In a piece called
Riding the next technology wave
for Cnet, Dawn Kawamoto interviews John Sculley, former Apple CEO and now partner in venture capital firm Sculley Brothers. Sculley provides some insight about his time at Apple and his perspective on the computer industry today, and talks about some of the opportunities he thinks Apple missed when he was at their helm.
Sculley — who’s personally involved in two mobile wireless companies — calls that market “… the biggest landscape for innovation and business creation.” Sculley compares Wi-Fi in its current state to CB radio in the 1970s, which he sees as an important technology precursor to the cellular telephone industry.
“I suspect the same thing will happen with Wi-Fi,” Sculley told Kawamoto. “… Everything from last-mile solutions for fixed-base wireless, to all kinds of mobile wireless applications, will be the descendents of what we know today as Wi-Fi.”
Sculley calls the computer industry “totally commoditized,” like fax machines or printers, though he calls Apple “the only exception.” He admits that Macs haven’t turned into a “mainstream industry,” but he appreciates the company’s “beautiful products, well-thought through, no compromises, great styling.”
Looking back on his own days at Apple’s helm, Sculley told Kawamoto that he regrets not having leveraged Hypercard — Apple’s famed (but sadly defunct) rich-media authoring environment.
“We could never figure out exactly what it was,” Sculley explained, adding that Apple wasn’t “insightful enough” to recognize that Hypercard was an opportunity “to go take our user interface culture, and our know-how, and applied it to the Internet.”
Sculley expressed similar regrets about the Newton, Apple’s own PDA. “Newton could have been one of Apple’s most profitable investments ever,” he said. He offered Kawamoto explanations of how Apple could have done things differently by licensing the chip design and the software to third parties, thus getting an early lead on an industry that would later be dominated by Palm, Inc. — itself infused with former Apple talent that worked on the Newton.
“But it’s so easy to look backward on things and see decisions that could have been done differently. It’s obviously a lot harder to look forward,” Sculley mused.