“Once we have determined the feasibility of each of these options we will let you know what we can do going forward,” he said. He also added that:
RSI’s decision regarding the Mac platform had nothing to do with Kodak’s acquisition of RSI. They were completely uninvolved in the decision-making process.
RSI isn’t dropping IDL development.
They conducted a thorough examination of our Mac installed base and the prospective Mac OS X market and are” aware of the potential for growth of the Mac platform due to OS X.”
RSI will follow the success of Mac OS X and “if Apple’s market share does increase significantly within our potential customer base to the point that supporting it would be financially feasible for us, we would be willing to consider re-adopting support for the Mac.”
RSI can’t distribute, even in beta form, the IDL OS X code that has been developed due to licensing issues.